Photo of Hri Kumar from heart truths

Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah clear her ruling party PAP government of legalised corruption saying that there is no issue appointing former PAP members as members of the Attorney General’s Chambers. The PAP Minister was responding to the opposition’s protest against the appointment of former PAP MP Hri Kumar as the new Deputy Attorney General.

Opposition MP Sylvia Lim said:

“The AGC, as an organ of the state, should be independent and ready to rein in the Government if it “acts unlawfully or is abusing its power”. Appointing a former MP to the DAG post is not ideal in such a context.”

In response, Minister Indranee Rajah then conveniently used United States – a hypocrisy in Lee Hsien Loong’s earlier BBC interview – as an example to rebutt:

“There should be no issue with the fact that Deputy Attorney-General (DAG) Hri Kumar Nair was a former People’s Action Party (PAP) MP. in countries such as Britain, the United States and Australia, the attorney-general was a sitting MP or politician. She pointed out that the current attorney-general in the US, Mr Jeff Sessions, was a Republican senator. As a matter of systems design, many countries see it perfectly proper to have an A-G who is a politician.

But Singapore has a slightly different model, where the attorney-general and AGC officers are neither politicians nor political party members. Even so, it would be going too far to suggest that AGC officers must not have had any links with political parties. This is because it is the courts that decide on innocence or guilt – the attorney-general decides whether or not to prosecute.”

Minister Indranee Rajah then went on to praise Hri Kumar as an “outstanding talent”:

“The talent pool for the highest legal appointments is small. Of all the senior counsel appointed in the past decade, only 16 were in private practice. One of them was Mr Nair, who is among the top six to seven litigators here, said Ms Indranee, adding that Mr Nair accepted his appointment despite the personal and financial cost. He loses the privacy he enjoyed in private practice. He also now earns significantly less than what he used to earn.”

Law Minister K Shanmugam then joined in to intimidate the opposition member and even claimed the new system is “much better” than the 1950s British system:

“There was no question as to Mr Nair’s abilities. It is precisely because the AGC holds such powers of discretion that the Government chooses people of character and competence, he added. Such a philosophy has left Singapore’s legal institutions – the judiciary, AGC, legal service and the Bar – much better than when the country was under British rule.”

Hri Kumar was PAP MP from 2006 to 2015, and was a long-time PAP member before he resigned in 2015. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong-controlled President Tony Tan appointed Hri Kumar as the new Deputy Attorney General on the dictator’s advice. Lee Hsien Loong was initially outraged at the Attorney General’s Chambers for clearing the opposition town council of corruptions. Hri Kumar’s new appointment is to charge the Opposition town council, Aljunied GRC, of corruption and legally remove the opposition’s presence in Parliament.