Ladies and Gentlemen,
Just to reassure any reader new to my case, who may quite reasonably think after reading this blog spot that I had actually killed 20 people in cold blood and had I not been stopped in time, I would have butchered another 400 just for the fun of it; please be reassured I have done nothing of the sort! All I did, believe it or not, was to write 2 blog posts on my blog the Singapore Dissident criticizing Judge Belinda Ang, a Singapore High Court Judge on her conduct of a defamation case recently.
June 17, 2008, Tuesday, Singapore Cantonment Police Station.
The time is 8.45 am. As required by the Court Order of June 16, 2008, I appear for interrogation at the police station at 9 am. The court had on June 16, 2008 ordered that I appear every day at 9 am at the police station for interrogation until next month because the police claim they are investigating further unspecified offenses.
3rd Floor of the Police station, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 8.45 am.
At 9.04 am Assistant Superintendent of Police (officer) Mr. Razak Jakaria, the Investigation Officer appears and takes me to an interview room. Another officer sits in the room.
Now the officer says that I am being investigated for an offense under Sec 4 (1) of the Sedition Act which he deliberately stresses is a seizable offence, obviously to threaten me into confessing something or other. He repeats that this offense carries a maximum jail term of 3 years, to stress it's seriousness.
The Section reads as follows: Any person who does or attempts to do or makes any preparation to do or conspires with any person to do any act which has or which would if done have a seditious tendency shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction of a first offense to a fine not exceeding $5000.00 or to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both.
After showing me the charge, he begins the questions.
This is yet another day of U Turns by the police. You will recall the several changes that the police have made to date on what to charge me with. First it was an Email to Judge Ang. Another charge that I sent Judge Lai an Email more than 2 years ago. Then the decision to drop everything and proceed with a Sedition Charge. Then the dropping of the Sedition Charge and charging me with insulting Judge Ang through my blog. Now this latest version of resurrecting the Sedition charge one more time!
Mind you, from the time of my arrest on May 31, 2008 Saturday and my detention in solitary confinement for 5 days continuously, and despite my having been brought to court several times, up till now the police have not formally charged me with any single offense and neither have they taken any plea from me.
One can only assume that the police are just continuing with their roundabouts.
This time, the officer goes back and covers the same ground he covered in the past by showing me Emails which he claims I sent to Justice Belinda Ang and others. As before, I again deny having sent any Emails to any of these people.
He then produces an extract of the Criminal Procedure Code which requires an accused or witness to allow his computer system (I suppose including Email account) to be looked into, when a crime is suspected and failing to allow the police to look at it, itself becomes an offense. He then asks if I am prepared to log into my Email account to the computer at the police station for him to inspect the contents of my Email account.
The Singapore police system clearly, as in this case, does not provide due process to an accused. Here, once the police had articulated a suspicion that an offense has been committed, regardless of whether or not they had a single shred of evidence, they can insist that my Email account be available for their examination; failing to provide co-operation becoming an arrestable offense immediately.
In this case, the police had alleged they were suspecting a crime. Since that was done, I had no choice but to permit them to have access to my private Emails. Of course, I did not send any emails to anyone, but knowing that since my arrest, the police had seized my notebook containing my Email password, there was no telling what the police would do, such as tampering with my Emails or implanting offending Emails by themselves.
Clearly Singaporeans do not have the right to privacy or the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure or if they did; the police have the right to just ignore it.
I had no choice but to permit the officer to have access to my Email account. I had stated in my written response that I was permitting them to have access to my Email account under protest since it has now transpired that they or others at their behest may have tampered with my Email account since they have produced documents falsely accusing me of sending Emails to Judge Belinda Ang and others. Therefor since I am to use the police computer, there may be a strong possibility that they may have implanted offending Emails into my email account so as to falsely accuse me of having sent them.
I was brought down to the computer or meeting room of the Cantonment Police Station. There were 2 photographers there. I was asked to key into my Email account. I demanded that that they stand away while I keyed in my password so as to avoid its detection by them. They complied.
I was asked to open each item in my Email, namely the Inbox, Sent, Thrash and Bulk. The police photographers took several photographs of each page of those items. The officer then asked me to open several of those Emails, which he read. He could find nothing offensive or suspicious. The Emails that he had accused me of sending to Judge Belinda Ang and others were not there, and neither were the undeliverable messages he accused me of having received.
By this time the interview which had stated at 9.04 am had reached 2.30pm, that is 5 1/2 hours. Suddenly the officer disappeared and came back with a letter from the police that I need not attend everyday at the police station at 9am until the middle of July 2008 as ordered by the court, and I only need to attend if I was so advised. Another U turn, you may say.
Finally I must add how the officer uses one psychological technique to try to wear me down. He gets another officer to sit next to him at the computer while he works on it. The other officer then looks at the computer as if he has discovered something incriminating against me. Then both the officer and this other officer talk in whispers. All this must be to intimidate me into believing that there is something highly incriminating against me in the computer, thereby suggesting that I come clean by confessing at the first opportunity.
This observation, consultation and whispering between the officer and his second, at the computer carried on not only at the interview room but also at the computer room. I realised what they were doing and objected to the other officer being present but the officer's stand was that it was his office and he could do what he wanted.
It was quite apparent to me that this constant U Turns and checking my Emails is nothing more than a fishing expedition. Not having anything concrete, they are going over the same ground repeatedly hoping that they will find some contraditions in my statements; or looking into my private Emails hoping that they could find something new to charge me with. This sort of investigation is only done by police forces not intent on detecting crime but rather to eliminate government opponents. These are political police forces working for tyrants and despots, not independent ones.
And so was wasted the whole of a very good morning at Cantonment Police Station. I have been here now for 25 days, since my arrival on May 26, 2008, when I should have gone back to California on June 3, 2008, 16 days longer and still in Singapore. My law practice is already in serious jeopardy and so is my other financial situation. But I remain adamant in standing my ground. Mahatma Gandhi had said, "you may imprison my body, break my bones, even kill me, but you cannot take my spirit and my resolve. That will remain with me till the end". Mahatma Gandhi was right.
In the meantime, I am grateful for the massive congratulatory messages sent to me asking me to remain strong during this difficult time. I am also been receiving offers of help from people both in Singapore and worldwide to whom I remain eternally grateful.
It seems the longer I remain in Singapore, the greater the worldwide interest in my case. It truly does appear to me, that no matter what the Singapore government may or may not think of the right to free speech and expression; the people of the free world do really take it very seriously. And if Singapore is at all concerned about its standing among the free countries in the world then it too should take it seriously.
So I am clearly not alone in this. Good people not only in Singapore but worldwide stand with me on this important question of free speech and expression. And this is reassuring. Very reassuring.