'S'pore a model' in drive to curb judicial corruption

'S'pore a model' in drive to curb judicial corruption
The Supreme Court of Singapore.

Singapore could be a model in a new move by a global lawyers' group to wipe out judicial corruption worldwide.

International Bar Association (IBA) president David W. Rivkin pointed to Singapore's clean and honest government and the excellent reputation of its judiciary outside the country. "The independent Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau is a model that other countries may follow," he said.

Mr Rivkin was speaking to The Straits Times following a meeting on the IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative, a flagship project designed to combat judicial corruption worldwide.

The IBA is the world's leading legal organisation with more than 55,000 lawyers and over 190 law societies and Bar associations. It aims to take effective steps to combat judicial corruption where it exists. The Singapore meeting followed the first session in London last month, and was held at the Attorney-General's Chambers.

It was attended by judges, Bar leaders, prosecutors and civil society representatives from eight Asia-Pacific nations, including Singapore.

Mr Rivkin explained: "I chose to conduct this meeting in Singapore because of its strong tradition of judicial integrity. I have spoken about the subject many times with Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and he expressed strong support for the IBA project and what we can achieve given our global strength."

Mr Rivkin said the meeting discussed at length the nature of judicial corruption and actions that have been effective and ineffective in deterring it. "We left the meeting with many ideas about how the IBA should proceed with the initiative in order to be successful," he said. A specific work plan will be developed over the next two years.

"This will likely include more specific study of the manner in which judicial corruption arises and best practices that countries have implemented to prevent it.

"Singapore may be a good case study for the latter. We may also draft specific steps that our individual and Bar association members should follow."

Lauding the country's "outstanding reputation as a clean and honest government", he added: "The reputation of the Singapore judiciary outside the country is excellent, both for the quality of the judges and for their integrity. That is why the newly created Singapore International Commercial Court will be attractive to many foreign parties."

Lawyers here said various mechanisms in place here deter and discourage corruption. Giving one example, SMU law graduate Chan Yuk Lun said: "Judges' salaries are pegged in a realistic way to appropriate private-sector pay levels and systems elsewhere may well consider this."

vijayan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 21, 2015.
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