Cow Dung 4
angry doc is not going to say that the law is an ass, but he wishes it would at least be consistent.
(excerpt, emphasis mine)
One rule for all?
Legal eagles split over accommodating differences or adopting universal values
Loh Chee Kong
THE feng shui, or geomancy, fad of the 1990s might have brought Lady Luck to many, but the authorities here certainly were not smitten.
Speaking as part of a panel at the International Bar Association Conference 2007 yesterday on how lawyers should deal with different cultures and traditions, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong recalled how Singapore laws were challenged by the sudden revival of the age-old practice of feng shui.
CJ Chan said: "Chinese astrologers would dispense advice to all and sundry, and they would place advertisements in all the newspapers. There was a proliferation of feng shui experts in Singapore. Everybody would tell you how to make a fortune in shares, business, whatever."
As a result, although it was an offence for any person "pretending to tell fortunes", there were "a lot of fakes and a lot of people were defrauded", said CJ Chan.
"The Government had to either enforce the law that we had or they had to change the law," he said.
In the end, cultural considerations won — the Government relaxed the laws in 1996 and feng shui consultants were allowed to practise their trade, provided "it was not used to cheat the consumer and the activity was not a public nuisance", said CJ Chan.
In a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society such as Singapore's, laws have to "accommodate" to certain cultural practices, he noted. These include exempting male Sikhs from wearing helmets while riding a motorcycle, or when they are in the army.
But in general, offenders cannot use cultural practices to defend their criminal actions, said CJ Chan, who added that society "must have certain core values in relation to crime".
angry doc wonders how a judge will decide if a 'feng shui expert' was a fake and if he was trying to 'cheat the consumer'.
The fact is, as we have discussed earlier, there is "no precedent that would hold someone liable for practising an art or belief that cannot be proven scientifically". If you can't prove that feng shui works, then you cannot prove that anyone purporting to be a 'feng shui expert' is a fake or that he is trying to cheat consumers.
The absurdity of this 'accommodation' policy can be seen when viewed against the recently-amended Health Products Act: if you sold someone a product purported to improve his or her health when in reality it did not, you face a fine or jail term; if you received money for advice which you claim will improve his or her health, when in reality it did not, the law is powerless to stop or punish you.
Why should one form of fraud be immune from prosecution and the other not?
What is the difference between the two?
That the one consisted of a physical product, and that the second consisted only of words? If that was the case, then angry doc would never be liable for malpractice.
That one is backed up with evidence and the other was not? Certainly the article suggests that the law does not take the view that feng shui actually works.
Or is that, as suggested by the article, feng shui is a part of Chinese culture and that it is acceptable to the law for consumers to be defrauded by someone claiming that feng shui works, but not by someone who tries the same trick with new-fangled health products which are not part of our traditional culture?
Still, angry doc finds some comfort that not all 'high-powered legal minds' agree with this type of 'cow dung' reasoning. Do read the whole article.