Friday, March 21, 2008

Michael Hwang, President Law Society, continues to live in denial

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The President of Singapore’s Law Society, the official body of legal practitioners, which is controlled by Lee Kuan Yew and his government; just as every other official organization in the island is; has told the similarly controlled newspaper "The Straits Times" in the article of March 18, 2008, titled "The Law Society President says lawyers apathetic about public law" the following.

The Law Society President says “lawyers are apathetic about public law"and that Singapore lawyers are apathetic when it comes to human rights.

Among other things, he says Singapore lawyers should be more aware of international treaties such as the International Declaration on Human Rights and how it applies to Singapore, and laments the fact that Singapore lawyers have so far not challenged the government when it unfairly treats them. He contrasts the Singapore situation where no lawyer dares challenge the government to the recent Hong Kong case, where the Equal Opportunities Commission there successfully sued the Hong Kong government over preferential treatment for boys over girls in high school admission.

Congratulations Mr. Hwang in finally realizing that there is a human rights problem in Singapore and that lawyers are not doing anything about it! But my question to Mr. Hwang is this. Where was he the last 30 years or so?

Was he practicing law in Mars! Why has he just realized this now? What took him so long? Is he saying that all this time, he never knew that Lee Kuan Yew denies Singaporeans as well as him any human rights? We should ask this President of the Law Society of Singapore whether he feels safe in Singapore, and if so; is it because he has human rights or is it because he has the patronage and support of his benefactor, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew?

I will try to put it as civilly as possible. This man is not being entirely honest in this sudden realization. He has been living and practicing law in Singapore for over 20 or 30 years in a government linked law firm Allen and Gledhill. Only recently has he set out on his own.

In all these years, he stood idly by, as he managed his lucrative business law practice; servicing his clients, the Lee Kuan Yew establishment; making sure that he never went within a mile of any case where Lee routinely misused the law to polish off his opponents. The law was being broken, bent and abused to suit Lee Kuan Yew and family and his benefactors; while Mr. Hwang, a lawyer, stood by doing nothing.

You know Lee Kuan Yew’s victims in Lee Kuan Yew’s law courts. Is he saying that the law was not bent, broken and abused to unjustly punish JB Jeyaretnam, the famous opposition politician? Is he saying that the law was properly applied in the crippling damage awards and then to bankrupt him and remove him from office. Was this not a human rights violation, a violation of the right to free speech and expression? Why did he not do anything to help all those years? At least, why did he not, at least say something?

Is he not aware that over the last 2 decades, Dr. Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party has been sued bankrupted and imprisoned for doing nothing more than exercise his rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the very rights which he refers to now?

Is he denying that the series of politically motivated actions by Lee Kuan Yew and his family against JB Jeyaretanm and Dr. Chee Soon Juan are blatant violations of human rights; the right of free speech and expression, the right of peaceful assembly and the right of equal protection?

Mr. Michael Hwang is making a fool of himself by publicly saying now that Singapore lawyers should engage in issues such as human rights and administrative justice when he clearly knows that it is not possible for Singapore lawyers to engage in any of it; for the simple reason that they fear Lee Kuan Yew, his son and their entire family; just as Mr. Hwang fears them, as his actions during the past 30 years have shown.

Let me set out the reality to Mr. Hwang. He is in blinkers and it is about time, he took them off, and began to look about him.

There are only 3,400 lawyers practicing in Singapore. It was the same number 10 years ago despite the fact that the population had increased during the same time from 3 to 4.5 million, and despite the fact that Singapore during that time had increased it's banking and commercial sector 10 fold!

There is a chronic shortage of lawyers and it is going to drop even further because almost half of the profession is above 50 years old, most of whom are giving up practice for good.

Recently the government has come up with all sorts of incentives for lawyers to stay such as more money, doing work from home, 4 days week and so on and so forth. One law firm had even gone to the extraordinary length of chasing away lawyers who remained in their offices after office hours. It was not because they wanted to save electricity; but because of the hope, the lawyers would appreciate the gesture of their employers and not resign as they had threatened to do!

What desperation!

Look here Mr. Hwang. The legal profession in Singapore is dead. There are no takers. And the reason for this problem is people like you and Lee Kuan Yew. Your appointment by the government to head the Law Society is ample evidence that Singapore law is politicized. No rule of law. You as well as every Singapore lawyer are aware that challenging Lee Kuan Yew on matters of human rights is recipe for disaster and bankruptcy.

That is why you yourself have not dared to challenge Lee's routine abuse of the law during your entire career of 30 years. You have lived in fear and gone along with whatever human rights violations this government has thrown at the people; idly standing by when the people's rights have been repeatedly violated before your very eyes. I think, you should not be talking about civil liberties and human rights. Such things are not for you.

And although you already know this, let me tell you the stark reality of things. The government of Singapore is illegitimate. Every election is rigged to ensure that Lee wins each time. This being so, the laws enacted by this illegal government are themselves without legal foundation. So are the international treaties and agreements signed with the international community.

Every publication, every newspaper, every radio broadcast, every judge, every court, every police officer, every civil servant, every one in any position of authority is subservient to one man, Lee Kuan Yew his son and his family. And so are you.

And no matter how much you try to pretend that you are discussing human rights, discussing international treaties and other such high sounding positions plans and objectives, nothing is going to change. You, as well as the committee that you set up are no better than page boys; running the errands of the Lee family; and wasting everyone’s time by filling the pages of the propaganda sheets of the Straits Times.

If Lee Kuan Yew is not prepared to let you have any human rights; you are not going to have any. It is as simple as that. I know this, and I think you know this too. But in your case, you are quite prepared to live the compliant life you have lived worshipping Lee Kuan Yew, just as a poodle lives in the comfort of his caring master.

Mr. Hwang, you have wasted your time, making that press statement about important issues such as human rights. Such matters are for real lawyers; lawyers who insist on defending the rights of their fellow citizens. We all know who you are. We also know that you are not one of them. If you were, you will not be the President of the Law Society of Singapore.

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

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