Ladies and Gentlemen,
I was informed of this New York Times article by a Singapore Dissident reader. Although published by the legendary William Safire in 1997, it is equally if not more relevant in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore of today, where it is business as usual in the legal dirty work. Thanks to the reader.
Fremont, California, USA
The New York Times
SINGAPORE The Misrule of Law
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Published: June 01, 1997
In Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, dictators used the power of a corrupted and compliant judiciary to cloak with legitimacy the regime's need to lock up, torture or drive out any who dared oppose them.
That same device -- the misrule of law -- is being used today in Singapore. The local dictator, Lee Kuan Yew, has developed his own method of silencing his political opponents and courageous journalists: He has his lap-dog judges condemn critics for libel and assess huge fines to be paid to the dictator and his henchmen.
Here's how the judicial gang operates: A veteran lawyer named Tang Liang Hong had the temerity to run against the ruling party this year. When he mentioned scandalous discounts the dictator received in a real estate deal, Lee and his coterie charged Tang with being ''an anti-English education, anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist.''
As might be expected in a political campaign, Tang denied that and called his attackers liars -- thereby stepping into a libel trap. Lee and cohort sued for millions. When the ''election'' ended, Tang wisely beat it out of town to Hong Kong because he claimed to fear for his safety. Lee & Co. sued him for saying that, too.
When Lee sues, judges jump. His bench socked Tang for $5.8 million for subverting the dictator's ''moral authority to govern'' and, while the lap-dog judges were at it, ordered the miscreant dissenter arrested on 33 counts of tax evasion.
In his 63-page judgment, the presiding judge recalled with pleasure a previous award to Lee of $400,000 from The International Herald Tribune for a piece he claimed suggested that compliant judges were used by Lee to bankrupt political opponents. Tang's ''ferocious and venomous'' suggestion that the Senior Minister lied was worth at least 10 times that.
What we have here is a plain and simple extortion racket. The dictator uses the courts to squeeze opponents for money, or to exact tribute from the Trib, making sure to appoint judges who deliver for him by bankrupting and exiling the opposition. Singapore is a nation-state run by efficient political racketeers professing respect for law and order.
Why should this bother us? The regional reason: Singapore's ultra-orderly economy and anti-democratic politics make up the dangerous ''model'' being followed by China. A broader reason: The Singapore virus -- the notion that capitalist prosperity can be abetted by political repression -- could infect the global economy with its strain of fascism.