Friday, July 18, 2008

Checking out: Legal Legacies

Current Supreme Court

Thanks to one of Eastcoastlife's posts, I got to know that to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Academy of Law, a multi-dimensional legal history exhibition, Legal Legacies: The Story of Singapore Law, is now currently being held from 4 Jul to 1 Aug 2008.

Initially, I learnt that registration to the guided tour is closed. When I learnt that registration was close, the news disappointed me for I had taken leave from work sometime ago hoping to join the tour. Anyway, JY encouraged me to walk-in during my day off from work, and lucky me, there was vacancy for one more person to the tour.

The tour started from the new Supreme Court. I learnt about the milestones in Singapore Legal history, and how the legal attire has changed over time. There were a lot more to learn about at the exhibition. For example: the various buildings that had served as court-houses, the famous legal cases and so forth.

Previous Supreme Court

The more interesting part of the tour, and the most anticipated part by yours truly, was the tour about the previous Supreme Court of Singapore. We entered the so-called "Old Supreme Court" via the route that the accused would take when the Old Supreme Court was in operation. This route brought us to the lock-up rooms that the accused in the court premises would be locked up in prior to their appearances in the courtrooms. We even had the chance to take the seemingly 'underground' walkway that led the accused from the lock-up rooms to the courtrooms.

We were led to the Court of Appeal of the old Supreme Court. It was grand looking. After our visit to the Court of Appeal, we were led to the Chief Justice's Chambers.

By the way, I understand from the tour guide that the old Supreme Court was built between 1937 and 1939, nearing the end of the Great Depression. As such, budget was a major construction in the building of the old Supreme Court. I did not realise, until the tour guide pointed it out, that the tiles of the old Supreme Court's public corridors were made from rubber. The columns were made of artificial stonework.

Come to think of it, the old Supreme Court's facade was what gave it a very grandeur look. Internally, it has a solemn and fairly look look yet it was pretty modest in terms of the building materials that were used.

One of the docents gave us a quick overview to the architectural features of the old Supreme Court. It is quite interesting what the various figures in the tympanum represents. I read from the exhibition held at the current Supreme Court that the tympanum sculpture, the Corinthian and Ionic columns of the old Supreme Court were the work of Cavalieri Rudolfo Nolli, a Milanese sculptor.

We also got to see the foundation stone of the old Supreme Court. It was laid by Sir Shenton Thomas on 1 April 1937. While I was looking at the foundation stone, I vaguely recalled that I had walked into the old Supreme Court one fine day in the year 2002 just to see how it looked like inside. It was still in operation back then. Thankfully, I have this possibly last chance to see the internal of the old supreme Court before it undergoes major changes to become an art gallery.

Overall, Legal Legacies is a tour worth catching.

My apologies that I did not take any photo during the tour for I had intentionally not bring along my camera so that I can simply focus on looking at the old Supreme Court than taking photos.


eastcoastlife said...

You went for the tour! It's awesome, right? I might go again, with my kids.

Although they say the tours are full, you can always walk-in to join if there aren't many of you.

oceanskies79 said...

It sure is an interesting tour!