Readers of this blog who are unfamiliar with the goings on in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, may think reading the comments that there are many who think Singapore is a democracy based on the rule of law. The reader is warned that they may be Singapore government employees whose job is to discredit those who criticize Lee Kuan Yew's authoritarian rule. Please use your discretion as to how much weight you will give these comments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The state controlled Singapore paper the Straits Times (all Singapore media are both owned and controlled by the government), of Jan 15, 2009 has the report "Charged with Vandalism". If you did not know Singapore well, you might have thought what the big deal was. People write graffiti all over the world and they do get punished for it. Perhaps a fine, some remedial classes, restitution and even perhaps the suspension of their drivers licence for 6 months.
But Singapore is not any other country. It is Lee Kuan Yew's country where he tailors the laws to guarantee his rule. The following is the law section under the Singapore Penal Code:
Penalty for acts of vandalism.
3. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other written law, any person who commits any act of vandalism or attempts to do any such act or causes any such act to be done shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, and shall also, subject to section 231 of the Criminal Procedure Code, be punished with caning with not less than 3 strokes and not more than 8 strokes:
Provided that the punishment of caning shall not be imposed on a first conviction under this Act in the case of any act falling within —
(a) paragraph (a) (i) of the definition of “act of vandalism” in section 2, if the writing, drawing, mark or inscription is done with pencil, crayon, chalk or other delible substance or thing and not with paint, tar or other indelible substance or thing;
What this means, believe it or not is this. If you write something on any wall, other than your own of course, you can be sent to jail for 3 years. If this were not bad enough, Lee Kuan Yew's laws demand that you are caned at least 3 times but not more than 8 times.
Again for the benefit for those not privy to this brutality, let me explain what caning is. You would be excused if you thought, like any other normal human being that caning means a mere paddling on your backside to shame you. No this is not what it is. Caning is plain and simply is sheer brutality that is more befitting medieval times. Times where people where hung on stakes, where limbs were torn apart and where people were first tortured before being executed.
Caning is Singapore is like this. In prison, the victim is made to strip naked. His arms and legs, set apart, are then strapped to a wooden trestle. The man selected to administer this brutality is a specially trained prison officer. In the presence of a prison doctor, such as Dr. Lim Jeng Min in my earlier post, the prisoner is beaten on his bare buttocks with a thin rattan cane the length of perhaps 6 feet. Let us not make any mistake here. The object of the person who beats the prisoner is to inflict maximum pain, and because of his training in beating, he certainly achieves his aim. In fact the purpose of the beater, is to to draw blood if possible at each beating. The cane being thin flexible rattan, which is soaked in water the previous night to make it supple, is best suited for the diabolical purpose. The doctor is present to make sure the man does not die or faint.
I was in imprisoned in Singapore from Sept 20, 2008 to November 20, 2008 merely for writing a blog post in this blog dated May 29, 2008 for criticizing a Singapore judge Belinda Ang. Please see my earlier blog, travesty of justice, no doubt. While there I heard from my cell mates that a prisoner who is caned even once will cause his entire posterior to swell, turning black. He will not be able to lie on his back for at least a month. He will not be able to relieve himself in the toilet. And during this time, the doctor who was present watching his beating treats his injuries; what cruel irony. And the beating leaves a scar for life. This is what goes on in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.
The newspaper report states that Mr. Koh Chan Meng aged 47 faces 3 counts of vandalism for writing the words "Go sue me Lee Kuan Yew" and "Hi, Harry Lee, I love you" Harry being the Christian name of the Singapore dictator, Lee Kuan Yew, on a wall outside Singapore Parliament. As the law only exempts anyone above the age of 50 being subjected to this brutality, since there are 3 counts, and if each count is treated a separate conviction, then this poor man will certainly suffer caning. He is only 47.
This law is a fall back from British colonial times to deter people writing on walls slogans against colonial rule, which were commonplace in countries seeking independance. We can all agree that many colonial laws are unjust, intended to perpetuate foreign rule. But that was 70 years ago. But Lee Kuan Yew, the Singapore strongman keeps this law in place now for the same reason. It will not serve him well if people go around writing on walls "Down with Lee Kuan Yew", a legitimate political activity, although punishable under the law. He intends to stay in power and the only way he can do it, is by brutalizing his people into fearing him.
And even if you did not actually write anything on the wall, it would still be vandalism even to hang a bunting on a wall with the same words as the following shows:
(i) writing, drawing, painting, marking or inscribing on any public property or private property any word, slogan, caricature, drawing, mark, symbol or other thing;
(ii) affixing, posting up or displaying on any public property or private property any poster, placard, advertisement, bill, notice, paper or other document; or
(iii) hanging, suspending, hoisting, affixing or displaying on or from any public property or private property any flag, bunting, standard, banner or the like with any word, slogan, caricature, drawing, mark, symbol or other thing; or
What this means is, in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, even if you did not damage any property at all but merely hung a sign on a wall, you are still subjected to this brutality if it was your second conviction! The intent should be very clear. This is a law to deter Singaporeans from expressing their anger against Lee Kuan Yew's rule. This is plain and simply what it is.
I not only sympathize, I also applaud Mr. Koh Chan Meng's courage. I am sure he is an educated man, well aware of the tyranny imposed by this man, Lee Kuan Yew. He must have felt a burning desire to tell this tyrant what he truly felt. And in a moment of anger, he must have done what he did.
A punishment should befit the crime. Although this brutality should not be permissible for any crime in this day and age, it should especially not be applicable in an infraction such as this. Mr. Koh has not committed any violence against anyone. No one has been hurt by his actions. Yes, the wall in front of Lee Kuan Yew's Parliament may have been defaced. If so, Mr. Koh could be made to pay for it. What need is there to inflict such excruciating pain? What need is there to perpetrate such brutality? What need is there to draw blood? What is achieved by this?
I tell you what Lee Kuan Yew achieves by this. He sends a fearsome signal to every Singaporean that they should not write anything on any wall criticizing his dictatorship. So even if the writing did not refer to him personally, the prisoner should still be caned, so as to give the impression that this law is not in the books merely to perpetuate his rule.
Mr. Koh, in suffering this punishment is a hero to many Singaporeans including me. He is hero because he had the courage to tell Lee Kuan Yew, in a manner of speaking, what he was; which is a tyrant no more, no less. Yes, he will suffer the punishment like Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake for her belief in God. In her time too, such action was unlawful, but she willingly accepts the final punishment, death. In a way, Mr. Koh did the same. Unlike many Singaporeans who fear, he had shown that he had none. He had to tell Lee Kuan Yew what he really was, that is, a tyrant through and through. And like a man, he suffers. He is a martyr for his people.
Mr. Koh has furthered the cause of freedom in Singapore in many ways. One of which is to expose to the whole world what Lee Kuan Yew really is, the tyrant that he is. And by his actions, instead of causing other Singaporeans to fear him, I think it will embolden others, not to commit vandalism, but to engage in peaceful protests against this tyrannical rule in the country and force the collapse of this regime.
I would like this to say to Mr. Koh. You have my admiration. You have done good for your country, Singapore. You have helped to tell the world the brutality that goes on in the name of the law, in Singapore, that shamelessly tries to portray itself as a first world country.
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