Attorney-General of Singapore

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Attorney-General of
the Republic of Singapore
Incumbent
Lucien Wong, SC

since 14 Jan 2017
Style The Honourable
Appointer President of Singapore
acting in his discretion and in concurrence with the advice of the Prime Minister
Term length For specific period or otherwise until age of 60
Constituting instrument Constitution of Singapore, art 35(1)
Inaugural holder Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim
Formation 9 Aug 1965
Deputy
  • Deputy Attorney-General
  • Solicitor-General
Website www.agc.gov.sg

The Attorney-General of the Republic of Singapore (AG) is the legal adviser to the Government of Singapore and the Public Prosecutor (PP). He carries out his functions with the assistance of his deputies, including the Deputy Attorney-General (DAG) and the Solicitor-General (SG), through the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC). The current Attorney-General is Lucien Wong, SC.

The office of attorney-general was born in Singapore in 1867, when the British crown appointed an Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements, based in Singapore, to serve as legal adviser to the new crown colony's government. Today, the President of Singapore appoints the Attorney-General, acting in his discretion and in concurrence with the Prime Minister's advice, under Article 35 of the Constitution of Singapore.[1] Unlike some countries that follow the Westminster parliamentary model, the Attorney-General is not a member of Parliament.[2]

Functions

The Attorney-General's Chambers' offices at 1 Pickering Street, its home since 2013.

The Attorney-General has two distinct roles, as the Government's legal adviser and as the Public Prosecutor,[2] in which he is assisted by legal officers in the AGC's five divisions.

Government legal adviser

The Attorney-General's role as the Government's legal adviser is performed by the AGC's Civil Division. His functions include advising ministries and organs of state on legal matters, drafting and vetting contracts and legal documents and representing the Government in international initiatives and litigation matters, among others. He is also the Protector of Charities.[3]

The International Affairs Division advises Government agencies on international-law issues, represents Singapore in bilateral and multilateral negotiations, and negotiates and drafts multilateral and bilateral legal instruments, among other roles.[4]

The Legislation Division comprises four groups. The Law Drafting Group drafts legislation and advises Government agencies on development of legislation. The Legislative Editorial and Revision Group undertakes law revision. The Law Publication Group maintains Singapore Statutes Online, among other duties. The Business Services and Governance Group provides administrative support to the other groups.[5]

Public Prosecutor

The Attorney-General's role as the Public Prosecutor is performed by the AGC's Criminal Justice Division and the Financial and Technology Crimes Division. He has the power to institute, conduct or discontinue any prosecution at his discretion.[6][2]

History

V. K. Rajah, who became Attorney-General on 25 June 2014, attending a symposium at the University of Hong Kong in November 2010 when he was a Judge of Appeal

Pre-1867

Between the grant of the Second Charter of Justice in 1826 and the formation of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements in 1867, the function of legal adviser to the government in Singapore was vested in various offices. From 1826 to 1855, it was the Recorder of the Prince of Wales Island, Malacca and Singapore; from 1855 to 1864, the Recorder of Singapore; and from 1864 to 1867, the Crown Counsel, Singapore.[7]

1867–1942: Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements

The office of Attorney-General was created on 1 Apr 1867, when Sir Thomas Braddell was appointed as the first Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements. He was based in Singapore while his Solicitor-General, Daniel Logan, was based in Penang.[7]

1942–1945: Japanese Occupation of Singapore

Following the fall of Singapore on 15 Feb 1942, Japanese troops arrested the Attorney-General, Charles Gough Howell, KC, who died in Japanese captivity. Concurrently, the civilian courts ceased to function.

Subsequently, the Japanese military administration established the office of Kensatsu-kan, or Attorney-General and Public Prosecutor,[8] presumably on 27 May 1942 when the civilian courts were re-opened by proclamation.[9]

1945–1946: British Military Administration

Following the formal surrender of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia on 12 Sept 1945, the responsibility of rendering legal advice to the British Military Administration of Malaya lay with its Chief Legal Officer.[7]

1946–1959: Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of Singapore

When Singapore became a crown colony on 1 Apr 1946, Sir Edward John Davies, KC was appointed as the first Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of Singapore.[7]

1959–1965: State Advocate-General of the State of Singapore

After the State of Singapore gained full internal self-governance in 1959, Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim was appointed as the State Advocate-General, becoming Singapore’s first non-British government legal adviser.

