Ladies and Gentlemen,
I claimed trial and disputed the charge that I had intentionally insulted Justice Belinda Ang of the High Court when I wrote in this blog that she had "prostituted her position as a judge" during the Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan trial, held from May 26 to May 28, 2008 in Singapore. I was charged under the following Penal Code section:
Section 228, Singapore Penal Code: Whoever intentionally offers any insult or causes any interruption to any public servant, while such public servant is sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.
I was clearly not guilty under the section. The elements of the section were inapplicable in my case.
Offering an insult: It is well established that any law has to be clear and precise on it's face. The word "insult" is so vague and open to a million interpretations that no one could know one way or the other whether something is an "insult" or not. It is precisely for this reason that this section is clearly unenforceable and void.
For instance, would calling someone "fat" if he was in fact fat amount to an insult. It is like a court convicting a person under a law which says "it is unlawful to be a bad person". Clearly no one could know what is precisely a "bad person". One person's opinion would clearly be different from another.
This is exactly what I argued in court. I told Justice Kang that it would have been impossible for anyone beforehand to know what was an insult and what was not. And such laws have a chilling effect on all speech, where people would not want to offer any criticism lest the court finds that it amounts to an insult. This completely contravenes the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, which guarantees free speech and expression. Justice Kang had nothing to say on this point.
Second, I argued that if something I said amounted to the truth, it cannot amount to an insult. The dictionary definition of the word "prostituting ones position of judge" (see my earlier blog post Dec 3rd 2008) clearly defines it as a person who abuses his or her office for an odious purpose. With various examples in my blog post of May 29, 2008, I had described factually my reasons why I said this. What I said was the truth. And therefore how can stating the truth amount to an insult? To this, Justice Kang made a remark which was out of this world. He said, a remark can be an insult even if it was true. He said, to tell someone that "his father was a drunk and his mother is a bigamist" even if true amounted to an insult. To this, I told him that it should depend on the circumstances in which it was said, but it all fell, as was to be expected on deaf ears.
Examine these words: any insult or causes any interruption to any public servant, while such public servant is sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding. Any reasonable reading of these words should mean that the defendant should have been physically present in court and either insulted the judge or interrupted the proceedings. I had never insulted Justice Ang in her court and neither did I interrupt her proceedings. Instead, I wrote a blog post criticizing her conduct as a judge. I had never asked her to read my blog post. Other people read my blog. But how can that amount to my insulting her, without even any action by me in her court.
Of course, the judge took no interest in anything I said and wholeheartedly agreed with the prosecutor that a) the insult need not be in her court even though the section clearly means this and b) it did not matter that I did not personally insult her. It was sufficient that others read it in my blog!
Examine these words: Sitting in any stage of judicial proceeding. The case, assessment of damages before Judge Ang in the High Court between Lee Kuan Yew and Dr. Chee took place from May 26 2008 and ended on May 28, 2008. Justice Ang then said that she will state the amount of damages at a later date. The court was no longer sitting in proceedings after May 28, 2008. There will not be any court hearings after this at all. All that will happen after May 28, 2008 is for the Judge, at some unspecified time in the future, to inform the parties by mail of the quantum of damages that Dr. Chee has to pay. I had written this blog post criticizing her on May 29, 2008 at which date, the court was no longer sitting. The hearing was concluded by then.
I therefore told Judge Kang that I cannot be guilty of the charge since the court was no longer sitting in proceedings. To this argument, Justice Kang stated that because Judge Ang had yet to decide on the quantum of damages, the court, believe it or not, was still "sitting in proceedings". What then, I asked Judge Kang, if Judge Ang does not decide on the quantum of damages for 2 years! Can it then be said that her court was sitting in proceedings for the full 2 years!
To anyone reading this section, "sitting in proceedings" has to mean only one thing, that is, the court has to be physically in session with parties arguing their case before it. Otherwise, by no stretch of imagination, can it ever be argued that it is. Again all this fell on deaf ears. His stand was that because Judge Ang was yet to deliver her judgement on the quantum of damages, her court was "still sitting in proceedings", even though the court was not in session! As far as he was concerned, there was nothing more to it.
And further proof that the Judge was misusing this law was this. The prosecutor could not find a single authority that had any similarity to my case. He relied on one case, the only one he could find. In that case, the defendant, being angry at the sentence ordered by the judge, yelled expletives at him in Tamil and damaged the dock in court!
Judge Kang during my trial in the High Court from Sept 08, 2008 to Sept 17, 2008 was not acting as a judge. He was a PAP politician, silencing criticism of Lee Kuan Yew and his courts. He was also using me to intimidate everyone else in the island of Singapore, warning them them not to criticize Lee Kuan Yew's government or his courts, regardless of how much they abuse the law. And if they did, they will be have to serve a prison sentence of 3 months, like me.
It is up to the reader of this blog to ponder over this question. Are you going to be bullied by Judge Kang and keep your mouth shut (because that is what he wants you to do) or are you going to say that you are a human being and will not allow him to intimidate you?
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