Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, the Singapore Law Courts disbarred me from ever practicing law again in that island. As to whether it is going to be forever is something I am not very sure. From the looks of it, it doesn't look very good for them today. Which means if there is a change in government, I think there is a more than strong likelihood, that I will return. Can I quote General MacArthur and simply say "I shall return".
By the way, under California Business and Professions Code Section 6068 (o)(6), I have a duty to report any discipline against me imposed anywhere within 30 days. So I have written the following letter and enclosed the necessary form to the State Bar of California. I have taken the liberty of attaching my letter to this as this is now a matter of public interest.
Office of the Chief Trial Counsel, Intake
The State Bar of California
1149 S Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-2299
July 25, 2011 USPS Certified Mail
Singapore is an island governed principally by keeping the people in fear of their government. Their principal tool to do this is through the misuse of the law and the courts. Singaporean judges routinely collaborate with the government to bend the law to silence dissent. Their policy is the Chinese theory of “Killing one chicken to frighten the monkeys”, that is to say abuse the law to punish your critics so as to ensure that others would be dissuaded from doing the same. This is what is happening in these proceedings.
Disciplinary Proceedings in Singapore
Yesterday, July 25, 2011 (Singapore time) I was disbarred from practicing law in Singapore on 5 charges. Although I had left Singapore for good for the US in 1991, and have never practiced law there at all since then, I was still technically on the Rolls of lawyers in Singapore. All these charges are politically motivated and is a response to my continued and sustained political activism to bring about democratic change in Singapore. The events happened as far back as May 2008, when I was on a brief visit to Singapore to observe a politically motivated libel suit brought by the Singapore strongman, Lee Kuan Yew and his son against an opposition politician Dr. Chee Soon Juan.
In Absentia Proceedings
Although I was informed of these proceedings I did not attend any of the hearings in Singapore as well as the hearing on July 25, 2011. As I had been charged for writing blog posts critical of their judges and their government in my blog Singapore Dissident and since I had written further blog posts of similar nature since my return to the US after being deported from Singapore in November 2008, I will certainly be arrested and charged again for my writings in the US if I visited Singapore.
Secondly since one of the charges relate to my violating their court order not to criticize them, since I had done so after leaving Singapore, they would certainly arrest me again had I returned. Therefore I had written repeatedly to them for an assurance that they will not arrest me if I returned to Singapore. As they had not given that assurance I did not return to Singapore for my trial on July 25, 2011. They conducted the proceedings in absentia and disbarred me.
I was born and raised in Singapore and was a Singapore citizen. I am now an American citizen. I went to England to read law and was admitted to the English Bar in 1979 as a Barrister at law. I am still on the Rolls of Barristers in good standing in England and Wales. In late 1979, I returned to Singapore and was admitted as an Attorney (Advocate and Solicitor) in 1981.
Around 1985, I became politically active in Singapore and joined the Workers Party, an opposition party in Singapore. From that time on, the Singapore government controlled entirely by Lee Kuan Yew began harassing and persecuting me for my political activities.
I stood for parliamentary elections in Singapore as a candidate for the Workers party in 1988 and 1991. I lost both times.
In 1991, during elections, I had made a speech at an election rally. I had suggested that the appointment of judges in the Subordinate Courts be changed to make them look more independent. At that time judges were appointed by the Singapore Legal Service Commission which was directly controlled by the Attorney General. For this statement, I was charged and convicted of contempt of court and fined $8,000.00 dollars and ordered to pay the costs.
Also around 1991, I had written a letter to the Singapore Attorney General concerning his refusal to give JB Jeyaretnam, the head of the Workers Party who was exonerated of trumped up criminal charges by the Privy Council in England. He had been charged with check fraud and making a false Affidavit. The Attorney General of Singapore refused to give a pardon to Jeyaretanm because he claimed, among other things that he was not given an opportunity to appear in court in London, which was not true. For asking him to explain himself, I was charged with threatening him and falsely accusing him. I did not such thing. Nevertheless I was suspended from practicing law for 2 years in Singapore.
I had other problems with the Singapore government and their Law Society because of my continued involvement in opposition politics.
Coming to the USA and obtaining political asylum
In 1991 December, I left Singapore for good and arrived in San Francisco California. I obtained political asylum in 1995. I passed the California Bar in 1995 and was admitted in 1996. Since the Singapore Law Society had refused to give me a certificate of good standing in Singapore, I had to explain these circumstances to the State Bar of California. Please look at my admission file which gives details of my problems with the Singapore government and their legal system.
The present charges against me resulting in my disbarment.
Charge 1. I had travelled to Singapore and had landed there on May 26, 2008. I had travelled to observe the hearing on the question of damages that Chee Soon Juan had to pay Lee Kuan Yew who had earlier sued him for libel and won. The judge in the case was Belinda Ang Saw Ean.
