Friday, February 13, 2015

Singapore attempts to silence dissent by misrepresenting the legal principle of Sub Judice

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On Feb 11 2015, there appears an article in Singapore's state controlled press Straits Times titled "AGC (Attorney General's Chambers) reminds public to refrain from making comments related to 3 men charged in Thaipusam incident"

I reproduce the entire Straits Times report here:

SINGAPORE - The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has reminded the public to refrain from making comments regarding three Singaporean men charged with offences allegedly committed during a Thaipusam procession.

An AGC spokesman noted that various comments have been made on the Internet pertaining to the three men - Ramachandra Chandramohan, 32, Jaya Kumar Krishnasamy, 28, Gunasegaran Rajendran, 33 - who were charged on Feb 7 with various offences which had been allegedly committed by them during a Thaipusam procession on Feb 3.

"As criminal proceedings are currently before the Courts, we would like to remind the public that statements made may be sub judice contempt of court, if the statements are calculated to affect the judicial process and there is a real risk of prejudice being caused to the ongoing proceedings," the spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.

"All parties are advised to refrain from making any public comments, or posting any statements on the Internet on these matters which may have that effect, pending final determination of the legal proceedings by the Courts," the statement said.

It added that the AGC takes a serious view of statements made which are calculated to interfere with the integrity of the administration of justice. Anyone who has information on the case should send it to the Police.

A brief background. During an annual Hindu Tamil procession of Thaipusam held on Feb 03, 2015 where Hindu Tamils engage in self flagellation by piercing themselves with skewers and carrying milk pots or Kavadis which are decorated structures in honor of the Hindu god Murugan by walking from one temple in Serangoon Road Singapore to another some 5 miles or so away. Traditionally and according to Hindu doctrine, they were accompanied by flutes, horns and drums, although the Singapore government had recently banned musical instruments entirely presumably to prevent the crowds from turning into anti government protests, given the huge groundswell of dissatisfaction against the regime at present.

Anyway the above 3 gentlemen had arranged for a drummer to play in accompaniment of their relative who was performing the Hindu ritual. Police in plain clothes had tried to stop the drummer from playing, resulting in tempers rising, angry words being exchanged between them and the  policemen in disguise and an accusation that the gentleman on the left, Ramachandra Chandramohan had punched a police officer.

Since the arrests came to light, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of support for the three accused in the Internet, all of it accusing the government of high handedness and abusing legal process. Realizing that the anger of Singaporeans has now become too great, the government has, according to the above report threatened the public to not comment anymore on pain of arrest and prosecution because it is sub judice.

The Singapore government is clearly misrepresenting this legal doctrine and sub judice has no application whatsoever in the Singapore criminal legal system.

The legal principle of sub judice prohibits anyone from commenting on ongoing criminal legal proceedings because juries comprised of laymen who are deputized to decide on the guilt or innocence of the defendant at trial may be swayed and influenced by what they have read in the newspapers instead of the evidence presented, thus compromising the integrity of the criminal trial.

But Singapore has long ago abolished the jury system. Today judges alone decide on the guilt or innocence of the accused and they, by reason of their legal training are more than capable of disregarding anything that is said in the newspapers. Since there is no likelihood of any judge being influenced by anything that is said outside of the courts and are fully capable of deciding the case purely on the evidence, the principle of sub judice has no application whatsoever to criminal trials in Singapore.

I would advice Singaporeans to totally ignore these threats by this government and continue adding to the growing ongoing protestations against the this government in the Internet and tell them that you know the law and sub judice does not apply to Singapore. The Lee PAP government is obviously getting more and more uneasy with the growing anger against their repressive regime which is why they have resorted to tell a shameful blatant lie about the legal principle of sun judice in the hope that you will be silenced through your ignorance. Please don't fall for it.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

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