AGC slams TOC's allegation that it misled public over S'porean doctor acquitted of molest

The AGC highlighted multiple allegations in an article published by The Online Citizen.

Matthias Ang | September 02, 2021, 01:22 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

The Attorney's General-Chambers (AGC) has slammed The Online Citizen (TOC) for alleging that it had misled the public over the case of Yeo Sow Nam, a doctor who was accused and acquitted of molest.

In a statement released on Sep. 1, the AGC noted that TOC had published an article regarding an earlier AGC statement on Aug, 31, which said that it will not charge the complainant in Yeo's case and called public statements by Yeo's defence lawyers "misleading and regrettable".

AGC highlighted that "[the] article (by TOC) contains a series of complete falsehoods and makes a variety of unsubstantiated and inflammatory allegations."

The TOC article, authored by its editor Terry Xu and published on Sep. 1, was titled "How shameless can AGC be to accuse a lawyer of abusing the court process, while misleading the public with its allegations?"

What were the allegations by TOC and how did AGC respond?

1. TOC: AGC should have "done the right thing by judging the complainant"

Here, AGC said that TOC had, without basis, determined the guilt of the complainant with such a claim, which is "highly irresponsible."

It noted that TOC had not dealt with the reasons already laid out in its previous statement on Aug. 31, "no doubt because they serve as an inconvenient rebuttal of TOC’s position."

AGC's reasons for not pursuing a case against the complainant were:

  • The inconsistencies in the complainant's evidence did not relate to the substance of her allegations on the whole,
  • There was no evidence to suggest that the complainant fabricated her account of events regarding the alleged outrage of modesty, and
  • The court did not find that the complainant had lied or given inconsistent evidence.

2. TOC: AGC misled the public when it cited multiple provisions in the Women's Charter and Criminal Procedure Code

On this matter, the AGC noted that TOC said that it misled the public by stating that Yeo's lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam, withdrew his application to lift the gag order on the complainant's identity because of AGC citing multiple provisions of the Women’s Charter and the Criminal Procedure Code to show why the application must fail.

Calling TOC's allegation "absurd", the AGC said that its opposition to Thuraisingam's application was proper and correct. It added that TOC had glossed over the fact that AGC had drawn Thuraisingam's attention to the relevant legal provisions and that "it would have been obvious that any such application is bound to fail".

The AGC also questioned Thuraisingam's motives for making the application in the first place, along with oral submissions that he made on Aug. 16 in support of it, despite knowing "full well" that it would have to be withdrawn.

Thuraisingam has since responded to this point in a Sep. 1 Facebook post, explaining his firm's reasons for doing so.

3. TOC: AGC was "protecting its own skin" by not charging complainant

In addition, TOC also alleged that the AGC was "protecting its own skin" by not charging the complainant with any offence, and suggested that it may be revealed during a subsequent hearing that only "one round of interview" was done with the complainant, and that AGC prosecuted Yeo without double-checking.

In response, AGC said that this was "categorically false" and slammed the allegation as disingenuous and dishonest as it was made under the guise of asking "who knows".

The AGC added that no evidence had been provided to support the assertion and that it had been "conveniently" couched as supposition on the part of the author.

4. TOC: Acquittal shows there was wrongdoing on AGC's part

The AGC then turned to addressing what it described as the "baseless assertion" underlying the article: that there is wrongdoing on the part of the AGC in cases that conclude with an acquittal, whether it happens by virtue of the prosecution withdrawing charges, or the court acquitting an accused after a full trial.

Such an assertion mischaracterises the AGC and the judicial process, AGC said, adding that each case the AGC prosecutes is assessed carefully.

AGC explained that the result of prosecutions may not be a conviction for various reasons, including interpretations of the law, a court concluding that a case has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, or, as in the case at hand, a withdrawal of the charges by the prosecution as it is of the view that the legal standards to purse the case are no longer met.

The AGC said, "Unfortunately, TOC, in pursuing its own agenda, ignores this reality."

Top collage via Terry Xu Facebook and Mt Elizabeth Facebook

Follow and listen to our podcast here