Tan Boon Teik

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Tan Boon Teik
陈文德

DUBC, SC
Tan Boon Teik.jpg
Attorney-General of Singapore
In office
1 February 1967 – 30 April 1992
Preceded by Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim[1]
Succeeded by Chan Sek Keong
Solicitor-General of Singapore
In office
1 September 1963 – 31 January 1967
Preceded by T. Kulasekaram
Personal details
Born 17 January 1929
Penang, Straits Settlements (now part of Malaysia)
Died 10 March 2012(2012-03-10) (aged 83)
Singapore
Nationality Singaporean
Spouse(s) Tan Sook Yee
Alma mater University College London
Religion Roman Catholic
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Tan (Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén).

Tan Boon Teik (/ˌtɑːn ˌbʊn ˈtk/ tahn-buun-TAYK; Chinese: 陈文德; pinyin: Chén Wéndé;[2] 17 January 1929 – 10 March 2012), DUBC, SC, was a former Attorney-General of Singapore, holding the office on an acting basis from 1967 to 1968, and the full position from 1969 through to 1992. Appointed when he was 39 years old, he is believed to have been the youngest person to hold this post and, as of 10 March 2012, was the longest serving Attorney-General of post-independence Singapore, having held office for just over 25 years.

Educated at University College London, Tan was called to the Bar in 1952 as a barrister-at-law of England and Wales by Middle Temple, and became an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Federation of Malaya in 1954. He joined the Singapore Legal Service in 1955 as a police court magistrate, subsequently serving as Deputy Registrar and Sheriff of the High Court (appointed 1956), the Director of the Legal Aid Bureau (1959), and Senior Crown Counsel (1963). He also taught part-time at the Faculty of Law of the University of Singapore when it was started in 1956. He became the Solicitor-General in 1963, Acting Attorney-General in 1967, and Attorney-General in 1969. During his tenure, he prepared many legal opinions on important constitutional and administrative law issues, and was also the Government's lead counsel in a number of notable cases. The Attorney-General's Chambers published the first reprint of the Constitution in 1980, and revised editions of Singapore statutes in 1970 and 1985. In 1990, it launched LawNet, a computer database then containing the full text of Singapore legislation. Tan was involved in the establishment of the Singapore Academy of Law, and was the first Chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (1991–1999).

In addition, Tan was the Chairman of the Singapore Petroleum Company (1971–1999); Vice-President (from 1972) and President (from 1992) of the Singapore Musical Society; Chairman and Honorary Chairman of the Singapore Symphonia Company Ltd., the corporation managing the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (1979–1999); a director and deputy chairman (from 1985) and later chairman (1990–1994) of the Insurance Corporation of Singapore; a director of United Industrial Corporation Ltd. (UIC) and Singapore Land Ltd. (from 1992); and Chairman of Morgan Grenfell Asia Ltd. (from 1993), and Deutsche Asia Pacific Holdings. Tan suffered from Parkinson's disease towards the end of his life. Following internal bleeding, he died on 10 March 2012.

Tan was conferred the Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Distinguished Service Order) in 1978. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 1989, and made an Officer of the French Legion of Honour in 1998.

Early life and education[edit]

The Wilkins Building of University College London on Gower Street in May 1956

Tan Boon Teik was born on 17 January 1929[3] in Penang, Straits Settlements (now part of Malaysia),[4] and had his secondary education at the Penang Free School.[5][6] He graduated from University College London with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree with honours in 1951, and later a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in 1953. Between 1961 and 1962, he held a Rockefeller Research Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of the University of London.[5][7] He was a barrister-at-law of England and Wales, having been called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1952, and became an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Federation of Malaya in 1954.[3][7]

Career[edit]

Initially in private legal practice in Penang after being called to the Bar there,[3] Tan joined the Singapore Legal Service in 1955 as a police court magistrate, and subsequently served as Deputy Registrar and Sheriff of the High Court (appointed November 1956),[8] the Director of the Legal Aid Bureau (1959),[1] and Senior Crown Counsel (1963). He also taught part-time at the Faculty of Law of the University of Singapore when it was started in 1956.[9] In 1961, he represented Singapore at the Seminar on the Protection of Human Rights in the Administration of Criminal Justice organised by the United Nations in Wellington, New Zealand.[10][11] With effect from 1 September 1963, he became the Solicitor-General, succeeding T. Kulasekaram who had been appointed a Supreme Court judge.[5] He was then appointed Acting Attorney-General from 1 February 1967 to 31 December 1968, and as Attorney-General from 1 January 1969 to 30 April 1992. Tan was 39 years old when he became Attorney-General, and is believed to have been the youngest person to hold this post.[4] As of 10 March 2012, he was the longest serving Attorney-General of post-independence Singapore, having held office for just over 25 years.[7]

