Monday, November 4, 2013

Singapore's First Lawyers and Legal History

According to the Strait Times, a launch was held last week at a dinner marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) for the ebook Legal Tenor: Voices from Singapore's Legal History (1930-1959), compiled and edited by Eleanor Wong.  “The 274-page work features transcripts of interviews with 15 legal personalities” who make up the pioneer generation of Singapore lawyers before independence.

SAL's website includes a link to the iTunes page for Legal Tenor.  From that page we reprint the following description:
This work is a product of the Singapore Academy of Law’s Oral History project, an ongoing effort to capture personal accounts by legal personalities of their lives in the law. It also draws on accounts separately gathered by Singapore’s Oral History Centre, which is part of the National Archives of Singapore (“NAS”), and has, of course, had a much longer track record of preserving national memories generally. NAS had for some time included interviews with Singapore change-makers who also happened to be lawyers. But, around 2004, the Academy’s Legal Heritage Committee decided that an effort specially targeted at law professionals could provide specific insight into our legal community. In the intervening years, interviews have been carried out with close to 40 persons and the list continues to grow. The tapes run to hundreds of hours, the transcripts to thousands of pages. The interviewees hardly form a complete list of everyone whom the Committee would have liked to record for posterity; but they are a rich representation.

This work is, then, an attempt to extract and share some of the flavour of Singapore’s early legal years as told in the words of some of Singapore’s earliest lawyers. Specifically, this volume will focus on the decades leading up to 1959, when Singapore gained full internal self-governance under Lee Kuan’s Kew’s People’s Action Party. It will feature interviews with 15 persons.
Another link on SAL’s website is to Singapore Legal History, “a one-stop resource for researchers and anyone keen on Singapore's legal history,” where they can find” information, photos and images of documents.”  That site contains the following

Chapter 1 Legal and Constitutional History of Singapore
Chapter 2 The Development of the Court System
Chapter 3 Legal Education in Singapore
Chapter 4 The Legal Profession in Singapore
Chapter 5 A History of the Singapore Legal Service
Chapter 6 The Reception of English Law
Chapter 7 The Development of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice
Family Law