Friday, December 30, 2011

Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew's China style legal system

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Communist China, even though it's laws allows aggrieved persons to file law suits in courts seeking relief, in many instances, not just the litigant but the lawyer too are arrested, tortured and given long sentences for doing just that.

Only yesterday, the BBC reported of a woman lawyer in China having been brutally beaten only for representing villagers whose homes were compulsorily acquired for development. She was also given a long jail term.

In Singapore even though they don't go to this extent, I am sure Lee Kuan Yew would love to if he can. It is an island where you see all the outward trappings of lawyers in black robes dragging along stuffed luggage with books along courtroom corridors looking all solemn and sombre but if you thought even for a moment that these characters actually have the courage to represent anyone in reality, you cannot be more mistaken. They are so afraid of what Lee Kuan Yew would do to them, that their representation of your lawsuit would go only so far as Lee Kuan Yew would tolerate, never mind what any of the law books says.

Let me give you give you a few examples. I remember when I was admitted to the Singapore Bar in 1981, I had to appear before a judge and swear that I would uphold the laws and the Constitution of Singapore. Only later did I realise that in fact if you wanted to succeed at the Singapore Bar and stay out of trouble, that is the last thing in the world you should do.

The underlying principle of English Constitutional law which is supposed to form the basis of Singapore law states 1. the Constitution is the supreme law of the land upon which all other statue laws are enacted. Any law which violates the Constitution is null and void 2. If a law violates the Constitution, for it to be legal, there has to shown a compelling reason such as a grave state emergency or calamity which requires the lifting of that constitutional provision.

If this is what Constitutional means, Singapore has no constitutional law at all. The Singapore Constitution is nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. In fact you could go one step further and say, Singapore has no Constitution at all.

One of the underlying Constitutional provisions is the right to free speech and assembly. But this Constitutional provision is totally worthless because another statute law states exactly the opposite, that you need a permit to make a public speech which, even if one applied for it, it would never be granted. And then if you go on to make that public speech or assemble anyway, you end up as another Chee Soon Juan, arrested and sent to jail.

It is like this with every other aspect of the Constitution. Although the Constitution mandates a free press, it is state controlled. Although the Constitution mandates the right to assemble, you have none. Although the Constitution mandates free trade unions, they are all controlled by the state. Although the Constitution mandates the rule of law, the law is abused by Judges such as Belinda Ang Saw Ean to send innocent citizens like Chee Soon Juan to jail for criticizing Lee Kuan Yew.

Every single lawyer in Singapore makes sure never to raise a Constitutional defense for his client. There is one particular Indian lawyer who claims to defend human rights but he has been successfully marginalized and has lost all his cases. In fact anyone who is in trouble and understands Singapore would never even imagine engaging him. If you did, one look at him by the judge and your case is lost. The judge of course feels that he is pleasing Lee Kuan Yew by finding against this lawyer, because Lee does not like him. 2 years ago, he represented Chee Soon Juan and even had the audacity to cross examine Lee Kuan Yew, something any lawyer in his right mind in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore would never even dream of doing.

In Singapore despite all the claims of due process and rule of law, in fact there is an established and entrenched unwritten policy of giving preferential treatment for celebrities, important persons and rich foreign businessmen. In fact this policy of unjustly preferring some over others is so entrenched and well known that if you belong to this privileged class, you know beforehand that you can basically do anything you want and get away with it.

You can read for yourself the extensive coverage of this distasteful aspect of Singaporean life in the Internet, and also in these pages.

The Singapore state controlled newspaper Straits Times of Dec 30, 2011 has a story "TV host Quan Yifeng gets probation over row with taxi driver".

It is a case of this recent Chinese woman from Taiwan who is a celebrity Chinese TV host in Singapore who went on a rampage over a taxi driver, breaking his taxi meter, rummaging and destroying his belongings and kicking him and his taxi over an extended period of time.

The normal punishment under Singapore law for this sort of behaviour for any ordinary person is imprisonment in the island's Changi Jail for at least 12 months if not longer.

I think, this woman, like every other resident in the island, knew she could do anything she wanted and get away with it, otherwise she would never have done this.

This is how, Lee Kuan Yew's men do the dirty work in such cases. The lawyer first gets some doctor to put up a false report saying that the woman in question was suffering from depression and other bogus imaginary ailments.

Mind you if a doctor made such false claims in any other ordinary case, he would be arrested and severely disciplined. Not so in cases involving celebrities.

After that the lawyer, usually, an opportunistic government connected fellow like Subhas Anandan in this case, makes these imaginary claims of diminished responsibility and depression and what not, all plucked out of thin air, which the selected judge accepts wholesale, with a wink and a nod.

And the judge then goes on to give a lengthy explanation, a whole load of baloney, that the woman if fact was in a great deal of stress, and blah blah and Viola, she walks away Scot free.

In this particular case Quan not only got away Scot free with probation, she also got to hold a video taped press interview with the state controlled press which was televised on national TV at prime time, looking her TV best with her lawyer by her side, who for his part gave his side of the baloney.

I am attaching the link here of the comical Chinese opera of Lee Kuan Yew's Singaporean law of the woman who got away, yet again:

Her lawyer sitting next to her Subhas Anandan is the quintessential Singaporean product, someone with no principles, no self respect or pride and no concern at all whether he cares to see himself in the mirror the next day. A pretty low type of a human being.

You see although he claims to be a criminal lawyer, he is more a sort of a negotiator.

Most of the celebrities and government connected individuals who routinely commit offenses in the island make up his client base.

