Constitutionally, Woon argues it was "far better" for the judge to decide the sentence at the time of judgment than for the AG to decide at the time the charge is laid. The reason he offers is intriguing: "The judge has to explain his reasons in open court, the AG doesn't." So who is this powerful person who does not have to account to the public for his actions?
After Woon stepped down, Senior Counsel Sundaresh Menon, managing partner of Rajah and Tann, was appointed to take over the two-year term on Oct 1, 2010. Mrs Koh Juat Jong, the Solicitor-General, was Acting Attorney-General from April 11 to Sept 30.
In May 2012, 5 months short of October, Sundaresh Menon moved on to be Judge of Appeal and Justice Steven Chong Horng Siong, 54, was pronounced Singapore's new AG and the country's top prosecutor effective 25 June.
Chong built his legal career from associate to joint Managing Partner over 14 years at Drew & Napier. He then spent 12 years in Rajah & Tan and was its Managing Partner until his appointment to the Supreme Court Bench. During his time on the Bench, Chong presided on a wide range of cases covering criminal, constitutional, banking, defamation and shipping aspects of the law.
One of his more notable cases was Yong Vui Kong v Attorney General, which dealt with the issue of justiciably of the clemency process for the first time in Singapore. Decided in 2010, the Court of Appeal ruled that the mandatory death penalty imposed by the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) for certain drug trafficking offences does not infringe Articles 9(1) and 12(1) of the Constitution of Singapore.
Article 9(1) states: "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law."
Article 12(1) states: "All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law."
The Court then was of the opinion that rules of customary international law cannot be incorporated into the meaning of the word law in Article 9(1) as this is not in accordance with the normal hierarchy of Singapore law. Oh we get it, the law in Singapore is a unique animal, malleable only to the whims and fancies of the political will of the day. But will Yong still get to live, even after the recent proposed changes to the mandatory death sentence?