09 August 2006

Two Views

Here's MM Lee Kuan Yew, in a recent interview:
ST Aug 9, 2006
MM Lee on lawyers, politicians and S'pore's future

THE idea of selling his skills, and doing a job where it did not matter if a client was in the right or wrong, did not appeal to Mr Lee Kuan Yew as a young lawyer here.

Recalling those times in the 1950s in an interview with the Singapore Law Gazette, Minister Mentor Lee also said he did not think highly of the adversarial system ...

Mr Lee said if he had remained a lawyer, 'it would have been a meaningless existence. I have been a participant and as prime minister, I studied the system. I found it an unfulfilling profession'. ....

He felt that his role when he was prime minister, was to ensure the legal system brought justice and that it should not be circumvented by skilful advocacy.

Meanwhile, a blogger, Dharmendra Yadav, has just published the full text of his exclusive interview in 1994 with the legendary David Marshall. An interesting contrast:
"I’m full of gratitude for having become a lawyer and, especially, a criminal lawyer; for having helped thousands of people terrified, helpless before the silly forces of society. They’ve looked into me as their protector. I have no regrets at all for having helped them; humanity, if you can understand this.

If you ever become a criminal lawyer, never look down upon your client. He may be a murderer or he may be a thief; he is a fellow human being. You must try and respect your client no matter what he has done. It is very important in your own self-respect in your work, and to help who is helpless in seeking help.

Look, at the age of 86, I can say in all earnestness, the thing that matters most in bringing human satisfaction is human relations. To be able to care for your fellow human beings, to be able to give! Never mind about receiving."
Incidentally, I thought that the ST article about MM Lee was quite pathetic. Basically, the "journalist" didn't do any footwork of his own at all - he merely reported what another publication, the Singapore Law Gazette, had written about MM Lee. Basically, a lot of copy, cut and paste, and zero value-add.

Blogger Dharmendra did a much more commendable job in his own 1994 interview with David Marshall, even though he was only a junior college student then. Do check it out - click on the link above.

+++++++++
Technorati: ; ; .

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

He needed help while coming down the stairs in the grandstand.

Anonymous said...

I guess what LKY is really saying is that any system in which he does not have final say is probably not a good system.

John Riemann Soong said...

That's why he chose to abolish juries.

Anonymous said...

Actually what LKY said doesn't make any sense at all. Oh well that is why many things in this country now aren't making sense.

Sham said...

Look i am not a fan of LKY like i used to be.

But his comments does struck a chord with me and i aggreed with his statement.

David Marshalls well i am not so fond on his take of being a lawyer.

Not all will agree with David nor all will agree with LKY, but i have to agree with LKY about this.

This about the job of being a lawyer hor. The rest of the comments is of course i somewhat almost totally agree with Davids

Anonymous said...

Thank you for juxtaposing Marshall's life philosophy next to LeeKY's. It does a wonderful job of giving an insight into the humanity of one man, as against the cold, clinical lack of compassion of the other.

I am also glad that when referring to the Straits Times, you used inverted commas for the word "journalist". Spot on. There ARE NO journalists in the ST. The true journalist is an independent thinker.

On this score, Marshall himself deserves the last say on Straits Times' writers. He once called them "poor prostitutes of the PAP." Nothing has changed since.

Anthony said...

Errr...MM Lee's comment presumes that the modern legal system in Singapore -isn't- affected by skillful advocacy.

If that's the case, maybe MM Lee and the PAP would explain why they keep using Davinder Singh for their defamation suits.

Anonymous said...

I caught both the articles and by the time I finished the ST one from LKY, I felt that there are two opposing world views. Basically I agree much more with the humanity that underlies David M, and I realli could not understand wat LKY was saying.

Andy said...

Lee knows that what is happenning in Singapore can and will be challenged in the international court of law, and that's why he's poohing poohing the legal system. The tragedy of Singapore is that we have a man who built it, and is now destroying it.

Whispers from the heart said...

I grew up strongly believing LKY was a great man.

I debated fiercely with the angmohs who had anything bad to say about him (I worked in the private banking sector decades ago. Many angmohs around us).

Until I read his memoirs, part 1 was bad and part 2 totally destroyed my faith in him. Perhaps, being older, I learnt to read between the lines and see my country from a wider angle.

I think it is very sad. Both for him and for me, I guess. Enlightenment comes late for me and him, not anywhere near yet.

My son has a steeper learning curve. He doesn't care a hoot about LKY at all!

m. said...