Post-1965: Attorney-General of the Republic of Singapore

Following the Republic of Singapore's independence on 9 Aug 1965, Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim became the republic’s first Attorney-General.[7]

List of office holders

Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements

# Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements Took office Left office
1 Thomas Braddell 1 Apr 1867 1 Jan 1883
John Augustus Harwood (acting) 2 Jan 1883 2 Oct 1883
2 John Winfield Bonser 3 Oct 1883 6 Nov 1893
3 William Robert Collyer 7 Nov 1893 4 Feb 1906
John Robert Innes (acting) 5 Feb 1906 28 Feb 1907
4 Walter John Napier 1 Mar 1907 31 Dec 1909
5 Frederick Belfield 1 Jan 1910 20 Feb 1911
6 Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell 21 Feb 1911 24 Jan 1913
Evelyn Campbell Elli (acting) 25 Jan 1913 24 Apr 1913
7 Gerald Aubrey Goodman 25 Apr 1913 18 Nov 1919
8 James William Murison 19 Nov 1919 9 Jul 1925
9 Michael Whitley 10 Jul 1925 12 Jul 1929
10 Walter Huggard 13 Jul 1929 20 Apr 1933
11 Percy Alexander McElwaine 21 Apr 1933 10 Aug 1936
Newnham Arthur Worley (acting) 27 Oct 1936 10 Dec 1936
12 Charles Gough Howell 11 Aug 1936 14 Feb 1942

Kensatsu-kan of Syonan-to

# Kensatsu-kan of Syonan-to From To
15 Feb 1942 26 May 1942
1 Ichihara Kakka 27 May 1942 11 Sep 1945

Chief Legal Officer, British Military Administration of Malaya

# Chief Legal Officer, British Military Administration Took office Left office
1 Lieutenant Colonel T. C. Spencer-Wilkinson 12 Sep 1945 31 Mar 1946

Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of Singapore

# Attorney-General of the Crown Colony of Singapore Took office Left office
1 Sir Edward John Davies, KC 1 Apr 1946 5 Sep 1955
2 Charles Harris Butterfield, QC 6 Sep 1955 1 Jul 1957
3 Ernest Pattison Shanks, QC 2 Jul 1957 24 Jun 1959

State Advocate-General of the State of Singapore

# State Advocate-General of the State of Singapore Took office Left office Previous office Subsequent office
1 Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim 25 Jun 1959 8 Aug 1965 Crown Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor Attorney-General of Singapore

Attorney-General of the Republic of Singapore

# Attorney-General of the Republic of Singapore Took office Left office Previous office Subsequent office
1 Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim 9 Aug 1965 31 Jan 1967 State Advocate-General of Singapore Ambassador to the United Arab Republic
Tan Boon Teik (acting) 1 Feb 1967 31 Dec 1968
2 Tan Boon Teik, SC 1 Jan 1969 30 Apr 1992 Solicitor-General of Singapore Chairman, Singapore International Arbitration Centre
3 Chan Sek Keong, SC 1 May 1992 10 Apr 2006 Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore Chief Justice of Singapore
4 Chao Hick Tin, SC 11 Apr 2006 11 Apr 2008 Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore
5 Walter Woon, SC 11 Apr 2008 10 Apr 2010 Solicitor-General of Singapore Professor, National University of Singapore Faculty of Law
Koh Juat Jong, SC (acting) 11 Apr 2010 30 Sep 2010
6 Sundaresh Menon, SC 1 Oct 2010 24 Jun 2012 Managing Partner, Rajah & Tann Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore
7 Steven Chong, SC 25 Jun 2012 24 Jun 2014 Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore
8 V K Rajah, SC 25 Jun 2014 13 Jan 2017 Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore Retired
9 Lucien Wong, SC 14 Jan 2017 Incumbent Chairman and Senior Partner, Allen & Gledhill

Notes

  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Rev Ed), art 35(1).
  2. ^ a b c Woon, Walter (29 September 2017). "The public prosecutor, politics and the rule of law". The Straits Times. 
  3. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 17 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 9 July 2017. 
  5. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 23 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Overview of Functions". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 23 February 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Overview of AGC's History". Attorney-General's Chambers. Attorney-General's Chambers. 21 Feb 2017. 
  8. ^ "A History Of The Singapore Legal Service". Singapore Academy of Law. Singapore Academy of Law. 2017. 
  9. ^ Kevin Tan Yew Lee, "The Evolution of Singapore’s Modern Constitution: Developments From 1945 to the Present Day" (1989) 1 SAcLJ 1 at 5–6.

Bibliography

  • Braddell, R. St.J (1983). The Law of the Straits Settlements: A Commentary. South East Asia: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195825594. 

External links

  • List of Attorney-Generals of Singapore
  • Attorney-General's Chambers website
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