Sunday, March 22, 2009

Singapore. The unintended consequences of abusing state authority

Ladies and Gentlemen,

George W Bush went to war in Iraq in 2003 under false pretences, claiming it had weapons of mass destruction which turned out to be completely untrue. Not only that he deliberately side stepped the UN which specifically forbade military action. Beside the great loss of life and destruction resulting from his abuse of power, the US military suddenly found that their efforts at recruitment for the Army began to decline drastically. At one point, the Generals were so alarmed at the falling numbers of new recruits that they feared the security of United States itself may be threatened. Americans who all along took pride in serving in their armed forces were suddenly not wanting to have anything to do with it. George W Bush managed at one stroke to discredit the US Armed Forces by his subterfuge. The result was a discredited military shunned by his own people.

Take Lee Kuan Yew. Since the 1970s, he systematically and routinely abused the legal system by appointing corrupt judges to eliminate his political opposition. Over the years we have had a series of politically motivated cases where the opposition has been disgraced, imprisoned and bankrupted for nothing more than criticizing him and his government. His victims were as you know, JB Jeyaretnam and a series of others including myself and Dr. Chee Soon Juan who as we speak is being subjected to the same punishment now.

What this is done is to thoroughly discredit the legal system in Singapore. To the last man, every Singaporean has completely lost faith in the administration of justice in their country. And we see the same consequence in Singapore as America finds itself in. From my last communication with the Law Society in Singapore a couple of months ago, I understand there are no more than 3,000 lawyers in active practice in Singapore with a population of 4.5 million!

Imagine that. Singapore has a population of 4.5 million but it has only 3,000 lawyers! I had written about this in an earlier post. It is something like 1 lawyer for a about 1700 people! If indeed Singapore is a financial hub and various other hubs it claims to be, it has to have 10 times that number of lawyers.

The reason for the lack of lawyers is this. Lee Kuan Yew has managed single handedly to thoroughly disgrace and discredit the judiciary and Singapore police by openly using it as an instrument for suppressing dissent. Each time a political dissident is hauled to court on trumped up legal charges, the state controlled media gives it full publicity, thereby sending a signal to everyone the dire consequences of exercising one's civil rights.

Singaporeans I believe also have human values. And having values, they dislike having anything to do with the legal profession, let alone being a lawyer. So lawyers already practicing there are leaving the profession and there are no takers to join it.

What is worse, it is not just that the present lawyer population is small, in fact it is actually shrinking. In fact 10 years ago, there were more lawyers in Singapore than there are now.

Lee Kuan Yew may or may not have learnt his lesson which is this. Abusing the law has it's consequences. And one of which is this. You are not going to get young people to become lawyers. And without lawyers, any ideas of greatness is nothing more than a pipe dream.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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The Common Man said...

I have been following your blog for quite some time now. I hope that you can take some personal criticism on your writing too.

I like the fact that you are taking on current events and showing your point of view for all to read. Its very fresh perspective, especially considering that local newspapers are quite one sided.

However, unlike local newspapers, which talk about variety of subjects, your blog seems to be mainly about Singapore Judges and Dr Chee.

Could you please please please please write about the man on the street (the Common Man) and some examples of how he/she is affected by the current events? It is after all the common man that you are appealing to. Or is your audience merely the Singapore Judiciary and people in the legal profession?

I’m a common man, and it would be nice of you to write about the more mundane stuff.

Hope you take this as a positive criticism, and improve your blog by writing about more varied topics. Its getting quite boring reading the same stuff in different sentences.

Anonymous said...

I've personally known lawyers who got out of the profession to:

1. teach in schools, instead of practise, and not even at university (instead of practise);

2. retrain as a doctor;

3. become a theatre actor

4. become a dancer with the Singapore Ballet Company.

All of them have privately said that they did not want to muddy their hands in a corrupt system. And mind you, they were not talking about the courrupt system that we think kicks in only in politically sensitive cases - they wer referring to your average joe in trouble with the law.

Gopalan Nair said...

To the common man,

Thank you for your letter. I am writing for the common man. It is the absence of the rule of law that affects every aspect of life of the common man. Without that you have nothing.

Gopalan Nair

Anonymous said...

To the Common Man,

I for one enjoy and always look forward to Gopalan's new entries.

Though I agree with you that he does repeat his messages all the time, I feel it is a necessity. I call it drumming it in. Just like advertising, repetition is a powerful thing. Say a thing often enough and people remember.

If you ask me, I think Singaporeans are in dire need of repeated deconditioning.

Keep up the hammering, Gopalan.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit concerned with recent developments in Singapore. It appears that merely witnessing an "illegal" protest is now an offense. One blogger claimed that he had been interrogated and threatened by police over his postings. Another blogger has been "missing" for a couple weeks. Today a popular blog, SingaporeMind, was shut down. If the above are true, they are alarming developments.

Perhaps election is imminent. Recall that they banned political podcast and postings prior to the last election.

Renaldi said...

what's happening in Singapore is saddening.

The people of Singapore has been under siege from its own government.

The corrupt government of Singapore has taken possession of the people of Singapore much like the devil taking possession of a person. That person is subdued much like the people of Singapore has been subdued by corrupt ruler.

Anonymous said...

Hope everyone is reading of the latest "crackdowns" (on websites), the arrest of a blogger and the disappearance of another on Also read the chatter that's going on in forums like 3in1kopitiam.

This is despotic rule at its height.

Classified said...

At last there are people who can see through the deception of the Singapore government!

Singapore is Disneyland with the Death Penalty. The Singapore government manipulates it's citizens to be docile and afraid to speak out, while making it seem as though Singapore is "clean" and "perfect".

Thank you very much for writing this blog Gopalan, keep going!

The voice of truth can not be silenced!

Anonymous said...

Same Same to the journalists ~~~ have you seen another uninspiring newspaper than the Straitjacket Times aka 154th aka Lee's Newsletter.

(The last alias is invented by me) But I think I will lose the fun of writing too if I am ranked 154th.