Judges and prosecutors often exchange positions in the Singapore system

In the on-going trial of PP v Gandhi Ambalam, Chee Soon Juan and Yap Keng Ho, some of the officials have interesting backgrounds.

For instance, Judge Eddy Tham was, until a few weeks ago, DPP Eddy Tham and a colleague of Ms Lee in the AG’s Chambers.

Under the uniquely Singapore system, judges and lawyers in the AG’s Chambers often interchange their positions.

For example, the present Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong was the AG before his elevation to the bench and the present AG Mr Chao Hick Tin was an Appeal Judge in the High Court before his transfer.

A Mr Bala Reddy who was the DPP in Dr Chee’s prosecution in 1999, is now also a District Court Judge. It is therefore not unrealistic to expect to see Ms Lee Lit Cheng transferred to the judiciary sometime in the future.

This differs from a system like Canada’s where district or provincial court judges are barred from returning to practicing as lawyers for three years, and high/supreme court judges are not allowed to return to practice at all.

The reason is that the impartiality, and even the appearance of impartiality, of judges is zealously guarded so as not to undermine the confidence of the public in the judiciary.

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