70 Justices of the Peace appointed

Prof Teng Su Ching has been a JP since 2005. She finds it rewarding to be able to help offenders better themselves.
Prof Teng Su Ching has been a JP since 2005. She finds it rewarding to be able to help offenders better themselves.PHOTO: HOME TEAM NEWS, MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

Teng Su Ching one of 33 women JPs out of a total of 178 currently

More than 10 years ago, Associate Professor Teng Su Ching volunteered at Changi Women's Prison, and kept in touch with the women she met.

What was most inspiring for her was the chance to solemnise some of their weddings, after she was first appointed a Justice of the Peace (JP) in 2005.

"I saw how they'd really put in a lot of effort to get themselves back onto their feet," said the 67-year-old.

Yesterday, Dr Teng was one of 70 JPs appointed - or reappointed - by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

JPs serve as Visiting Justices of the Prisons, mediators in the State Courts or marriage solemnisers in the Registry of Marriages. They may also perform the duties of the magistrate conferred on them by any written law.

There are currently a total of 178 JPs. Of these, 33 are women.

"To be reappointed allows me to be part of this rewarding process of helping offenders and ex-offenders better themselves," said Dr Teng, who will be serving her third term as JP. Each term lasts five years.

Beyond her day job as director of the Centre for Continuing and Professional Education at SIM University, Prof Teng volunteers at the Singapore Children's Society and Singapore After-Care Association.

Among factors considered in picking JPs are their contributions to the public service, social services, community and professional fields.

For first-term JP, Mr Rajan Krishnan, 64, the appointment is an extension of his work within the Hindu community for the last 30 years.

Said the CEO of civil engineering company KTC Group and chairman of the Hindu Advisory Board: "I've been familiar with volunteer work but, as a JP, I'm aware of the social responsibility (I) will carry with this role... I hope to contribute to a more just and even society."

Such sentiments are familiar to Mr Choo Si Sen, one of the longest- serving JPs, who was reappointed for a fourth term.

Over his last 15 years as a JP, the practising lawyer has mediated neighbourly and family disputes in the Subordinate Courts - now called the State Courts - at least once a month. "It's very meaningful to be able to help them settle their disputes so that they don't have to go to court," the 74-year-old added.

Mr Choo's duties as a marriage solemniser have taken him to locations all over Singapore, from the Singapore Flyer to HDB flats.

"I feel very happy because it helps to bring our population up," said Mr Choo, with a laugh.

Smiling, Prof Teng added: "It's a happy job. It's always nice to see young people get married, right?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline '70 Justices of the Peace appointed'. Print Edition | Subscribe