Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore Island's state controlled newspaper the Straits Times Online edition of July 31, 2009 has this story, "Deposit for appeal doubles. Bigger sum to keep pace with costs likely to be awarded". This is not the first time court costs in that island has increased; it has steadily been increasing over the years to what it is today, completely unaffordable levels. You will not be wrong to say that the courts are beyond the reach of the ordinary man. They serve only the rich.
I do not know the exact figures. While I was in Singapore last year for 6 months, many had told me this. A court case in the Subordinate Courts requires many hundreds of dollars in filing fees. In addition, each day of trial requires several hundred dollars to be paid to the court each day. In the High Court, it is double that. Several thousand dollars. Each trial day in the court there requires the payment of thousands of dollars each day. And unlike in the US or other civilized countries, there is no provision of fee waiver for indigents.
The result of all this is to deny ordinary people access to the courts unless they have the money. How meritorious your case is irrelevant. As is said in common parlance "No money no talk". In this case "No money, go to Hell".
This is not the only fact keeping litigants away from Singapore's courts. The other is the lack of respect for these courts. Repeatedly Lee Kuan Yew's government has over the years given full publicity in their state controlled press for political show trials, like they did in Russia, deliberately reminding the people again and again that there is no rule of law.
You recall how much publicity the entire state controlled media gave to the late JB Jeyaretnam, Lee Kuan Yew's arch opponent being humiliated, punished, sent to jail, bankrupted and impoverished by Lee kuan Yew's judges. Make no mistake about this. Lee Kuan Yew while perverting justice for his political ends in these many show trials was all along fully aware that people knew JB Jeyaretnam was innocent. What Lee Kuan Yew was doing was to send a message. He wants people to know that despite the law, Lee Kuan Yew can finish anyone he wants, like he did to JB Jeyaretnam.
It was the same old story with all his political opponents, Francis Seow, Chia Thye Poh, Tang Liang Hong, the honest decent people falsely termed "Marxist Conspirators", myself, Jufrie Mahmood, Dr. Chee Soon Juan! Lee's actions were, as you can see deliberate. He wanted to firmly and surely send the message that there is no rule of law in Singapore. He, Lee Kuan Yew is the law, take it or leave it. And with this he has succeeded in instilling in every humble Singaporean's mind that the law is there for the PAP elite and sympathisers. The law is not for Dr. Chee or any of us.
With both these hurdles, money for one and government influence over a corrupt judiciary for another, the law is not only inaccessible because of the expense, it is also unattractive because of the the judiciary's corruption, being beholden to the dictator Lee Kuan Yew.
It is no suprise therefore to see that Singapore has insufficient lawyers, less that 3,000; and people have become so helpless with no recourse to the law, they just live accepting anything that this dictatorship throws at them in silence. What else can they do in this hopeless situation, with this hopeless lives they live?
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