During his tenure, he prepared many legal opinions on important constitutional and administrative law issues. He was also the Government's lead counsel in a number of notable cases,[7] including Lee Mau Seng v. Minister for Home Affairs (1971),[12] which involved four executives of the Nanyang Siang Pau (South Seas Business Newspaper), a Chinese-language newspaper, who had been detained without trial under the Internal Security Act ("ISA")[13] for "glamorising communism and stirring up communal and chauvinistic sentiments over Chinese language, education and culture".[14] Upon an application by the detainees for habeas corpus, the High Court held that the President, when acting on Cabinet's advice to detain a person under the ISA, exercises a subjective discretion as to whether the person is a risk to national security, which is not justiciable by the courts.[15] Although the judgment was later disapproved by the Court of Appeal in Chng Suan Tze v. Minister for Home Affairs (1988),[16] in 1989 Parliament amended the Constitution and the ISA to "freeze" the law relating to detentions under the Act to that applying in Singapore on the date when Lee Mau Seng was decided.[17]

In the 1970s, the financial collapse of two companies, Gemini Chit Fund Corporation and Stallion Corporation, led to criminal charges being brought against their executives.[18] The companies operated chit funds, which were schemes in which investors paid sums of money by instalments to the companies in exchange for the entitlement to be allotted a larger return from the fund. The allotment was determined by lot or by auction.[19] Following their collapse, it was estimated that 40,000 investors had lost about S$50 million.[7] Under Tan's leadership of the Attorney-General's Chambers, Gemini's managing director Abdul Gaffar Mohamed Ibrahim pleaded guilty to criminal breach of trust of $3.2 million and was sentenced to life imprisonment,[20] and its chairman V.K.S. Narayanan received nine months' imprisonment for two charges under the Companies Act.[21] Stallion's executive director Martin Ler Cheng Seng pleaded guilty to authorising his firm to unlawfully bid at a Stallion chit fund sale, and was jailed for a year.[22]

Tan also successfully brought proceedings for scandalising the court against Wong Hong Toy, the Chairman of the Workers' Party of Singapore, in 1983,[23] and against respondents involved in publishing, printing and distributing articles that appeared in the Asian Wall Street Journal in 1985[24] and 1991.[25]

Where public international law matters were concerned, in 1966 Tan attended the Sixth Committee on International Law at the 21st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and chaired a meeting of law ministers to review extradition arrangements among Commonwealth nations at Marlborough House, London, in 1982. He also regularly attended Commonwealth Law Ministers' Conferences and ASEAN Law Association Conferences.[10]

Maxwell Chambers, where the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) is now based, in October 2009. Tan Boon Teik was the first Chairman of the SIAC when it was established in July 1991.

While Tan headed the Attorney-General's Chambers, it published the first reprint of the Constitution in 1980,[26] and revised editions of Singapore statutes in 1970 and 1985.[7][27] A 1990 revised edition of subsidiary legislation was subsequently published in 1992.[28] In January 1990, the Attorney-General's Chambers launched LawNet, a computer database then containing the full text of Singapore legislation, at the cost of $4.3 million.[29] Tan was involved in the establishment of the Singapore Academy of Law, a professional association of judges, lawyers, Legal Service officers and law academics, and served as its Vice-President from 1992.[1][7]

Tan was appointed the Chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) when it was formed in July 1991,[30] and held the post until August 1999.[31] In March 1992, he appointed a committee to review Singapore's arbitration laws, which then dealt only with domestic arbitration, to bring them "in line with international developments".[32] The committee's work led to the enactment of the International Arbitration Act in 1994.[33]

In addition to his Attorney-General post, Tan was the Chairman of the Singapore Petroleum Company (SPC; 1971 – August 1999), a director and deputy chairman (from 1985) and later chairman (June 1990 – 1994) of the Insurance Corporation of Singapore (ICS),[34] Vice-President (from 1972) and President (from 1992) of the Singapore Musical Society, and a fellow of the Singapore Institute of Directors.[1]

