Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Singapore lawyer's dilemna, damned if I do and damned if I don't

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".

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...

LOL Singapore authorities never change still the children they are.


Anonymous said...

very interesting strategy used by the lawyer, least to get free promotion of himself. Enter the dragon nest then show everyone that you can't beat the dragon. Very well done to shame the dragon.

mycroft said...

The Singapore government's legal arm reaches new lows, a feat I thought difficult to better after ex-AG (now Chief Justice!) Chan Sek Keong's jaw-dropping conjuring trick which solemnly ruled that being IN a polling station out of hours did not imply a person was within 100m of it, no sirree. That verdict saved 3 of the highest-ranking Ministers in the land from a large fine and a spell behind bars.

Now defence attorney Ravi is actually being tacitly threatened by DPP Hema Subramaniam that his very defence of his client Shadrake might be construed as being contemptuous of the court. WTF! WTF! WTF? Bloody cheek! Any judge worth his salt would have sharply demanded that Miss Subramaniam clarify herself and apologise to the court for her reprehensible remarks. But of course this is a judiciary that the IBA has condemned for being in the pocket of the government so an indulgent judge who conspicuously avoided addressing the issue directly is par for the course.

As you say, Ravi is in the impossible place of having to be wary of being charged with the very offence he is defending his client from while at the same time trying to defend Shadrake. Similarly, the judge is himself in the invidious position of having to face both ways at the same time. This is truly Alice In Wonderland stuff.

If he rules that Shadrake does have a case then he condemns the very judicial system of which he is an integral part and terminates his career. OTOH, if he rules that Shadrake's well-researched book does scandalise the judiciary despite all the evidence to the contrary, he incurs the mocking contempt of the court of public opinion and hammers another nail into the coffin of Singapore's rule of law.

A Singapore judge cannot be one of the parties in the case because he/she has an interest in the outcome. Only a neutral body like the Privy Council can be relied upon to render an impartial verdict in cases where the judiciary of a nation is itself being called into question. That was why Lee Kuan Yew had recourse to its services abolished.

Anonymous said...

Worth reading -

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Don't publish this.

Why don't you register

Anonymous said...

Ex-US football player faces caning in Singapore

LKY's grandson is studying in Boston. I wonder if he has broken any laws in the US.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

Caning in Singapore with photos.

To appreciate the severity of this punishment, one must visualize the scene. Prisoners are tied down to a wooden frame and whipped on their bare flesh with a moistened ½ inch thick rattan cane, which is treated so that it will not fray. The first lashes tear open the skin and the prisoner may lose consciousness within seconds from the extreme pain. If the prisoner loses consciousness, he is revived and the beating continues.

A description of rattan used in the whipping would be helpful. Rattan comes from a palm tree; a portion of the very tough stem is used for walking sticks, wicker furniture, cords, and ropes. The action of the cane lifts off long, bloody strips of flesh and often sends the victim into shock from loss of blood.

sunny said...


i think its difficult also for ravi to sell pancakes at tekka. where he going to get a hawker permit.

who going to rent him a stall ? mustaffa centre ? mamak stalls along serangoon road ? no way man.

if he dare to sell food, arrongant b*****d will fix him. he will be charged for selling poison food.

anyway rumours say he is lying on the bed now.

Anonymous said...

Its okay to lose money when it is somebody else's

Anonymous said...