The hearing took 3 days. Throughout the 3 days the judge together with Lee Kuan Yew, clearly refused to allow Dr. Chee Soon Juan any meaningful opportunity to defend himself by disallowing him to ask almost every single question.
Dr. Chee Soon Juan was unrepresented in court because no Singapore lawyer dares to defend a political opponent such as him for fear of reprisals from Lee Kuan Yew and his government.
After listening to this blatant abuse of her judicial office for 3 days from May 26, 2008 to May 28, 2008, I wrote a blog post in my blog Singapore Dissident www.singaporedissident.blogspot.com on May 29, 2008 titled “Singapore. Judge Belinda Ang's Kangaroo Court”. A copy of the blog post is attached.
In particular the Singapore authorities take objection to the sentence in this blog post which reads “The judge Belinda Ang was throughout prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders.”
I was arrested from my hotel by 5 plain clothes policemen on May 31, 2008 and subsequently charged with “insulting a civil servant”, a provision under the Singapore Penal Code.
The word “prostituted” in every single English dictionary also refers to someone in authority who abuses it for personal gain. This is what I meant when I wrote the blog post.
I pleaded not guilty and went to trial on the charge. The trial went on for 8 days. The judge found me guilty of insulting the judge even though the words only appeared in my blog post and even though the words were a correct use of the English language to describe the actions of this judge. I was sentenced to 3 months jail which commenced in September 2008. I was released from jail in November 2008 and was immediately deported. I returned to US immediately.
When I had arrived in Singapore in May of 2008 and was arrested, my American passport was confiscated. The above trial only occurred in September 2008.
Immediately after arrest I was kept in solitary confinement at the police station for a week and interrogated day and night. They first accused me of sending Emails of this blog post to various important people including this judge.
I denied ever sending any Emails to anyone. I believe the Singapore government themselves arranged to send these Emails and confront me with it. The mistake they did was the Emails had my name as firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of email@example.com.
I had dropped the use of the name Pallichadath (full name Pallichadath Gopalan Nair) which was my first name at birth and changed it to Gopalan Nair when I got my American citizenship. Obviously Singapore’s secret agents failed to notice this.
Even though I was arrested in May 2008 in Singapore, the Singapore Law Society did not commence any disciplinary proceedings against me, either then or even after I was jailed in September 2008. These disciplinary proceedings were commenced only in early September 2009, 1 year and 5 months after the incident.
The US State Department in their 2009 Singapore Country conditions report states that reliable sources believe that the reason for their commencing these disciplinary proceedings 1 ½ later was because I had withdrawn the apology I had given in the Singapore court and reneged on my promise not to attack their courts or their government. (Please see 2009 State Department Singapore Human Rights and Country Conditions Report released in 2010).
Charge 2 and 3: After I was arrested for Charge 1 above in May 2008 and while waiting for my trial in September of 2008, I was out on bail. I am sure they deliberately delayed the case with the intention of causing me severe financial hardship, having to be away from my home in California and my law practice for all this time. Financially I was ruined as I had to pay for accommodation while there with no income coming in. My law practice here was suffering and I was lucky I could recover after my return in November 2008.
Anyway, during this time, in July 4, 2008, American Independence Day, I was walking along a street in an area known as Little India in Singapore on a road called Race Course Road towards the Junction of Bukit Timah Road at about 8.30 pm.
At the junction of Bukit Timah Road I heard some people shouting at me from behind. Since it did not concern me I did not look back. Suddenly some 5 people in civilian clothes confronted me, shouting at me and asking me if I had knocked their police car.
I had seen a police car some 100 or 200 feet behind me while walking. I denied doing any such thing, after which they began to ask me who I was and for my identification. Since I did not know who they were I simply refused.
The next minute I was tackled to the floor by a Malay man who used great force and pinned my face to the floor, damaging my spectacles and causing me injuries. I was arrested and taken away in the police car.
Subsequently I was charges with shouting obscenities at the men, who it turned out happened to be policemen and the second charge was the accusation that I had behaved in a disorderly manner.
The case went on for 18 days during which time I cross examined the police men. The only witnesses in court were all the police officers, who repeated parrot fashion, what the earlier one had said.
When I had asked the police officer what he meant by saying that I was disorderly and asked for a demonstration, he gently waved his hands up and down.
There was a Singapore newspaper report the next day (all Singapore newspapers are state controlled) which claimed that there were at least 25 bystanders who witnessed my arrest as it was in a public place. The government did not produce a single one of them as witness at trial.
I was found guilty on both charges and given the maximum punishment of $2,000 for the yelling at policemen charge and $1,000 for the disorderly behavior charge, making it $3,000.00 in all. I paid the fine
I have denied doing any of this.
