Valedictory Letter from PM Lee Hsien Loong to Attorney-General V K Rajah SC
Mr V K Rajah SC
As you complete your term as Attorney-General and retire from public service, I write to thank you for your outstanding contributions to Singapore over the past 13 years.
Before entering public service, you were one of Singapore’s leading commercial lawyers. You were among the first batch of Senior Counsel appointed in 1997, and led one of our largest law firms.
In 2004, after 20 years of practice, you were appointed a Judicial Commissioner, and within the year a Supreme Court Judge. Three years later, you became a Judge of Appeal, a position you held until 2014.
You left a mark during your decade on the Supreme Court Bench, contributing prolifically to Singapore’s jurisprudence. Many of your judgments have shaped the development of Singapore law.
Of particular note were your decisions that concerned criminal law. You delivered landmark rulings that clarified the law on criminal liability for common intention, as well as aspects of the law on sentencing. These judgements reflected your commitment to a fair criminal justice system that tempers justice with compassion.
Beyond the courtroom, you helmed committees which have enhanced the administration of justice and the vibrancy of our legal profession. Perhaps the most significant was the Committee to Develop the Singapore Legal Sector. The Committee comprehensively reviewed the entire legal services sector, and made bold and important recommendations.
A key focus was to liberalise our legal services, and build up Singapore’s exportable legal services in the areas of mediation and arbitration. These reforms changed the complexion of our legal sector, and have made us a vibrant legal services hub.
This Committee also proposed to develop Singapore as a centre of legal education, and enhance post-graduate and professional training. One result was the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, an umbrella institution overseeing vocational training and continuing education for the legal fraternity. Given your involvement in the reforms, it was natural for you to become the Institute’s first Chairman. Under your leadership, the Institute introduced a mandatory continuing professional development scheme, and pioneered the use of technology through Internet teaching and learning methodologies.
More recently, in 2013, you chaired the 4th Committee on the Supply of Lawyers, which led to the establishment of Singapore’s third law school.
Beyond legal education, you actively promoted the use of Singapore law in the region. In 2004, you chaired a Working Committee to study this and went on to head the newly-formed standing International Promotion of Singapore Committee. Over the past decade, the Committee’s initiatives have helped raise the profile of Singapore law beyond our shores.
In 2014, the Committee for Family Justice, which you co-chaired with Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah, proposed comprehensive and far-reaching changes that transformed Singapore’s family justice system.
Given these distinguished contributions, it was not surprising that your appointment as Attorney-General in 2014 was warmly received by the legal fraternity. Your able leadership of the Chambers during your term did not disappoint. As Public Prosecutor, you were steadfast in upholding justice and fairness as guardian of the public interest. You emphasized fair prosecution and outcomes, even when cases did not go in the Chambers’ favour. In 2015 you appealed for a reduced sentence on behalf of an accused person, the first time this had ever happened.
At an institutional level, you implemented strategic measures to strengthen and equip the Attorney-General’s Chambers, including setting up an AGC Academy to raise professional standards across the various divisions in the Chambers.
In every appointment, you have carried out your duties with dynamism and commitment. You have improved our legal system, and made a difference to future generations of lawyers.
Last year, when I asked you to continue as Attorney-General beyond the current term, you told me that you had decided to retire from public service and pursue a more active role in the arbitration sector. I respect your decision, and look forward to your contributing in this new capacity to promote Singapore as an international arbitration hub.
I thank you for your years of dedicated service to Singapore, and wish you every success in your future endeavours.
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