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,
In a report in Singapore's state controlled newspaper the Straits Times of Feb 24, 2009, " The worst insult possible", judge Judith Prakash says John Tan Liang Joo, Isrizal Mohamed Isa and Muhammad Shafi'ie Syahmi Sariman had insulted the court by wearing T shirts emblazoned with the image of a kangaroo in judicial robes. In fact, there was no insult to the Singapore courts at all.
If there was an insult, if at all, it was to the kangaroo itself, who had no desire to be wearing any clothes at all, happy to be hopping around in its natural coat and who would have taken umbrage for being depicted wearing clothes, let alone a judges judicial robes.
This Singapore judge Judith Prakash has completely abused the law obviously to terrorize Singaporeans into not criticizing the Singapore judiciary, to please Lee Kuan Yew, the Singapore strongman who cannot stand any criticism, either of his corrupt courts or his dictatorial government. She has delivered a 11 page judgement in which she lays out the reasons, totally unreasonable, why in her opinion "the defendants had presented the worst form of insult possible against the court system". She is totally wrong. And what is worse, she is not wrong through ignorance. She is deliberately abusing her position to further Lee Kuan Yew's political ends. That is what makes it disgusting.
In a contempt case, it is the act or words that matter, not the intentions of the defendant. And the act or words taken on its own has to show an undeniable nexus to the offense. That is, the act itself must be clearly contemptuous. It cannot be open to multiple interpretations.
In this case, the defendants were seen to be wearing these T shirts outside the confines of Judge Belinda Ang Swa Ean's court on May 27, 2008 when she was herself shamelessly abusing the law to favor Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew against his victim, Dr. Chee Soon Juan. Mind you, this is important. They were not wearing it within her court. They had it on outside. How then can be be clearly proven that their intention was to show disrespect to her court when they were not even within it.
The T shirts had an image of a kangaroo in judicial robes. How then can it be undeniably shown by this act alone, that this was a contempt of Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean's court? The defendants might have found the T shirts amusing and funny. It could have been a picture of a dog in judges robes. A cat or any other animal. Since the defendants intentions are immaterial, how can one say undeniably that anyone looking at it would come to the only conclusion that this judge claims people will have; that they were insulting the courts!
What if instead of the image of kangaroos, the defendants had worn the iconical image of the The Blindfolded Lady of Justice holding the scales with tears from her eyes? Would this be contempt because judge Judith Prakash would assume that anyone looking at it would assume there was no justice in Singapore, since the blindfolded lady is weeping? Would such a T shirt result in imprisonment as well.
Lee Kuan Yew's corrupt policeman Assistant Superintendent Abdul Razak Zakaria was the investigating officer in this case. At the behest of Lee Kuan Yew's minions, he arrested these 3 men and took long detailed statements from them which were read in court. This as you can see was completely wrong, but in Singapore they can do anything they want. The law is systematically denigrated for Lee Kuan Yew's political ends, and which today is no law at all.
As I say, in a contempt case, the intentions of the defendants are totally irrelevant. It is the act itself that matters. And by reading these statements in court, this judge used the intentions of the defendants to connect their actions to the offense of contempt. This policeman should never have done that. And this judge should never had entertained any statements of the defendants. In this manner the rights of the 3 men, citizens of Singapore, was completely denied.
Even without going into the issue of freedom of speech, the act alone of these men, did not amount to any contempt of anyone, except as I have said, perhaps against the Australian marsupial.
The Singapore Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. And imprisoning someone wearing T shirts with the picture of a kangaroo in judge's robes is a clear violation of that right. What Lee Kuan Yew and his compliant judges such as this woman are saying is this. They can abuse the law as much as they want. They can find against Dr. Chee in favor of Lee Kuan Yew without any just cause, as many times as they want. They can abuse the rights of the late JB Jeyaretnam. They can bankrupt Tang Liang Hong merely for having the temerity for standing for elections. They can beat up Francis Seow in detention for the same reason. But yet no one is entitled to criticize, under pain of being prosecuted for contempt of court. What fairness is there in such a system?
In the report she is supposed to have said that they "showed a wilful and stubborn contempt for the integrity of the courts". Where in heavens did she get that idea? How can merely wearing such T shirts show any such thing, let alone "wilful" and "stubborn". Where did the willfulness and stubbornness come in?
She says "It was designed to degrade the administration of justice", "was a serious and scurrilous insult that struck at the foundation", "the message that justice cannot be obtained", "that a reasonable person would conclude.................... cast aspersions on the justice system here". One can only wonder how she managed to come up with all these conclusions, obviously only with a vivid imagination which has run wild!
But she was very candid about her dishonesty, in part of what she said which is this. And I quote it in full: "It is imperative that a clear message be sent to potential contemnors that such attacks on the judiciary are not acceptable". Yes, the main purpose of this trial was not to seek justice, it was to send a clear message to other Singaporeans that they have no right to criticize the Singapore courts or Lee Kuan Yew or his government, and if they did they would be sent to jail, no matter how unjust the courts are. True. Very true.
That is why the state controlled newspapers of Singapore gave a minor case such as this, (which in any other democracy would not have been mentioned at all) such great prominence, splashing it across the main pages in headline news, in great detail, with pictures of these men prominently displayed. Truly, it was a clear message, an unmistakably clear message that no one has the right to criticize the Singapore judiciary regardless of how much injustice they perpetrate.
This woman, Judge Judith Prakash in this case has not only deliberately, shamelessly and with open eyes, done an injustice to these 3 defendants. She has done an injustice to Singapore. She has knocked another nail into the coffin of the Singapore legal system, reducing it bit by it, to a mere set of rules put in place to ensure that Lee Kuan Yew and his government will continue to rule without opposition. Singapore's reliance on the principle of stare decisis, as in England, where court decisions make up the law, sadly ensures this.
She would be a very brave woman if she is not worried by her actions. In the Singapore of today, with mounting unemployment, with the economy in complete shambles, and with her patron and guardian Lee Kuan Yew already 86 years old and about to die, she must indeed be worrying what will happen to her when her guardian angel passes. Will she be held to account in a new democratic Singapore. I will not be surprised if she is already making plans to move to Australia with her family, to the very country which was the home of the animal, the subject of this case. It will be hard for her when at that time, she is held to account for her actions.
Recently the respected International Bar Association in their detailed 72 page report said that much. They said Singapore has in effect a corrupt system of law that is used as a tool to stifle and thwart any political opposition or criticism. That it why, even if Lee Kuan Yew's handpicked Minister for Law K Shanmugam may claim a thousand times to having the rule of law, the rest of the world know to what extent the law has been reduced. That is why the legal profession in Singapore only has 3,000 lawyers. That is why increasing numbers of lawyers are leaving Singapore never to return. That is why families are taking their children to live overseas.
This is a precarious dangerous time for people such as this who shamelessly use their positions of authority to deny the citizens their lawful rights. The time of reckoning is not too far away. Judge Judith Prakash, be warned.
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