Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Singapore state controlled media repeatedly depicts K Shanmugam, Lee Kuan Yew's recently handpicked Minister for Law as brilliant lawyer, an asset to Singapore and praises, flowers, garlands, etc etc.
Recently I happened to look at a video of him speaking in Parliament. He did not come across as that gift to mankind, as Lee Kuan Yew's newspapers make it out.
For one, his spoken English was seriously wanting. He spoke in Parliament as if he was reading out a prepared text and that too badly.
Of course, I understand it is a dictatorship, and no one can effectively challenge him for whatever nonsense he may say; as you would expect in a dictatorial monologue of sorts.
But still, it would have been good for him to put some life to his speeches, for the show of it at least, which did not occur to him.
Frankly, if he was to be listened to by native English or American speakers, they may not even recognize it as English.
But the other thing I wanted to say was his clearly visible lack of general knowledge; which should be expected of a Minister for Law of any country.
Recall the recent meeting in Singapore of the New York Bar Association at which he spoke.
He was, as you know trying very hard to persuade the American lawyers, 200 of them or so that Singapore, unlike what everyone else suspects to be otherwise, is in fact a democracy.
He started off by giving a lecture in the history of the island from 1959.
In 1959, he said, Singapore was nothing more than a backwater, but today, it has progressed from that to an island with glass towers that line the waterfront and MRT trains.
This history lesson took no less than half his talk.
The point which he was trying to make is to say that because the island has progressed from a mere fishing village to what it is today, therefore it has the rule of law and therefore the Americans were all wrong in thinking it is otherwise.
In this argument, Mr. K Shanmugam not only shows his lack of wisdom for a Minister of Law, (he is a product of the University of Singapore), he also shows the University produces very poor lawyers like him.
He completely lacks any history which we would have expected of any lawyer, let alone a good one. And he totally misjudges the wisdom of his American audience by thinking they are no better than him!
Any good lawyer, who should know at least something of history, would have known that economic success is no yardstick for rule of law and justice in a country.
Fascist countries like Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini achieved tremendous economic success. But they shamelessly misused the law, using it as a political tool to silence dissent, just as Singapore does today.
So when he makes the argument of economic success in Singapore he completely forgets that the Americans are fully aware of the abuse of the law in Singapore and they are aware also that pure economic success can be achieved by harsh and intolerant political systems without any rule of law whatsoever.
American lawyers unlike these Singapore ones are taught that a good lawyer not only knows the law, he also knows some other things too. A lawyer just as any other professional should have a desire for knowledge and should continue seeking it.
K Shanmugam, the Minister for Law was either not aware that American lawyers unlike him also know some history, he completely underestimates them by assuming total ignorance on their part of Singapore’s disgraceful track record in silencing dissent.
He spends a lot of time trying to convince the American lawyers that New York has more crime than in Singapore.
This is either a lie or completely taken out of context. Of course there are certain areas of New York which are not so safe.
At the same time, there are areas of New York which are much safer than Singapore’s Toa Payoh or for that matter any other Singapore HDB housing estate.
I live in Fremont, California. Unlike in Singapore where my car would be stolen if I left it unlocked; where I live, I can leave the keys in my car unattended anytime.
A man like K Shanmugam, who may have traveled outside Singapore, should be expected to know that there are pockets of good and bad areas in any country in the world.
And to say, plainly that New York is not as safe as Singapore is a lie which he knows very well.
The statistics to prove this fallacy, which K Shanumgam used, as expected of this one party Singapore dictatorship, are conveniently fixed to give a good impression, whereas the Americans have a bit more pride and self respect to ensure the statistics are not cooked.
Of course, the Americans are fully aware of this charade and as expected of gentlemen, they quietly had a laugh to themselves at this rather dumb Minister for Law.
It is not only Mr. K Shanmugam that appears wanting as a lawyer, I have seen many others from the University of Singapore or the present National University of Singapore who appear no more than mechanics so to speak. In other words students who are taught the legal subjects but have no knowledge or for that matter any interest in anything else. No history, no philosophy, no nothing.
I realize K Shanmugam had a difficult brief. Singapore’s name is so tarnished worldwide that it is an almost impossible task to argue otherwise.
But still arguing a point which the audience already knows is flawed, is surely insulting their intelligence and making yourself look a fool.
Or perhaps Singapore’s Minister for Law K Shanmugam was not aware that the American lawyers, unlike him, have heard of fascism.
Lee Kuan Yew has made a mistake in appointing this man for this job. He would not only continue making a fool of himself in public like he did before the New York lawyers who recently visited Singapore, if he goes on like this, he would be giving Singapore a worse name than it already has.
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