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Rule of Law – Dirty Tricks?

This is my comment on the  attempted action by the Law Society of Singapore against Lawyer M Ravi which I witnessed in court today.

When I ran my Hedge Fund  I had  a “global” remit meaning that I had permission to trade on any  and every stock exchange.  Potential Investors  would usually query that,  asking whether I would really take a position in any country. My answer was that I would only invest in  trades originating in Nations where there was a legal framework that I was familiar  with ( UK or US model) and where there was also demonstrable ‘Rule of Law’.  Although I had legal consultants on retainer  for the details, I needed those  basic pre conditions before I would consider a position.

There has never been any doubt that Singapore and its courts  score high on ‘The Rule of Law’ and control of corruption indicators  certainly as scored by institutions such as The World Bank’. However as a report by Lawyer’s Rights Watch of Canada  said,

“Notably, though, the definition of the World Bank’s rule of law indicator focuses on the predictability of rules with respect to economic interactions, and importantly, the extent to which contractual and property rights are protected.”

So as a Hedge Fund, a commercial entity, I was satisfied that  I could rely on  Rule of Law to protect my investors’ monies.

The real question is, can individuals and particularly those individuals going up against the PAP have a similar confidence in the Rule of Law?

Everyone agrees that Independence of the Judiciary is the cornerstone of The Rule of Law.  In other words, can we rely on independence of the judiciary when it comes to cases by individuals who are taking a stand that will be unpopular with the PAP government?

Let us be clear. Independence of the Judiciary  is not the same as impartiality of the judges. There is a detailed document by Lawyer’s Rights Watch of Canada on Singapore’s Legal independence and I recommend it as essential reading.  But here are a  few key factors taken from the report.

  • Impartiality is the state of mind of the judge whereas Independence of the Judiciary is the status or relationship of the judicial branch to the other branches of government.
  • Judicial independence comprises both an individual and an institutional component.
  • The individual dimension relates to the independence of the particular judge. The institutional dimension relates to the independence of the court on which the judge sits
  • Courts must be independent from all other participants in the justice system.
  • Therefore the essence of judicial independence is that the “relationship between the judiciary and other branches of government be de-politicized.
  • An individual judge may exhibit the essential conditions of judicial independence but if the court over which he or she presides is not independent of the other branches of government, then he or she cannot be said to be an independent tribunal.

You can read the report here.

Tomorrow at 9:00 am I will be in Court for the first step in my own case. I am pleading this case,  which I feel is essential to all Singaporeans, as an individual.   And there is no doubt that it is a case which will be very unpopular with the PAP.

Coincidentally,  I was in court  today to support M Ravi and Madame Villema . Whilst there I witnessed an event  that allowed me to get close up and personal with the issues relating to independence of the judiciary. Although the best action was removed to chambers, my basic understanding is that  some gentlemen from Singapore’s Law Society tried to get M Ravi  taken off the case (or  disbarred?) by revealing details of a medical condition.  It was all over in minutes and I believe the judge basically told them to get lost-  I hope in Latin. I believe he said something along the lines that  M Ravi has a certificate to practise law and that was the end of it.

I am now satisfied  from my own personal experience that  the  Rule of Law and independence of the judiciary both on the institutional and the individual dimension is upheld.  However the Law Society, if indeed this action was prompted by them, has acted disgracefully  and so has the medical professional who released confidential medical information. Let us hope that the medical council deals with him in a manner that sufficiently demonstrates their independence.

M Ravi is  a true hero. Not only is he working on the by-election case and my case but he continues unabated on his work for death row inmates. Who else would take on all this work  pro-bono?  He needs all our support right now as does Madame Villema who is under great pressure from many sides.

Tomorrow promises to be an interesting day.  Are we to expect more dirty tricks?


  1. Please forward this to Kenneth as I think this fits in why wherever I went in Singapore, certain neighborhoods have a different ‘atmosphere’ to others, and I suspect its because of these zones where they are probably experimenting with these water borne chemicals WITHOUT ASKING OUR PERMISSION.

    Going through standard government channels, i.e. PUB, won’t work. If its true that its happening, its happening at a very high level that even most MPs won’t know about.

    Alex Jones claims his source is an American with Republican political beliefs running a business here.

    I know you are a busy man who has been a great help with the IMF but I think we need to tackle this urgently as I believe the citizens of Singapore do not deserve to be treated as lab-rats.


  2. The Lawyers’ Rights Watch article on the Singapore judiciary (2007) does not appear to be available any longer. It has possibly suffered the same fate as Christopher Balding’s blog.

    If you have a copy of the report, would you be kind enough to post it in full? Thank you.


  3. Doctors have a duty of care to their patients as well as the public. If the doctor deems, based on his clinical judgement, that a patient is unfit to perform his occupation as he may harm others, he needs to inform the patient, and if the patient refuses to take his advice, he needs to inform the patient’s employer. Mr Ravi is supposed to submit regular medical reports to the Law Society, but in his relapsed state he would certainly have refused to submit this letter to the Society himself. There are many plausible reasons why the doctor had written to the Law Society directly, for instance, the patient having a partner rather than an employer who was unable to stop him from continuing to perform his occupation. It is a technicality; the idea is to stop the patient from possibly harming others while working when he is in a relapsed state.
    True friends of Mr Ravi would look after his well-being and urge him to take his medication to keep his condition under control rather than encouraging him to take legal action against his own doctor which is obviously a manifestation of his illness.
    I wish Mr Ravi the best of health!


