The title of the ST article tells us: "Law Society plans to study death penalty". Really? Then please tell Mr Wang:ST Jan 6, 2006
Law Society plans to study death penalty
THE death penalty, which has been on the radar screen of the Law Society for some years now, may well come under greater study in the new year with emerging views made known.
'Times do change and laws may need to change too,' said Law Society president Philip Jeyaretnam, who noted 'the profession has a special interest and discipline in this area'.
In his New Year message in the latest issue of the Law Gazette published yesterday, Mr Jeyaretnam also revealed that the society received several letters from bar associations in Australia last November.
These groups wanted the Law Society to take up the case of Nguyen Tuong Van but they were all turned down, 'politely to be sure'.
Convicted Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van was hanged on Dec 2 despite several pleas to stop the execution.
The Australian lawyers had sought the Law Society's help to sway the Cabinet in its decision on Nguyen's clemency petition and the appeals of his family and friends.
Mr Jeyaretnam said the society's council deliberated carefully on the pleas of their Australian counterparts, felt considerable sympathy and saw 'how strongly emotions were running'.
'But we did not accept the suggestion that the death penalty...is against international law, nor did we feel that we had a role to play in lobbying for clemency,' he said.
However, the council agreed the issue of sentencing policy should be revisited periodically, he added.
When did the Law Society draw up its plan to study the death penalty? How many lawyers will be involved in this study? What kind of professional background do they have? How will they study the death penalty - by collecting statistics? Conducting surveys? Legal research? What's the target deadline for completing the study? Does the Law Society plan to publicly release the findings of the study? Or send them straight to the Home Affairs Ministry?
You will find no answers in the ST article to any of these questions.
Because if you read the ST article carefully, Philip Jeyaretnam never actually said that the Law Society "plans to study the death penalty". He merely said that "times do change and laws may need to change too".
That is a very general statement. Mr Wang could spout the exact same line and sound just as clever, whether he was talking about the death sentence or corporate governance or environmental pollution or the law of trade marks. It does not mean that Mr Wang is actually planning to conduct a study of anything.
In fact, when Australian bar associations specifically called upon the Law Society to do something in the recent Nguyen Tuong Van case, the requests were "all turned down". The Law Society "did not accept the suggestion that the death penalty...is against international law" and it felt that it had no "role to play in lobbying for clemency".
So here we have it - another misleading title from the Straits Times. Reminds me of this.