berthahenson

Uncomfortable questions

In News Reports, Politics, Society on November 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

I have been waiting to hear about Cecilia Sue’s bodyguards for some time so I was glad when defence counsel Tan Chee Meng asked what they were all about on Thursday. Pretty generous of the state to supply her with bodyguards. Anyone would think she was a witness testifying against a mafia boss, rather than the former head of CID and CNB. (It’s Ng Boon Gay who should be protected against the unsavoury types he might have put behind bars…).

Pity Mr Tan – and the rest of us – got no satisfaction. He asked some pretty pointed questions and had this response thrown at him – that he was casting a slur on the integrity of the profession. I don’t know how many times in my past life I have had the same accusation thrown at me. It’s almost as if nobody should ask questions, in particular embarrassing questions, if the answers don’t paint the said institution in a good light. In fact, the guardians would demand that those questions should NOT even have been asked in the first place, much less published.

Thank goodness, this is an open court case. So questions – and answers – can be fully reported. Unless of course someone pulls a stunt to protect the institution’s doings from public scrutiny because the work it does is so hush hush and could be compromised if too much is known. Thank goodness too, there was no such gag order.

Even if the prosecution doesn’t answer some of Mr Tan’s questions on the CPIB’s practices (because they are irrelevant, not by the book or whatever), it behoves the CPIB to do so because one of its own has admitted in court that some practices were “unusual’’. Maybe later, after the case is over, to avoid prejudicing the court.
I can wait some more.

What I was pleased to read today that someone who raised a question of public interest – whether the PM could decide on his own when to call a by-election – will not be out of pocket.

The Hougang housewife (even if she was acting as a proxy for others as some may speculate) doesn’t have to pay $10,000 in legal costs to the prosecution even though she lost her application to have the matter heard in court. The judge said she was pursuing a matter of public interest and the current mode of paying winning party shouldn’t apply in her case. Also, she wasn’t doing this for some personal gain.

The courts made an exception.

Wonderful!
Because no one should be penalised for asking the courts to clarify matters which are being extensively debated. If she had to pay money, you can bet no one is going to attempt something like this again. Cynics will simply say that they have no hope of winning a case against the executive, and what’s worse, losing is monetarily painful to boot.

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  1. We can debate whether the CPIB or AGC had good grounds to provide escort for Ms Sue. But my view is that it was highly irresponsible to use CPIB operatives for this purpose as:
    a) This has blown their cover and
    b) If there was an incident and they needed to draw their guns, there could be mayhem since they are in civlian clothes.
    The right thing should be to hire CISCO guards for the escort duty. Surely, CISCO guards can be entrusted with this mission.

  2. >> Cynics will simply say that they have no hope of winning a case against the executive, and what’s worse, losing is monetarily painful to boot.

    Cynics will say the first part is still true 🙂

  3. Witness intimidation works both ways doesn’t it ? It would be extremely unfortunate if the CPIB were to go down in flames immediately after celebrating its 60th anniversary, but Singapore will have to decide whether upholding integrity is more important or preserving face.

  4. Hello Ms Henson,

    Enjoy reading your thoughts on the media. Off topic, I am curious to know your opinion on the recent hullabaloo over the $7,000 cab driver. Has the editor been exercising due diligence aka fact finding or the cab driver has been pulling wool over the paper’s eyes?

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