Ladies and Gentlemen,
The case of Alan Shadrake the author of Once a Jolly Hangman, which described Singapore's legal system and their judiciary in rather unflattering terms, is scheduled to have a verdict on his contempt of court charges tomorrow, Tuesday the 26th of October 2010 in the High Court before the recently handpicked toady of Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew, Judge Loh Sze Onn, Quentin.
In the one party state of Singapore run by the dictator Lee Kuan Yew, we all know, there is no rule of law but rather the law of Lee Kuan Yew.
In a case like this, we all know the one who is the judge is Lee himself, and Loh Sze Onn, Quentin's job is merely to relay that order in the courtroom settings, that's all.
It is just a make believe court court, rather like that in Alice in Wonderland in the case of the rabbit who stole the tarts.
In Singapore cases like this, where someone criticizes the government or the legal system, it is truly a political decision.
By now, unfortunately for the one party state, the cat has got out which is why the International Bar Association pulled no punches in their detailed 72 page report on Singapore plainly stating without mercy that Singapore judges are not independent, period.
With the already tattered reputation of Singapore internationally as a place that uses the law to silence criticism, there are several scenarios that are open to Lee Kuan Yew in his island.
First, he can let Shadrake go with a small fine and no jail time, claiming they are showing sympathy for a man who is 75, a weak heart and ailing health, but this comes at a price.
Singaporeans who have been routinely accustomed to harsh penalties and punishments even for seemingly minor criticism, would think Singapore has gone soft, it has seen the folly of it's ways and become, thankfully a more tolerant society.
Foreign newspapers and organizations who were punished harshly for a tenth of what Shadrake had said in his book would feel unfairly treated if Shadrake is to be let off lightly.
And then there is the floodgates argument, with every Tom Dick and Harry criticizing Lee Kuan Yew and his judiciary thinking it is now OK.
On the other hand they can, as is expected, deliver a harsh punishing verdict, with several months in jail and a stiff fine.
If they did this, they would be maintaining their uniformly standards by punishing all critics harshly as they have always done, and argued they are fair and do not show favors to anyone.
But if they took this course, Singapore would again be condemned worldwide as an intolerant one party Stalinist city state which only confirms what everyone thought of it, resulting perhaps in even fewer tourists, fewer investment, fewer commercial transactions and the eventual slide into another pariah North Korea.
Which ever way Singapore decides to go on this, Alan Shadrake is a hero for those fighting for democracy in Singapore, because Singapore will be hurt and hurt very badly in either case.
It is one more nail in Singapore's reputation as an "open democracy" as Lee Kuan Yew's handpicked Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, who is clearly making a fool of himself, claimed yesterday on one of his visits to another government owned housing estate.
We see the same scenario in the fall of every dictatorship around the world. In the end they themselves turn out to be their own enemies. The rule to be learnt is, repression results in an inability to stop it even if they wanted. And being unable to stop it, that same repression, which they themselves created, turns out to be their own greatest enemy, causing their inevitable demise.
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