Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is not an understatement to say that the entire legal profession of Singapore are simply useless if your case has anything to do with your rights.
An oxymoron but true, since you probably go to a lawyer for none other than to defend your rights, and not to repair your car.
In fact, never mind the lawyers being useless, in Lee Kuan Yew and his son's one party police state, you won't get any lawyer to even represent you.
For the last 50 years of Lee Kuan Yew's rule and now by extension, that of his son whom he placed as Prime Minister, the government's principle intention was to silence the lawyers.
With Lee's determination to rule the island according to his will, not according to any Constitution, he knew that any threat towards his one party dictatorial rule would probably come from the lawyers.
After all, the British who gave independence to the island also gave them a Constitution, replete with human rights, right of free speech and expression, right to a free press and other normal rights expected of any democracy.
As Lee had no intention whatsoever of a democracy, he had to silence particularly the lawyers, since it is they who know about such dangerous things as freedom of speech.
As a result systematically he has successfully behavior trained the lawyers, repeatedly intimidating, arresting and bankrupting any lawyer in the island who is foolish enough to talk of such things as democracy and human rights, as to effectively send a chill down their spine of even uttering such things.
In fact in Singapore, any mention of such rights, which by the way are clearly enshrined in the Constitution are simply taboo and never even mentioned.
You can find this out yourself by trying to engage any lawyer there into a conversation about such things. I can bet you, you would probably draw a blank.
The way this was done was by successfully persecuting and destroying any lawyer who dared to utter such unmentionable things.
This had a double effect of not only destroying the perpetrator (the lawyer who was foolish enough to defend such a client), but also creating a fear in every other lawyer that it is best to stay as far as possible from any client who had such unwholesome ideas.
One such victim that will come to everyone's mind is JB Jeyaretnam. He was a prominent lawyer and an opposition politician. He was for more than 30 years, a thorn on the side of Lee's one party dictatorship. (Please Google JB Jeyaretnam for his full story).
He was repeatedly sued for defamation of character for even the most innocuous statement one could have made, hauled before Lee's Kangaroo judges who are his rubber stamp, and ordered to pay up to a million dollars if not more in damages.
Not being able to pay, he was bankrupted and jailed. He has since died of a heart attack.
Another iconic victim was Chee Soon Juan. (Please Google Chee Soon Juan for his story).
A former professor at the local university, his mistake was to stand for elections and question the one party dictatorship.
Being a clever man, like JB Jeyaretnam, he had to be silenced. If allowed to continue agitation, he would undoubtedly topple the dictator and his government.
So he had to be silenced using the island's Kangaroo Courts. He too, like JB Jeyaretam was repeatedly sued for millions, bankrupted and jailed.
Today except for writing his blog, he has been effectively destroyed. If you didn't read his blog, the Singapore Democrat, you wouldn't know he existed. By design, the state controlled media has blacked him out.
The problem that Lee has with men such as JB Jeyaretnam and Chee Soon Juan is that they are simply right and Lee is wrong.
The Constitution of Singapore demands a democracy, not a dictatorship which is what Lee has turned the island into. And anyone who can read can plainly see that Lee's government is simply illegal and contrary to the Constitution.
And therefore since any free debate on the issue would dethrone the government instantly, the only way to rule is to use force, or in Lee's case, through the abuse of the legal system to arrest and bankrupt you to silence dissent.
The Constitution of Singapore, just as any other Constitution, guarantees the people of Singapore, the right to free speech, expression, assembly and a free and independent press. In addition, the Singapore Constitution specifically provides that any interpretation of the terms will be according to the law of England.
A reading of today's Singapore Constitution shows that every single right of the people has been effectively abrogated. The right to free speech has been negated through the requirement of a government permit, without which the citizen is liable to arrest. And by the way, even if you did apply for a permit, it will never be granted.
The same goes for the right to assembly, which requires a permit which will never be granted.
The newspapers have all been hijacked through the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act which requires a permit to circulate any newspaper in the island. In fact under the law even possession of a printing machine without a license is illegal!
The effect of this licensing requirement is to ensure that ever single paper is owned and controlled by the state thereby effectively criminalizing any independent newspaper.
It is not much different form the newspapers of North Korea.
The daily news is censored allowing only news that the state will allow to be made public.