  4. According to this blog, it has several points raised against you, Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

    1) It was you, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who took a photo of the psychiatrist letter and spread it over the internet through your twitter account, thus letting the public know about M Ravi’s medical condition. It further comments that it’s really negative that you can’t even keep the mental condition of your friend, M. Ravi, who represented you as your friend and your lawyer, secret.

    2) It comments that “Mainstream newspapers like TODAY and Straits Times only reported about the contents of the letter because of KJ’s leak. They would have no details otherwise.”

    3) The blog further comments that you posted the letter at lunchtime on Monday, but later removed the contents of the letter.

    IF this blogpost is true, you never made it clear in your post above. Your post above certainly seemed to try to tar the wrong parties, but if the blogpost in Unbrandedbreadnbutter were accurate, you, Kenneth, were the one who actually did all the disclosure and at least initiated the breach.

    I have silently had the opinion that M Ravi was a hero. And he is. But it seems that your handling of the affair greatly screwed him up.


      • Mikey- I love it. You manage to do a complete about turn without any hint of an apology for the abuse hurled at me in the earlier comment. Ah well I am used to it.

        The client patient confidentiality is that the Law Society should not have rushed to court and shown the judge the letter. And that psychiatrist has since broken that confidentiality again, in responding to emails about Ravi’s condition to complete strangers. One of whom happened to be my friend who cc’d me a copy. The Law society presumably had official steps it should have taken if Ravi was not managing his condition in a satisfactory manner. And sure as hell one of those was not a non SLS sanctioned representative taking his own initiative and going down to the courts to harass Ravi and show his month old medical details to the judge hearing the case.


        • I hurled no abuse, it’s factual – you are the one who leaked, and you are the one who posted that picture of Putin’s critic admitted to mental hospital – you intend to use this to tar your choice of people. The post about Ravi asking you to do so changes nothing – your article censored a lot of stuff and is your own propaganda.

          The main person who was the enabler, the person who broke the whole thing to the mainstream media, was you, Kenneth Jeyaretnam.


          • To quote you Mike: “damnit now TR Emeritus guy says that Ravi consented and asked Kenneth Jeyaretnam to post the picture.”

            In other words there was no leak.

            Your second comment shows you read the TRE account AFTER making the accusations. It is all explained there in the TRE account.

            M Ravi doesn’t have Twitter, we quickly decided that our best defence was to go public and he asked me to publish it on my account. Ravi also asked Andrew Loh and TRE to help publicise the events. Then Ravi noticed that he thad inadvertently put up his NRIC number so we took down the original letter. We saw no need to re-post it with a retracted number as it had done its job and TOC had by then got a retracted copy.

            Thanks to our friends in the new Media and our swift action in making the letter public, Mr Wong’s behaviour caught the Law Society out.

            There is no story to be made up here around the posting of the letter, of any leaks or scandal or sabotage. Merely a pathetic attempt to divert attention away from the real issues.


  5. If the doctor were truly concerned about M Ravi’s well being, then he should have approached his family instead of law soc. Remember that the conditions imposed on M Ravi’s practising certificate places reporting obligations only on M Ravi, and not his doctor. Under no circumstances should the doctor have approached law soc in the first place.


  6. The last time the law soc tried to put Ravi down and get him suspended was when your brother was the President of the law soc ?


  7. Dear Mr Jeyaretnam, I don’t think the doc meant any harm. He is indeed obliged to report his professional concerns, especially as such illnesses are characterized by a lack of insight. Judge for yourself whether M Ravi is well or not. If he is indeed very high it would be better for him to get some rest and medication before he becomes very ill.


    • I did judge for myself. I heard him in court yesterday and he argued again on my behalf today. He was calm, well and clearly very good at his job. See my video where I give my eyewitness account.


    • “I don’t think the doc meant any harm.” How could this open action in public at Mr Ravi’s place of work not be characterised as doing harm. Most men lose their sens eof identity without their work but for a lawyer to have this happen in the courts? That is like me entering your front room and showing your wife a report of a debt you had that she might not have known about because I felt professionally obliged to.


      • Dear Mr Jeyaretnam,
        I respect Mr Ravi for taking on these difficult cases pro-bono, and I am happy to hear that he appears well. However the doctor appears to be obliged to submit regular reports to the Law Society and he had done so based on his latest review. That the Law Society had acted as it had may have been in good faith that such an action was appropriate given the contents of the report. Relapses of psychiatric disorders can be precipitated by stress, and I have no doubt that Mr Ravi is under these circumstances these days. I do wish him and your case well. If the doctor had meant harm to Mr Ravi, that would be against the Hippocrates Oath and very unfortunate indeed.
        Good luck, and take care.


  8. Today! What a pathetic headline from a bloody mediocre newspaper. The correct headline should read “Doctor and Law Society actions called into question” Really disgusted but am also worried that the old underhand habits of the father is being adopted by the son to get his rid of his opponents. Recent events seem to suggest this.


  9. Good article Kenneth. The clarification on the institutional component of judicial impartiality was very insightful, thank you.


    • Just sure according to my personal experience, that time. But in general it is probably best to read the Law watch report for a full overview, warts and all. Choo Han Teck’s case yes! But minor compared to Michael Khoo on my father’s case.


  10. If indeed the doctor has leaked confidential medical records, he should be censured. Dispiccable. Same goes for those who initiated this plan.


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