Sunday, January 3, 2010

Singapore. Another of Lee Kuan Yew's disgraceful judges, G.P. Selvam (Govinda Pannirselvam)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Another disgraceful specimen of a human being, let alone a judge or former judge is a man named G.P. Selvam (his full name is Govinda Pannirselvam), formerly a judge in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore courts.

He lives in Singapore.

This is what this man is.

I had written about my suspension from practicing law in Singapore, while a lawyer there in 1991 for 2 years; in this blog.

Let me say it again for convenience. In the late 1980s I was a member of the Workers Party while the late JB Jeyaretnam was its Secretary General.

The Workers Party was then and is today, although now much more mellow than before, a Singapore opposition political party.

I stood for Singapore parliamentary elections under the party's ticket in 1988 in Tiong Bahru and in Bukit Merah in 1991, Singapore political constituencies.

During this time, JB Jeyaretnam was sued for defamation of character in Lee Kuan Yew's courts and predictably ordered to pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As you may know, these defamation cases were a political tool of Lee Kuan Yew to silence and destroy the opposition which he skillfully managed with the cooperation of his corrupt and willing judges.

As expected, Jeyaretnam was unable to pay the unimaginable damages award.

And as expected, the Workers Party was declared bankrupt and ceased to exist as a political party.

Wanting to keep the party alive, and with no money otherwise available to pay Lee Kuan Yew, Jeyaretnam resorted to an appeal to the general public for donations.

But since the party was bankrupt, any donation to the party would not benefit Jeyaretnam since it would go to the Government Trustee.

Therefore Jeyaretnam understandably wanted the moneys to go to him, thereby giving himself more leeway to best use it. Nothing wrong with it at all.

Jeyaretnam asked me to open a bank account to collect these donations as and when they came and I gladly agreed, by opening an account under my name in Standard Chartered Bank, Battery Road, Singapore.

The crux of Lee Kuan Yew's charges against Jeyaretnam was this.

1) 2 checks were made out by donors to the Worker's Party. Jeyaretnam asked the donors to change the payee to himself, which they did. Therefore Lee Kuan Yew's attorney general claims that this action amounted to defrauding the Government Trustee of the Workers Party

And 2) Jeyaretnam did not declare these 2 checks as part of the income of the Party since Jeyaretnam rightly believed that they belonged to him and not the party. Lee Kuan Yew's Attorney General thought otherwise! His argument was that regardless of who the sums were paid to, they still belonged to the Government Trustee, and therefore Jeyaretnam made a false declaration by not declaring these 2 checks as part of the Party's income!

I do not wish to go into a legal argument to explain that under these circumstances any 10 year old boy can tell you that the money belonged to Jeyaretnam, and not to the Party.

Simply put, if I have a check with money in it, I can pay it to anyone I want. And in this case the makers of the checks wanted to give it to Jeyaretnam and not to the Party. And that is that.

And therefore Jeyaretnam is not guilty of anything at all.

Anyway to make a long story short and predictably of course, Lee Kuan Yew's judge finds him guilty and sends him to jail for a month.

He is also made bankrupt.

He is also disbarred from practicing law.

Jeyarenam then appeals his disbarment to the Privy Council in London.

The English judges find him not guilty of anything. Of course.

But what is important is what happened there.

The parties before the English Court in London are the lawyers for the Law Society of Singapore who are demanding his disbarment and Jeyaretnam's lawyers who claim that there was no misconduct on his part at all.

The English Court, in deciding whether Jeyaretnam should be disbarred as a lawyer, should first have to decide whether he did anything wrong as claimed by the Singapore judges.

Therefore it was necessary to re-visit his Singapore criminal convictions. And the office that prosecuted him in Singapore was the Singapore Attorney General.

And therefore in all fairness, if the criminal convictions are to be considered, then the Singapore Attorney general should be permitted to participate in the case in London.

Therefore before the commencement of the legal proceedings, the English judges turn to the Singapore Law society lawyers and ask if the Singapore Attorney General was aware of the proceedings in London and did he wish to participate in the hearing?

And the answer the English judges got was that the Singapore Attorney General was aware and did not wish to appear. And neither did he file any application to intervene in the proceedings.

After this assurance the English judges heard the case; their judgment was that Jeyaretnam was not guilty of anything. That he was wrongly convicted. That Singapore had jailed impoverished bankrupted and ruined an innocent man.

Since under Singapore law in Jeyaretnam's case he could not file any appeal to reverse his unjust conviction, the English judges advised that he should apply to the Singapore President for a pardon.

Of course they reinstated him to the Singapore Bar.

Jeyaretnam returned to Singapore and with much fanfare and garlands on his victory, was greeted at Singapore airport.

Sadly, it turned out to be nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory. Jeyaretnam's petition for a pardon to Lee Kuan Yew's errand boy, the Singapore President was predictably refused.

And here comes the crux of it all.

Singapore’s then Attorney general Tan Boon Teik wrote on behalf of Singapore’s President on why Jeyaretanm should not be given a pardon, which was published in Singapore’s state controlled press.

His argument which amounted to nothing less than a blatant lie was this. He claimed the English judges decision was unjust because he (the Attorney General of Singapore) was not given an opportunity to appear at the hearing in London, when the facts were that the London court specifically asked the Singapore Law Society lawyers the same question to which the answer was that he (the Attorney General of Singapore) was aware and was not interested in attending!

The second disgraceful argument raised by this Lee Kuan Yew lackey, the Singapore Attorney General, was that Jeyaretnam had not shown "remorse repentance or contrition for the crimes he had committed" (his very words), when the English judge had clearly stated that Jeyaretnam was completely innocent!

