Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Trials Of A-G Walter Woon

It was supposed to be the pinnacle of achievement for a legal professional, to be appointed Attorney-General by the President, but Walter Woon said it was the "Longest two years of my life."
In his own words:

On whether he had "annoyed the powers that be":
"Whether or not they're happy with me - this one you've got to ask Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong."

On what he thinks makes for a good A-G:
"He's got to be a person who's ready to walk off the job if necessary. Because if you have someone who wants the job too much, then he makes compromises which may not be in the public's interest."

On the A-G's role as legal adviser th the Government in civil matters:
"It's not the A-G's job to tell the Government, 'No, this is unwise'. He does what he's told."

On his two years as A-G:
"It was no a job I really wanted or enjoyed. I did it because I was asked to do the job."

The last bit is telling: this sounds like a guy who, when asked to jump, will reply "How high?" Although he confessed aspirations to join the private sector, potential clients may be hesitant to engage this type of solicitor: "I'm not by nature a confrontational person. If you want me to appear in court, I appear in court. I don't like it, I don't enjoy it." You think he'll argue till the cows come home to defend your case? And if you should be dished out serious jail time for a minor misdemeanor, remember his words: "If you don't like the law, go and get the law changed. Don't attack the judge." Makes you wonder what he will be teaching his students as Dean of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education. Perhaps clues may by found in the titles of his two fiction books "The Avocate's Devil" and The Devil To Pay." Truth, indeed, is stranger than fiction.

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