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,
Any lawyer practicing in Singapore must perforce put his conscience somewhere else. How else, in all conscience, can he still practice without an irrepressible urge to throw up?
Lee Kuan Yew has since the very beginning systematically tailored the law to preserve his rule, not to preserve the rule of law, so much so that to call it law today would be insult to one's intelligence.
Let me give you an example of myself. In 1991, I was standing for elections in Bukit Merah constituency representing the Workers Party. I was speaking at an election rally. I said the Subordinate Court Judiciary being directly under the Legal Service Commission headed by the Attorney General which is part of the Executive, gives the impression that it may not be impartial, since there is a possibility of executive interference. A very legitimate thing to say. A better system, I said, would be to make it like the High Court where judges tenure is permanent subject only to Parliament.
A few days later I was charged with contempt of court, the accusation being that I had implied the Subordinate Court judiciary was biased. Truly, Lee Kuan Yew's intention to charge me in a case like this was not so much to punish me. The greater purpose was to silence me, seeing me as new threat to his plans. I was a practicing lawyer in Singapore and had joined the Workers Party. I must have appeared to Lee Kuan Yew as a new young troublesome meddler in his plan for absolute control. Therefore, as the often used expression goes, I had to be nipped in the bud. And the best way to do it is by twisting the law.
This is how he does it in court. His enforcer, the public prosecutor, argues that I had committed a grave contempt on the integrity of the Subordinate Court Judiciary. As authority, he cites various cases from commonwealth countries and England to support his stand. But none of those cases were even remotely similar to mine, let alone anyone in England or elsewhere being charged for contempt of court for something like this.
It was a long time ago, but I remember him citing one case from New Zealand, in which the defendant had gone to a court and thrown garbage and refuse into the courtroom, being upset about the decision of the judge that went against him. But the prosecutor conveniently fails to mention the facts. Instead he relies on passages that the judge made in the judgement such as "everyone should respect the court" or some such general statement. And the Judge Sinnathuray nods in agreement that what I did was showing disrespect. The prosecutor wins round one.
And this goes on. He refers to several other cases whose facts had not the slightest relevance whatsoever to mine. But in every one of those cases, even if the case referred to was one of murder, the prosecutor picks sentences from each of them which suits him, passages which are general in nature like "everyone should respect the law" and so on, as authority for the proposition that I committed contempt of court!
The late Mr. Jeyaretnam who was my counsel argues of course that these cases have no relevance at all to the facts in my case to which the judge has nothing to say.
In the end, the judge solemnly pronounces that since all these cases cited by the prosecutor clearly make it illegal for someone to show contempt to a court, therefore I had similarly shown contempt to the Subordinate Court Judiciary, the punishment being $8,000.00 fine or jail of 2 months.
What this case, Attorney General vs Gopalan Nair, has done is to set a precedent. English common law as in Singapore is based on precedent, or what is known in law as Stare Decisis. So by my case, Singapore law entrenches the rule that anyone who criticizes the court at an election rally shall be found guilty of contempt, regardless of whether or not the words were actually contemptuous. Since this is now the law of the land, the law has been debased and changed to suit Lee Kuan Yew's political agenda. His agenda being to stifle and silence dissent. Therefore in the future, anyone who had done what I did, can similarly be found in contempt of court by virtue of the case Attorney General vs Gopalan Nair. You see, by this means, the law is defiled and debased. It can no longer be considered sound law anywhere in the world, except in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.
Take another example of Dr. Chee Soon Juan. He has been repeatedly convicted for making speeches and holding peaceful assemblies in public under laws that require permits. Anywhere else in the world, except perhaps in North Korea and Burma, such activity is not only permitted but also encouraged since it shows civic consciousness, a desired human quality in all democracies. But you see, in Singapore, such pubic speeches and peaceful assemblies, although in no way a threat to the country, and which is guaranteed by the constitution, are prosecuted. And in these prosecutions, the judge deliberately refuses even to look at the fact that the Constitution, the Supreme law of the land guarantees the people this right. Instead the judge only looks at another code section of the law, which by the way, is clearly contrary to the Constitution and therefore illegal, to convict him and send him to jail. Clearly a selective use of the law, is it not? Here again, you see, the law is twisted and stood on it's head to further Lee Kuan Yew's plan of total control.
And these cases go into the law books as authority for everyone thereafter to be punished for public speeches or public assembly, thanks to Dr. Chee's cases which have now set a precedent. Can anyone not see that through years of such abuse of the law, the law is being constantly re-written to become what it is today, a law to be laughed at, the laughing stock of lawyers all around the world.
And those responsible for permitting him to get away with completely destroying the law must answer for their actions. I am not only talking about the judges including ones such as Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean who presided over the defamation case of Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan. I am also talking about the prosecutors such as Jeffrey Chan who argue these cases, Assistant Superintend of Police Abdul Razak bin Zakaria who arrests innocent citizens on orders of Lee Kuan Yew, I am talking about each and every person who willingly does bad things to hurt his fellow citizens because it furthers his career.
Such people have not only brought shame to themselves and their families, they are responsible for the progressive destruction of the law to become what it is today, just a tool to prop up the dictator Lee Kuan Yew. And what is worse, they have let down their own country, because everything depends on the rule of law. Without it, nothing can function. Nothing can last.
Any self respecting lawyer who knows this should find another occupation or better still leave the country and practice elsewhere. And no young man or woman should ever contemplate the practice of law in Singapore if they wish to keep their dignity intact.
Most young men and women who wish to become lawyers have a passion and the hope to fight for justice, to further the interests of their fellow men. This is why they study the law, hoping to be good lawyers some day, to work and live as upright honest men and women in a career which requires hard work, honesty and integrity. I thought so myself when I read law in England and returned to practice in Singapore. It took me not more than 5 years to realize what Singapore law really was. A set of rules constantly changed to suit Lee Kuan Yew's purpose.
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