Heritage gallery launched at State Courts Towers ahead of its opening

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
The State Courts Heritage Gallery. (Photo: State Courts)

SINGAPORE — Visitors to the new State Courts Towers will be able to view a heritage gallery showcasing key moments in the history of Singapore’s judicial system when the building opens next month.

The gallery will also showcase about 15 significant cases heard in the State Courts over the past 44 years. Among those highlighted is the trial of six former City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders, who were convicted of criminal breach of trust for misusing about $50 million in church funds for an evangelical outreach project.

The CHC case was one of Singapore’s longest-running criminal trials, spanning 142 days between May 2013 and October 2015.

The gallery also features a mock-up courtroom from 1975, decked out with original meranti wood wall panels that were transplanted from the existing State Courts Building next door. Visitors can view re-enactments of court proceedings from three actual criminal cases on television screens at the mock-up courtroom.

Located on the first floor of the State Courts Towers at Havelock Square, the gallery was launched on Tuesday (19 November) by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

In his speech, Justice See Kee Oon, the presiding judge of the State Courts, said that with the courts having a long and storied history as far back as the 1800s, it was fitting to have the launch as part of Singapore’s Bicentennial celebrations.

“The State Courts have played a central role in administering justice and upholding the rule of law. The vast majority of criminal prosecutions and civil and community disputes in Singapore have been and continue to be adjudicated in the State Courts,” the judge said, noting that the State Courts currently handle more than 90 per cent of the judiciary’s caseload.

“The State Courts Heritage Gallery seeks to facilitate better understanding of the contributions made by our courts, as part of our overall efforts to broaden and deepen our engagement with the public and our court users. It is our hope that the heritage gallery will raise public awareness of the work and history of the State Courts,” he added.

The State Courts Towers, comprising two interconnected towers of 35 floors, is expected to open its doors to the public on 16 December. At 178m, the State Courts Towers is the tallest government building in Singapore.

The gallery will be open during the opening hours of the State Courts.

A total of 53 courtrooms and the same number of chambers will be in the new building, compared with the 37 courtrooms and 40 chambers in the existing State Courts building.

The State Courts comprise the District Courts, Magistrates’ Courts, Coroners’ Court, Small Claims Tribunals, Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals and Employment Claims Tribunals. Some District and Magistrates’ Courts are designated as specialist courts such as the Community Court, Traffic Court and Night Courts.

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