: 1 Public
: Singapore Academy of Law, 1 Coleman Street Level 8, The Adelphi
: 28 June 2019 (4.00pm - 5.30pm)
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There is no registration fee for this lecture but seats are limited and are offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. A confirmation email will be sent for every successful registration. For enquiries, please call Tel: (65) 6332 4388 or email [email protected]
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Maria Hertogh, the woman at the centre of a major domestic crisis in colonial Singapore. The court ruling that returned Hertogh to her Dutch parents was rooted in a custody battle. But other aspects of family law came into play when plaintiffs challenged the legality of Hertogh’s marriage. Coupled with an aggressive vernacular media, these rulings are often blamed for sparking the crisis and the ensuing Maria Hertogh riots that killed 18 and injured 173.
The incident remains one of the most consequential in Singapore’s legal history and is worth re-examining this bicentennial year. Is immediate impact on Singapore was wide-ranging— some have argued that it empowered local communities and was a defining moment in the push for independence from British rule. Events in the courtroom also highlighted gaps in colonial Singapore’s legal framework and its unsuitability for a multi-religious and multi-racial population.
A panel comprising a judge, an academic and a historian will debate these issues and question if more robust laws could have prevented the legal crisis and the ensuing riots. The panel will also examine the judgment that returned Hertogh to her parents in great detail. While the judge had claimed to act in Hertogh’s best interest, some have pointed out that he ultimately left it to her biological father to make this decision. How would such a situation be approached in today’s Family Justice Courts? Did the High Court have the jurisdiction to invalidate Hertogh’s marriage? These are some of the questions and themes that will be explored during the hour-long panel discussion.
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