The start of each academic year also heralds the start of the domestic moots cycle – beginning of course, with the annual Attorney General’s Cup (AG Cup). Held in our very own Moot Court, this year’s iteration of the AG Cup was graced by Deputy Attorney-General Mr. Hri Kumar Nair SC, the Honourable Justice Ms. Hoo Sheau Peng, and Judicial Commissioner Ms. Mavis Chionh.
The fact scenario this year follows the story of a victim of an insult of modesty after her relationship with her ex-boyfriend soured. We have D1, the victim’s (“V”) ex-boyfriend, who superimposed the victim’s face onto photographs of nude girls, and D2, the originator of this plan.
Representing NUS, in the Respondent’s corner, we have Ms. Natalee Ho and Ms. Gwendolyn Oh. Representing SMU, for the Appellants, are Mr. Irvin Ho and Mr. Joel Lee. Without further ado, the event kicked off with the first speaker: Mr. Irvin Ho.
Mr. Irvin Ho, representing the First Appellant, D1, began with an attempt to persuade the bench that the case was merely the foolish acts of a teenager, and should be treated as such. Having used the facts to frame his case, he moved onto his first point.
His argument centred mainly on s 509 of the Penal Code being inapplicable to digital objects. He argued that two of the required elements in s 509 was not made out on the facts. This piqued the judges’ interest. When asked about his case authorities, Mr. Ho stood with unwavering confidence at the rostrum, calmly directing the judges to the relevant sections of his bundle of authorities when necessary. When informed by the judges that their bundle of authorities did not contain the case he was relying on, he impressed the audience by maintaining his composure. As his time on the stand dwindled, he tactfully switched to his next point to make the best use of his remaining time. He smoothly reiterated his point after his time ran out before ceding the rostrum to the next speaker.
Next, representing the Respondents, Ms. Gwendolyn Oh took to the rostrum. Not to be outdone, she too had a strong opening, deftly framing the issue as one of law: that the Appellants had erred on the fulfilment of elements of s 509. If the audience thought the pressure on Mr Ho was intense, they were clearly mistaken — the judges were just getting warmed up. The relentless questioning started with a crisp, “Why would it be so?” and did not let up even until the end of Ms. Oh’s time on the stand.
At one point, the judges tested Ms. Oh’s understanding of her case authorities and what each case stood for. Not to be estopped by the relentless line of questioning, Ms. Oh remained unfazed and dealt with the questions with a smile, before proceeding to persuade the court of the value of a woman’s modesty. Despite the flurry of questions and replies, Ms. Oh confidently finished making her strong case to the judges. Resting her case with the all-too-familiar “If I may be of no further assistance to the court”, she left the stand with the same poise and grace as when she assumed it at the start.
After such strong showings by the two preceding him, the third speaker Mr. Lee immediately threw himself into the fray. He contended with the key issue of abetment on behalf of the Appellant and his thorough preparation shone through in him knowing his arguments like the back of his hand even without a script.
However, just like the two before him, Mr. Lee became the target of the same intense line of questioning. Despite the pressure, he valiantly pushed on and presented a solid case for his interpretation of the law. As the questioning by the judges came to an end, so did his time on the stand.
Last but certainly not the least, it was time for the last speaker, Ms. Natalee Ho, to take the stand. She won over the bench with her charm and tenacity, being unafraid to address the judges directly. The questions that came her way were adeptly addressed and well-integrated into her main argument; she masterfully made her points and wowed the judges, as evident from the lull in the questioning.
When the judges resumed their questioning, Ms. Ho responded confidently without batting an eyelid. With such a display of finesse, Ms. Ho left the stand with the audience clearly impressed.
Next during rebuttal, Mr. Lee took the stand to address Ms Ho’s arguments. After a strong showing, his time soon came to an end, and it was time for Ms. Ho to return to the stand.
Ms. Ho’s rebuttal began with a simple, “The defence is wrong.” Despite the difficulty posed by the judges’ line of questioning, she managed to hold her own and left the stand unscathed.
With the conclusion of the rebuttals, the judges took their leave to discuss the results. Upon their return, the audience fell into a hush. The results were soon announced: NUS was able to defend its title as AG Cup champion. Ms. Natalee Ho from NUS also clinched the Best Oralist Award. With NUS’ win, this marks the first time an all-girls team from NUS emerged triumphant for the AG cup.
In closing, Professor Alan Tan thanked the judges and both law schools for their support, as well as the participants for their great performance. Deputy Attorney-General Mr. Hri Kumar Nair SC, too, left the participants and aspiring mooters alike with the following apt words of wisdom: “No one is born a great advocate. Great advocates are made, but one gets better the more one practices.” Pausing, he then topped it off with a, “However, beyond internships, holidays are also meant to be enjoyed.” You can be certain we will be taking both (or at least one) of these remarks to heart.