Ladies and Gentlemen,
Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore's Straits times, the state controlled newspaper's reports in it's on line edition of Feb 12, 2010 the following stories "Singapore wants diplomat back" and "Envoy claims he was framed".
The background to it is this. About a month ago an Audi automobile was found damaged during early morning hours in the city state indicating it was involved in an accident.
Somewhere else, not too far away (mind you Singapore being so small, no place is far away), a man had died and 2 others badly injured as a result of a hit and run accident.
It was reported in these state controlled newspapers that Romanian diplomat, Silviu Ioenscu attached to the Romanian Embassy in Singapore had made a telephone call claiming he lost the vehicle.
3 days later he leaves Singapore for Bucharest and has not returned since.
In the meantime, Singapore which does not have the rule of law, or a free press (every newspaper in the island is state owned and controlled) and no independent judiciary, has been regularly putting out stories in the media suggesting that it was Ionescu who was involved in the accident and to avoid arrest he fled the country.
This is despite the fact that he has yet to be given any trial and he, on his part, has all along maintained his innocence.
It is undisputed that Ionescu is a Class 1 diplomat and covered by complete diplomatic immunity. He is not required to submit to Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore's jurisdiction.
However if the Romanian government so wishes, they may voluntarily lift immunity. So far they have not indicated that they are willing to do this.
It is not uncommon for nations to voluntarily lift immunity and submit to jurisdiction of the foreign country. One case where this happened was in Washington DC around February 1997. George Makharadze, a second ranking diplomat in the Republic of Georgia Embassy in Washington DC, whose car slammed into the back of another car, with the impact sending the second car into the air and onto a third vehicle in which a girl passenger 16 year old Jovine Waltrick, daughter of Brazilian immigrants, is killed.
Bill Clinton's then US President's staff officially asked Edward Shevardnadze, then President of Georgia to waive immunity which he did, after US Attorney Eric Holder had explained that he could not bring charges without a waiver. (www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-713132.html)
Coming to Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, they too have officially asked the Romanian Embassy, this time to waive immunity for Ionescu to attend a Coroner's Inquiry in the city state, soon to be held; they have also handed strongly worded diplomatic notes to the Romanian Ambassador who was summoned from Tokyo.
They base their request on the fact that coroner's inquiry is not exactly a trial and since the suspected diplomat had maintained his innocence, this would be an opportunity for him to clear his name.
As for Ionescu on the other hand who is safely in his home country, he has denied all along these accusations, maintained his innocence and now claims that he was framed by the Singapore government. As evidence of such illegality on Singapore’s part, he claims that in 2007, in similar circumstances, he was falsely accused. He believes this is because he has reported many times to his government of Lee Kuan Yew's ongoing human rights abuses, which by now is well known.
I had in my earlier blog post stated that it is in the best interests of the Romanian government not to lift immunity and they should not repatriate Ionescu at any cost. From the legal standpoint and observing Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, most others, I believe will come to the same conclusion. Ionescu will simply not get a fair trial in Singapore.
On the premise that a man is innocent until proven guilty, Ionescu is at present innocent. What is more, he maintains this position and advances a reason for it, the 2007 attempted framing by Lee Kuan Yew's men in Singapore.
Ionescu's claim of Singapore's human rights abuses is given credibility because they are true. The human rights abuses in Singapore are rampant but a few salient examples would remind us of them. JB Jeyaretnam, a political opponent of Lee Kuan Yew, had over decades been systematically and repeatedly sued, bankrupted and jailed by Lee's corrupt judiciary. The same fate has befallen every single political opponent of his from Chia Thye Poh to Dr. Chee Soon Juan and myself.
Ionescu's claim that Lee Kuan Yew tried to arrest him on framed up charges in 2007 appears all the more likely since I have my self experienced it.
In 2008 while in Singapore I had written a blog post criticizing one of his judges Belinda Ang Saw Ean in this blog in Singapore. I was immediately arrested and while being interrogated by Lee Kuan Yew's policeman while in solitary confinement, I was shown various Emails presumably sent by me to this judge and various high ranking people in Lee's government even though I had never sent any emails.
The police had managed to get hold of my Email password from my notebook which they seized from my hotel room, and sent it themselves with my name on them except they made a mistake in using my former name "Pallichadath Gopalan Nair" instead of my name "Gopalan Nair". The one mistake they made was, they did not know that since 2004, I had stopped using the earlier name since a formal name change by me.
I was repeatedly threatened and charged while in police solitary confinement, for sending Emails critical of Lee Kuan Yew’s judges even though they had sent them themselves.
In these circumstances, it is completely possible that Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore had a desire to discredit Mr. Ionescu since 2007 for his reporting on Singapore’s rampant human rights abuses.
Not too long ago, the International Bar Association too had made it very clear in their report on Singapore that it simply does not have the rule of law, and it's judges always deliver verdicts to please Lee Kuan Yew and his government and unjustly punish anyone who dares to criticize him. As a matter of fact, what is telling is that in Singapore's entire history, not a single political opponent has ever won a lawsuit brought by Lee.
If it's courts can ordinarily abuse the law in this way in political cases, what guarantee is there that they will not do it in a case such as this?
Since I was sent to jail for 3 months there merely for criticizing this judge in this blog; as I had been suspended for 2 years from practicing law there merely for writing a letter to Lee Kuan Yew's Attorney General on a matter of public interest, and since I had been fined $8,000.00 and costs merely for making an election rally speech in Singapore on a similar matter; I think Ionescu's fears are real if he returns to Singapore. The same thing that happened to me will in all probability happen to him because of his reporting on human rights abuses in the island, as he claims.
Although I sympathize with the family of the dead man and the 2 others injured, they are not going to get any satisfaction if Ionescu is not given a fair trial in Singapore. Therefore Romania should not, and I am sure they will not accede to any request from Singapore to waive immunity in this case.
I had referred to the Washington DC case where the Georgian government had lifted immunity after which the diplomat was tried in the US and received a jail sentence of between 7 to 10 years.
But, then, there is a difference surely. The United States is not Singapore. The US has the rule of law and does not go around framing diplomats merely because they wrote badly about them, or they do not send JB Jeyaretnams and Gopalan Nairs to jail merely because we criticized them.
There have been many previous cases where countries have lifted immunity for their diplomats in England and the USA and the reasons must be obvious. These are proud human rights abiding, self respecting countries with proud tradition of the rule of law. Singapore on the other hand is run by Kim Jong Ils Singaporean version, Lee Kuan Yew.
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