“We must have the confidence that our judges will do the right thing” – Shanmugam on Annie Ee case

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In a Facebook post early this morning, Law Minister K. Shanmugam expressed how he was troubled by how some people responded to the case involving a married couple inflicting horrific abuse against an intellectually disabled waitress living with them, leading to her untimely death.

The Minister wrote that while he was outraged by what happened to the waitress, Annie Ee, he opined that “we ought to be a civilised society, observing the Rule of Law, while expressing our unhappiness and moral outrage when seeing such conduct as in this case.”

Revealing that he put off sharing his thoughts on the case until after the appeal period in the court case was over, Shanmugam put forth three points in response to the strong public reaction over the case.

The politician, who also serves as Minister of Home Affairs, said that we have to “avoid putting public pressure on judges to impose harsh/lenient sentences.” He added: “We have a well-functioning court system. We must have the confidence that our judges will do the right thing.Many Singaporeans (including me) were outraged by what happened to Annie.”

He further asserted that the sentence a defendant receives must not be dependent on public reaction and also spoke up against the harsh criticism the defense lawyer has received for representing the married couple.

[ Annie Ee ]Many Singaporeans (including me) were outraged by what happened to Annie.What happened to her should not…

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Tuesday, 19 December 2017

In case you cannot read the post above:

Many Singaporeans (including me) were outraged by what happened to Annie.

What happened to her should not happen to anyone. She suffered extensive trauma and hurt – both psychologically and physically – at the hands of her abusers. This went on almost every day for eight months.

I can understand the anger that many feel. At the same time, I am troubled by how some people have expressed their views. An online petition seeking harsher sentences was filed; and aspersions were cast on the defence lawyers’ characters.

This has prompted statements from both AGC and the Law Society, who took issue with the tenor and substance of online criticisms regarding the case. They waited till after the appeal period is over before releasing their statements. I have also held back writing this post, for the same reason.

1. As a society, we have to try and avoid putting public pressure on judges to impose harsh/lenient sentences. We have a well-functioning court system. We must have the confidence that our judges will do the right thing. And if the sentence does not appear right, the Prosecution/ Defence can appeal.

2. The sentence that a defendant gets, in any particular case, must not depend on how the public react during the case. [This is quite different from another point I made elsewhere, that the penalties which our legislation prescribe for offences should in general take into account many factors, including how the public view the gravity of the offences].

3. I also see that some people are criticising the defence lawyer, Josephus, for what he said on behalf of the defendants in this case. The Law Society has indicated that he handled the case pro bono. A lawyer has the duty to put forward the strongest possible arguments, on behalf of his client, in court. It will be a sad day for Singapore, if lawyers are going to be hounded in public, for standing up in court to argue on behalf of their clients.

Every defendant has a right to get a lawyer to defend him. And the Court will rule on what the result should be. A lawyer taking on such a case is in an invidious position. He has to do his best for his client, and yet there will be a lot of public opprobrium, because of the nature of the offence.

We have to remember – someone known to anyone of us could be charged for any offence at any point in time. Rule of Law means that the person is entitled to have his lawyer put forward the strongest possible arguments in his favour. And he is entitled to have a Judge decide his guilt/ innocence and sentence, without the public, or anyone else influencing the outcome.

We ought to be a civilised society, observing the Rule of Law, while expressing our unhappiness and moral outrage when seeing such conduct as in this case.

Couple that showed “monstrous cruelty” in “torturing” intellectually disabled waitress get jailed

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71 comments

  1. Dear Mr Law minister. Pre-meditated Torture of a human being with the benefit of financial gain is Murder! So Pls, Singaporeans are educated! Not followers of Whitewash!….

  2. Righteousness VS OWN set of Law.

    Now turn out to be All must follow what they said is their set of Law?

    So who is the *King* for the citizens or for ownself set of law to shut off all Consciousness sentient beings?

    Whose set the Law, for the people or for ownself set of Law to shut off Consciousness?

    Is our system for consciousness beings or for ownself selfishness benefits?

  3. Rule by law talking about Rule of law ? Hmss……….
    Sorry Annie Ee , the rule by law apply and therefore the rule of law was justly applied ……..your murderers has been delved with justly by the rule of law , period.
    May your soul rest in peace and be received into the Kingdom of God whereby there is no pain tears and sufferings and only God’s love abound, Amen.