Later years[edit]

Tan's service as Attorney-General was extended by the Government twice to enable them to find a replacement for him – the first time for five years when he was 55, and again for three years when he was 60 years old.[35][36] He eventually retired with effect from 30 April 1992; the post was taken up by Chan Sek Keong.[37] In September that year he was named Ambassador to Hungary resident in Singapore,[38] and in January and May 1994 the non-resident ambassadorships of Austria and the Slovak Republic were respectively added to his portfolio.[39]

Victoria Concert Hall in January 2006, for many years the home of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

During his retirement, Tan remained Chairman of the SPC,[40] the ICS and the SIAC, positions which he had assumed when he was the Attorney-General.[37] An accomplished pianist,[41] he also continued as chairman and Honorary Chairman of the Singapore Symphonia Company Ltd., the corporation managing the Singapore Symphony Orchestra which he had helped to found in 1979, until September 1999.[4][42][43] In July 1992, Tan was appointed a director of United Industrial Corporation Ltd. (UIC) and its property arm, Singapore Land Ltd.[44] He became Chairman of Morgan Grenfell Asia Ltd. in November 1993.[45] In addition, he was Chairman of Deutsche Asia Pacific Holdings.[43]

Tan, who had suffered from Parkinson's disease for the last 15 years of his life, collapsed suddenly from internal bleeding and died on 10 March 2012, aged 83.[4][46] The funeral was held on 13 March at the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Ignatius, followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium.[47] Tan was survived by his wife Mrs. Tan Sook Yee, his son Pip Tan Seng Hin and daughter Tan Sui Lin, and five grandchildren.[4][46] Tan Sook Yee taught property law[48] at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore from 1964 to 2005 and was its Dean between 1980 and 1987, while both of Tan's children are members of the legal profession.[47]

The Minister for Law, K. Shanmugam, said on 11 March that Tan had "contributed greatly during the formative years of our independence and the development of the AGC". The Attorney-General's Chambers itself released a statement saying that Tan had held office "during a crucial period in Singapore's history in the years after independence. During that period, the seeds were sown for an uncompromising law and order framework. ... Mr Tan played a pivotal role in shaping the legal landscape of Singapore and upholding the rule of law which has underpinned much of Singapore's success."[7][46] In a letter of condolence to Tan's widow, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said that he held Tan in high esteem and had found him to be "efficient, competent and always ready to find a solution to difficult problems" when he was Attorney-General.[47][49]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1978 Tan was awarded the Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Distinguished Service Order),[3][8] the citation stating that that he had "steadfastly shunned the rewards of private practice" to devote many years of distinguished and dedicated service to Singapore.[36] He was appointed Senior Counsel with effect from 21 April 1989 when the scheme was introduced, under a provision of the Legal Profession Act stating that persons holding office as the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General immediately before that date were deemed to have been so appointed.[50][51]

On 8 June 1998, Tan was conferred the rank of Officer in the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France for his contributions towards increasing commercial ties between France and Singapore as co-chairman of the France–Singapore Business Council since 1995.[52] He was also an honorary fellow of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators.[53]

Selected works[edit]

