Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Singapore's cowardly father and son duo strike again.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore's state controlled newspaper Straits Times Online edition of March 25, 2010 has the agonizingly predictable story "IHT apology over article".

Lee Kuan Yew, the Singapore strongman and his son have this time, something which father and son do almost on a routine basis, collected $160,000.00 from the International Herald Tribune, an international newspaper owned by the New York Times, for allegedly defaming them in an op-ed article that Lee Hsien Loong the Prime Minister is his father's son, an article entitled "All in the family".

Lee Kuan Yew's charge was, that by stating Lee Hsien Loong is his father's son, the writer was implying the son did not become Prime Minister through his merits!

Here Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer Davinder Singh did not even have to file a lawsuit. A threat from Lee Kuan Yew of legal action was enough to cause New York Times to buckle under and pay up, in this case $160,000.00.

Which reminds me of Galileo Galilee, the medieval Italian scientist and astronomer at the Italian Inquisition. It seems it was enough for the clergy to show him the instruments of torture for him to admit that the world was flat after all!

This is what Lee Kuan Yew does throughout his career as Singapore's dictator. He regularly sues, sometimes even up to 3 times a year, anyone or anybody who would dare raise even the slightest criticism of his rule; legal actions which he invariably wins because he picks his judges who shamelessly do whatever he wants of them.

In fact, it does not even matter whether or not there was any criticism of him at all. As long as however remotely one can imagine the article to be unflattering, that alone is sufficient for his orders to go out to his lawyer, Davinder Singh to put the paperwork in order, and a similar instruction to his judges, for the predictable result.

And anyone can see that these numerous law suits to punish his victims is hardly helping his reputation, if that was his purpose in these futile legal exercises; instead it is making both father and son look very silly.

Firstly anyone who had any merits would not have bothered about what anyone said of them. I have been called many things, but as I know who I am, it should not bother me. And so should you.

Leaders of countries, even more than others, receive criticism everyday, sometimes in the harshest of terms, but they don't jump to suing their critics, because they know their worth. Respect has to be earned, not forced by court actions.

Second, one would have expected a statesman to have some common sense and understand what the public may think about these court cases.

Anyone reading the IHT article can see there was no defamation at all, let alone an actionable one.

And furthermore, politicians who are in the public eye, are expected to endure much more criticism than an ordinary layman. This is a cardinal principle in a democracy.

That is why President Obama does not sue me even if I was to call him a thief, because he knows he is not, and if he sued me, it is he who going to look silly much more than I.

That is why people around the world take leaders such as President Obama of the United States, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd seriously.

As for this duo, Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and son; by suing anyone anytime for the slightest thing, they make themselves look silly, a couple of clowns in fact, men who have no merit whatsoever and who are able to remain in power only by abusing the law through corrupt judges.

Both father and son appear not to understand that extracting respect through force is impossible; no matter how much he sues anyone.

And lastly the height of idiocy is this. OK they have successfully sued and collected damages and an apology from New York Times for the IHT article. But what use is that when I have repeated it and said the same thing here. And what about the thousands or even millions out there who are now calling him and his son cowards? Is he going to sue me and everyone else who has said the same thing?

I guess not.

That is why Lee Kuan Yew and his son are not only cowards who hide behind corrupt judges to remain in office, they are also seen as men who lack both ability or wisdom because if they did, they would have seen the futility of this exercise.

For the benefit of those who have not read the International Herald Tribune Article, I am attaching it below. Will someone please tell me why the article is defamatory of Lee Kuan Yew and his son?

And by the way, under the law which Lee Kuan Yew knows, reproducing a libellous article is libel as well.

Therefore since I am repeating the article here, can I expect Lee Kuan Yew to sue me, like he did the New York Times, and the thousands of others who have reproduced it?

Or are Lee Kuan Yew and his son determined to confirm to the world that he will strut around like a prize rooster in his tiny island protected by his Kangaroo judges, whereas outside his island, he is nothing but a weak senile old man with his incompetent son tugging his coattails?

Gopalan Nair
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All in the Family


HONG KONG — Are political dynasties good or bad?

Election time in the Philippines is a regular reminder of the roles that feudal instincts and the family name play in that nation's politics. Benigno Aquino, son of the late President Corazon Aquino, is the front runner to succeed President Gloria Arroyo, daughter of Diosdado Macapagal, a president in the 1960s.

Senate and Congressional contests will see family names of other former presidents and those long prominent in provincial politics and land-owning.

But the Philippines is not unique. Dynastic politics thrives across Asia to an extent found in no other region apart from the Arabian peninsula monarchies.

The list of Asian countries with governments headed by the offspring or spouses of former leaders is striking: Pakistan has Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto, herself the daughter of the executed former leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bangladesh has Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the murdered first prime minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman . In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak is the son of the second prime minister, Abdul Razak. Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong is Lee Kuan Yew's son. In North Korea, Kim Il-sung's son Kim Jong-il commands party, army and country and waiting in the wings is his son Kim Jong-un.