"as against the cold, clinical lack of compassion of the other."

You misunderstand the man. It is not for lack of compassion, but for a need to live by principles.

The legal system is adversarial in nature. Lawyers are expected, in their professional capacity, to defend their clients' views with all their might. This requires objectifying the self and taking wholly biased positions.

LKY, though defined to himself, has a moral compass, which directs him away from the vagaries of clinical commercialism.

Marshall cares for people; LKY cares for principles - and those are human principles which, if somewhat removed, are still for the people.

Fault a man for his views if you wish, but do so only after understanding him.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Heheh. Well, I was a DPP, so I speak from some experience here. From Marshall's and LKY's comments, you may get the idea that the defence lawyer always knows beforehand whether his client is guilty or not.

The reality is that a defence lawyer only "knows" what his client chooses to tell him. The rest is intelligent guesswork.

And the DPP only "knows" what the police managed to find out through their investigation. The rest is intelligent guesswork.

Both processes are imperfect, which is why you need to bring them together in a courtroom so that the inconsistencies are flushed out and scrutinised.

The problem is that LKY thinks he's so clever that he believes he can always know whether his client is guilty or not. In his mind, he is cleverer than the judge, the defence witnesses, prosecution witnesses, the police and the prosecution all put together.

He listens to his client, and he already makes his own judgment. "Oh, my client is guilty. My intelligent guesswork is perfect. I hate defending him."

It's like his completely unscientific assertions that graduates marrying graduates will produce babies with higher IQ. He completely believes in his own silly theories.

By the way, if a client tells his lawyer that he was really guilty, the professional duty of the lawyer is to advise him to plead guilty, and focus on getting a lighter sentence. Not to argue in court that he was not guilty. So LKY is presenting to you a false dilemma as well.

Mr Wang Says So said...

As for this comment:

"LKY, though defined to himself, has a moral compass, which directs him away from the vagaries of clinical commercialism."

.... well, I invite you to click on the link and read the Marshall interview in full. Read about how he would defend poor clients in court for a fee of $1. Read also about his criticisms of the high pay that PAP ministers get (and bear in mind, this was in 1994, when their pay was way lower than what they now get).

As for clinical commercialism, what could be more clinically commercial than to link ministerial salaries directly to salaries to the highest-paid individuals in the private sector?

And mind you, the PAP list fluctuates, they only link to the top individuals in ANY particular year. If Davinder Singh has a lousy year in 2006 and didn't make that much money, they'll drop him for the 2006 list and replace him with some other top lawyer or doctor or banker who DID make a lot of money in 2006.

Jenny said...

"If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it."
- MM Lee Kuan Yew endorsing the Tiananmen Square massacre, Straits Times, Aug 17,2004

Now, who was it that said, "LKY cares for principles".

Anonymous said...

In one respect, I think I do agree with MM Lee's views about the 'adversarial' nature of our Western-based legal system (which of course has been modified over the years to suit the government's needs).

And that is the quality of your advocacy usually depends on whether you can hire well-known and expensive lawyers. "Erin Brockavich" type of lawyers - unkown, cheap and winning big cases - are more the exception than the rule.

Having said that, when MM Lee represented and argued successfully for the trade unions in the early 50s, he might have done it on the cheap or even pro-bono. I don't know if David Marshall charged full rates for his many famous criminal cases.

Now things have come full circle. For the defamation cases which come with clockwork regularity, our political leaders employ the services of the best lawyers in town. But I also recall JB Jeya had also used QCs for his defence.

For Mr Chee of the SDP who either chooses not to employ famous expensive lawyers or more likely simply can't afford one, it's tough titties for him under our adversarial legal system.

As for Mr M Ravi, it's a long shot for him to accomplish an "Erin Brockavich".

m. said...

“The problem is that LKY thinks he's so clever that he believes he can always know whether his client is guilty or not. “

You argue for an alleged arrogance. This is outside the scope of my proposition.
I only propose that he holds a legitimate, principled stance. Such a stance should not be misinterpreted as devoid of compassion for its cold abstraction and lack of personal warmth.

Nor is this stance much different from that of Marshall’s in objective, if quite different in approach. Both of them work for people: One is driven by human principles, the other by human hardship and tragedy.

”By the way, if a client tells his lawyer that he was really guilty, the professional duty of the lawyer is to advise him to plead guilty.... So LKY is presenting to you a false dilemma as well.”

I do not believe LKY meant to make a sweeping generalization, which sends all episodes of moral good in legal proceedings into a tardy abyss. He made a general comment, which is generally true.

