Ladies and Gentlemen,
What Alan Shadrake, the English author who has been under arrest since July 2010 in Singapore for writing a book, Once a Jolly Hangman, critical of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew's judicial system had said is turning out to be true time and time again.
Alan Shadrake had said without mincing any words, that Singapore' judiciary is corrupt and gives preferential treatment to those connected to the government or seen to benefit the government in one way or another, while others are given the blunt end of the stick.
Here we have another classic example of this abuse of legal process. Once again it is one law for the rich and connected, another for the poor.
Singapore's state controlled newspaper the Straits Times of Feb 22, 2011 reports "American jailed for phone scams".
American, Kamari Kenyada Charlton, aged 38, had been arrested last year for cheating numerous Australians of Croatian and Serbian descent of large amounts of cash by getting an accomplice to ring them claiming to be from their embassies and asking for money to have their relatives released from jail in Singapore.
He was given a jail term of 16 months and with the time already spent in jail and with 1/3 of the sentece remitted for good conduct, Charlton will be going home this July!
But what is more important in the Singaporean context is the fact that Charlton had overstayed his visa for 169 days, nearly 6 months, which under Singapore's draconian middle ages law, renders him liable to be caned, an unbearable torture of having to endure bloody beatings on his posterior, which always leaves permanent scars and very often permanent crippling physical and psychological disabilities; a Singaporean punishment which has been the butt of macabre jokes all around the world.
If the law was to be fairly administered, Charlton should also have been caned just as everyone else guilty of this crime; after all no one is above the law, or that is what we thought.
The law in Singapore mandates caning for males between the ages of 18 and 50 for the offense of overstaying their visas.
The only times when caning may be dispensed with is for medical reasons, when the victim of the caning may die as a result of a preexisting condition, such as weak heart or kidney disease.
Since Charlton was 38 years old, in perfect health and moreover an American football player, there is no way in the world, for him to be excused from the punishment which everyone else gets.
That is of course is if the Singapore legal system has the rule of law, which we see now in the Charlton's case, and time and time again in almost every other case, there is not.
Conveniently the court proceeded with only the cheating charges while the overstaying charge, which in this case is the most important, as it entails the most brutal punishment, is conveniently ignored.
In fact no Singapore media made any mention of it!
Without a free press, all this is conjecture of course, but I can only assume that in Charlton's case there was some pressure from the American embassy to favor their client.
Moreover Singapore does a great deal of trade with the US and is ever ready to lick the boots of Obama anytime and anywhere he wanted, and since trade and diplomatic advantage is on the line if Charlton gets a beating, best to give him some slack.
In any case who is there to complain anyway?
Singaporeans themselves are so terrified of Lee Kuan Yew and have retreated into their cocoons of indifference and silence long ago that there is not the slightest possibility of any complaint from that direction.
As for the rest of the world, the Americans are not going to complain and neither are the Europeans since this is the exact result they wanted.
If there is anyone complaining, it would be those hapless Indian and Bangladesh construction workers and coolies who have been beaten so badly and their buttocks mercilessly sheared and shredded into a mess of bloody flesh and hanging skin.
They probably overstayed in Singapore to make some money to send home to their impoverished families in India and Bangladesh.
But since there is no one to speak for them and no one will hear their cries anyway, who cares if they are beaten or even killed. In Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore they do not matter because they are unimportant and inconsequential to Singapore's diplomatic trade or business interests.
Not surprisingly Charlton's case went through some twists to arrive at this most favorable treatment.
He first engaged a controversial lawyer who has represented a death row inmate.
This lawyer, although Singaporean, had used some very unconventional practices in the Singaporean sense such as organizing public protests and claiming to have contacted the United Nations on his client's behalf.
Since all these tactics would only work in a free society, it appears that instead of helping his client's he has in fact made matters worse, while at the same time annoying Lee's government.
If this lawyer had got anything out of these unusual lawyering tactics in the Singaporean sense, it was publicity. But in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew, publicity does not necessarily translate into winning cases.
In fact very often, it can be a serious impediment to success, if it is the wrong type of publicity, as in this lawyer's case.
It appears that while the government goes to great lengths to paint a positive picture of itself around the world, as a free fair and just society, all nonsense of course, this lawyer is shoving a spanner into the spokes and turning out to be a perpetual source of embarrassment for them.
Since in Singapore Lee Kuan Yew controls the legal system, as he does everything else, needless to say, when you annoy him, you are going to lose your cases in his courts.
Very quickly Charlton was advised, I suppose from those in the know, of his mistake in retaining this lawyer, when he switched to Anwarul Haq, a Lee Kuan Yew confidant who in turn gave it to another lawyer in the same preferred law firm, Rajah and Tann.
Charlton played his game with the Singapore legal system admirably.
He got rid of his lawyer who Lee Kuan Yew disapproved, got himself a lawyer who had his blessing and in the process, in a manner of saying, got away almost unscathed.
The important rule to remember in Lee's Singapore is this. Try to be Confucian in your thinking, which I suppose would mean, never upset the Emperor.
I suppose this is a tenet the young rambunctious ebullient lawyer in the death penalty case, and who lost a client in Charlton, is yet to learn.
I am sure the thousands of lesser mortals who had committed the same or even lesser crimes who were so mercilessly beaten in Lee Kuan Yew's jails would have cried foul to high heavens had they heard of how Charlton got away, but even if they did who cares? Lee Kuan Yew doesn't in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.
Attorney at Law
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