Attorney-General of Singapore

The attorney-general of Singapore is the public prosecutor of Singapore, and legal adviser to the Government of Singapore. The functions of the attorney-general are carried out with the assistance of the deputy attorney-general and the solicitor-general, through the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC). The attorney-general is appointed by the president in concurrence with the prime minister's advice, under Article 35 of the Constitution of Singapore.[1] Unlike some countries that follow the Westminster parliamentary model, the attorney-general is not a Member of Parliament (MP).[2]

Attorney-General of the
Republic of Singapore
Lucien Wong 2022.jpg
Incumbent
Lucien Wong

since 14 January 2017
Style
AppointerPresident of Singapore
Term lengthTenure until the age of 60
Constituting instrumentConstitution of Singapore, Article 35(1)
Inaugural holderAhmad Mohamed Ibrahim
Formation9 August 1965; 57 years ago (1965-08-09)
Deputy
  • Deputy Attorney-General
  • Solicitor-General
Websitewww.agc.gov.sg

The office of Attorney-General was established in 1867, when the British Crown appointed the attorney-general of the Straits Settlements, based in Singapore, to serve as legal adviser to the new Crown colony's government.

FunctionsEdit

 
The Attorney-General's Chambers' offices at 1 Pickering Street, its home since 2013.

The attorney-general has two distinct roles, as the Government's legal adviser and as the Public Prosecutor,[2] assisted by legal officers in the AGC's four divisions.

Government legal adviserEdit

The attorney-general's role as the Government's legal adviser is performed by the AGC's Civil Division. His functions include advising ministries and organs of state on legal matters, drafting and vetting contracts and legal documents and representing the Government in international initiatives and litigation matters, among others. He is also the Protector of Charities.[3]

The International Affairs Division advises Government agencies on international-law issues, represents Singapore in bilateral and multilateral negotiations, and negotiates and drafts multilateral and bilateral legal instruments, among other roles.[4]

The Legislation Division comprises four groups. The Law Drafting Group drafts legislation and advises Government agencies on development of legislation. The Legislative Editorial and Revision Group undertakes law revision. The Law Publication Group maintains Singapore Statutes Online, among other duties. The Business Services and Governance Group provides administrative support to the other groups.[5]

Public ProsecutorEdit

The attorney-general's role as the Public Prosecutor is performed by the AGC's Crime Division. Prosecutorial discretion[2] grants him the power to institute, conduct or discontinue any prosecution at their discretion.[6]

In criminal law, it is the role of the prosecution to discharge its burden, a must to first prove its case in a court of law against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In general, it is not for the accused to prove his innocence, since the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

HistoryEdit

 
V. K. Rajah, who became Attorney-General on 25 June 2014, attending a symposium at the University of Hong Kong in November 2010 when he was a Judge of Appeal

Pre-1867Edit

Between the grant of the Second Charter of Justice in 1826 and the formation of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements in 1867, the function of legal adviser to the government in Singapore was vested in various offices. From 1826 to 1855, it was the Recorder of the Prince of Wales Island, Malacca and Singapore; from 1855 to 1864, the Recorder of Singapore; and from 1864 to 1867, the Crown Counsel, Singapore.[7]

1867–1942: Attorney-General of the Straits SettlementsEdit

The office of attorney-general was created on 1 Apr 1867, when Sir Thomas Braddell was appointed as the first attorney-general of the Straits Settlements. He was based in Singapore while his solicitor-general, Daniel Logan, was based in Penang.[7]

1942–1945: Japanese Occupation of SingaporeEdit

Following the fall of Singapore on 15 Feb 1942, Japanese troops arrested the attorney-general, Charles Gough Howell, KC, who died in Japanese captivity. Concurrently, the civilian courts ceased to function.

Subsequently, the Japanese military administration established the office of Kensatsu-kan, or Attorney-General and Public Prosecutor,[8] presumably on 27 May 1942 when the civilian courts were re-opened by proclamation.[9]

1945–1946: British Military AdministrationEdit

Following the formal surrender of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia on 12 Sept 1945, the responsibility of rendering legal advice to the British Military Administration of Malaya lay with its Chief Legal Officer.[7]

1946–1959: Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of SingaporeEdit

When Singapore became a crown colony on 1 Apr 1946, Sir Edward John Davies, KC was appointed as the first attorney-general of the Crown Colony of Singapore.[7]

1959–1965: State Advocate-General of the State of SingaporeEdit

After the State of Singapore gained full internal self-governance in 1959, Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim was appointed as the State Advocate-General, becoming Singapore's first non-British government legal adviser.

Post-1965: Attorney-General of the Republic of SingaporeEdit

Following the Republic of Singapore's independence on 9 Aug 1965, Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim became the republic's first attorney-general.[7]

The appointment of the 9th Attorney-General, Lucien Wong, Law SC, was debated in Parliament as he was aged 63 at the time of his appointment; the retirement age is 60 and he was older than the previous Attorney-General who retired at age 60. Law Minister K Shanmugam, who was a senior partner with Wong at Allen & Gledhill,[10] argued that his appointment, being for a specified term, was “in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution.”[11]

Wong was previously the personal lawyer of the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong and also advised Lee on issues relating to Lee Kuan Yew's will.[12]

