Lawyer Edmund Wong Sin Yee rapped for misconduct

Disciplinary tribunal orders him to pay $3,000 for using expletives in a trial

A day after he was rapped by a judge for highlighting the breast size of a molestation victim, it was revealed that the same lawyer has also been ordered by a disciplinary tribunal to pay $3,000 for improper conduct in using expletives in a separate trial.

The tribunal, appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, last month found lawyer Edmund Wong Sin Yee liable for the remarks, one of which was made to a deputy public prosecutor and the other to another defence lawyer which was heard by both DPPs present. The tribunal, comprising Senior Counsel Edwin Tong and lawyer Pradeep Pillai, set a $1,000 penalty for one charge and $2,000 for using the "f" word in the second charge. He was also ordered to pay the Law Society $6,500 in costs.

"The use of expletives by counsel during proceedings cannot be condoned," said the tribunal in its report released yesterday.

The offensive remarks were made at a criminal trial last September. When DPP Houston Tian Jin Johannus asked a witness to recount the sexual acts she had performed on a customer, Mr Wong muttered to the DPP to ask her "whether shiok (enjoyable) or not".

 

Two days later, while another defence lawyer was cross-examining the same woman, Mr Wong uttered an expletive in response to the witness' reply. It was heard by Mr Houston and DPP Rachel Lee.

Senior Counsel Chelva R. Rajah, defending Mr Wong, said the first remark was made as a joke on the spur of the moment. As for the expletive, it was part of a prompt to his co-defence counsel to put a question to the witness.

The tribunal accepted the word was made in context but was loud enough to be heard by the two DPPs. It also noted that Mr Wong had written to apologise to the Attorney-General. Yesterday, he said he had " moved on and put the incident behind", expressing regret.

In judgment grounds released on Thursday, District Judge Shawn Ho said Mr Wong's conduct was completely unacceptable when defending a 24-year-old student from China who was found guilty of brushing his forearm against the breast of a 22-year-old woman in an MRT train two years ago.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline 'Lawyer rapped for misconduct'. Print Edition | Subscribe