While Kong Hee has expressed "disappointment" over his conviction, many more Singaporeans were disappointed or even angry that he and his gang get their sentences halved!
Apparently the sentences meted out by the judges in reduction of their sentences by half, are totally out of expectation and out of sync with public sentiments.
While we expect the court to be independent from "populist" sentiments as well as any other interference but to have a judgement which is totally in reverse of public expectation would create a lot of unnecessary speculations and distrust of our judiciary.
It is of utmost important for the court to publicize and lay out the basis of their judgement and try to convince the public as well as the legal profession that their judgement is right with legal basis in granting a slash of half the initial jail terms meted out by the High Court. It is an important case which may have dire consequences for future similar cases as a precedence.
In contrast to the previous cases of Mingyi monk who was sentenced to jail of 10 months which was reduced to 6 months later for a the $50K illegal loan a close aide along with forgery of documents as well as TT Durai NKF case which he was sentenced to 3 months jail term for forging invoices, this case involves millions and far more complex financial arrangement. in channeling funds to benefit the spouse's singing career, an immediate family member, of Kong Hee. These three cases would become important case study for the law school and the legal argument should be properly set out.
Although in the CHC case, the sentences are seemingly relatively more severe than the previous two cases, but it begs the question of whether our court or legal system is just too lenient to people who misappropriate public funds.
Misappropriation of public funds as compared to private funds should be of more serious consequences as it involves public trust in public institutions. However, these three cases have somehow gave the public the impression or mis-perception that misappropriation of public funds is of lesser consequences to those found guilty of CBT in private companies.
As the saying goes, Justice needs to be done and seen to be done as well. The disparity between public expectation and the sentences meted out by our court may not be a good sign for Singapore and it needs to be resolved asap.
Goh Meng Seng
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