Sunday, March 2, 2008

Detention without trial is morally and legally wrong and totally unacceptable. I hope Singapore never catches Mr. Kastari. I rejoice in his freedom.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore has unjustly detained Mr. Mas Selamat Kastari for more than 1 year under a law that fails any test in jurisprudence anywhere in the world. That is detaining a man indefinitely without trial. This is unacceptable in Singapore, unacceptable in Europe, even unacceptable in the darkest corners of Africa.

Regardless of what one has done, the basic principles of law require that if the state has colorable evidence against him of wrong doing, the correct thing to do is to charge him in a court of law, in public and try him in an impartial courtroom with an impartial judge, sworn to uphold the law. If he is found guilty, mete out the proper punishment. Otherwise hold your tongue and let him go. This is justice.

Mr. Kastari was being held under the Internal Security Act. The same law that has so far been principally used to shut up Lee Kuan Yew's political opponents or silence them. This same law has been routinely and shamelessly abused for this political purpose. You will recall Lim Chin Seong, who had the misfortune of attracting Lee's wrath? He was tortured and imprisoned for many years, several in solitary confinement; not because he did anything wrong but because he crossed Lee's path.

Please do not forget Francis Seow, the former Solicitor General of Singapore, another victim of Singapore’s notorious Internal Security Act. His only offence was to stand for election, something which Lee did not approve. He was detained at the very same location as Mr. Kastari, the Whitely Detention Center, where several of Lee's thugs took turns in turning poor Francis into pulp. After which they let him go. Another example of detention without trial.

We cannot forget the 1987 Marxist Conspirators; conveniently given this bad name because they were turning out into become Lee's political opponents. 22 innocent people altogether were given this unwelcome label, beaten up, kept in solitary confinement and released after more than a year!

In all these cases, just as in the case of our Mr. Kastari, there is one common factor. None of them were ever charged with anything. Meaning the government did not have any evidence. And when they do not have evidence, instead of letting them go; at Lee's option, they are arrested, beaten up, locked up and the keys thrown away. This is wrong in the case of all those mentioned before Mr. Kastari. And it is wrong in his case too.

What we are told is bits and pieces here and there. Singapore claims that among his alleged offenses, he had planned to fly a plane into Changi and destroy the airport. Well if that is the case, why was he not charged with an attempt to destroy the airport. Clearly an attempt to commit a crime is also a crime. But instead of trying him for this offense, Mr. Wong Kan Seng comes up with various accusations that he attempted this and that and so on ad nasuem. This is not good enough Mr. Wong Kan Seng. You have nothing to hold Mr. Kastari. He is entitled to his freedom. And I wish him well.

And those of you who share my sentiment, that you either charge a man or let him go; may I suggest a way that you can help Mr. Kastari to remain free. I have been reading in Singapore’s state controlled newspapers that it only took one man to report having seen a limping man near the Bukit Batok woods for the government to deploy an entire brigade of soldiers spending days there looking for the elusive Mr. Kastari.

It is easy for Singaporeans to call in claiming to have seen him one day in the McRitchie woods, another day a sighting at Pierce Reservoir and the third day at the shopping mall at Boon Lay. This way, Lee Kuan Yew the dictator will be spending his whole time looking here and there for the elusive Mr. Kastari, while you and I, and perhaps Mr. Kastari who may be already in the Rhiu Islands by now can all have a good laugh. There is no way that anyone can accuse you of making a false complaint since it is perfectly normal that you may have seen a Malay man fitting his description and walking with a limp. Come on now. Let us have some fun at the expense of this dictator Lee Kuan Yew and his son.

I would also ask the Indonesian government not to hand him over to the Singapore government even if he was found. Indonesia has a much fairer and just legal system. At least all their judges are not like the corrupted sort in Singapore and Indonesia does not have detention without trial. So since it is improper to send a fugitive from a country to another where such punishment does not exist in their own; Indonesia should not send Mr. Kastari to Singapore since Indonesia does not have detention without trial.

And if Mr. Kastari is reading my blog now, this is what I will say to him. I wish him peace. I ask that he denounce violence. There are many interpretations to the Koran. The interpretations in the Sunna according to the foremost Islamic University in Cairo, Al Azahar, is completely different from the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia. Islam should grow with the times just as Judaism changed over the years. A look at the Jewish Bible will startle someone with its similarities with the Koran. According to Jewish Law, the death penalty is a valid punishment. However you also know that the last man ever to be executed in Israel was Adolf Eichmann in 1962. No one has ever been executed since then in the State of Israel.

My point is this. No need for revenge. No need for bitterness. It is true that the Jewish state has treated the Arabs very badly. But the answer to that is not blood for blood. Death does not bring about any good.

Education is the answer. With education comes moderation. With moderation come social exchanges. And with it everyone is uplifted. To give you an example, I can have an educated intelligent debate with an Egyptian graduate from a Egyptian University on religion. I cannot expect to have the same debate with a Pakistani from the tribal areas of Pakistan such as Waziristan without my life being in jeopardy. The difference is because the Egyptian is educated. The Pakistani has never been to school.

Mr. Kastari, I wish you peace, long life and happiness.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914


Anonymous said...

there are so many conspiracy theories and imaginations running wild it goes to show one thing... no one trusts much less believes in the singapore government or its media anymore. more specifically, no one believes or trust the pap anymore. to top that off, many are even beginning to wonder where is the prime minister in all of this.

i think we should write to bill o'reilly and have him question the government since reporters here won't do it.

Anonymous said...

You know what the really funny thing about this episode is?

Just one day before our man escaped, Singapore hoorayed at being given the glory to host the Youth Olympics. "Because of high security standards" apparently.

I'm an apolitical English major, so I tend to read events like a narrative. To put it lightly, I was laughing my fool head off when our man escaped. A lame man, unarmed, in the wilderness, from detention, prison security, Police, Commando, Ghurka and K-9 units. And succeeds.

Just like Shawshank, eh wot?

I'd leave this place too, like you, but everythings made the lot of us too poor to leave, man.