The lawyer is, roughly speaking, a hired gun, who skews heavily in favour of the client. It is the nature of the profession to take sides and stick to them.

Contrast the lawyer to the academic, who is generally free from such corruptive powers in search of – for a lack of a better word - truth. Consider, analogously, the Straits Times to the BBC.

moomooman said...

8k in the early days may just be 60k now

Anonymous said...

LKY should just keep his big mouth shut. Nobody cares about what he says now.

Anonymous said...

LKY and principles? Are you kidding me? Since when may I ask has the man demonstrated any sort moral principles.

This is the man who justifies sky high salaries by saying its a deterrent against corruption.

This is a man who once said: "If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication."

Look at singapore now. Is this a land where we have right of free association, free speech and free publication?

Here's another doozy- "If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law - if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states - then what is it?… If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies - even those who do not subscribe to our views - as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself."

Guess who said that? You might want to check with Chia Tye Poh if LKY is indeed a man of principle.

I suppose maybe in your world men of principle regularly goes back on their own word.

m. said...

anonymous:

I understand where you're coming from. But let me try to explain my point of view. The human mind tends to be more complex than it first appears.

People like LKY define the world always from principles, then downwards. In this, they cannot stand a world contrary to their principles.

When they discover inconsistencies, they may do one of three things. They may bring their principles in line with the world (enlightenment, empathy). They may bring the world in line with their principles (reform, modern Singapore).

Lastly and most critically, they may choose to ignore the inconsistencies, because they cannot stand how it blemishes their perfect visions. Consider, first, how much such an individual invests in his ideals, before condemning his ignorance.

But surely, such ignorance can be almost childish in nature - obvious contradictions are overlooked. Or, such ignorance can result in a cover-up: shame intrudes upon the ego, and the individual does everything possible to ensure he or she is not seen to be in the wrong.

Also bear in mind that there are few among us, if any, without grave fault of some order.

Anonymous said...

Well the man is a megalomaniac, boastful, with an arrogance that knows no bound. The fact is he himself wasn't a very good lawyer to begin with, which is probably why he said he found the profession "unfulfilling" (ha-ha). At most he was a 66.6% grade lawyer, not too bad but certainly far from the best out there e.g. David Marshall, Francis Seow and JBJ. Hence the underlying contempt for those who were able to surpass him and excel in the profession. With this understanding, it begins to make sense as to why he said the things he said, and his repeated unprincipled undermining of the legal system as chief executive.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry but perhaps you would like to tell me just what does LKY stands for? You call him a man of principle- but what principle may I ask.

Afterall all your theories and explanations, I am still nowhere closer to understanding what his principles are than I was, from the beginning.

Maybe you and I has got different ideas about principles. To me, men of principle are people who fight for what they believe in and will die for what they believe in. Men of princple will hold fast to their convictions no matter what opposition they face. History is filled with people who has died for their beliefs whatever they may be. You can call them men of princple or you can call them martyrs.

As for LKY, he has consistently went back on his words. So what principle does he stand for.

You said, "But surely, such ignorance can be almost childish in nature - obvious contradictions are overlooked. Or, such ignorance can result in a cover-up: shame intrudes upon the ego, and the individual does everything possible to ensure he or she is not seen to be in the wrong."

Can such a man be considered a man of principle? Perhaps you may like to compare him with people like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.

LKY has talked the talk but has never walked the walk.

As humans, I am well aware that we all have some flaws and faults but unlike LKY I would be the first to admit them.

Anonymous said...

LKY's memoirs are a record of some of his faults.

Even greatest of all man has faults. He is not the greatest definitely, but I would say he has managed a few good volumes of them.

Anonymous said...

If an authorised biography by LKY, a man not given to much honest self-appraisal already exposes some of his less serious faults, just think what a no holds barred one would reveal. Ladies and gentlemen, what we are seeing is just just the tip of the iceberg or the edge of the abyss.

Anonymous said...

"Let it be that a few guilty men get away but not a single innocent man be hanged"
How sure can we be that not a single innocent men has been hanged. As Marshall said if we adopt a utilitarian approach of deterrance , why is the number being hanged going up up up just like everything else in Singapore. Principle my ass.

prav said...

this is abit of a non sequitor but i want to pt it out nvrtheless...

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/224278/1/.html

there's a line dat says "According to Dr. John Tan (not his real name)..."

if its not his bloody real name why cant you just say according to one doctor we interviewed or something like dat??

what kind of primary skool standard of writing is this???