  • Sheridan, L[ionel] A[stor]; Tan, Boon Teik (1957). Elementary Law: An Introduction for the Malayan Citizen. Singapore: D. Moore for the Singapore Council for Adult Education. OCLC 9203351. .
  • Tan, Boon Teik (1985). Transnational Fraud. Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly. pp. 418–423. , the text of a lecture to the International Maritime Bureau at Queen Mary College, University of London, on 4 June 1985. It was reprinted in the Commonwealth Law Bulletin 11 (4). 1985. pp. 1433–1438. doi:10.1080/03050718.1985.9985835. .
  • Tan, Boon Teik (1988). The Singapore Law Review Lecture: Judicial Review. Singapore Law Review 9. pp. 69–83. , the text of the Fourth Singapore Law Review Lecture at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, on 4 December 1987.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d [Close-up of Mr. Tan Boon Teik, former Attorney-General of Singapore], BookSG, National Library Board, archived from the original on 12 March 2012, retrieved 12 March 2012 .
  2. ^ Wei Yulin; Li Huixin (12 March 2012), 前总检察长陈文德逝世 [Former Public Prosecutor Tan Boon Teik dies], Lianhe Zaobao: 3 .
  3. ^ a b c d Tan Boon Teik (1988), The Singapore Law Review Lecture: Judicial Review, Singapore Law Review 9: 69–83 at 70 .
  4. ^ a b c d e K.C. Vijayan; Lee Xin En; Teo Wan Gek; Jermyn Chow (12 March 2012), Long-serving ex-AG Tan Boon Teik dies, aged 83, The Straits Times: A4 .
  5. ^ a b c Tan Boon Teik now Solicitor General, The Straits Times, 1 September 1963: 7 .
  6. ^ Old boys relive the good old days in Penang school, The Straits Times, 24 October 1991: 24 .
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h AGC pays tribute to the late former Attorney-General Tan Boon Teik (PDF), Attorney-General's Chambers, 12 March 2012, archived from the original on 12 March 2012 .
  8. ^ a b National Day Awards for 368, The Straits Times, 9 August 1978: 7 .
  9. ^ Cheong Suk-Wai (26 October 1999), This small faculty packs a big punch, The Straits Times: 2 .
  10. ^ a b Tan, "Judicial Review", p. 71.
  11. ^ See Seminar on the Protection of Human Rights in the Administration of Criminal Justice: Wellington, New Zealand, 6 to 20 February 1961, New York, N.Y.: United Nations, 1961, OCLC 16654762 .
  12. ^ Lee Mau Seng v. Minister for Home Affairs [1971] SGHC 10, [1971–1973] S.L.R.(R.) [Singapore Law Reports (Reissue)] 135, High Court (Singapore), archived from the original on 5 January 2012.
  13. ^ Internal Security Act (Cap. 143, 1985 Rev. Ed.).
  14. ^ T.F. Hwang (14 July 1971), Nanyang plea fails: Judgment in case of the detained executives, The Straits Times: 1 .
  15. ^ Lee Mau Seng, p. 157, paras. 57–60.
  16. ^ Chng Suan Tze v. Minister for Home Affairs [1988] SGCA 16, [1988] 2 S.L.R.(R.) 525, Court of Appeal (Singapore), archived from the original on 24 December 2011.
  17. ^ ISA, s. 8B(1).
  18. ^ See, for example, Joseph Yeo; S.M. Muthu (1 August 1972), AG: Grave offence which carries possible life sentence, The Straits Times: 1 ; Joseph Yeo; S.M. Muthu (8 August 1972), Massive fraud[,] court told: Bail again refused: Public have lost millions says A-G, The Straits Times: 1, 10 and 11 .
  19. ^ Stefan Klonner (October 2002), Understanding Chit Funds: Price Determination and the Role of Auction Formats in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (PDF), Williams College, pp. 1–2, archived from the original on 14 March 2012, retrieved 14 March 2012 .
  20. ^ Chia Poteik; Ben Davidson (19 July 1973), Gaffar gets 'life': Gemini Chit Fund collapse due to his greed, says judge, The Straits Times: 1 .
  21. ^ Now the Companies Act (Cap. 50, 2006 Rev. Ed.). See Court orders Gemini chief Narayanan struck off rolls, The Straits Times, 5 July 1974: 17 .
  22. ^ When chit fund bubble burst with a big bang, The Straits Times, 23 December 1979: 7 .
  23. ^ Attorney-General v. Wong Hong Toy [1983–1984] S.L.R.(R.) 34, High Court (Singapore).
  24. ^ Attorney-General v. Zimmerman [1985–1986] S.L.R.(R.) 476, H.C. (Singapore).
  25. ^ Attorney-General v. Wain [1991] 1 S.L.R.(R.) 85, H.C. (Singapore); A-G to cite AWSJ for contempt of court over PM's libel suit, The Straits Times, 21 December 1989: 1 ; High Court finds AWSJ guilty of contempt, The Straits Times, 12 January 1991: 1 ; Readers would have thought Lee won because he was PM, The Straits Times, 12 January 1991: 28 ; A newsworthy story of public interest, The Straits Times, 12 January 1991: 28 ; Judge explains why all the defendants were found guilty of contempt, The Straits Times, 12 January 1991: 28 .
