Wake Up Your Idea
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
  The Caning Story...
CJ Expresses Deep Concern Over Extra Caning Case
"The Chief Justice has directed that the District Judge be formally cautioned and that after he has cleared his outstanding criminal cases, he will be taken off judicial work which involves the signing of warrants of commitment."
"Warrants of commitment will now be checked twice by another court clerk who is not involved in preparing the warrant. A second District Judge will also be involved in the checking system before the warrant is signed by the judge."
- Channel NewsAsia -

Isn't this a tad bit going overboard? Yes, the man was caned in excess. But was he an innocent man who was put to death? Basically, he's a checkered individual himself who deserves the 5 strokes to begin with. Bearing that in mind, what's another 3 strokes more? It was not like he was not to be caned, but rather, the number of strokes of the deserved caning was in error (the true crime would have been if he got LESS).

But this is not the point. Mistakes happen and, Yes, they are bad when they do occur - like in this case. But, No, it is not appropriate to get excited over the incident and start implementing inefficient things. As it is, it's good that everyone takes ownership over what has happened and it's good that apologies have been forthcoming. The problem is the excessive Soap Drama by the authorities.

The Court Clerk has resigned - for making a purely administrative mistake. The Judge has been 'quarantined' for the time being. What is all this smoke screen about? Eventually, (I estimate within 6 months) the Judge will be back to normal duties, or at worst, he would be in another position of equal importance. The poor Court Clerk, however, will probably suffer if his references are checked when applying for another job - and, oh, he can forget about getting a job in the Civil Service - EVER.

Once again, it's topsy-turvy in the land of Singapore Inc. The person who signed the document (ie. authorised/sanctioned the mistake) is none worse for wear whilst the clerical staff who prepared the document is the scapegoat who is skinned alive. In other countries, its the most senior official involved who offers to resign as a sign of remorse. In Singapore Inc, it's the least important party who is conveniently 'advised' to leave - as a misleading show of remorse.

And now, there's going to be a 'Hollywood Blockbuster' of checks and counter-checks for something that has been practised for years and years without incident. As it is, the court system is under-staffed (which statutory board isn't?) and having to do the same job twice is just going to take away time, effort and concentration from somewhere else. Therefore, this is just a case of moving problems around instead of genuinely solving them. In the first place, the fact that one staff prepares and another signs the document is SUPPOSED TO BE A COUNTER-CHECK. Now 4 pairs of eyes are needed?

Honestly, the better idea would be to employ assistants for the court clerks (perhaps at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3) so that a fresh pair of eyes can go through the documentation. But I feel that even this is not necessary. All that is needed is for those who have made a genuine mistake to be forgiven and a general reminder to everyone to be careful.

Remember, none of us are free from guilt or free from mistakes. We are human, stop over reacting.

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