SINGAPORE - Four new faces were appointed yesterday by President Tony Tan Keng Yam as judicial commissioners. They are Ms Valerie Thean, 45, Mr Aedit Abdullah, 44, Ms Hoo Sheau Peng, also 44, and Associate Professor Debbie Ong Siew Ling, 48, said the Prime Minister's Office.
Judicial commissioners have the same powers and functions as Supreme Court judges to preside in the High Court, but are appointed for a specific period.
All will serve three years except Prof Ong, a law don, who will serve two.
Ms Thean will also be Presiding Judge of the Family Justice Courts from Oct 1. The mother of three is currently Senior District Judge of the Family and Juvenile Justice Division of the State Courts.
The only academic of the four, Prof Ong teaches at the law faculty and was awarded the Singapore Academy of Law Merit Award and the Legal Aid Bureau Amicus Award last year.
Mr Aedit, who was Senior Counsel at the Attorney- General's Chambers (AGC) for two years, most recently defended Singapore's decision to retain Section 377A criminalising sex between men, earlier this year.
As a district judge, he sentenced former National Kidney Foundation CEO T.T. Durai to three months' jail for fraud.
Ms Hoo is also from the AGC and is currently its Civil Division's Deputy Chief Counsel (Advisory and Administration). She has been in the legal service for more than 20 years.
Both Ms Thean and Ms Hoo will assume their new roles on Sept 30, and Mr Aedit and Prof Ong on Nov 17.
Attorney-General V.K. Rajah said in a statement that Ms Hoo and Mr Aedit have been "key members of the AGC leadership and have contributed enormously to make AGC what it is today".
Judicial commissioners were introduced in 1986 to get senior lawyers in private practice on the Bench to help clear the backlog of Supreme Court cases.
They can be named full judges and remain on the Supreme Court's Bench until they turn 65.
With these new appointments, Singapore will have eight judicial commissioners and 14 judges, including Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.
This article was first published on Sep 16, 2014.
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