Sunday, 16 September 2012

Blast from the Past: Pan-Electric (2)

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) in Singapore has responded to the claims from Glenn Knight. It should be noted that Tan Koon Swan had pleaded quilty and that 14 other charges were not proceeded. This case will not be re-opened, as far as I can see, but still interesting that this old but very important case suddenly popped up again.

..... the AGC pointed out in its statement that CJ Yong had noted in his judgment that there had been no arguments about the correctness of the charge against Mr Tan when it was made.

The AGC said CJ Yong "did not go into any detailed discussion of Mr Tan Koon Swan's case or Mr Knight's conduct of the case. Specifically, CJ Yong did not express any opinion that Mr Tan was wrongly charged".

The AGC also stated that although CJ Yong might have disagreed with the view of the law in Mr Tan's case, his decision "could not and did not overrule" the decision in Mr Tan's case, as both cases had already been decided by the High Court, said The Straits Times.

"Differences in the courts' pronouncements on the law occur, especially in legal systems based on the common law," said the AGC. It added that the public prosecutor had decided to charge Mr Tan based on the evidence against him and the law. Mr Tan's lawyers had not taken issue with the charge or his conviction based on the law and facts.

Said the AGC: "Mr Tan Koon Swan was convicted on the basis of his own plea of guilt, based on the law and facts as was accepted by his own counsel."

There were 14 other charges not proceeded with against Mr Tan, who had already pleaded guilty to criminal breach of trust.

The AGC added: "It was said that the judgment in Cheam Tat Pang meant that Mr Tan Koon Swan had been wrongly convicted and that he was technically an innocent man. Mr Tan Koon Swan’s conviction stands, and he remains guilty of the crime that he had admitted to."

The AGC also highlighted another error made by Mr Knight in his book. He had said "the sentence imposed as including a fine of $1 million". The correct fine was $500,000, said the AGC.

When contacted by The Straits Times last night, Mr Knight said as there were two differing High Court judgments on the same issue, the matter should have been referred to the Court of Appeal for a clarification.

"At the end of the day, after CJ Yong's judgment in 1996, nobody has been charged since then under that particular section, to my knowledge."

For Malaysia, it was another case of mixing business with politics. Another old (updated) case is reported in the SCMP.

Some snippets:

UNITED NATIONS negotiator Razali Ismail has won praise for his efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar. He also is being criticised over a business deal his firm was clinching with the military regime as he was in talks for the release from house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The former Malaysian ambassador was not doing anything unusual, observers said. The links between politics and business in Malaysia had become so entwined that such practices were common.

Malaysia experts interviewed by the South China Morning Post were split on whether Mr Razali, who has denied any conflict of interest, may have harmed the process of returning democracy to Myanmar. Pro-democracy activists and Western analysts - while stressing the details of the deal brokered by the Malaysian company Iris Technologies and the junta were not known - said such practices were wrong.

The Malaysian system has also been dragged into focus and activists said Mr Razali had highlighted an area needing reform.

Ms Gabriel said the revelations embarrassed Malaysians.

'This practice is something that human rights activists in Malaysia and I'm sure many other parts of the world are very concerned about,' she said. 'This uneasy mix of business and playing public roles as various personalities in negotiating for freedom or leading a country or being kept in an administrative role carries a very serious threat.' She called for Mr Razali's resignation from his UN post.

Her observations were backed by Mr Rasiah, who said the proximity of political interests and business was so common in Malaysia that sometimes it was not seen as a problem.

He did not believe the majority of Malaysians supported the system, but they could do little about it.

'There's not much scope to criticise the political leaders and to stop them,' he said.


  1. I enjoy reading your posts, which are typically insightful and well written. Well done. I only have one small complaint about this post, namely your qualifying the 2002 South China Morning Post article as "very recent".

    I also doubt that the close ties between business and politics should come as a surprise to anyone, viz. Mitt Romney and Bain (and all the Republicans generally), Murdoch and the Brits, et. al.

    My general complaint about Malaysians would be their lack of class and tact (unartful?) in the execution of their indiscretions.

  2. Thanks for the update, I found the link through Google which wrote "published 5 days ago", so I didn't check the date of the article. I amended the posting.

    I agree, many other countries in the world suffer from ties between politics and business, and the US is an example. But at least they are more open about it.