Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon paid a tribute to the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister who died early Monday morning at the age of 91, calling him a lifelong champion of the rule of law.
"The Judiciary joins the nation in mourning the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore and a much admired and respected member of the Singapore Bar," he said in a statement.
The late Mr Lee was called to the Singapore Bar on August 7, 1951, and practised law until he took office as Prime Minister in 1959. Chief Justice Menon said Mr Lee continued to be deeply interested in the development of Singapore's legal profession and its legal system.
He pointed to a speech that Mr Lee delivered in 1962 that reminded members of the Bench and the Bar of the need to discharge their respective roles and responsibilities ably so as to ensure that Singapore's judicial and legal system worked fairly and expeditiously for the benefit of all in society.
"Mr Lee was a lifelong champion of the rule of law and from the outset of his tenure as Prime Minister he set out to eradicate corruption in public institutions," said Chief Justice Menon.
"To Mr Lee, the worth of a legal system was to be assessed not simply by the greatness or grandeur of its theoretical underpinnings, but more importantly, by whether it operated well at a practical level to ensure order and justice in dealings among citizens and also in the relationship between the citizenry and the State. These ideals remain relevant to the Judiciary and to our society today, as we persevere in our quest to ensure that justice is fair and accessible to all."
He added that Mr Lee, a keen proponent of continuous learning and development, pushed the Bar to be international in its outlook.
"More than a quarter of a century later, the SAL (Singapore Academy of Law) continues in its endeavour to ensure that the legal fraternity remains up-to-date with the latest legal developments from across the world so that it is well-placed to learn from the best of these and to incorporate them within our system."
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