Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have now been 27 days in Singapore. I am an American citizen. I had come to Singapore to witness the case of assessment of damages in the High Court from May 26, 2008 to May 28, 2008, for 3 days, in the case of Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan. I intended to stay in Singapore no longer than June 3, 2008, which would have made my stay no more than 9 days. I had written a blog post on May 29, 2008, criticizing the conduct of the judge in this case.
For doing nothing more than writing a blog critical of a judge, I was arrested by 5 policemen at my hotel; manhandled; handcuffed; my hotel room ransacked before my very eyes, all my personal belongings seized; driven in a police car in handcuffs to Cantonment Police Station and kept 5 days in solitary confinement with the cell lights on 24 hours a day and interrogated each day; sometimes several times a day; and accused of all manner of wrong doing and treated like a common criminal, spending any time outside my cell in handcuffs.
I was released on bail, from solitary confinement on June 5, 2008; after 5 days. Not satisfied with having taken numerous statements from me while under custody; not satisfied with countless interrogation sessions; the court ordered me to continue to attend at the police station for even more interrogation sessions, which I did.
Suddenly on Monday June 16, 2008, not satisfied with the numerous statements already taken, from the never ending interrogation sessions; the court ordered me to attend the police station every day at 9 am in the morning until July 14, 2008 because, believe it nor not, the police have still not completed their investigations and according to the prosecutor, I had not been cooperating with the police in turning up for these interrogation sessions!
And while these never ending interrogation sessions continue, I, an American citizen, after having spent 5 days in solitary confinement, continue to be held against my will in Singapore now for 27 days; with my passport seized; while my law practice in California and my financial situation continues to suffer due to neglect.
And all this punishment for what? All for writing a blog post on my blog criticizing a judge in her conduct of the Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan case! Even by any third world country's standards, surely I have been punished enough! Surely any man with even the slightest of compassion; with the slightest of of humanity, would feel that enough is enough. Surely it is time to let me go.
The fact remains that all I did was to write a blog post. I have not killed anyone; I have not committed theft or armed robbery or high treason. All I did was to write. And for writing, will Singapore, this so called first world country, this country that claims to have the best legal system in the world, the best train system in the world, the best newspapers in the world, the best sea port in the world, the best airport in the world, the best airline in the world, the highest paid ministers in the world, the best of everything in the world; will they not be satisfied with the punishment I have suffered so far? What more do they want, my blood?
And what is the purpose of all this punishment? Is it to make sure that I am ruined financially? If so, they may have already achieved their purpose. Is it to make sure that I will never exercise my right to free speech again? Surely this is not possible. Unless they kill me, I will be able to return to the United States sometime or other. And once I am free, I will continue to exercise my right to free speech and expression; and if that is the case, what is the point of all this punishment?
And if the the point of all this punishment is to deter Singaporeans from ever criticizing Singapore judges, surely in this day and age, with an educated population, that result is highly unlikely. In fact the opposite may be true. The people might become instead, outraged, defiant and emboldened to speak their mind even more.
And while the Singapore government, intolerant of dissent, jail me in solitary confinement and hold me back in Singapore against my will and unable to return to my home in California; the free world watches the actions of this so called first world country. And they begin to see what this first world country really is. A country that rules by instilling fear among its citizens, threatening them with solitary confinement for extended periods if they ever dare to to criticize a judge.
This much must be told to this government. In order for the judiciary to function properly; in order for ministers to function properly; in order for policemen to function properly; in order for the government to function properly; what is needed is criticism. Criticism makes these government officials accountable. Without criticism, there is no check on people in authority and when there are no checks, judges, policemen, civil servants and ministers are liable to abuse it. If you want good government, you have to have criticism. Without it you have dictatorship and tyranny.
And by the way, this government has to be reminded that it is the tax payer that is paying their wages. And judges too have to be reminded that their wages too are paid by the Singaporean taxpayer. This makes them accountable for their actions and accountable to the people of Singapore.
I would say this to the Singapore administration. If you want to be taken seriously on your claim that you are a first world country, then act like one. First world countries do not go around throwing bloggers in solitary confinement and preventing them returning to their homes. These are not the actions of a first world country. More the actions of dictatorships like North Korea.