SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced 'a sea of change' in the Singapore Legal Service (SLS) and paid tribute to its officers at the Legal Service Dinner held at Shangri-La Hotel yesterday evening, reported The Business Times.
Since the last dinner held in 2010, PM Lee said that the legal service and the world have seen significant changes, prompting a growing need for more specialised and expert legal skills.
He announced that two separate career tracks will be created for the middle ranks of the Legal Service, reported The Straits Times, to give officers greater opportunities for specialisation.
Eligible officers will be given the option of choosing the judicial or the legal track, said PM Lee. This change to be implemented next April was discussed with Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Attorney-General Steven Chong and Minister for Law K Shanmugam, who were all present at the dinner yesterday evening.
To oversee the two career paths, PM Lee that two new personnel boards under the LSC will be established - the Legal Branch Personnel Board and the Judicial Branch Personnel Board. Both branches will replace the current Special and Senior Personnel Boards, reported The Business Times, and will be chaired by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
Addressing the audience, PM Lee also talked about the ways to strengthen the legal system.
He recalled the words spoken by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1962: "The acid test of any legal system is not the greatness or grandeur of its ideal concepts, but whether in fact it is able to produce order and justice in the relationships between man and man, and between man and the State."
PM Lee said that these principles remain true even today, and Singapore must be guided by what works best for the country. He said that the Republic needs to adapt our laws, which have been inherited from the English, to suit Singapore's customs and circumstances.
He said that it will study other countries during its process of drafting new laws and see how others have dealt with the same problems.
In his speech, PM Lee paid tribute to the officers and called on his audience to carry out their duties and uphold the rule of law without fear or favour, reported The Straits Times.
Chief Justice Menon also addressed the audience and noted that the Legal Service today has become larger and more diverse, and that they have also become more capable and adaptable than ever before. Having the prime minister at the dinner service, he said, elevates the significance of the occasion and the importance of the legal service to a national level.
After the speeches, the dinner continued with musical performances by members of the legal community and a three-course meal prepared by Shangri-La Hotel's chefs.