PN Balji wrote an article in TODAY on the exit of the former Attorney-General, Walter Woon. Professor Woon had stepped down from the AG position after serving a two year term.
It was no secret that in his two year term as AG, the outspoken man had stepped on many toes because he did things differently, unlike run-of-the-mill civil servants.
He wasn’t afraid to step into the limelight, something the legal fraternity rarely does.
But in doing so, he had, in his own words ‘already overstayed his welcome’. Of the many civil servants he got in to a tangle with, the most notable was Dr Lee Wei Ling, daughter of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
You would have expected a man like this to go out with all guns blazing. But sadly this wasn’t the case. As PN Balji aptly puts it:
In Singapore, any exit interview is a slippery business. Leave the scene with guns blazing, like former President Ong Teng Cheong did, and be prepared for a rapid-fire response.
Do it with lips half-sealed, like most Singaporeans do, and expect the rumour mill to go into high gear.
Former Attorney-General Walter Woon chose a middle path: Reveal quite a bit but leave a lot to the reader’s imagination.
As the ever consummate lawyer that he is, he described his term of office as ‘the longest period of my life’. When asked if he had offended anyone, all he said was ‘not unlikely’
In a country where civil servants are imposed with an invisible gag-order, it would have been refreshing if Professor Woon had articulate his points in public instead of dropping codes and leading the public around a bush.
Clearly, Professor Woon had set out to be a different civil servant.
But after two years of trying to be different and not getting the results that he had hoped for, he is going out on a whim and looking like just another civil servant.