Having him as a lawyer gives the client an immediate advantage.

He has access and is privy to the inner dealings of the people at the top.

It is like being the personal lawyer of North Korea's great leader.

He can get anything he wants. It is also because, the judge himself is careful not to find against his client since this may indirectly annoy Singapore's great leader Lee Kuan Yew whose man he is.

In general, with the right connections and the proper lawyer, you can spin any story you want, beat up any taxi driver you want, drive drunk anytime you want, create a ruckus anytime you want. And why not, Singapore is yours when you are somebody and on Lee Kuan Yew's side.

I can imagine what punishment I would get if I did what she did! Perhaps being locked up and the key thrown away, not only am I not a Singapore government connected person; what is worse, I am a thorn on their side!

Singapore law is stood on it's head; there is in reality no Constitution; Singapore lawyers are more afraid of their own shadows and Lee Kuan Yew making them unfit to represent anyone in truth.

To live in a country such as Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, you either have to have no principles whatsoever and just go along for the ride, you should be careful not to express any political opinion and if you have to, only an opinion in support of the government.

There are of course those who have no inkling whatsoever about what in the world I am saying, and for these ignorant people, Singapore is OK too.

But if you did have some pride, some understanding of your rights and some shame under your skin, then stay away from Singapore. You would be ashamed to look at yourself in the mirror if you did.

Some years ago, this so called best Singapore criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan was asked if he would represent political dissidents.

He said he would prepared to defend anyone, murderers, drug traffickers and even terrorists; but please no political dissidents. This rather unsavory character represents the soul of the Singapore legal profession.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Disbarred from practicing law in Lee's Singapore, imprisoned and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore's judiciary in this blog (see blogpost May 29, 2008 Singapore. Judge Belinda Ang's Kangaroo Court)
Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar.
Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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Anonymous said...

Under LKY's iron fist governance, laws can be changed at will, seemingly for the good of the people but really to benefit himself. For example, the death duty in Singapore, I have been informed, has been cancelled. That's right, it is zero. So anyone who dies in singapore, need not declare his monies, honest or otherwise. Who does it benefit? The crooks who die here and of course the Lees. It was put into law just before Mrs Lee died. It will stay in law until LKY dies. Then after a decent interval determined by LSL, the duties will be reinstated. That way the Lee family does not have to reveal how wealthy they are - the richest man in the world. This is the man Singaporeans have become sycophants and eaves-dropper for. LKY has taken all Singaoreans for a ride.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous,
I agree with you except that I dont think Lee's son (I think you mean the son by LSL) would be the Prime Minister. I don't think he would be anywahere around once his father dies. And laws won't be changed and re-changed as they are now.

Age matters said...

China never claim to follow "Rule of Laws" or has experience living under one.

Singapore does.

Chinese peasants still go to Beijing to petition the Party, just as it had been a practice in the past imperial days, when subjects go to the Forbidden City to voice their complaints to the Emperor.

Singaporeans go to the Meet The People sessions for redress and received unwanted useless advice. (Eg retrenched? Go training) Overtrained but still jobless.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Nair,

Singaporeans do not even dare to take a stand against misbehaving foreign "talents" creating inconvenience for the community, esp from countries thst do not observe rules. (Remember Singapore population is now a crowded 6 million) but at least enough brave ones are standing up against LKY Big Idea of Paying Ministers Big Salary.

But finally, LKY and his merrymen are being dealt a blow, at least for the ministers because they are overpaid.

But the stooges at quasi government corporations appeared to be spared, Including LKY and "Wooden" Goh.

But at least another LKY stupid idea is busted!
Top Singapore ministers face pay cuts of up to 51%
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is looking at a 36% pay cut Singapore's highly-paid ministers face massive pay cuts, following a recommendation by a government-appointed committee.

The prime minister's salary is to be slashed by 36% and the president's by 51%

How old foxy Lee outsmarts the voters again said...

To Anon jan 4 12:43

The ministers review is a fraud!

This review does not began with a white canvas. It is reverse engineered to meet the undisclosed brief.

1) Review actually did not dispute that the salaries are out of whack or not the market rates. It actually states that there should be a 40% discount to reflect the ethos of holding a Public Office.

2) The National Bonus component meets nearly all calls by the opposition in recent times. This only amounts to 15% to a top performer and that requires all sub-categories to fail which is unlikely. If only 2 are not met, then the total package is reduced by 7%. But more importantly it gives excellent bragging rights and cuts away any further claims by opposition that it not pegged to economic wellbeing of Singaporans.

In essence, what it means indirectly is that salaries are in fact market rates and The PAP, the old man and the Govt were not wrong but were right all this while. They were not overpaid. They now agree that "for the sake of Singaporeans", the PAP will "sacrifice" 40% of the market rate.
They come across as highly charitable.

Again calls by ordinary Singaporeans and the opposition to treat Public Office as a call of duty is now met. We therefore no longer can make those calls.

The review committee of course can make the claim that these came from the 500 odd submissions made to the committee but is it pure coincidence that the current rates are actually markets rates for political office holders.

This a politically safe report that does not antagonise or confront their sponsors as it does not refute anything. All it suggest is for the PAP to make a 40% donation and that also helped the PAP to insulate them from future claims of unfair compensation and not taking into account the wellbeing of its citizens. As the new salaries are pegged to citizens wellbeing in principle even by a token sum, the committee has provided them with excellent insulation.

And Singaporeans will be taken in by this fraud.

End of story