List of officeholdersEdit

Attorney-General of the Straits SettlementsEdit

# Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements Took office Left office
1 Thomas Braddell 1 Apr 1867 1 Jan 1883
John Augustus Harwood (acting) 2 Jan 1883 2 Oct 1883
2 John Winfield Bonser 3 Oct 1883 6 Nov 1893
3 William Robert Collyer 7 Nov 1893 4 Feb 1906
John Robert Innes (acting) 5 Feb 1906 28 Feb 1907
4 Walter John Napier 1 Mar 1907 31 Dec 1909
5 Frederick Belfield 1 Jan 1910 20 Feb 1911
6 Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell 21 Feb 1911 24 Jan 1913
Evelyn Campbell Elli (acting) 25 Jan 1913 24 Apr 1913
7 Gerald Aubrey Goodman 25 Apr 1913 18 Nov 1919
8 James William Murison 19 Nov 1919 9 Jul 1925
9 Michael Whitley 10 Jul 1925 12 Jul 1929
10 Walter Huggard 13 Jul 1929 20 Apr 1933
11 Percy Alexander McElwaine 21 Apr 1933 10 Aug 1936
Newnham Arthur Worley (acting) 27 Oct 1936 10 Dec 1936
12 Charles Gough Howell 11 Aug 1936 14 Feb 1942

Kensatsu-kan of Syonan-toEdit

# Kensatsu-kan of Syonan-to From To
15 Feb 1942 26 May 1942
1 Ichihara Kakka 27 May 1942 11 Sep 1945

Chief Legal Officer, British Military Administration of MalayaEdit

# Chief Legal Officer, British Military Administration Took office Left office
1 Lieutenant Colonel T. C. Spencer-Wilkinson 12 Sep 1945 31 Mar 1946

Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of SingaporeEdit

# Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of Singapore Took office Left office
1 Sir John Davies (judge), KC 1 Apr 1946 5 Sep 1955
2 Charles Harris Butterfield, QC 6 Sep 1955 1 Jul 1957
3 Ernest Pattison Shanks, QC 2 Jul 1957 24 Jun 1959

State Advocate-General of the State of SingaporeEdit

# State Advocate-General of the State of Singapore Took office Left office Previous office Subsequent office
1 Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim 25 Jun 1959 8 Aug 1965 Crown Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor Attorney-General of Singapore

Attorney-General of the Republic of SingaporeEdit

# Attorney-General of the Republic of Singapore Took office Left office Previous office Subsequent office
1 Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim 9 Aug 1965 31 Jan 1967 State Advocate-General of Singapore Ambassador to the United Arab Republic
Tan Boon Teik (acting) 1 Feb 1967 31 Dec 1968
2 Tan Boon Teik, SC 1 Jan 1969 30 Apr 1992 Solicitor-General of Singapore Chairman, Singapore International Arbitration Centre
3 Chan Sek Keong, SC 1 May 1992 10 Apr 2006 Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore Chief Justice of Singapore
4 Chao Hick Tin, SC 11 Apr 2006 10 Apr 2008 Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore
5 Walter Woon, SC 11 Apr 2008 10 Apr 2010 Solicitor-General of Singapore Professor, National University of Singapore Faculty of Law
Koh Juat Jong, SC (acting) 11 Apr 2010 30 Sep 2010 Solicitor-General of Singapore Solicitor-General of Singapore
6 Sundaresh Menon, SC 1 Oct 2010 24 Jun 2012 Managing Partner, Rajah & Tann Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore
7 Steven Chong, SC 25 Jun 2012 24 Jun 2014 Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore
8 V. K. Rajah, SC 25 Jun 2014 13 Jan 2017 Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore Retired[13]
9 Lucien Wong, SC 14 Jan 2017[14] Incumbent Deputy Attorney-General of Singapore

IncidentEdit

Wrongful convictionEdit

In September 2020, the Attorney-General Chamber's conducted a prosecutorial review for a wrongful conviction case[15] of a maid wrongfully accused of a crime.[16][17][18][19]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Reprint), art 35(1).
  2. ^ a b c Woon, Walter (29 September 2017). "The public prosecutor, politics and the rule of law". The Straits Times.
  3. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 17 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 9 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 23 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 23 February 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Overview of AGC's History". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 21 February 2017.
  8. ^ "A History Of The Singapore Legal Service". Singapore Academy of Law. Singapore Academy of Law. 2017.
  9. ^ Kevin Tan Yew Lee, "The Evolution of Singapore's Modern Constitution: Developments From 1945 to the Present Day" (1989) 1 SAcLJ 1 at 5–6.
  10. ^ "History". Allen & Gledhill. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  11. ^ hermes (11 January 2017). "Exchange over A-G's appointment age". The Straits Times. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  12. ^ "SDP urges President Tony Tan to revoke Lucien Wong's appointment as Attorney General". The Online Citizen. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Attorney-General V K Rajah to step down next January". ChannelNewsAsia. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Veteran lawyer Lucien Wong appointed Attorney-General". Channel NewsAsia. Singapore. 16 January 2017.
  15. ^ "The curious case of the maid, the business tycoon and the pink knife". 13 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Attorney-General Lucien Wong not involved in prosecution, review of case of CAG chairman's former maid: AGC".
  17. ^ "A-G not involved in ex-maid's case, recuses himself from review". 10 September 2020.
  18. ^ "A-G Lucien Wong not involved in ex-maid Parti Liyani's case, has recused himself from review which deputy A-G Hri Kumar will lead: AGC". 9 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Parti Liyani's case: Attorney-General Lucien Wong not involved in prosecution; review led by Hri Kumar, says AGC".

BibliographyEdit

  • Braddell, R. St.J (1983). The Law of the Straits Settlements: A Commentary. South East Asia: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195825594.

External linksEdit