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Lawyer Mr Chia Ti Lik is presently on a week-long visit to London to meet with NGOs and the legal fraternity to discuss the upcoming trial that Tak Boleh Tahan activists are facing. The trial will commence on 23 Oct 08. More information will be posted shortly.
Among some of the organisations that Mr Chia is meeting are the UK’s Law Society as well as Interrights.
The Law Society recently conducted its opening of its legal year and the SDP understands that Mr Michael Hwang, President of the Law Society of Singapore (LSS), was invited to attend.
But while the Law Society, established in 1823, has a Parliamentary Unit that “actively lobbies MPs and peers from all parties for changes in the law”, its Singapore counterpart is treated like a kid — to be seen but not heard.
The PAP amended the Legal Professions Act forbidding the LSS from commenting on legislation after its former president and solicitor-general Mr Francis Seow wanted the organisation to be more active in safeguarding the interests and rights of Singaporeans.
Mr Seow was detained under the ISA and ousted as president. The LSS was emasculated and has since been reduced to little more than a social club for lawyers. At a time when discussion and debate on human rights and civil liberties are needed, the LSS has gone to sleep.
It has managed to remain in slumber right through the late J B Jeyaretnam’s funeral. There was not a single mention of the man’s passing away.
This is despite the fact that the deceased was one of its most prominent, not to mention oldest, members, and was the father of its immediate past-president to boot. Even the Malaysian Bar Council saw it fit to pay a tribute to Jeyaretnam.
Don’t believe? Click here for the LSS website, do a search for “J B Jeyaretnam” and see what comes up. On the other hand, there’s an announcement of a tea session with a High Court Judge and, of course, the all-important annual Dinner & Dance — at Fullerton Hotel.
And so our lawyers cannot comment on the law, our students cannot publish news on the opposition and our activists cannot “promote a cause or campaign.” Welcome to modern Singapore.
Back to Mr Chia’s trip to London.
The lawyer is also visiting Interrights, a legal body that “works to promote respect for human rights through the use of law.” The organisation provides legal expertise to lawyers, judges, and other human rights advocates in the areas of international and comparative human rights law.
Apart from the legal fraternity, Mr Chia will also meet with British MPs as well as NGOs like Amnesty International and Liberal International to brief them on the situation in Singapore. Both organisations are headquartered in London.
Mr Chia will return this weekend.