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Lawyer takes issue with judge's criticism

Mr Punch Coomaraswamy led a one-man inquiry into a union corruption case.
Mr Punch Coomaraswamy led a one-man inquiry into a union corruption case.

Lawyer Punch Coomaraswamy made the news 50 years ago this week while leading an inquiry into the running of the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union.

He had been appointed by the Government as a one-man Commission of Inquiry to look into allegations of corruption in the union.

The union's former secretary-general had been suspended following the allegations and had filed a lawsuit. His case was before Justice Murray Buttrose, who was reported as saying that the delays by the commission were "scandalous".

The Straits Times reported on July 13, 1965, that Mr Coomaraswamy protested against the judge's comments, saying he took the "strongest possible exception".

Mr Coomaraswamy added that he felt the comments held "an oblique reference to my motives in accepting this commission".

Born in Johor, Mr Coomaraswamy practised law in the 1960s, before being made Deputy Speaker, and then Speaker of Parliament.

From 1970 to 1984, he was Singapore's envoy to eight countries, including India, Australia and the United States. He was a High Court judge from 1984 to 1993, and died in 1999 at the age of 73.

Jennani Durai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline 'Lawyer takes issue with judge's criticism'. Print Edition | Subscribe