TSMP joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio was quoted in a 6 November 2020 Straits Times article on the proposal for the government to fund a public defenders’ office.
She said the proposal was an “enormously significant step”.
“For decades, the Government’s position was that it didn’t make sense to be both prosecuting the accused and paying for his defence.”
The move, she said, is an acknowledgement of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme – a public-private partnership to provide pro bono legal aid to the needy – and that establishing a government body would support the effort with more resources.
But she stressed the dedication lawyers have shown in pro bono cases “is born of the sense that we have an obligation to use our skills to help those who need it”.
She said the public defenders’ office should be mindful not to diminish the “crusading zeal” of lawyers.
“We wouldn’t want the next generation of practitioners to feel less of an urgency because the Government will handle it.”