In his defence against mounting public opinions criticising the Singapore judiciary over low penalties for high profile cases like Kong Hee and Joshua Robinson, Law Minister K Shanmugam declared that the government will not bow down to public pressure.
“How society feels about the punishment meted out in criminal cases has to be something the Government must pay heed to, but this does not equate to bowing to public pressure.”
Minister K Shanmugam has earlier made media statements to appeal sentences of American pedophile Joshua Robinson for raping two underage Singaporean girls and sexual offenses against a 6 year old girl, and Kong Hee’s 3.5 years jail term for misappropriating over S$50 million, but nothing came out of it. The Attorney General Chambers (AGC) decided not to appeal Joshua Robinson’s sentences despite having the public highlighting caning sentences were passed down in all underage rape cases. The AGC was also unable to appeal Kong Hee’s jail sentences and only applied for a review asking for the High Courts to explain their sentencing on the City Harvest Church corruption case.
In an interview with state propaganda media TodayOnline yesterday (Apr 24), the foul-mouthed Minister who earlier vowed to make independent news media like States Times Review “feel the pain”, wriggled his reasoning out claiming that if penalties passed do not reflect public opinion, the Singapore judiciary risk losing credibility – without pointing out the fact none of the controversial sentences that had the public protesting were “enhanced”:
“This is because, if penalties do not reflect the weight of public opinion and people do not find them fair, the law would lose its credibility and would not be enforceable. You enhance the penalty to reflect what people feel is the right penalty, what conduct should be more severely punished — that is not bowing down; that is understanding where the weight of public opinion is. Paying attention to public expression is important because these people represent the ground feelings … Penalties and criminal laws can only be enforced if people believe that they are fair and that certain conduct ought to be made criminal … Otherwise they lose credibility.”
Law Minister K Shanmugam is currently working on new laws to ban independent news websites, and singled out Australia-based website States Times Review for “propagating fake news”.