Whispers from the heart said...

Maybe Dr also (not his real profession)

:)

John Riemann Soong said...

Well ambiguous pronouns do get kind of awkward after a while. "(Names changed for privacy)" would have been better though.

Rowen said...

Two types of persons,

A pracmatic and ambitious person who in the end had lady luck shine on him whenever a decision has been made.

The other an idealist who had a greater vision for a more lasting nation.

Both gambled with the faith of a nation. One won and is trying to hold on to his winnings. The other has not and we will not see his like again.

"The lamp who shines the brightest, lasts the shortest too."

Wormie said...

Both men are looking at either side of a coin. One look at the human side - the caring compassion side; the other the material side - housing, infrastructures, business. Neither are wrong nor right. Like Rowen said, "both gambled with the faith of a nation". Imagine if Mr Marshall have won, would the nation be what it is today? Looking around the world today, there are very few if any nation that is both truely compassionate and advance. Just look north and you will see how a "compassionate" government messed up the country.

Anonymous said...

Llok north you see a country ruled by a bloody dictator for 22 years,whose children are billionaires,even he claimed that he was a poor man,and that his children would vene be richer if he were not the PM,only you believe.

Furthe north,you have a country currently ruled by a dictator wanna be,who has a fishy repuataion that even the King also a little worried about him remain in power.After many decades of military rule.

Furtehr north,you ahve "killing field" or the murderous generals of Myanamr,who ruled the country since 1963,and who killed millions to stay in power,who locked up the PM who won an election,etc

Up north to the east you ahve a communist country which just started on Vietnam way to socilist market economy,what compassion are you talking about.

You really got me confused,I doubt I am the only one though!

Anonymous said...

Here in Singapore, we are no differnt from Malysia. We have a son of supreme leader who said that had he not been the son of Lky,he would be a mathematician employed by Havard University and would probably earn more than what he earns now.

There are many more of these to quote but I feel the urge not to say further.

Anonymous said...

For those who keep having the illusion that Singapore leaders are clean, check this out:
http://www.sfdonline.org/Link%20Pages/Link%20Folders/Corruption/singcorruption.html
http://www.sfdonline.org/Link%20Pages/Link%20Folders/Corruption/singcorruption2.html

Anonymous said...

Re-posting the weblinks
(too long to fit into window)

http://www.sfdonline.org/Link%20Pages/
/Link%20Folders/Corruption/
/singcorruption.html

http://www.sfdonline.org/Link%20Pages/
Link%20Folders/Corruption/
singcorruption2.html

pennythots said...

I really do not see what's the fuss here all about whether LKY is a principled man or not.

Does it really matter whether he is principled or not?

He was not born a king, but he made himself an emperor. That in itself is a mark of greatness. Who amongst us could achieve that? Just TRY doing it.

Not only that, but LKY did leave a positive mark on his empire. You can say many unkind things about him, but you cannot say that he was a failure in ruling his kingdom. Only the blind, idealistic and the foolish would.

On the issue of "unscientific assertions" and "silly theories", that's an unfair jab. Neither the court, nor any lawyer, nor any system of law, needs to be "scientifically" certain that an accused is guilty (or not). Neither is it a "silly theory" just because one has a gut feel that the accused is guilty.

We work with assumptions, based on the limited information that is available. That's pretty much similar to the court process. With direct access to the client in privileged circumstances and typically without the client being on the defensive, the lawyer is often the best person to judge (privately) whether a person is guilty or not. It does not mean that the legal question of whether a person committed X crime, tested by due process and the adversarial system, necessarily gives a more truthful or correct answer as to whether an accused committed a crime (although it does arguably give a FAIRER answer).

That is also why most lawyers will NOT directly ask their client whether they did the crime or not. Lawyers do not want to know, so that they can put the best case forward without having to lie to court.

To that extent, it is a false dilemma, but only when the lawyer has cunningly avoided the dilemma in the first place.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Actually I would disagree on you on quite a number of points there. Here's one -

in Singapore at least, defence lawyers make money most quickly and efficiently when the client chooses to plead guilty. That's because the lawyer then goes on to do the mitigation (which is really very straightforward and not time-consuming - basically the lawyer tells the judge the sad story of the client's circumstance and why he deserves a lighter sentence etc) and charge for it -

you can probably prepare 10 mitigation pleas in the time it takes to prepare for one average trial -

and the money you make from 10 mitigation pleas is a lot more than the money you make from one trial.

