Friday, May 31, 2013

Singapore's disregard for rule of law hurts the island

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The statements of the American Todd family who were in Singapore recently for the inquest into their son's death told us volumes of how people view the Singapore legal system. On several occasions outside court in Singapore and while they were back in the US, Mary Todd, Shane's mother had said that "they had lost trust in the Singapore’s legal system", calling it "corrupt" and that she felt the outcome was "predetermined". In fact, I believe that even before the Todd family ever stepped into Singapore, they had already lost faith in the island's legal system. Can anyone blame them?

Anyone taking the trouble to do any research into the Singaporean legal system, which I am sure the Todd family did before landing in the island, would have discovered that it was corrupt to the core. You don't have judges in Singapore; you have kangaroos, eagerly waiting for orders from the Lee Kuan Yew family as to which hapless victim is to be finished off next, by tailoring the law to suit the needs.

These are the facts.

Firstly Singapore judges are handpicked for their loyalty and willingness to serve the Lees. Second there are no jury trials; these handpicked judges decide your guilt or innocence. Third, from the 1970s till today you will see a series of cases against Lee's political opponents, all of them jailed, bankrupted and impoverished. Fourth you will see a series of cases against foreign newspapers accused of defaming them, and all of them, without a single exception, fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. Five, in the entire history of the island, the Lee's or his handpicked Ministers have not lost a single court case; how could they with these Kangaroo judges. If this dismal track record is not enough to cast doubt in anyone's mind as to the independence of their courts, he must not only be blind but dumb as well. The American Todd family was neither blind nor dumb which is why they had immediately suspected the impartiality of their Singaporean court.  

And if they had taken the trouble to read a little more, which I am sure they did, they would also have discovered that despite the Constitution of the island which states otherwise, it has no freedom of speech, expression, assembly or any other human right which anyone elsewhere would have taken for granted. It is a highly regimented society where everyone goes around like robots.

And the fact that the island has no strikes for the last 10 decades, not a single one, would surely lead to some suspicion. Surely Singaporeans workers are not happy all the time, unless they were permanently on some form of soma or they were smoking something! The island also has no independent newspapers or media, they are all state controlled. Until yesterday, the Internet being the only form of mass information available has also been silenced. Now you are only allowed to say what pleases them, or else end up being fined $50,000 or worse in jail.

No doubt at all, Singapore has a very bad reputation as a one party police state run principally by the Lee Kuan Yew family and a handful of ass lickers who do his bidding.

A reputation such as this is disastrous for any country, let alone a tiny island with a fast diminishing local population of just 2.5 million with another 2.5 million foreigners who work there temporarily.

For one, it makes locals who are capable of leaving for settlement abroad, leave. Who, with any brains and any ability would want to be a push over in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore? This hurts the country. Tiny Singapore needs capable people to live and work and be proud of the island; whereas the bad reputation it has pushes it’s own away. If Singapore’s greatest need as an island without resources is it's human capital, this is where it hurts the most.

Singapore needs investment which it will find hard in getting. Foreign countries invest in places which they can trust. A good and law abiding legal system with an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and expression and transparency in their dealings are crucial elements that countries look for in investing. Yesterday I was reading in the local press that Chinese businessmen have invested millions to develop the Oakland, California seafront for business and tourism. When asked why they chose Oakland, they said, they can trust the US system of law and government. You have an open society where opinions are freely exchanged without fear and a court system which respects the rule of law. Which is why an investor would be willing to invest in a system such as the US and worry about a "corrupt" legal system like Singapore which may not honor their contracts.

Even investors looking for low taxation jurisdictions would prefer anytime to put their money in European and American jurisdictions rather than Singapore simply because they can be trusted while you cannot trust Singapore, under the rule of one man and his son.

Skilled and intelligent workers shun Singapore Island as a stupid country which bans chewing gum and beats its people to punish them. I have seen a lot of people who want to come to the USA but not anyone for Singapore. If it does get any, it is the dull spiritless sort lacking confidence or any grey matter. For Singapore, these poor quality robot like dumb workers who are quite willing to call life under a dictatorship home, can only impede progress and competition, and not advance it.

In the 1960s when there was no Internet, Lee Kuan Yew could hoodwink the rest of the world into thinking the island was some sort of a miracle by simply churning out propaganda. But for the last 30 years the Internet has put a stop to Lee Kuan Yew's subterfuge, cunning and make believe. The fact that the island is nothing but a one party police state controlled is out of the bottle and you simply can't put it back.

As Europe and America with their proud civil society, transparency and the rule of law advances, Singapore will even more be the butt of jokes of people being caned for chewing gum or an Alice in Wonderland with the death penalty.

No, it is simply stupid to run a country through Kangaroo judges delivering verdicts that you like, controlling the press and suing detractors for defamation of character. It gives the country a bad name and it runs it down.

Even Mother Nature acts against Singapore. Islands close to the Equator like Singapore, which are under increasingly warming sea water temperature, with the fast melting polar ice sheets means ever more rising sea levels and ever more frequency of flooding. This is already happening there today. Only that it will get much worse. Moreover the opening of the arctic sea route due to ice melt means that inter-continental shipping can now pass through the Arctic Circle obviating the need to pass through Singapore; another loss for Lee Kuan Yew’s island.  

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 4375

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wall Street Journal
Singapore Tightens Grip on Internet News Sites

...the move is a new attempt to stifle Internet-based media that often are critical of Singapore's government.

Analysts said independent Internet-based media have encouraged Singapore's increasingly demanding electorate to criticize the ruling People's Action Party and helped opposition groups make historical gains in recent elections.

Singapore was ranked 153rd globally in terms of press freedom by Washington-based advocacy group Freedom House in a recent report. Reporters Without Borders ranked the country at 149 in the Paris-based group's latest press-freedom index. The groups regularly criticize Singapore for using its media and defamation laws to curb freedom of expression.