  26. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1980 Reprint).
  27. ^ The Statutes of the Republic of Singapore: Rev. Ed. of Acts (1970 rev. ed.), Singapore: Law Revision Commission, 1970–1971, OCLC 201365 ; The Statutes of the Republic of Singapore (1985 rev. ed.), Singapore: Law Revision Commission, 1986– , OCLC 20190567  Check date values in: |date= (help).
  28. ^ The Subsidiary Legislation of the Republic of Singapore (1990 rev. ed.), Singapore: Law Revision Commission, 1992– , OCLC 422168270  Check date values in: |date= (help).
  29. ^ Lynette Ong (5 January 1990), A-G Chambers goes on-line to computerise S'pore laws, The Straits Times: 48 .
  30. ^ International arbitration centre set up in S'pore: It will help boost Republic's status as trade and business centre, The Straits Times, 6 July 1991: 40 .
  31. ^ SIAC pays tribute to former AG Tan Boon Teik, Channel NewsAsia, 12 March 2012 .
  32. ^ Selva Kumar (6 March 1992), Attorney General appoints committee to review Arbitration Act, Business Times .
  33. ^ Now the International Arbitration Act (Cap. 143A, 2002 Rev. Ed.).
  34. ^ New chairman for ICS, Business Times, 2 June 1990 .
  35. ^ A-G's term extended 3 years, The Straits Times, 21 March 1990: 22 .
  36. ^ a b AG glad to retire but will miss pressures of work, The Straits Times, 24 April 1992: 26 .
  37. ^ a b Conrad Raj (24 April 1992), Boon Teik to step down as AG, Sek Keong to take over, Business Times ; Sumiko Tan (24 April 1992), Boon Teik to retire as AG; Chan Sek Keong to take over, The Straits Times: 2 .
  38. ^ Former AG is roving envoy to Hungary, The Straits Times, 2 November 1992: 20 .
  39. ^ Singapore names three new envoys, The Straits Times, 12 January 1994 ; Roving ambassador to Slovak Republic, Business Times, 25 May 1994 ; Tan Boon Teik named Roving Ambassador to the Slovak Republic, The Straits Times, 25 May 1994: 20 .
  40. ^ Tan stepped down as Singapore Petroleum Company chairman in August 1999: Tan steps down, Business Times, 16 August 1999 .
  41. ^ Charity show brings out musical talents of ambassador and lawyer, The Straits Times, 28 November 1991 ; Terence Dawson (29 November 1991), Music from attorney's chamber, The Straits Times: 14 .
  42. ^ Lynn Seah (4 April 1997), How the Orchestra was formed, The Straits Times: 2 .
  43. ^ a b No money? I'll play piano, The Straits Times, 27 October 1999: 2 .
  44. ^ Former A-G appointed UIC, Singland director, Business Times, 25 July 1992 ; Former AG Tan Boon Teik is UIC and SingLand director, The Straits Times, 25 July 1992: 47 .
  45. ^ Tan Boon Teik takes helm at Morgan Grenfell Asia, Business Times, 10 November 1993 ; Robert Ng (10 November 1993), Ex-AG Tan Boon Teik named Morgan Grenfell Asia head, The Straits Times: 39 .
  46. ^ a b c Teo Xuanwei (12 March 2012), Former A-G Tan Boon Teik dies aged 83, Today, archived from the original on 12 March 2012 .
  47. ^ a b c Phua Mei Pin (13 March 2012), Mr Lee writes to former AG's wife: I held him in high esteem, The Straits Times: A6 .
  48. ^ She is the author of Tan Sook Yee (1994), Principles of Singapore Land Law, Singapore: Butterworths Asia, ISBN 978-0-409-99712-5 , now in its 3rd edition (Tan Sook Yee; Tang Hang Wu; Kelvin F[att] K[in] Low (2009), Tan Sook Yee's Principles of Singapore Land Law, Singapore: LexisNexis, ISBN 978-981-236-732-7 ).
  49. ^ Late Tan Boon Teik was efficient & competent as AG: Ex-MM Lee, Channel NewsAsia, 12 March 2012 .
  50. ^ Now the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161, 2009 Rev. Ed.), s. 30(7).
  51. ^ Lim Li Hsien (5 January 1997), Twelve lawyers named as first Senior Counsel, The Straits Times: 1 ; Senior Counsel Directory, Singapore Academy of Law, 9 January 2010, archived from the original on 11 October 2010 .
  52. ^ Top French award for co-chairman of business council, The Straits Times, 10 June 1998: 26 ; see also French–S'pore Business Council launched in Paris, The Straits Times, 4 April 1995: 38 .
  53. ^ Members listing – honorary fellows, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators, archived from the original on 12 March 2012, retrieved 12 March 2012 .

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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