Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my last post I wrote about the series of defamation lawsuit threats against a Singapore blog TR Emeritus in quick succession by the Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew's 2 sons for having defamed them by calling their present high positions of Prime Minister and Presidents of various government owned companies and agencies as a result of nepotism and cronyism.
Although it should be obvious to anyone that this is in fact the case, the Lee family prohibits anyone from saying so, and they will sue and surely win, as the sad history of Singapore's lack of freedom of speech record shows. They win by the simple expediency of appointing corrupt judges who will conveniently change the rules to fix government critics.
Just before Lee Kuan Yew's sons shot out their letters, another minion of his, Lee's Singaporean Tamil Minister of Law K Shanmugam had also written to this blogger not to disclose his extra marital affairs with a Singapore Chinese woman Foo Mee Har or face a defamation lawsuit.
Richard Wan, the Singapore based editor of this blog had understandably complied with the demands of K Shanmugam and Lee's first son, the Prime Minister, but had earlier refused to do the same in Lee's other son's case, that of Lee Hsien Yang, claiming at first that he will "vigorously resist".
I am sure when he said that, it must have been the best news one could ever have had. At least I thought that finally, someone, in this case Richard Wan had picked up the courage to stand up to this family of bullies.
But alas, it was too good to be true. The state controlled Singapore newspaper the Straits Times of Feb 24, 2012 reports "TR Emeritus removes post about Lee Hsien Yang". It says "Sociopolitical website TR Emeritus did an about turn on Thursday night and removed a defamatory posting about corporate chieftain Lee Hsien Yang from it's portal. It also expressed regret that Mr. Lee was defamed by the comment which had been made by a netizen. This comes less than 24 hours after TRE said it would vigorously resist Mr. Lee's demands".
Although regrettable that TR Emeritus has kowtowed yet again, if you knew Singapore, his action is understandable. There is no way in the world for anyone sued by the Lee family or by his cronies in Singapore and expect to come out unscathed.
It is one country in the world, except erstwhile Stalinist Russia or present day Communist China, where TR Emeritus editor Richard Wan knows even before he steps into the courtroom that he has not only lost, that he will be ordered to pay millions in damages which he does not have, and promptly thereafter will be bankrupted and if his luck is really bad, even jailed!
Under these odds, it is not surprising that Wan has apologised. In fact if it would have pleased the Lee family, he would have even done the somersault, bent over backwards, rolled over and done the twist; whatever they wanted.
Wan's capitulation yet again did come as a bit of a damper at the end, but what else do you expect in Lee's Singapore, a place that holds the world record for the largest number of defamation actions filed by him and another record for never having lost a single one. In fact I think they are entitled to a third record of the largest number of bankrupts and financially ruined souls consequent on Lee Kuan Yew's defamation lawsuits.
A day later, in Lee's Straits Times of Feb 25, 2012 there is the
article "Sociopolitical website TR emeritus to continue operating". According to it, Richard Wan of TR Emeritus after all these apologies and kowtowing has said "Right now we have to do the responsible thing and carry on running the website. We have readers and we do not want to let them down".
To Richard Wan who wants to continue the website, I will ask the question, what for? There is no shades between the truth and a lie. Either it is true or it is not. If Richard Wan has to go on moderating the truth to please the Lee Kuan Yew family, then what he is going to say will simply no longer be the truth.
After all it is true that these appointments of Prime Minister and various top appointments for Lee's children are entirely because of nepotism. Anyone can see that. And if Wan not only has to say that this is not the case but to apologize as well, it will be turning logic upside down.
If Richard Wan is going to comply with all the demands of the Lee family, then it would no longer be a blog which fights for the freedoms of Singaporeans; it would in fact be another state controlled media.
Let me reiterate this. I am not faulting Richard Wan for giving in the Allmighty Lees. I fully understand the police state in which he lives and the limits to which he can go.
But having said that, TR Emeritus already exercises a great deal of self censorship so as not to offend the Lees, a very moderate blog as compared to those in the free world. If they have to go any further and exercise even more moderation, in truth it would no longer be recognizable as a voice for for those yearning freedom. It had better close.
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).
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