Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Singapore's comical disciplinary proceedings. Law Society of Singapore vs Gopalan Nair

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the latest in the comedy which is this Singapore's Law Society's disciplinary proceedings against me. They don't appear to have any concern whatsoever of how silly they look. And after this, we can expect Lee Kuan Yew's Minister for Law going out once again and telling us that Singapore has the rule of law and the best legal system in the world!

The position so far.

1. The Singapore Disciplinary Tribunal Secretariat, the court that is going to try the accusations against me for professional misconduct has made it clear that they will not arrange for the court transcripts of both my cases in Singapore in 2008 to be sent to me. Even though these court transcripts are crucial for my defense as the one charge relates to my conviction before the Singapore High Court in 2008 for criticizing Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean and the other for the disorderly conduct trial in the Subordinate Court also in 2008, they have flatly refused to provide them.

A letter from the Disciplinary Tribunal of Nov 4, 2009 simply demands that I request the court to send me the transcripts and they say the Tribunal "is unable to obtain transcripts of court proceedings on behalf of the parties".

This Tribunal remains the sole authority responsible for the conduct of these proceedings. It is they who should provide these transcripts to me or they should direct the Law Society to do so. As the Law Society has commenced these proceedings, it is incumbent upon them to ensure that the Defendant is provided all evidence available to them that will assist me in my defense. This is especially so since I am not in Singapore.

There is no reason why the the Tribunal is "unable to obtain transcripts of court proceedings on behalf of the parties" as they say.

I have received a letter from the High Court Singapore dated October 30, 2009 stating that the transcripts are available for my collection in Singapore and that I should "make arrangements for an authorized person to collect them"! Can you imagine they asking me to send someone to Singapore to collect the transcripts when I am in California! If this is not a joke, what is it?

The same tomfoolery from, the Singapore Disciplinary Tribunal as regards my Singapore Subordinate Court case in 2008. This is even more hilarious! On November 3, 2009, someone by the name of Mrs. Mok Goh Kit Soon, Senior Deputy Head Appeals, Subordinate Court Singapore writes to me saying the transcripts of Magistrates Appeal No: 229 of 2008 are available for collection and that I should send someone to Singapore from California to collect them! I never appealed any case. She wants to give me transcripts of someone else's appeal!

2. I had written to this tribunal asking for the audio recordings of my hearings in the High Court. They have not bothered to answer at all. I guess they are not prepared to provide it.

3. On October 22, 2009 the Tribunal had ordered the Law Society Lawyers Colin Ng and Partners, a Singaporean law firm to write to Singapore Immigration Department within 7 days asking whether I am banned from entering Singapore and if not on what terms may I enter. Even though 7 days are long past, I have not been informed whether this law firm has written to them, and if so, not provided a copy of their letter and I do not know whether the Singapore Immigration Department has said anything. Perhaps, as it appears, this Tribunal is not bothered one way or the other!

4. I had earlier written to the Tribunal whether I am would allowed to enter Singapore to defend myself at the trial. To date they have not answered one way or the other.

5. I have now received a letter dated Nov 4, 2009 from the Singapore Disciplinary Tribunal, which states as follows:

a. They are satisfied that both the High Court and the Subordinate Courts Singapore have, believe it or not, acceded to my request for the transcripts by permitting me (never mind I live in California, USA) or my authorized person (never mind if I have no one in Singapore) to collect the transcripts! Are they saying that I should come to Singapore at my expense to collect the transcripts? And even if I did, would I not be arrested again for having committed another crime against Singapore's weird laws if I was to return? This Singaporean Tribunal appears not interested in any of these questions. As far as they are concerned, the Tribunal has, according to them, acceded to my requests. As a matter of fact, I should not even be requesting any of this. It is the Tribunal's responsibility, sua sponte, to provide all this. But of course, Singapore does not have the rule of law as we in the free world understand it. The International Bar Association have said that much.

b. Having decided that they have acceded to my request for the court transcripts, the Tribunal has ordered that I file my defense on or before Dec 07, 2009. They don't seem to be bothered by the fact that it would be almost impossible for me to file an effective Defense without the requested transcripts, which they are refusing to provide!

c. The parties have to file the List of Documents by January 7, 2010

d. The parties shall file and serve their Affidavits of Evidence in Chief, Bundles of Documents and Bundles of Authorities by Feb 05, 2010

e. The Tribunal has fixed the dates of hearing in Singapore on either Feb 22, 2010 to Feb 26, 2010 or March 08, 2010 to March 12, 2010.

I will be posting my Defense in this blog and again pointing out the total lack of regard for the rule of law or due process by this Singaporean Tribunal in proceeding in the manner they are doing now; which is almost tantamount to not giving me a chance to defend myself at all.

Without the benefit of the transcripts, I will have, in these circumstances, to proceed with defending these charges with whatever written notes I have, from memory and the few incomplete transcripts that I have with me. I will be using this opportunity to show that this Tribunal has deviated completely from accepted norms of decency and fairness in their conduct of these proceedings, as to amount to a total denial of justice, no less.

Now you see yet again why the International Bar Association were absolutely correct when they wrote their 72 page report on Singapore, which said that Singapore systematically and unashamedly uses the law to silence and punish it's political opponents.

In a way, I have to be thankful to the Singapore government for proceedings in the way they do, in not providing any meaningful opportunity to me to defend these charges, with a total and absolute disregard for due process; as it confirms my criticism of the Singaporean judicial system once again for it's lack of the rule of law.

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

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