In India, the widow Sonia Gandhi is the power behind the technocrat prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and her son Rahul is showing political promise and being groomed in the hope of leading the Congress party and eventually filling the post of prime minister, first occupied by his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru.

In Japan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is the scion of a Kennedy-like political dynasty: His father was a foreign minister, and his grandfather was a prime minister.

Indonesia's last president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, is the daughter of its first, and family ties could well play in the next presidential election when the incumbent, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, must retire. In Myanmar, the durability of the opposition to the military owes much to the name of Aung San Suu Kyi's independence-hero father as well as to her stoicism.

Thailand lacks obvious political dynasties but that is likely because there is already a monarch. South Korea's rough and tumble democracy would seem to leave little scope for dynasties but even there, the political career of Park Chung Hee's daughter, Park Geun Hye, has benefited much from her father's reputation.

With the exception of North Korea, Asian dynasties are a phenomenon of countries that are more or less democratic.

In China, family connections help immensely but the party is still a relatively meritocratic hierarchy. Vietnam is similar. In the Philippines, it is easy to blame dynastic tendencies for the nation's stark economic failures. But its problems go much deeper into the social structure and the way the political system entrenches a selfish elite. It is a symptom not the cause of the malaise.

In India, the Gandhi name has been an important element in ensuring that Congress remains a major national force at a time when the growth of regional, caste and language based parties have added to the problems of governing such a diverse country. In Bangladesh, years of fierce rivalry between Sheikh Hasina, daughter of one murdered president and widow of another, have been a debilitating factor in democratic politics. But their parties needed their family names to provide cohesion and without them there could have been much more overt military intervention. Ms. Megawati was a poor leader but just by being there helped the consolidation of the post-Suharto democracy.

Dynasties can be stultifying too. In Malaysia, the ruling party was once a grassroots organization where upstarts like former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad could flourish but over time it has become a self-perpetuating patronage machine. Too many of the key players are the offspring or relatives of former leaders.

There are more fundamental problems, too. Most current Asian dynasties trace themselves to the post-1945 political transformation. In that sense they have become a crutch, reflecting a failure to devise systems for the transfer of power to new names, faces and ideas.

Dynasties are a poor commentary on the depth of democracy in their countries. Without parties with a coherent organization and a set of ideas, politics becomes about personalities alone and name recognition more important than competence. Parties run by the elite offspring of past heroes easily degenerate into self-serving patronage systems.

So dynastic leadership in Asia's quasi-democracies can provide a focus for nations, a glue for parties, an identity substitute in countries that used to be run by kings and sultans. But it is more a symptom of underlying problems than an example to be followed.


Anonymous said...

I wrote to Philip Bowring when his article was re-printed in an Australian weekend newspaper (If I remember correctly). I question his statement implying Singapore is a democratic country, quoting "With the exception of North Korea, Asian dynasties are a phenomenon of countries that are more or less democratic."

Well, he need not respond to me now. We know what the $160000 answer is, a lesson from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public "Libel" Policy.


The cartoons often portray PM Kevin Rudd as a clown.
But I respect him more than any PAP PMs. Kevin ever cross the floor to reached out to former/retired (not active) Opposition pollies to give them consular postings (eg. Vatican envoy, EU envoy, NATO envoy).

That is a hard act to follow.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

In ancient China, you cannot use Chinese word dragon (龙) which can only be used by the emperior. But in this modern day, it is shocked to see that in Singapore you cannot mentioned their names or link their names together. It can be sued in their own court. Just how ridiculous it is.

Anonymous said...

Is this libel or simply satire?

Lee Hsien Loong Mai Hum is the current leader of the city-state of Singapore. Coincidentally, Lee Hsien Loong is the only "son" of His Holiness Lee Kwan Yew, the founder of the island nation and self-proclaimed Grandmaster Infallible Overlord of Southeast Asia.

Anonymous said...

Singapore citizens are barred by Ministry of Education from attending the Singapore American School.

But they will make an exception for special people.

LKY breaks MOE rule to enrol Lee Hsien Yang's son in Singapore American school.

People of Singapore - once again this man has made a fool of you all.

Anonymous said...

Lee Hsien Loong's son Li Hongyi is studying in the USA at MIT.

Is he being groomed to become the next Prime Minister of Singapore?

Have to keep the dynasty going, eh!

Salt N Turmeric said...

Is there any reason why he didn't mention USA? I think when it comes to political dynasties, no other countries beat USA. Who doesn't know the names like Kennedy, Carter, Bush, Clinton? That doesn't even include families like Shriver. :)

mycroft said...

