Rule of law is about ensuring robust legal processes


Leo Zhi Wei

Published: 9:10 AM, May 19, 2017

I am concerned about the conception of the rule of law in “Reinforce religious ideas of love, forgiveness to support rule of law” (April 17).

The letter’s central theme is the importance of mutual respect and understanding among people from diverse backgrounds within Singapore.

The writer goes on to emphasise the role of the rule of law in ensuring order here, concluding with the exhortation to Singaporeans to “reinforce the positive ideas, such as forgiveness and love ... the rule of law aims to support”.

This oversteps the doctrinal boundaries of the rule of law to encompass values such as forgiveness, love and mutual understanding, which bear little relation to its core elements.

The heart of the rule of law is about ensuring robust legal processes by upholding the following principles: Clarity and certainty in legal rules; transparency and accountability in legal processes; and equal access to the law for all citizens.

Our leaders have adhered to these conceptual boundaries.

In “Rule of law a game-changer for S’pore: PM” (April 1), the Prime Minister spoke of ensuring that individuals trust all are equal before the law and that businesses know they operate in a transparent, rational environment.

Crucially, he said the rule of law stood for the upholding of individual rights and freedoms while balancing them against society’s need to maintain law and order.

To be clear, I believe that voices espousing virtues such as forgiveness, love and mutual understanding should be lauded.

Nonetheless, only with a proper understanding of the rule of law, a principle critical to Singapore’s success, can there be meaningful debate about its elements and practical operation in our society.