Photo of K Shanmugam from Straits Times

Speaking in Parliament today (Apr 3) defending a new law to curb protest rights in Singapore, Law Minister K Shanmugam said that the government will define what is right or wrong without the need to go to the Court. The Law Minister said that the “highly educated population” will hold the government accountable if there is abuse, and hence there is no need to go to the Court:

“The alternative is to run to court for each time somebody is not happy and that is not the way you can run a proper government. The way we run a government successfully and cleanly has been to vest discretion in many areas in executives, with the knowledge that our highly educated population will hold the executive to account if there is abuse of that power… Our position is that we will make the decision. If we are wrong, we will take it on the chin and our people will know whether the decision is being exercised properly or improperly. And if we keep making decisions improperly, any government will face the consequences.”

Nominated MP Kok Heng Luen and MP Louis Ng were questioning the Law Minister if the police commissioner should be given the right to determine what is political and what is not, and whether if when such right was given, would the police’s political neutrality be compromised.

Law Minister K Shanmugam said the police should be given full powers to be the judge because otherwise he will be made a “laughing stock” when someone questions him about the definition of being political:

“Any attempt to define upfront a political or nonpolitical event will run into shades of complexity. All you will end up doing is creating alleyways and byways in which your definition will be made useless and you will be a made a laughing stock. Therefore discretion has to be given to the executive – in this case, the Commissioner of Police.”