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MPs file questions on Bar exam cheating for May 9 Parliament sitting

SINGAPORE — Recent revelations that 11 trainee lawyers cheated during the Bar exam in 2020 will be on the agenda when Parliament sits next Monday (May 9).

MPs file questions on Bar exam cheating for May 9 Parliament sitting
  • Four MPs have submitted questions over recent revelations that 11 trainee lawyers cheated during their Bar exam
  • The questions will be addressed at a sitting of Parliament beginning May 9
  • Other issues covered by MP questions include the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions

SINGAPORE — Recent revelations that 11 trainee lawyers cheated during the Bar exam in 2020 will be on the agenda when Parliament sits next Monday (May 9).

Four Members of Parliament (MPs) have filed one question each over the issue, which resulted in five of the trainee lawyers having their application to the Bar delayed by six months, and one other by a year.

Five of them had communicated with each other and shared answers through WhatsApp in six papers, while another had colluded with another examinee and cheated in three papers.

The names of these six were revealed on April 27 after High Court judge Choo Han Teck reversed an earlier decision to redact their names, saying that "redemption cannot be claimed behind the mask of anonymity, but by baring one's face and looking everyone in the eye, to see which kind of persons one confronts”.

The Attorney-General's Chambers later disclosed that another five trainee lawyers had cheated during the Bar exam that year. They have not been named.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, MP for Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC), has asked Law Minister K Shanmugam if there had been similar instances of trainee lawyers cheating in the Bar exam previously and if so, what actions have been taken against them.

Sengkang GRC MP He Ting Ru also asked if anything would be done to address public concerns about the law students found cheating and if the punishments meted out were sufficient.

Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Hany Soh asked if the Singapore Institute of Legal Education has seen a similar trend of trainee lawyers cheating in their Bar examinations, "especially for the 2021 cohort".

She also asked if the Ministry of Law plans to introduce new rules to regulate trainee lawyers' conduct to ensure they are ethically ready to be called to the Bar.

As for Mr Ang Wei Neng, MP for West Coast GRC, he submitted a question for written response, asking Mr Shanmugam for updates on the cheating issue, if there were cheating cases detected during the 2021 Bar exams and what steps are being taken to eliminate cheating cases.

Among other questions submitted for the upcoming sitting are some on the relaxed Covid-19 restrictions announced on April 22 which have been posed to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

They include questions on whether guidelines for the re-activation of TraceTogether and SafeEntry as contact-tracing tools will be developed, and whether the Ministry of Health will relax rules to allow unvaccinated residents to enter malls and dine at food-and-beverage outlets.


Beyond that, Parliament will also see the second reading of the Adoption of Children Bill and Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill.

The Adoption of Children Bill seeks to repeal the existing Adoption of Children Act, and will bar people with serious convictions, such as for sexual or violence-related offences, from adopting children.

It will also require prospective adopters to be assessed for suitability and attend mandatory briefings before the adoption process can proceed. The Bill will also provide greater clarity on when the courts can dispense with birth parents' consent and increase regulation of the adoption sector.

The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill seeks to raise the minimum fine to disqualify an MP from being an MP from S$2,000 to S$10,000.

If passed, it would be the first time the fine quantum has been adjusted since Singapore's independence.

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