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?
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All in the Family
By PHILIP BOWRING
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.