This:

"That is also why most lawyers will NOT directly ask their client whether they did the crime or not. Lawyers do not want to know, so that they can put the best case forward without having to lie to court."

.... is nonsense, because to prepare for a case, you OF COURSE have to ask for all the relevant details. For example, client is charged with "voluntarily causing hurt to Lim Ah Seng on 9 August 2006 in the void deck of Block 123 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 by slashing his face with a knife."

How could you defend the client without asking him for his version of what happened? Do you think the defence lawyer just creates a story of his own choice??

1. Oh, my client is mentally ill.

2. Oh, mistaken identity. My client was actually in Hougang drinking coffee at that time.

3. Oh, it was an accident. He slipped on the wet ground and his knife accidentally cut Ah Seng's face.

4. Oh, Ah Seng framed my client. Ah Seng deliberately cut his own face with a small knife.

Of course not! You have to ask the client what happened! Or at least for his version of it.

The point is - the defence lawyer REALLY is not a lie-detector. The client says, "Oh, Ah Seng framed me. Ah Seng deliberately cut his own face with a small knife." He then gives a long story about how and why Ah Seng would want to do such a thing. The defence lawyer does not say, "Oh that is a lousy defence. Let's just say that you were in Hougang drinking coffee at that time."

So you have to take your client's word for it, and argue based on what he tells you.

Now, my point is this - I think LKY doesn't like this part of the system, and the reason is that LKY thinks he's very clever, and always knows the truth. For example, in a case like this, he may already have formed the pre-judgment that the client IS guilty, and that the defence of "Ah Seng framed me. Ah Seng deliberately cut his own face with a small knife" is absurd.

The point is that the ethics of the system tell you that you have to defend the client on that basis. Because - there is a chance that the story could be true.

Anonymous said...

Well history is filled with tyrants who in their thirst for power has sacrificed rivers of blood to achieve that end. Would you call those guys great? Not that I am comparing LKY to them, but to me, the end does not justify the means.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung and Idi Amin were all commoners but became kings and emperors in their own right and I sure as hell would never be able to "accomplish" what they have, but I am not going to call them great either.

As for the so-called accomplishments of LKY, lets not forget, the first generation of PAP leaders has as much to do with it as LKY and two, lets see if what LKY has built can survive more than 3 generations down the road.

And above all, there's no one out there who can say with any degree of certainty that singapore would not have done just as well, if not better had David Marshall being the man in charge.

John Riemann Soong said...

Besides, I would think that the attorney-client privilege kind of excludes the entire "doesn't have to lie to court" thing ... because the lawyer won't be actually called to testify.

John Riemann Soong said...

And Mr. Wang always cracks me up. =)

pennythots said...

Mr Wang,
I would agree with you in that PG + mitigation pleas probably give a lawyer more money when compared to a full criminal trial.

But let me extrapolate here. Consider the situation when it's a civil trial, you know your client is a lying tortfeasor or clearly in breach, but you want to push things to trial anyway because it will give you many many more billable hours. Besides, just because he's a lying tortfeasor or in breach, doesn't mean that the court will hold in the same way. Tie up the other side, burn his time and money, strike out his writ, play limitation games.

Along the way, you might also have to point out to your client that X story is not very convincing, point out the holes in his story, and tell your client that perhaps he is mistaken and wishes to reconsider that part of the story which really doesn't sound very correct. Perhaps, hypothetically, Y story would be more believable. Alternatively, he could consider that he could have forgotten about the holes in X story and should rethink his story.

Coming back to crime, I don't see why the above wouldn't be equally applicable to criminal practice.

One would not want to ask an accused whether he is guilty or not. (Of course, even if he tells you that he is, one could validly take the view that he is foolish and very much mistaken... But assuming he is guilty when he says so) That would simply close off the whole gamut of technical points that you could take in court.

It appears that David Marshall himself would have gone for the acquittal, regardless of whether he knew that his client were guilty. The cunning solution is to be blissfully unaware of the crucial fact of whether the guy did it, and assume that he didn't.

Of course, I am not saying that one does not need to know the basic facts necessary to defend the accused. You need to know his story. But one treads on thin ice, when you ask the accused whether he did it, and then the duty not to mislead the court comes into play.