A familiar family brand-name (Pitt, Gandhi, Kennedy, Bush, Kim, Lee, etc.) helps but it can also hinder when the name is as tainted as it is with Hitler, Marcos and Suharto, to name but three. It will be a cold day in hell before their offspring get to feel the reins of power again however clean their hands might be today.

Political dynasties do no real damage in the established democracies where at least there is a process in place that allows for open competition. That's because the name can only take you so far; electoral success is by no means guaranteed even when your family name is Bush for example. Ask Jeb if and when he tries for the Presidency.

Unfortunately in the case of Singapore for one, the words 'free and fair' and 'election' should never be used in the same sentence unless you want to invite ridicule. So skewed is the electoral process in favour of the incumbent that the 'level playing field' for the opposition parties resembles the Himalayas more than it does a football pitch.

The defamation law suit we see here is but one very familiar instrument in the art of coarse Singapore politics as played by the Lee Orchestra, conductor Lee Kuan Yew. On this island, the chilling words of Cardinal Richelieu toll out ominously like the iron bell:

"If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged."

Anonymous said...

Open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

A foreign news organisation has yet again been forced to apologise to you and your father and pay you a large sum of money for publishing an article you did not like.

In the six years since you became prime minister and said you favoured an “open” society, we have seen very few improvements in the situation of free speech.

We regret that you, the members of your government and your father keep citing the need to guarantee Singapore’s stability as grounds for controlling the media and maintaining its draconian laws.

You have perpetuated your father’s legacy by continuing to harass and intimidate news media.,36832.html

JamesTan said...

Dear GN,
This remind me of an old communist joke.

"Chairman Mao is a complete idiot"

Public Security Bureau (PSB officer):
"We arrest you for making that statement"

C: "Why are you arresting me, when the statement is true"

PSB Officer: "Well, your statement is true indeed, BUT WE ARREST YOU FOR REVEALING A STATE SECRET"

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of the father and son has led them to be seen as thin-skinned buffoons by the rest of world.

And their have been assisted in this debacle by their complaint lawyer, Davinder 'the towel head' Singh.

Shouldn't he be disbarred for frivolous use of the courts?

I guess 30 pieces of silver goes a long way in Khalistan.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the figures on how many copies of IHT is in circulation in S'pore? Is the circulation and profits worth that much for IHT to apologise for telling the truth and facts? I find it so sad that so many foreigners are willing to come to work in Singapore, a country which grants fewer rights to its citizens than those expatriates get in their home countries. Is the lure of $$ so strong that one can close one's eyes on the repression they see around them 24 hrs a day?

Anonymous said...

In a matter of fairness, is IHT going to pay $160,000 to all the other names mentioned in the article?

I think Gandhi, Arroyo, Razak, Il Hatoyama et. al. should get their $160,000 as well. What say?

Sunny said...

Do you know that why American constitutional allow their citizen to posses a gun.

Because to protect themselves from dictator.

That is why LKY is smart. He hang those who own a gun before he get killed. that is why Singapore has no freedom.

Anonymous said...

What has all this got to do with Goh Chok Tong? There was no mentioned of his name in the article at all.Why was he awarded damages? Was he dragged along to show the world that father and son did not act alone? Unique judiciary indeed!

Anonymous said...

What has all this got to do with Goh Chok Tong?

The Holy Trinity - Father, Son and the Holy Goh.

He was getting jealous that only the father and son were getting press.

Anonymous said...

Team and editor,

you comment like the newspaper wasn't expecting the fine. They knew they would get sued and didn't care...good on them!

Sadly most Singapore locals have lost their spine and will never stand up to the system.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for posting this op-ed. It is a misnomer that Singapore is a democratic country. I read the article and I am flabbergasted that Lee Duo made a big deal out of it.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is truly indebted to political fighters like you, who stand up against all odds; so that s'pore is not a worser place. Many of us feel ashamed to be a citizen of a country run by incompetent but brazen creatures like lky and his son

Keep articles like "Singapore's cowardly father and son duo strike again." coming! Indeed, Respect has to be earned, not forced by court actions.

Leak xian loon said...

I agree with you that lky and son is making themselves look silly by suing anyone anytime for the slightest thing. But they are taking it many steps further now, by trying to make people believe that their silly actions are wise, grand and justified, like the naked emperor in the children's classics: The Emperor's New Clothes.

lky and his minions are effectively saying, since I'm a fool, I'm going to make you fools too, so that you will believe and support me. I wonder which civilized political party gives out ntuc vouchers and a packet of rice, to truck some less-informed elderly to make up numbers for their latest general elections rally

Leak xian loon said...

The media in Singapore has now been obscenely adulterated and prostituted, much like some law systems in s'pore, to promote that self-justification of the nepotic family and how issues such as Little India Riot are "well-handled". I squirm in front of tv to watch highly-educated news commentators promote pap's propaganda with a straight face, and sometimes with a smile. How low can this nepotism get?