What Rule of Law?

We have a written Constitution, not an unwritten one like the UK’s. The clauses have to mean something more than just identifying the top dogs who get to divide the carcass. Societies are made up of socio-economic classes and sub-classes. While authoritarian regimes represent a narrow spectrum of class interests, democracies expand representation to a larger spectrum – thro’ ‘checks and balances’, but it is doubtful that the state even agree what the term really means. The system of check and balances may not meant to be a defense mechanism for democracy, but could also be a way of ‘protecting’ tyranny. This tyranny could be at the hands of one, a few, or many, who may be hereditary, self-appointed, or elected.

It’s one thing to observe, based on history, that the supreme court’s views have generally adhered to the policies of the “lawmaking majorities.” It’s another to conclude that either the drafters of the Constitution intended such a result — if they did, they never said so — or that such a result is in any way pre-ordained. The result has been not accommodation with but blatant destruction of executive and state legislative structures designed to promote fairness and equal justice.

As a consequence, and in the obvious interests of staying as far below the Executive radar as possible, the court almost always has been very careful about tempering its rulings in their reach … and keeping them generally to the boundaries of popularly accepted convictions isn’t a bad way to do that, as the Legislative MUST also need to deal with those same boundaries.

Let us not confuse the courts’ decisions render from the bench with the political activities outside of it. Those are separate issues that can conflate them under the banner of “judicial credibility.” Law and politics are not supposed to mix simply because as per the constitution it is the legislature (ie: parliament) that is supposed to make all the laws of the land, and the supreme court in it’s interpretation of the constitution is supposed to determine the constitutionality of the law that the executive may pass, and therein lies the dilemma. Applicable to current needs? Temporary measures for residual biases? Ahead or behind public sentiment? Are justice and basic freedoms reaffirmed by opinations in parliament?

The concept of the “rule of law” is indeed quaint. Read Brooks Adams “The Theory of Social Revolutions” to see why; in brief, the rule of law is contingent on popular support. Power and legitimacy flow from *the consent of the governed*, not from the “rule of law”. If on the other hand this is a case of an elite entrenching itself to be resistant to democratic pressure, *then* there is a problem. That is very dangerous for the country.

One may have understood the Supreme Court better than some of our contemporaries but there are still imponderables to deal with; that it is political, obvious; partisan? Indeed, I for one much prefer justices who at least pretend to adhere to the notion that the constitution is comprised of words which have meaning prior to and disparate from one’s apprehension of them.

Accepting a reasonable code of conduct which would prevent the clear appearance of political influence on the nation’s highest court is the absolute minimum citizens can ask for.





9 Responses to “What Rule of Law?”

  • Boh Kia See:

    Written Constitution or not, one of the prominent features of the PAP is that they only work with unfettered power.

    Any limitation to their power, whether through law or Courts is not something they can tolerate. However, at the same time, they like to promote a facade of “western democracy”so as not to be seen as a banana republic. This facade is carefully crafted and the PAP go through the motions to ensure that it is credible in the eyes of the world.

    But make no mistake, the PAP will not tolerate any opposition to their rule. It does not matter which party or candidate citizens choose to represent them, it is the PAP and their sycophants that rule the roost.

    Time to start campaigning to ensure that at the next election, the PAP will be removed from power, totally and completely. There is no other way. The campaign should be almost permanent to the next election. As part of this exercise, research should also be carried on how to expunge the party from the National machinery of Government.

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  • xoxo:

    The $ame bloke$ who set the LAW adulterate it according to their fancy?

    Rule of law?
    Not unless we have more REAL JUDGES like Justice Chan and more OPPO MPs to CHECK N BALANCE?

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  • Robin:

    Holy bulldozer,batman!

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  • Pap game the nation:

    take part in anti-war street theatre. A video captured Watson with a colander on her head declaring: “What this country needs is more clowns.”


    Nothing more ” TRUE ” for SG gov ministers !!!

    In the likes of Chan CS, Shammugun, JTeo, GCT, LimBonheng, Koh pohkoon, Kwaw boonwan, etc etc

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  • Realistically:

    @ Boh Kia See:
    November 14, 2020 at 3:12 am (Quote)

    I agree with you.

    Only problem is that YOU and those supposed do-gooders like Paul Thambyah of the SDP have NOT shown what YOU & those supposed do-gooders have done and are doing to effect the changes SINKaPOOR so desperately needs.

    I suggest people like YOU & the writer & KJ & Paul Thambyah start by debunking Law & Home Affairs Minister of his so-called Parliament Statement on the Parti Liyani’s case into a broad and overarching criticism of the judiciary and the justice system………….the said Parliament Statement is so devoid and bankrupt of ANY rational legal arguments…………….

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    Well WRITTEN for the Well-Read and Intellect bro, but for the ordinary, even a guy like Chiam “chiamseetong” in Hokkien ie “meantime tolerate” said in Parliament…

    Quote: “If you say so, then it MUST be so” unquote…to Non-other than the bast**d Lie Con You!!!

    And that is so till today with the Sham a LEEgal sparrow following through

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  • Say Say Only:

    Singapore, What Are You, Really?

    Singapore, what do you really stand for?
    I do not understand you at all.
    When confronted, you say, “abide by rule of law”.
    But all these years, we feel like being ruled by law.
    Now, we think we’re ruled by the Minister for Law.

    Singapore, are you rule of law,
    Or actually rule by law,
    Or ruled by the Minister for Law?

    Singapore, if you are rule of law,
    Then you should not have
    a Home Affairs Minister
    who is also a Minister for Law.