I know I over-simplify here, but the ethics of the system only extend to one not misleading the court; and to acting in the *best interests* of the client. It doesn't extend to giving a run to a story with a rat's ass chance of succeeding in court.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, firstly as a legal principle in sentencing, accused persons who plead guilty at the outset get a lighter sentence than those who are convicted after trial. That's because remorse is officially endorsed as a mitigating factor in sentencing. In practice, if an accused person pleads guilty straightaway and says, "I am so very sorry, Your Honour, that I did this terrible thing and molested the victim",

that is a lot more convincing than if he goes through a five-day trial, and for five days, his position is "I didn't do it! The victim is lying! What a bitch!"

and then, upon conviction, he puts on a contrite face and says, "I am so very sorry, Your Honour, that I did this terrible thing and molested the victim".

So if the defence lawyer really wants to do his best for the client (which according to you is his motivation for not asking "did you do it"?), the defence lawyer firstly wants to know the facts. If the facts, as far as the defence lawyer can establish them to be prior to trial, show that the accused is guilty, then there is no point going to trial (because he still gets convicted in the end, and with a heavier sentence) and the correct legal advice to the client is to plead guilty.

The other thing about asking "Did you do it?" is that it really means getting the facts, not the legal position. It means asking things like, "So where were you on this date and time? Who were you with? What did you see? What did he say? What did you do next? Where did you put the weapon? When did the police come?" It does not mean "Did you commit a crime under section 123 of the ABC Act?"

Because that is the lawyer's arena. The client can tell you the facts of what happened - what crime that may constitute is the lawyer's arena. For example, all robberies are theft; but not all thefts are robberies; also, there are many kinds of robberies, some being subsets of others, and others not; sentencing would differ - for homicide, there are also several ways to kill a person under the Penal Code - murder; CH not amounting to murder; causing death by rash or negligent act etc. Getting the facts from your client allows you to see what alternative charges are possible; even if the client is clearly guilty of something, the lawyer in possession of all the facts can then engage in the plea bargaining process and try to get a lesser charge.

Now, prior to the trial, the client is the defence lawyer's primary source of facts. Logically, if the client's story has important inconsistencies or gaps, the defence lawyer has to ask questions ("You said X, then how is it possible that Y? I don't understand, can you explain?") - otherwise he cannot plan for the next step anyway. Once he gets the facts (as told by the client) down, he can then decide what's the best next step. Defence lawyer has to flush out inconsistencies because otherwise he jeopardises his own client's case - it is better for the inconsistencies to be flushed in the privacy of the lawyer's office, than in open court by the DPP in front of the trial judge.

Clients lie, of course, and the experienced defence lawyer knows this. Still the defence lawyer needs to gather as much of the "facts" as he can, from the client, so that he can check, wherever possible, for independent verification. For example, in a drug consumption case, the client may tell the defence lawyer, "I never took the pills at all. I just sat there and watched my friends take the pills." The defence lawyer then knows what to do - during the pre-trial conference process, he will ask the DPP for the urine test results. On the other hand, if the client says, "My friend Ah Seng told me it was a sweet. I took it, but I did not know that it was an illegal drug," then the defence lawyer sees that the next step is to establish where this Ah Seng is, and whether Ah Seng can confirm this, and is able to testify to this.

I will share with you one more thing from my DPP experience. Actually it is very often the case that when a criminal trial ends, you still do not know lots of things that you would be interested to know. You CAN achieve high certainty on the specific facts necessary to sustain a particular charge (if you did not, the accused goes free). Many other loose ends are however left hanging.

That's because in a criminal case, it's often the case that many witnesses, not just the accused, have motivations to lie. Obviously, mothers lie to save their sons etc but we're just not talking about defence witnesses either.

Criminal cases often take place in rather colourful surroundings, around rather colourful characters; either that, in rather personal or intimate contexts. Prosecution witnesses may also avoid telling the whole truth, because they do not wish to embarrass themselves or fully reveal their connections to the criminal situation.

For example, a prostitute might be assaulted by her customer; a key prosecution witness might be the immediately following customer, who saw the assaulter leaving; however, that key witness may not want to say in court that he had gone to the relevant place at the relevant time to have sex with a prostitute; his testimony may then look somewhat incomplete or shaky, especially if he starts giving unlikely explanations as to why he was where he was, and managed to see what he saw.

Another example is your typical corruption case; it is a crime to accept or receive bribes; yet if a person is charged, say, with accepting a bribe, the key prosecution witness is inevitably the person who received, or was in a position to receive, or solicited, bribes, and that's a dangerously fine factual line, yes ...?

I guess what I'm saying is my previous point again - LKY is really a cocky little fella to believe that he's omniscient and that he knows, before everyone else, and better than everyone else, whether his client is guilty or not. Truth is that the truth comes in lots of different shades of grey.