Monograph #55

Monograph #55

Yale Southeast Asia Studies Monograph #55

BEYOND SUSPICION? The Singapore Judiciary

by Francis T. Seow

“Justice in Singapore is Janus-faced.”  Singapore judges have a reputation for the integrity of their judgements.  This book is about cases in which the political context of the case influences the judges to render decisions in favor of the Singapore government and its leaders.

Reviewers Comments:

“Once again, Francis Seow has revealed, with his usual rigour and attention to detail, a vital part of Singapore’s repressive machinery, this time by placing his spotlight on its judiciary. Beyond Suspicion? The Singapore Judiciary is essential to understanding the true nature of human rights abuses in that country. Particularly thorough are the chapters dealing with the use of civil defamation suits through the courts by ruling party leaders against political critics. Seow’s meticulous treatment of these suits clearly illustrates that in politically sensitive cases, the Singapore judiciary has not moved to check the Executive’s misuse of the law. Human rights campaigners now and historians of the future will regard it as required reading.”
- Margaret John, Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia, Amnesty International Canada

“Francis Seow has not just exposed the judiciary; he has also laid bare the serious limitations of the political system. This is a quite brilliant piece of sustained analysis of how the judiciary is harnessed to political persecution. It is a style and methodology that is more legalistic…., but it is only through this approach that the full magnitude of the judiciary’s emasculation and the PAP’s manic desire to crush the slightest semblance of serious scrutiny become fully clear.”
-Garry Rodan, Director, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Western Australia

“This is an extremely valuable record of many significant cases and events that lay bare the dynamics of the Singapore judiciary and its intersection with political personalities and imperatives. It is an impressive work…of scholarly and public policy interest, providing chapter and verse on the politico-legal nexus in Singapore.”
- Christopher Tremewan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Auckland, New Zealand

Francis Seow was educated at Saint Joseph’s Institution in Singapore and at the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple, London.  he joined the Singapore Legal Service in 1956, serving as a deputy public prosecutor until 1972, when he enterd private law practice.  Prime Minister lee Kuan Yew approved his appointment as senior counsel to a Commission of Inquiry which “successfully exposed communist tactics” in the Seondary IV examination boycott by Chinese students.  Seow received the award of the Public Administration (Gold) Medal for his work on the Comission, and was ultimately appointed Solicitor General of Singapore.  Seow dates the beginnings of political friction between himself and Lee Kuan Yew’s government from 1986 when Seow was elected president of the Law Society.  Seow was appointed the first Orville Schell Fellow, Yale Law School in 1989, and in 1990 a Fellow at East Asian Legal Studies, Harvard Law School.  He lived in Arlington, Massachusetts until his death in 2016

See also Monograph #42 - To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s Prison, by Francis T. Seow. (1994).

428pp (2006).

>Paper $26.00; ISBN: 978-0-938692-87-4

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