  4. Facebook Profile photo
    Jake Tan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Rather interesting what the court thought the couple’s motive were for physically abusing someone on a daily basis for months. If the intention wasn’t to cause death, what was it actually?

    Because the difference between murder, culpable homicide and greivous hurt is a matter of intepreting motives and intentions, the silence on what they reason as the motive behind the couple’s behaviour is deafening.

  5. Lim LG says:

    IN A CIVILIZED COUNTRY, THE “RULE OF LAW” IS THAT A GOOD JUDGE WILL “NEVER” BE SO EASILY SWAYED BY THE COMMENTS MADE BY THE PUBLIC AND HE/SHE WOULD HV THE CONFIDENCE, THE INTEGRITY AND THE DISCERNMENT TO CONFER JUDICIAL FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE BASED ON THE MERITS OF CASES.

    SO, WHY IS THE LAW MINISTER SO WORRIED FOR THE JUDGES?

  6. “2. The sentence that a defendant gets, in any particular case, must not depend on how the public react during the case. [This is quite different from another point I made elsewhere, that the penalties which our legislation prescribe for offences should in general take into account many factors, including how the public view the gravity of the offences].”

    YOU WIN LAH!!!
    Kong lai kong ki, li eh way!!!!

  7. Mike Yeo says:

    There is a difference between rule of law and rule by law. The first indicates fairness and the lady with the scales and so on. Rule By Law is when the lady’s blindfold is taken off and the scales are tweaked so that the laws are always serving those who want it to serve

    1. Losheah He says:

      Good to have a womaniser Law Minister so committing adultery will never be a crime and hopefully illegal prostitution be legalise soon as he understand better men’s need and women’s also need. Adultery ends up divorce.

  8. “Rule Of Law ” …So you are trying to tell us what you are saying IS the law right? Ladies n gentlemen , We are now taking our first steps of becoming a communist state , not a democratic country . I reckon if N Korea were to be wiped out from the face of the planet , this country would be a perfect fit for Kim Jung Un’s lackeys to come to .

  9. A lady was beaten over the years to death. Law Minister, are you verifying that this behaviour is appropriiate in the Eyes of Jurisdical System In Spore??????
    Or that we Sporeans cannot comments except you the G Elites.
    We are voicing our unfairness, we have every rights as the G has the most notorious system ????
    Rebellious, Outrageous etc

  10. Mark Loh says:

    I have already given up on our law system. My dad had a fatal hit and run accident. The driver was caught on that very day. Through all the court hearings, I don’t know how did the judge his judgment on a hit and run fatal case. In the end the Driver was only sentence to 6 weeks of jail term only. When come to think of it, our law system is fuck up.

    1. Because we have lousy oppositions.
      Cant even get their act together.
      Asking ruling party to step down when something goes wrong and their own party got fault and no one step down.

      All policticians are bullshit.
      Talk one thing do another.

      One small singapore cant even put their difference aside and join hands.

      Try ask dr chee to quit sdp n join wp.

  11. We are a civilised nation, that is why we are outraged, more so because we let it happen by not setting up an abuse proof framework for the physically, mentally challenged people and our old citizens!
    Such a framework will make an outraged nation feel some relief and comfort. We have to have solutions to an alarming increase of abuse.

    1. Bloody hypocrite and disgraceful, look no further then Con Hee pastor …..get away with a light sentence. Bloody joke to Singapore judiciary system….bunch of insecure over paid PAP dogs

  12. He talks to much when not needed. Though it’s a done deal case. But can’t we as stakeholders of this country share our unhappiness. The more G tries to micro manage us to suit their ideals, the more we get more detach to the country. They won’t understand. High IQ but low EQ and DQ.

  13. Terrie Tan says:

    As with emotions, moral outrage needs to be treated for what it is – an outrage. While we can be aware of legal processes and how the system works, unfortunately, human nature does not work that way i.e. clear demarcation of emotion from logic. Outrage is to be fully expected and appreciated, within reason of course e.g. angry reacts and words on fb as opposed to going to supreme court to burn something down. Min Law’s statement is sound but he needs to understand how humans work.

  14. @”The sentence that a defendant gets … must not depend on how the public reacts during the case,” … Now then comment for what?

    First World Country, First World Parliament, First World Politicians with Million$Salaries,,,, and yet such a thing can happen in Singapore …. without anyone even taking notice or knowing about the abuse until her death.

    A lot of DISREGARDS and by whom? If “Singaporeans must have confidence in the court system…”, then what happens to our country’s system before the Court….

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