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. Unlike some countries that follow the Westminster parliamentary model, the attorney-general is not a Member of Parliament (MP).
|Attorney-General of the|
Republic of Singapore
|Appointer||President of Singapore|
|Term length||Tenure until the age of 60|
|Constituting instrument||Constitution of Singapore, Article 35(1)|
|Inaugural holder||Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim|
|Formation||9 August 1965|
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.
The attorney-general has two distinct roles, as the Government's legal adviser and as the Public Prosecutor, 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.
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.
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.
The attorney-general's role as the Public Prosecutor is performed by the AGC's Crime Division. Prosecutorial discretion grants him the power to institute, conduct or discontinue any prosecution at their discretion.
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.
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.
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.
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, presumably on 27 May 1942 when the civilian courts were re-opened by proclamation.
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.
1946–1959: Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of SingaporeEdit
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.
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, argued that his appointment, being for a specified term, was “in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution.”
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|
|9||Lucien Wong, SC||14 Jan 2017||Incumbent||Deputy Attorney-General of Singapore||–|
- Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Reprint), art 35(1).
- Woon, Walter (29 September 2017). "The public prosecutor, politics and the rule of law". The Straits Times.
- "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 17 February 2017.
- "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 9 July 2017.
- "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 23 February 2017.
- "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 23 February 2017.
- "Overview of AGC's History". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 21 February 2017.
- "A History Of The Singapore Legal Service". Singapore Academy of Law. Singapore Academy of Law. 2017.
- 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.
- "History". Allen & Gledhill. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
- hermes (11 January 2017). "Exchange over A-G's appointment age". The Straits Times. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
- "SDP urges President Tony Tan to revoke Lucien Wong's appointment as Attorney General". The Online Citizen. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
- "Attorney-General V K Rajah to step down next January". ChannelNewsAsia. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
- "Veteran lawyer Lucien Wong appointed Attorney-General". Channel NewsAsia. Singapore. 16 January 2017.
- "The curious case of the maid, the business tycoon and the pink knife". 13 September 2020.
- "Attorney-General Lucien Wong not involved in prosecution, review of case of CAG chairman's former maid: AGC".
- "A-G not involved in ex-maid's case, recuses himself from review". 10 September 2020.
- "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.
- "Parti Liyani's case: Attorney-General Lucien Wong not involved in prosecution; review led by Hri Kumar, says AGC".