Charge 4: While I was in jail in relation to charge 1 above, I was due to be released on September 26, 2008. Around September 12, 2008, while I was in jail and about 1 week to go before my release, I was visited by police officers.
They told me that I am being charged now for contempt of court. They told me that the accusations were that during my trial in Charge 2 and 3 above; I had made some statements that were contemptuous of the court.
It is true that I had told the judge in open court that these proceedings were politically motivated, that I had no confidence in the fairness or impartiality of the court and that these proceedings were being brought against me just because I am Gopalan Nair and a Lee Kuan Yew government critic.
During the trial itself, the judge did not find me in contempt of anything. However for the first time, after the proceedings were over and I had paid the fine, while I was in jail and waiting to be released a week later, they accuse me of being in contempt of court at this earlier trial.
I was taken to court in chains and shackles from the prison. I knew that if I contested these new charges of contempt, there was a strong likelihood that my imprisonment would be lengthened and I would not get out in a week.
So I apologized. The prosecutor asked me to read out the apology in the way they wanted which I did. Another condition of the court was that I was never to attack the Singapore judiciary again, which I agreed. I had earlier written 2 blog posts in my blog about my proceedings in court while in Singapore, relating to this matter.
The prosecutor wanted me to delete them as a condition for their lenient. I agreed. Upon my accepting these conditions and unconditionally apologizing in Court in the way they wanted, the court did not impose any more jail time and just gave me a warning.
I believe the judge said that I did the right thing. Frankly I had no intention of keeping my promise. This was not a court of law, it was a political lynching.
The moment I returned to California after I was deported in late November 2008, I wrote a blog post withdrawing my apology and reposting the 2 blog posts that I had taken down under duress while in a Singapore prison.
This charge relates to contempt of court for their court order by my withdrawing the apology given to the court and re-posting the 2 blog posts.
Charge 5 : During May of 2008, while the case of Defamation lawsuit Lee Kuan Yew vs Chee Soon Juan was going on in the High Court, the police discovered 3 men, who were members or supporters of Chee Soon Juan’s political party, the Singapore Democratic Party wearing T-shirts with pictures of Kangaroos in judicial robes. I believe they tried to enter the courtroom but were refused by police officers.
Even though they were not even within the court premises of Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean’s court which was hearing the case, they were all arrested for contempt of court merely for wearing T-shirts with pictures of kangaroos in judicial robes.
After their arrest and long periods of interrogation, they were eventually brought to trial in November 2008. I attended their trial. The judge this time was Judith Prakash. The judge sent them to jail for about a week each just for wearing these T-shirts. This is all they did, just wearing the T-shirts.
This was patently unjust.
Immediately after I retuned to the US in November 2008, I wrote a blog post titled “Singapore’s High Court Judge Judith Parkas shamelessly abuses the law in the Kangaroo T shirt trial” dated Feb 26, 2009. In it I used almost the same words I used in the Charge 1 case above. This last charge refers to my writing this blog post. A copy of it is attached.
The reasons for all these cases
The Singapore government and their Law Society which is an integral part of the government has brought all these disciplinary charges nearly 1 ½ years after the incident in May 2008. And after they commenced the cases in September 2009, it took them another 1 year and 10 months after that to bring it to trial.
These charges were initiated and I have been punished because of who I am, not what I did.
The Singapore government under Lee Kuan Yew rules the island of 5 million people through fear. Anyone who dared to challenge them are to be punished and forever hounded and persecuted. I have been one of his well known critics and they have to silence me. I have been writing my blog from the US since 1996 but when I stepped into Singapore in 2008 and wrote from there, they had arrested me. I suppose they are trying to silence me and in the process use it as a warning to others not to criticize.
The above is a short explanation of the events. If there is a need to elaborate more or if any further information is needed, please let me know.
My arrest in Singapore and these proceedings are now a matter of public interest and followed by many around the world. Therefore I have taken the liberty to publish this letter in my blog Singapore Dissident, www.singaporedissident.blogspot.com. I hope I have your permission to do this.
The following people are the interested parties in this matter:
1. The law Society of Singapore
39 South Bridge Road
Tel: (65) 6538 2500
2. Attorney Generals Chambers Singapore
1 Coleman Street
Tel: (65) 6336 1441
3. Minister for Law
100 High Street, #18-02
Tel: (65) 6332 8840
4. The Judges who heard the case on July 25, 2011 and disbarred me: Lee Seiu Kin, Tan Lee Meng, Tay Yoong Kwang
All of Singapore High Court, 1 Supreme Court Lane, Singapore 178879 Tel: (65) 6337 8191
Lastly I would be happy to provide any further evidence or information on this matter.
Executed by Me, Gopalan Nair, under penalty of perjury this 25th day of July 2011, in Fremont, California.
Signed Gopalan Nair