Asia

Lawyers spar over comments allegedly made by Shanmugam concerning Chief Justice

SINGAPORE – Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam has rejected allegations that he had said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told him that the minister “wields influence over” the Chief Justice of Singapore.

In a letter addressed to Mr Shanmugam and made public in a Facebook post on Friday (Nov 6), Mr Thuraisingam wrote that “there is absolutely no truth whatsoever” to the accusation, which also includes claims that Mr Shanmugam had said that he “calls the shots and controls” Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

The allegation was first made three years ago by lawyer M Ravi in 2017 in a Facebook post, in which Mr Ravi said he had records of the conversation, and resurfaced by Mr Ravi in another Facebook post on Friday.

According to Mr Ravi’s version of events, Mr Thuraisingam had related the offending comments over drinks at Chijmes in 2017.

He also wrote that Mr Thuraisingam has more than once repeated similar statements made by Mr Shanmugam. “I have heard this thousands of times when he gets drunk,” he wrote.

Mr Ravi told The Straits Times on Friday night that he stood by his statements and was prepared to bring the matter to court.

“From my experience of Menon (Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon), he is extremely fair and I have the highest of respect for him. I am unhappy that the minister is going around talking about his influence over the Chief Justice, if what Mr Thuraisingam says is true,” he said.

“I am not questioning the independence of the judiciary, but upset about the potential abuse of power.”

Mr Ravi added that he had found witnesses willing to testify to the truth of his statements.

Mr Thuraisingam, a criminal lawyer who founded the law firm Eugene Thurasingam LLP,wrote in his letter to Mr Shanmugam: “You have never said anything of that nature to me.

“I have also never told Mr Ravi that you had said anything of that nature to me.”

He added that Mr Ravi has to date not produced the records he has claimed to have that supports his allegations.

He told The Straits Times that Mr Ravi was attacking him and his legal firm “without any basis due to his medical condition”.

Mr Ravi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006, and had not been able to practice law in the court room for four years. He received his practising certificate again last year.

Mr Ravi said in reply that he has taken his medication and complied with the undisclosed conditions stipulated in the award of his practising certificate.

“I should not be discriminated because of my medical condition because it could be easily used against many human rights lawyers framed around the world as being mentally ill when they criticise the system,” he said.

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