A Former PAP MP Has Been Appointed Deputy Attorney-General – And It’s Never Happened Before

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Hri Kumar Nair appointed Deputy Attorney-General

Singapore has a new deputy attorney-general, and there are concerns over this new name in our courts.

Former People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Hri Kumar Nair was appointed deputy attorney-general (DAG) for a term of three years, effective on Mar 1. The DAG will answer to the attorney-general, and discharge duties as assigned. He will have the status of a High Court judge.

Mr Nair was the member of parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency between 2006 and 2015.

This is the first time a former member of a political party has taken up the position of deputy attorney-general in Singapore.

What Is A Deputy Attorney-General?

Operations in the law and justice department is overseen by the Deputy Attorney-General, and the person in power may act as Attorney-General during the Attorney-General’s absence.

The Deputy Attorney-General is required to be independent and stand up to the government if the occasion calls for it.

The 50-year-old has over 25 years of experience as a lawyer and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2008. He is also a director at Drew & Napier, one of Singapore’s largest law firms.

Deputy-Attorney-General-BishanGRCSource

According to Today, Mr Nair is no longer a member of the PAP. When asked when he resigned, the PAP declined to give a response.

The Concerns

In the past, Mr Nair has not been averse to calling out opposition parties in response to perceived unprofessionalism.  

An example of this was during the AHPETC (Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council) saga, when he openly expressed his views about the opposition party.

Deputy-Attorney-General-Hri-Nair-4Source

Mr Nair was also one of the most vocal critics of the AHPETC in parliament at that time.

In conjunction with the saga, he wrote in a Facebook note titled “AHPETC – Why The Silence?”, highlighting seven basic questions that he said the WP had not answered.

This included other comments:

The WP says that it accepts that the AGO is professional and independent. It says that it accepts the High Court judgment. But 6 months on, we are no closer to knowing the truth. Significantly, the WP has avoided stating categorically that no public funds have been lost, and no damage suffered. How could it, given its own conduct?

Mr Nair added:

The WP has lawyers, and it knows it can be done. But the WP does not want to do it. Why not?

With such blatant expression of animosity towards the opposition party, it’s not surprising some Singaporeans have raised their concerns about the ex-PAP member taking up the position of Singapore’s Deputy Attorney-General – a position that requires its helmer to have non-partisan views.

WP Responds

A politician that has questioned Mr Nair’s taking on of the role is Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim, who is also MP of Aljunied GRC.

Ms Lim wrote about her thoughts on her Facebook page and said she was asked about her concerns over Mr Nair’s appointment, but was told that her response would not be published due to “lack of space”.

Here’s what Ms Lim had to say:

In case you can’t see it, here’s the status in full:

JUSTICE FOR ALL (Part 2).

PMO has announced that Mr Hri Kumar, former PAP MP, will be appointed Deputy Attorney-General with effect from March 2017.

I was asked by a local paper whether I had any concerns about partisanship, given that Mr Kumar was such a strong critic of AHPETC, our WP-run Town Council.

I gave my response as follows (which I was just told would not be published due to lack of space):

“It is critical that persons entrusted with vast prosecutorial discretion act in the public interest, and not for partisan political gain. The appointment of a former PAP MP to such a post is not ideal. Whether my concerns prove to be founded or otherwise – remains to be seen”.

All The Best

Of course, we are by no means implying that Mr Nair will be prejudiced while on the job.

He’s just the first former politician who is taking up the position, so he’s already making history — and people like to talk about history.

We wish him all the best in his new role.

Featured image from Facebook

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