Naturally you hear good news on a daily basis and just as in North Korea, it's pages are used to defame and malign those who are the government's critics, such as JB Jeyaretnam, Chee Soon Juan or myself, Gopalan Nair.
Although the law allows for the government to amend the Constitution if they have a two thirds majority in Parliament, which they have, English law, which is supposed to apply to Singapore only allows the Constitution to be amended in extreme exigent circumstances.
In Singapore, in violation of the law, as there are no exigent circumstances to amend the Constitution, Lee has gone ahead and done away with every single citizen's right under it, only because it has a two thirds majority in Parliament.
In fact even the majority that Lee has in Parliament is illegal, since every election that the island ever had was rigged and unfair.
Lee rigs the elections to obtain his desired result by intimidating and threatening everyone in Singapore so much so that no one in his right mind would want to stand against him.
This way, his candidate just breezes through and is elected each and every single time.
In the last election, the Workers Party, a so-called opposition party which won a number of seats is in fact a red-herring.
Realizing that more and more citizens are disgruntled with their government, Lee's PAP have effectively hijacked the Workers Party who today masquerades as an opposition party but are in reality representing Lee's PAP.
For the past decade or so, Workers Party have not championed a single cause for freedom in the island and today they do nothing more than running their town council, which by the way, the government can do just as well.
The government's aim was to hoodwink their citizens into thinking they have an opposition but in fact they are no more than Lee's PAP under a different hat.
Coming to the lawyers, they are a useless lot of people.
None among them has the courage to represent anyone who may have a grievance pertaining to his rights or a grievance against the government.
This is because not only would the litigant be foolish enough to take on such an un-winnable case, the lawyer who represented the client would also be in trouble, or his career brought to an abrupt halt.
This is why if you were to scour the entire courts in the island, you would never find even a single case involving a client suing the government or a case involving his Constitutional human rights.
As for Lee's judges, they are carefully handpicked to ensure that they will always find in favor of the government against any citizen regardless of the law.
As an example of this abuse of judicial office, I would mention Chee Soon Juan's numerous cases when he was repeatedly charged for peacefully speaking in public even though he had done no harm to anyone, and was merely exercising his constitutional right.
When he argued that he had a right under the Constitution of free speech, Lee's judges parrot-like retort was that he was guilty because he did not have a permit.
When Chee correctly pointed out that he had applied for that permit which he did not receive, and in fact pointed out that no permit has ever been granted throughout the history of the island, the judge's response was that he did not care.
As long as he did not have a permit, he was guilty! The judge turned out to be a broken record!
In Singapore today, you would never find any lawyer to represent you if your rights were violated or if you had a case against the government.
Singapore lawyers are only available for commercial cases between businessmen and these too are always decided in favor of the government supporter and against someone with any opposition leanings.
The end result of this is that Singapore lawyers are ashamed of themselves and have resigned themselves to a life of being unable to truly be a lawyer in the normal meaning of the word.
A lawyer should be someone who comes to the profession knowing his duty to defend his client's interests even if it means that their own interests may be prejudiced.
A true lawyer has a duty not only to his client but also to the law to ensure that a government does not deny the rights of its people.
Unfortunately the entire island of Singapore does not have a single lawyer who has such noble aspirations.
These disgraceful circumstances reduces the entire legal profession in the island as one spineless gutless bunch of cowards, not someone whom one would label a lawyer anywhere else.
The knowledge of the helplessness of the legal profession under Lee's one party police state is taking its toll.
Many who would have otherwise entered the legal profession are simply staying away.
Today, the island, which has no less than 5 million people, has no more than 4,000 lawyers and their numbers are dwindling fast; a number totally inadequate for a city state of 5 million, especially one that claims to be a commercial city.
Sustained attempts by the government to encourage more students into the profession continue to fail.
Today, the entire legal profession in the island is discredited.
Lawyers are by an large looked upon as gutless hypocrites who masquerade as legal professionals to make as much money as possible, peddling commercial cases, and judges are seen as Kangaroos who preside over cases only to find in favor of the Lee Kuan Yew government and their policies.
As a result, one has to be a particularly dishonest opportunist lacking in any principles or an independent mind whatsoever either to go into the law and especially to accept a judicial office.
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 8525