Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore's state controlled newspaper the Straits times online edition of Oct 20, 2010 has the story "Lawyer offers to quit, he cites conflict of interest but judge persuades him to stay".
The story is about the 3 day contempt trial in the Singapore High Court against the British author Alan Shadrake, which ended yesterday, over his book, Once a Jolly Hangman, which Singapore claims is contemptuous of the Singaporean judiciary.
Shadrake brings out clear and well researched instances in it showing the Singapore courts to be clearly biased against the poor, opposition politicians and anyone who criticizes them, when they are routinely arrested, bankrupted and destroyed.
In fact anyone who has even a cursory interest in Singapore affairs would have known that much, that it is a one party dictatorship under the Lee Kuan Yew family where the legal system is their principle tool to silence dissent. It is simply a police state, period.
Coming to his his lawyer, M Ravi, we must say that he is a brave man indeed who is in an unenviable position defending his client, who now happens to be the number one enemy of the state.
Before saying anymore, anyone who knows Singapore should not have any doubts of the verdict, which is Shadrake would be found guilty, as sure as the Sun rises. If there is any speculation, it can only be on the sentence.
Ravi, if he wishes to fully defend his client has no choice, even if he knows he is going to lose, which is, that he has to do just that, defend his client.
Which means he has to justify his clients actions, which means he has to say that the court is indeed biased, which is why his client wrote what he did.
For Ravi to argue otherwise, that the Singapore court is indeed impartial and complies with the rule of law as the government wants him to say, and yet argue that what his client did was not wrong, would be impossible; since if it is impartial, then Shadrake had no business writing the things he wrote, and therefore he is guilty as charged.
But we see in the newspaper article that the Attorney General has threatened Ravi of committing contempt of court himself by his representations in court, by calling it a "rubber stamp" for the government (which we all know is true) whenever contempt proceedings are instituted.
Ravi is in a position where defending his client to the fullest would mean sticking his neck out himself, while not making any criticism of the judiciary would mean that his client is not receiving the defence he needs.
It is my view that the point has reached regardless of whatever assurances the judge has given him, for Ravi to withdraw from further representation.
In these circumstances, his position as his client's lawyer has been clearly compromised as well as the client's interests, because it is now impossible to know whether or not Ravi has has done or not done what he should do, because he feared contempt proceedings against himself, and the safety of his license to practice law.
In fact, in a country such as Singapore which is ridden with fear both in and out of the courtroom, Shadrake should have defended himself.
Had he done so, he could have called a rat by that very name, simply a rat, which Ravi cannot do.
If he did, he would be in the slammer himself and instead of practicing law, he would be selling Indian pancakes along Singapore's Serangoon Road. I think he knows that too.
But for the extent he has gone so far in that Alice in Wonderland, we must take our hat off for him. Ravi is a brave man, unlike the cowards in Singapore who call themselves lawyers in Lee Kuan Yew's tiny island "paradise".
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