Suspended lawyer shouted at police officer, said he was 'bigger'

The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Upset that a police officer who was supposedly shouting at him for being near a police operation, a lawyer shouted back, claiming that he was an officer of the Supreme court and that he was "bigger" than the police officer.

Wong Sin Yee, also known as Edmund Wong, who is currently suspended over an unrelated matter, was fined $2,000 on Wednesday (5 May) after he pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing a police officer who was discharging his duty, and hindering police operations.

Wong was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal over another charge that accused him of perverting the course of justice by filing a false statement on 11 December 2015, stating that a woman's urine contained methamphetamine due to contamination from a medicine she took. Wong was given a stern warning over this charge, the prosecution told the court.

Wong loitered at scene of police operation

Wong, 62, was, at the time of the offences in 2017, a practicing advocate and solicitor. He was the sole proprietor of law firm S Y Wong Law Chambers.

On 13 January 2017, at about 9pm, police officers conducted an operation at the back lane between Lorong 14 and Lorong 16 Geylang. Officers detained 10 individuals suspected of being secret society members and conducted checks on them.

Shortly before 10.11pm, Wong arrived at the scene and loitered near the area where the suspects were being detained.

Seeing him, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Chu Weng Kong approached Wong to ask if he was a police officer.

"In response, the accused shouted at DSP Chu in an angry tone that he is 'bigger' than a police officer," Deputy Public Prosecutor Foo Shi Hao told the court.

DSP Chu asked Wong what he meant and Wong shouted that he was an "officer from the Supreme Court" and therefore DSP Chu had to address him as "sir", DPP Foo said.

Wong's shouts attracted the attention of suspects and passersby. Another police officer ascertained Wong's identity, and DSP Chu told him that the police were conducting an operation at the incident location. He added that Wong's behaviour was hindering their operation, and told Wong to leave.

Wong refused to leave and was arrested by police officers.

Wong sullied 'good name of legal profession': prosecution

DPP Foo sought the fine that was imposed, pointing out that Wong had explicitly referred to his status at the time as a lawyer, which "sullies the good name of legal profession". A sufficiently high fine should be imposed on Wong to reflect his punishment, he said.

Wong was represented by lawyers Peter Ong and Edmond Pereira, who said that Wong acknowledges his wrong and apologises to the court.

"He does not deny that he shouted at the officer, but we are instructed that it was because the police officer was shouting at him and that prompted an immediate impulsive reaction on his part to shout back at the officers," said Pereira.

"So, he felt that if the officer had not shouted at him perhaps he would not even be here today."

It was as Wong was about to leave that he was arrested by the police, said the lawyer. The defence sought a fine of between $1,600 and $1,800 for their client.

In reply, DPP Foo said that the investigations did not bear out the fact the DSP Chu had shouted at Wong.

Wong was admitted to the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore on 12 August 1998. He was suspended from practising in 2018 under the Legal Profession Act for improper conduct while cross-examining a molest victim during a trial.

While cross-examining the victim on 3 August 2015, Wong had asked the victim if she thought she was attractive and suggested that he thought she was. He also asked the victim to stand and subjected her to physical scrutiny.

A Court of Three Judges ruled that his cross-examination of the victim was irrelevant and wholly impermissible and that his conduct was disgraceful. The judges suspended Wong from practice for five years.

For obstructing a public servant, Wong could have been jailed up to three months, or fined up to $2,500, or both.

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