Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why the recent arrest conviction and imprisonment of Dr. Chee Soon Juan by the Singapore government was illegal

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please refer to the recent arrest conviction and imprisonment of Dr. Chee Soon Juan, Singapore's foremost opposition politician. The Singapore court's judgment was illegal and without any legal basis. Singapore's action was an abuse of the law to threaten and silence any criticism against their repressive authoritarian rule.

The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore guarantees the right of freedom of speech and expression as is the case in most constitutions of countries claiming to be democracies. A Constitution is the Supreme law of the land and is, except for a few exceptions, sacrosanct. Any law that contradicts the Constitution of Singapore, should, as expected in any democracy, be struck down as unconstitutional and illegal.

However in Singapore, there is a Statute prohibiting the making of any public speech illegal, unless one has obtained a written goverment permit, upon prior written application . A very strange law, you may think, but Singapore is a strange place. Therefore technically speaking, if you were worried about world global warming and wanted to tell 5 passers-by along Orchard Road about it, you need a licence. If you wanted to tell 3 people in Sembawang Mall that they should ask their Member of Parliament for more potted plants in their constituency, you need a permit. If you wanted to encourage more customers passing your food stall to patronize your Chinese food, you need a permit, before you can say that. And getting a permit is not easy either! You have to write to the particular Government office (the Singapore Public Entertainments Office) well in advance and stating your reasons, such as, in the case of the Food Stall Owner in Semabwang Food Court, the need to speak publicly to strangers to attract more customers! Now tell me, whether or not, there is stranger law than that!

So without going any further, this Sing pore "law" for the need to obtain a written licence to speak in public is ludicrous. Therefore just because the Singapore govern met, being a one party state (except of course for a miserable 2 opposition politicians in Parliament) has such a law, should such a silly law which makes no sense, be legal? And should we comply with it? I think not.

In any case, this nonsensical law is unconstitutional anyway, being squarely violative of the Constitution, since the constitution says that one has "freedom of speech and expression". Any rational person will understand that in exceptional circumstances, the constitution can be amended or changed in cases of grave national interest. For instance, in the USA, the Constitutional right to bear arms, is moderated in many states by criminalizing the possession of machine guns. Such amendments are understandable. But what justification is there in Singapore, to take away the right to speak publicly on lawful important subjects? What justification is there to insist that the man along the corner of Orchard and Scotts Road, should first obtain a Government Permit in writing before he can tell the passers by that he thinks the world is coming to an end through Global Warming?

Please believe this. The criminal charge against Dr. Chee arose out his telling passers by at a Singapore Housing Estate that they should buy his newspaper "The Singapore Democrat" which he was selling. He makes a living selling this newspaper, as well as his other books. Now tell me, what criminal offence is there, or are we to assume that just because the Singapore Government calls it a crime, it should be so.

Well, the fact is that Dr. Chee has not committed any crime. He does not consider himself a criminal. I do not consider him a criminal, and neither will any right thinking member of either the Singapore or the International public think of him as a criminal. This Singapore law is fit only within the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Not in real life.

And what is worse for the present Singapore administration, it is this. Dr. Chee has stated that he intends to break this law again repeatedly. He is prepared to go to jail repeatedly. The world will read of this abuse of the rule of law in Singapore repeatedly. And as we go along, more people will be emboldened to do what Dr. Chee does, by spending a few pleasant days in the Singapore prison. In the end Lee Kuan Yew and his son Lee Hsien Loong will be made to look as Don Quixote and mate, and the world will be made to see their stupidity. In this imprisoning business, only Dr. Chee will come out the winner.

Yes, there is hope for Singapore. Thanks to the refusal of Lee Kuan Yew and son to understand reality. The reality is, Singaporeans are now demanding their freedom. They refuse to do silly things, such as, writing to the Minister of Home Affairs for a permit to tell 5 pedestrains outside Tekka Market in Singapore that he is unhappy with his government!

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, California 94538
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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