    Singapore, if you are ruled by law,
    then you should not be quarrelling
    with your own sister-in-law,
    ’cause she’s part of your own flaw.

    Singapore, if you are ruled by the Minister for Law,
    Then you must have lots and lots of flaw,
    So much so you are blind, deaf and mute to our call -
    Our loud screaming call for justice for all.

    From a confused Singapore citizen like all.
    Happy birthday to myself from my only pal. .
    This is my birthday gift to you all.
    My dearest beloved Singapore,
    Please stand tall.
    Don’t collapse and fall.

    SSO – 14th November, 2020.

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  • Realistically:


    There are lawyers and there are LAWYERS……….and of course there are idiots and there are idiots………….not knowing that they as lawyers AND idiots have been taken in by Law & Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in his so called Parliament Statement which I hv said was a FARCE.

    I suggest sinkies who want to understand better the FAILURE of the judicial system in delivering justice go through Shanmugam’s Parliament Statement found on the Home Affairs Ministry website or the Parliamentary Reports.

    The issue of TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE was NEVER dealt with……….the BASIS for High Court appeal judgment by Justice Chan for which Shanmugam had implied was deficient, was ACTUALLY in accordance with the Court of Appeal judgments which he had cited in his Parliament Statement [232] Mohamed Affandi bin Rosli v PP & anor [2019] 1 SLR 440 and [233]PP v GCK [2020] SCGA 2, the latter should have been Public Prosecutor v GCK and another matter [2020] SGCA 2, where at [12] of the summary of the judgment, inter alia, stated thus:

    The principle of proof beyond a reasonable doubt could be conceptualised in two ways:

    a. …..Once the court had identified the flaw internal to the Prosecution’s case, weaknesses in the Defence’s case could not ordinarily shore up what was lacking in the Prosecution’s case to begin with because the Prosecution had simply not been able to discharge its overall legal burden (at [134], [137], [142], [149(e)] and [149(f)]).

    b. ….In order to find a reasonable doubt in the Prosecution’s case on the totality of the evidence, the court had to articulate the specific doubt that had arisen in the Prosecution’s case and ground it with reference to the evidence (at [143], [144], [147], [149(g)], [149(h)] and [149(j)]).

    So the Minister toking cok about his Ministry & AGC’s investigation after the HC judgment bears NO impact on Justice Chan’s judgment.

    I, for one, did not even harbour any notion that Liew Mun Leong had exerted any influence on the outcome of the case, nor, in my opinion, did SMU law Assoc Professor Eugene Tan (in the TODAY newspaper) nor Mr Harpreet Singh Nehal SC in the Straits Times…….nor I think most sinkies. I believe our common concern was the conduct of District Judge Olivia Low for failing to discharge her judicial duties FAITHFULLY, in contravention of her oath of office under the First Schedule of the State Courts Act………….as I hv posted, even the CJ has implicitly criticised Olivia Low in the CJ’s judgment allowing Ms Liyani’s application to have the two DPPs who prosecuted her to face a Disciplinary Tribunal.

    Neither of the legal issues pertaining to District Judge Olivia Low nor the 2 DPPs was dealt with in Shanmugam’s Parliament Statement………a point NOT raised by the wayang party’s MP, PSP’s NCMPs nor the white monkeys… least I have not read of it.

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  • Realistically:


    Law & Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam, in his Parliament Statement said, inter alia the following:

    234. So, our State Courts, one view. High Court, different view. Court of Appeal, a different view again.

    235. Question for us, as I have said more than once, is not which Court was right or wrong. The key question is: Was case conducted fairly in both Courts?

    236. The State Courts heard evidence from 12 Prosecution witnesses, four Defence witnesses including Ms Liyani, over 20 days. It had the opportunity to observe the witnesses, consider their evidence, Ms Liyani’s submissions, and it made its findings.

    237. The High Court considered the lower Court’s findings and Ms Liyani’s further submissions over three days, and came to a different view.

    238. This became a long and somewhat complex, complicated case. The Record of Proceedings runs to almost 3,700 pages.

    239. I have brought this House through some of the issues in detail, as I said earlier, to give Members a slightly better appreciation of the evidence.

    240. The matter was thoroughly ventilated and considered by both the State Courts and the High Court.
    The implication of Shanmugam’s above statements seem to suggest to me that should believe DJ Olivia Low’s judgment as CORRECT/RIGHT, based solely on the fact that the State Court proceedings lasted 20 days and resulted in the Record of Proceedings of over 3,700 pages, WHEREAS the hearing in the High Court under Justice Chan lasted only 3 days and therefore MUST BE unreliable, NOTWITHSTANDING that the Chief Justice had allowed the application by Liyani to refer the two DPPs for a Disciplinary Tribunal hearing and that the CJ had implicitly criticised DJ Olivia Low’s judgment as well as the 2 DPPs for misleading the court……..WITH the AGC being given FULL opportunity to present its side of the case; UNLIKE the so-called Home Affairs Ministry and the AGC’s “investigations” in Shanmugam’s Parliament Statement, which was only ONE-SIDED.Also, Shanmugam did NOT deal with the issue of the DPPs MISLEADING the court that the DVD was in working order ONLY by connecting the DVD player’s hard disc directly to a monitor/TV……and the unjust rejection of expert testimonies by DJ Olivia Low.

    Now you understand why I call Shanmugam’s so-called Parliament Statement to be a FARCE and also criticised the FAILURES by the wayang party’s MPs who are LAWYERS for not calling out Shanmugam’s FARCE.

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