The legal system in Singapore benefits the lawyers and business corporations that can afford lawyers. Consumers are badly treated in Singapore and they do not have redress. This leads to poor social justice in Singapore.
Here are the legal systems in other countries that have protection for consumers:
a) In USA, they allow lawyers to act on contingency fee. If the consumer has a strong case, the lawyers are willing to take up the case (and incur the risk of losing the case) to help the consumer to seek redress. They usually take 30% of the damages, but they will not act for a frivolous case as they waste their time. The court will not require the litigant (usually the consumer) who loses the case to bear the legal cost of the defendant (usually the business corporation).
b) In the UK, the Legal Aid Bureau will engage the lawyer to fight for the consumer (but perhaps only for cases with merit). The bureau pays the legal fees, and not the consumer.
Most countries have agencies that fight strongly to protect the consumer rights. In the USA, the attorney generals (employed by the government) will take up cases on behalf of consumers, if they consider that consumers have been cheated. Their legislature (or Parliament) has law makers who spend time to look into these matters. The attorney general and legislators know that they are accountable to the people.
The situation in Singapore is bad for consumers. Even if consumers have a strong case, they are afraid to take it up as the legal fees are exorbitant. They are also worried that, if they lose the case, they will have to pay the legal fees of the big corporations (and these are even more exorbitant). Consequently, when consumers are badly treated and are ripped off, they can only suffer in silence. Such is the state of social justice in Singapore.
Business corporations are imposing excessive charges and selling bad products to consumers - with impunity. They know that consumers (except the multi-millionaires) cannot afford to take them to court. Our MPs are too busy to take up these matters in Parliament.
I hope that the next general election will produce a different kind of political system in Singapore and that the weakness in the legal system can be addressed.
Tan Kin Lian
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