Law Society president Michael Hwang had recommended, among other things, that limits be set on the length of any continuous period of interrogation of a witness and provision made for reasonable rest periods and meal breaks. Parliament met last year to review changes to the Criminal Procedures Code, but somehow the law makers chose to simply ignore and play dumb on this. The subject is brought up again in the latest issue of the Law Gazette.
Without going into specifics, Hwang cited a recent example where a client was inteviewed by a government agency for 36 hours with "virtually no break and certainly no extended period of rest". "We can argue about the rights and wrongs of many things in the CPC, but it seems hard to argue against the introduction of some ground rules in controlling the manner in which people are detained for questioning," said Hwang. Agreeing, Association of Criminal Lawyers president Subhas Anandan said Hwang's idea was "all the more needed" as there was nothing written about access to counsel in the CPC to ensure detainees are not treated unreasonably . If ever Obama wants to relocate Abu Ghraib, he doesn't have to look very far.
Early access to counsel does not take place in all cases in Singapore, unlike in England and Australia, and that's the ugly truth. "If you want to win the confidence of the public, why take statements that implicate the accused at 3 am or 4 am? I'm told it happens in 10 percent of the cases but it should be zero percent, " said Anandan, practicing criminal lawyer and author of the best selling "The Best I Could", a memoir of Anandan’s life and features 15 of his best known criminal cases. He has personal knowledge of the flawed system, having been framed by a crooked cop, and spent time behind bars while waiting for justice to be served. The rub was when his brother, then working for Goh Keng Swee and appealing to same for help, was told by Goh he knew Anandan was innocent, and deigned to render assistance.
National University of Singapore law lecturer Michael Hor thinks there must be some ground rules that the police use, not as detailed as the codes of practice found elsewhere, and definitely not made available to the public. After all, aren't they are supposed to be trained to respect the law and protect the citizens? Hor says, "The crux of the matter is to strike an appropriate balance between increasing transparency and accountability, and the need to be careful not to put in place rules which might hamper and obstruct urgent legitimate police action." In other words, don't make it too difficult for them, for these are the same guys who can't keep a terrorist locked up securely. Unlike their lesser paid Malaysian counterparts.
Gongli might take up citizenship here, but OJ Simpson would be dumb to do so.