On the one hand, the lawyers and parents of Changi Prison inmate Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah were told by State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid that no coroner’s inquiry on the circumstances of his death will be held.
Then, in response to queries from The New Paper, an AGC spokesman had replied via e-mail: “In view of the conclusion of criminal proceedings, the inquiry has been discontinued.” Was the inquiry in progress, then stopped, or never got started in the first place? The classic chicken and egg conundrum. The latest AGC statement says that "The coroner has a discretion to discontinue the proceedings before him if he determines that there is no longer a need for an inquiry to determine the cause of and circumstances connected with the death." Bearing in mind that the prosecution has no powers to compel the coroner - or so we are told - to exercise this discretion, wouldn't it settle all quibbles and disrepute about the AGC if the coroner establishes transparently once and for all Dinesh wasn't unduly pepper sprayed, arm locked in a choke hold, and have a couple of ribs cracked in the process? You know, the whole Shane Todd thingy that demolished conspiracy theories for the whole wide world to see.
The same AGC, supposedly to protect the administration of justice in Singapore and uphold the integrity of one of our key public institutions, is initiating legal proceedings in the High Court against a cartoonist for contempt of court by scandalising the judiciary of Singapore. The offending cartoon strips are alleged to carry imputations that are scurrilous and false. Imputations that can be destroyed easily if the actual situations depicted are indeed above and beyond reproach. If the intent is to burnish it's shiny image of justice administration without fear or favour, there has to be a better approach then sweeping everything under the carpet with a $10,000 fine.
Lawyers for the cartoonist explained their strategy, "To succeed in our defence, we must show that there is no real risk in the public confidence of the independence of the judiciary." Stripping away the legalese, that's like saying the AGC is built of stronger construct, not some thin skinned wimp with skeletons in the cupboards to hide. Now that is a concept we can understand, and hold our heads high for.