Unable to let this go by, even if every other Singaporean (then I was a Singapore citizen) stood quietly by, I wrote to the Attorney General why he said what he did when the facts were completely contrarian? I politely wrote to him again that if he was not going to give me a reasonable answer, to which I am entitled, I was going to distribute the faxes that passed between him to me to all other Singapore lawyers.

This I did. And for this he commenced disciplinary proceedings through the Law Society of Singapore. The charges against me, which were completely baseless were that I had threatened the Attorney General by writing to him that I was going to distribute the corresponded between him and me! Such a “threat” according to the Singapore Lee Kuan Yew’s Attorney General was serious unethical conduct!

And secondly that I had made a false accusation against him when I said that what he claimed was untrue, when he said “I was not given an opportunity to appear at the London hearing”.

Predictably, the Singapore Disciplinary Tribunal found me guilty.

The case procedurally had to go up to a Singapore 3 judge panel to decide on my punishment. This happened in 1991 or thereabouts. At this time I was living in California, having permanently left Singapore.

The panel that heard my case was 3 High Court judges, one being the High Court Chief Justice Yong Pung How, Chao Hick Tin and this man who is the subject of this blog GP Selvam.

The decision of this Singapore panel including that of this man GP Selvam was that what I had done, by my writing a letter to Lee Kuan Yew's Attorney General was a serious ethical violation on my part; therefore a strong signal should be sent to every other lawyer in Singapore that such criticism will not be entertained; and therefore I should be suspended from practicing law in Singapore for 2 years!

Something about G.P. Selvam. He is a Singapore Tamil and presently works as a consultant in the Singapore law firm of Arfat Selvam Alliance LLC in Singapore. This law firm's website address is

The web site has a great deal of self praise as an international firm with international clients and so much of drivel.

In his personal profile of GP Selvam, among other self aggrandizement and personal trumpeting he writes the following:

While on the bench, G.P. Selvam presided over many matters relating to arbitration including a reported case which defined the expression: "Appeal from an Arbitration Award on a question of law" as well as a reported case on the doctrine of functus officio of an arbitral tribunal under Model Law (UNICITRAL). The latter decision was reversed by the Singapore Court of Appeal but a subsequent Act of Parliament restored the law stated and explained by G.P. Selvam. As a judge of the Supreme Court he has 117 reported cases to his name, many of them landmark cases. They cover a very wide range of civil and commercial matters.

He claims to have done what is stated above as well as a great deal of other legal exploits and somersaults, his profile being quite long and similarly impressive.

I expect he wants us to believe that he has a great legal head on his shoulders!

If that is so, why has he not heard of such a thing as the Constitution of Singapore?

Has he not heard that Gopalan Nair has every right to question the Attorney General of Singapore in circumstances where he (the Attorney General) has clearly lied!

And does he not know that in a democracy the citizens have a right to question politicians on their actions as well as the Attorney General?

And does he still believe that his suspending me from practicing law for 2 years for what I did was justified in he circumstances?

Or let me ask him a direct question. Was he doing the dirty work of Lee Kuan Yew to destroy and silence his political opponents by abusing his position as a Singapore judge?

Let me put it bluntly to this man. You are a disgrace to the legal profession and to the office of a judge. You permitted yourself to be used by Lee Kuan Yew to further your judicial career by punishing me when I did no wrong.

And what makes it worse is that he knew my family personally.

I may have been punished and persecuted by the Singapore government and Lee Kuan Yew. But at least I walk proud with my head high on my shoulders. Proud.

As for you, you will live forever with the shame and the guilt in your conscience. And this blog will remain for eternity.

Looking at his law firm, his daughter Priya Pannirselvam works for him. Has he taught her to be another spineless human being devoid of any integrity? I think so.

What a way to make a living!

And finally, if indeed his firm of Arfat Selvam Alliance LLC of Singapore is as promising as he claims in his blog, with luminaries and foreign countries as his clients, surely if what I have said here is false, it should destroy their spotless reputation should it not?

And I am sure had I said this about a British or Australian lawyer worth his salt, he would have taken some sort of action to stop me, should they not? Perhaps an injunction? So unless what I say of this man G.P. Selvam (Govinda Pannirselvam) is true I should be expecting some legal action from him, should I not? Especially since I am a lawyer myself?

But you know what, he will do nothing.

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

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Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog. It sheds some light and provides insights that I can't find elsewhere!

p.s: I read about MM sort of saying that Singaporeans are stupid or not hardworking enough when I was in overseas. But I can't find that article online. Wonder if you know of that? Think that happened just a few days ago.

Thank Q for keeping up this blog!
A 32-y-o Singaporean.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous Jan 04,0901,
Thanks for the kind words. He made the statement in his interview with National Geographic Magazine a few days ago. The article is titled "The Singapore Solution"
Gopalan Nair

Anonymous said...

It just amazes me how MM Lee can get away scot free with double standards by sueing both Dr. Chee and the Editor of Far Eastern Economic Review who published Dr Chee's interview answers - while MM Lee stereotypes the entire Singaporean population for being stupid and not hardworking. In fact, there are creative and thoughtful Singaporeans but the MM Lee's political regime has turned them into Robots by having boxed up their creativity through rigid education systems and escalating costs of living.

Anonymous said...

well i guess we are gonna be pretty much screwed. i m from the maldives and recently the democratic government elected by the people was overthrown in a coup by mutinying police and security forces. The vice president has assumed power. Despite damning evidence he and his cronies maintain it was never a coup.He has established a national inquiry commision to determine whether it was a coup or not.
following pressure from Commonwealth and CMAG the commission was asked to be reformed following allegations of corruption by the former president. This man you mention in the article has been brought in from singapore to precede over matters in the commission as a co chair! If this was the way he conducted himself in singapore, what hope do we have for in the maldives?