Friday, January 18, 2008

The equally ridiculous reasons given to justify Singapore's repressive laws.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore like Burma requires any assembly of 5 or more persons to apply for government permit first; without which it becomes an illegal assembly; rendering them to liable arrest and imprisonment. The Singapore Democratic Party under Dr. Chee Soon Juan and even the Workers Party have over the years applied for permits for peaceful assembly which have all been routinely denied. The last application by the Singapore Democratic Party was for a peaceful protest during the World Trade meeting in Singapore last year.

In every denial letter from the Singapore government, the standard excuse is the fear of disturbances and violence. And in every case, it is abundantly clear that there is not going to be any. And yet, each and every time, the government dishes out the same nonsense; that is, the fear of disorderly behaviour. Even though everyone in Singapore as well as the government themselves knows, it is a lie!

It is the same thing for permits applied for public speaking. As you know in Singapore, a permit is required for public speaking. And each time one is applied for by the opposition, it is invariably denied. The reason is the same. The government says it fears that the speech will turn others into violence and mayhem. Yet in every case, there is nothing to show any probability of violence at all.

To solicit funds from the public, one needs a permit. But if it is applied for by opposition politicians it is always denied. And in many cases the government gives no reason at all. I have come across these denials so many times that I almost know it by heart. " After considering your application very carefully, we regret to inform that your application is denied" is usually the answer.

Printing presses need a permit. And if it is applied for by the opposition, it is denied. The usual reason given is the fear of subversive literature. But what is subversive is not not explained.

The Law Society of Singapore is the equivalent of any Bar Association of a country. A body to manage the legal profession and maintain professional standards among other things. Even though it is an association of lawyers, you will be surprised to know that under Singapore law, this body is not permitted to comment on legislation! The government's argument is that unless it is a political party, no incorporated or unincorporated association is permitted to officially comment on legislation. Any self respecting lawyer would have cried out with indignation at this outrageous intrusion on their rights as lawyers. But the President of the Law Society of Singapore, Mr. Michael Sydney Hwang finds no problem at all with this law. He just like the other lawyers in Singapore are not prepared to stand in the way Lee Kuan Yew and whatever he intends to do with the lives of Singaporeans. A shameful bunch of lawyers.

A licence is required to form a society. In the application, the names of the proposers and members and their details have to be submitted. The reason given by Lee Kuan Yew's government for the law, is the need to stop subversive activities prejudicial to the state. What really happens is this. When the opposition political parties apply to form societies, their names and particulars submitted allow the government to keep surveillance on the members. And then to sue them for meritless defamation of character charges, file cooked up criminal charges against them for illegal activity, imprison them and impoverish them. In order to do that, Lee needs to know who they are. And the application forms provide that.

These ridiculous excuses put out by this government on a routine basis means that now, the people have lost all respect for it. This government itself has reached a stage that they too are not bothered one bit, whether they are taken seriously; or laughed at.

The Singapore government has lost credibility among its people. The people know that these permit denials are simply to deny the opposition a voice in the public. They fear that if the public are allowed to hear what the opposition have to say, they may lose their positions. Not wanting to lose their positions, they have enacted these repressive laws and have no shame in routinely dishing out some nonsense to justify them. Which by the way, no one believes.

The Singapore courts too have lost all respect. Singapore is famous for defamation of character lawsuits. Lawsuits brought by Lee Kuan Yew and his family members against those who criticize him. In each and very case, one can see no defamation at all. In one of Dr. Chee's cases, he was found guilty of defaming Mr. Goh Chock Tong, presently the Senior Minister, because he asked Mr. Goh about details of the loan Singapore government made to the late Indonesian dictator Suharto. This, believe it or not, was found defamatory and Dr. Chee was ordered to pay Mr. Goh half a million dollars.

In another case against Dr. Chee, Singapore High Court Judge Belinda Ang held him liable for defamation without even a trial! The Judge sat in her private office in the court (not the courtroom), heard what Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer had to say; and without even giving Dr. Chee a chance to speak, ordered him to pay the usual half million dollars to Lee Kuan Yew! The whole thing was over in 5 or 10 minutes!

When 4 Singapore Democratic Party protesters filed suit in the High Court for an order that their dispersal by Singapore riot police was illegal since they broke no law, Judge VK Rajah made an astonishing statement that Singapore laws did not give anyone the right to protest! And after having said that he ordered them to pay the court costs of several thousand dollars. Not able to pay, they have all been made bankrupt!

This is a government that has lost it's credibility. It has reached a stage where it no longer cares what the people think of it! And all this nonsense by the Singapore government is known to the rest of the world through the global mass media. Just like me, the rest of the world is laughing at the nonsense put out by this government. Yet, they don't seem to care one bit.

It is a sign of a government that knows it has lost. And having lost, there in nothing they can do, but to carry on and hope for the best. Surely, a very sad position to be in.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
Email: gopalnair@us-immigrationlaw.com

3 comments:

Gerald Heng said...

Justice Belinda Ang is one typical judge in the S'pore judiciary. She practically sneered at Dr Chee Soon Juan when the latter appeared before her besides making sarcastic and snide remarks.
As one of your readers wrote- LKY and his son are like royalty here similar to the King of Thailand, they enjoy "les majeste" previleges. Do not ever criticise or slander either one or you will be brought before LKY's judges and be found guilty in double quick time as in Dr CSJ's case.They will not even give you the chance to defend yourself by using their favorite legal weapon....Summary judgment! What an outrage in this day and age.Are we talking about first-world supposedly democratic S'pore or are we talking about Burma or North Korea? Singaporeans must wake up from their stupor and do something about it. They should not wait for the expected demise of their dreaded dictator as he may yet live till his 90s and still be lucid and holding a Sr Cabinet Post paying him $$$ millions a year.Act now, citizens of S'pore!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a million Gerald, for the above about "summary judgment" where the accused cannot defend himself but just have to accept the conviction and punishment! What nonsense..and in a modern world ruled by so-called fair laws?
If this summary judgment is allowed to stand and be used somemore by LKY and his cronies, one of these days, the wicked PAP may even extend it to "summary execution" following "summary judgment" Can't ever happen? Don't bet your life on it..it has happened in old China and can happen in uniquely Singapore! God help us all.

Anonymous said...

Today we just finish studying the basic law of singapore.I think it is so ridiculas that it is easier for 16-year-olds to have prostitutes than to get chewing gums in Singapore.Because the prostitution is legal and the chewing gums are controlled tightly.