Public pressure may be new constant with social media

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam was right to urge the public to avoid pressuring judges in sentencing in order to preserve the sanctity of the legal system (Avoid pressuring judges in sentencing: Shanmugam; Dec 21).

Unfortunately, I do not think his advice will be heeded, in the light of the existence of social media.

Social media is a tool used to amplify social pressure.

Petitions are easy and cheap with social media. The authorities today - ministers, courts, presidents and religious leaders - are all under pressure, and their decisions and power are constantly being scrutinised and challenged, especially online.

Though social media should not influence the legal verdicts of the courts, it is now par for the course that the prosecution, the defence and judges are assailed by public opinion.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'Public pressure may be new constant with social media'. Print Edition | Subscribe