Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Convicted Prisoner 101232008 Gopalan Nair, Queenstown Remand Prison, Singapore, a badge of honor

Readers of this blog who are unfamiliar with the goings on in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, may think reading the comments that there are many who think Singapore is a democracy based on the rule of law. The reader is warned that they may be Singapore government employees whose job is to discredit those who criticize Lee Kuan Yew's authoritarian rule. Please use your discretion as to how much weight you will give these comments.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the 17th of September, 2008, after a trial of 8 days, Judge Kan Ting Chiu of the High Court Singapore found me guilty of insulting Judge Belinda Ang. I did no such thing, but in Singapore they can make anything happen. The corrupt judges are there to do anything Lee Kuan Yew wants. And in this case, it will please Lee to have me arrested and jailed for criticizing a Singapore judge. It is as you know, Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore. What I did was to write a blog post on the Internet criticizing Judge Ang for being biased in favor of Lee Kuan Yew and his son in their defamation case against Dr. Chee and the SDP. It was nothing more than an exercise of freedom of speech guaranteed to me by United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The trial before Judge Kan was nothing but a show trial. The judge of course went through the motions of legalese and procedures. But in the end, as expected I was found guilty. He was not acting as a judge in a case. He was sending a signal on behalf of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew that it is dangerous to criticize Lee's government or his judges. I have a blog post just on my case here. Please read it.

My sentence was 3 months jail. I had asked for time to arrange my matters before I surrendered my person to jail.

A day before surrendering myself to jail, I went to see Dr. Chee Soon Juan at his office at Jalan Gallegos off Jalan Leban along Upper Thomson Road in the afternoon. We both came down to talk at a coffee shop below. He gave me good advice. He told me not to lose my spirit in jail. "Always keep your chin up" he says. "Lee Kuan Yew wants to break your spirit. Don’t let him", he says. “The thing that Lee hates most is when his victim refuses to give in”. “Never let him win”, he says. “If you stand tall despite the punishment, you win and he loses”. “Keep your spirits about you”, he says. And he finished with reminding me that “it is an honor to go to jail for your beliefs”. Not many in Singapore can claim to do that.

My request for time was granted. I reported to the High Court registry 3 days later on the 20th of September 2008 at 12 noon. I had brought along some books to read, as I knew that prison meant nothing to do at all every day. At the High Court registry I was ordered to hand over my books to the police there who promised to hand them to the prison and later I could receive them.

I was handcuffed and taken down from the 5th floor of the High court to street level in an elevator. 2 policemen were escorting me. At street level, I rode the prison van from the High Court to Queenstown Prison. I still had my watch with me. The time was about 2 pm. After a ride of about 30 minutes, I arrived at Queenstown Remand Prison.

I was taken to a room and asked to take off all my clothes and change into prison clothes which were a blue pair of shorts and a white T shirt. A prison warden was watching me do it. I was asked to put my own clothes and shoes into a container which was taken away.

I was then told to sit at a counter facing an officer in the next room. Here there was a row of about 4 counters where prison officers will carry out the procedures for prisoners recording their personal items for safekeeping. The officer was seen taking out all the items I had and recording them one by one; one watch, one wallet, one comb, etc. After recording, he takes a picture with mounted cameras of the items taken and they were recorded.

I was given a plastic bracelet which I was asked to wear. This bracelet had my prisoner number 101232008. Thereafter I was prisoner 101232008.

Once that was over, I was given a box with an open cover and a thin floor mat. In the box were one towel, a piece of soap in a container, a small toothpaste which had no fluoride and no brand which was made in China, a plastic cup and a soft plastic toothbrush which could be bent any way and a plastic container for holding water.

The warden ordered me to carry the floor mat and the box 4 flights of stairs to the 4th floor. My cell was to be cell 422 on the 4th floor A block. I entered the cell. There were 2 other men in that cell, Mr. Pham, a Vietnamese national who was given 50 days in jail for being a cashier for a roadside gambling operation in Lorong 14, Geylang and Mr. Chu, also Vietnamese, who was given 20 days for selling duty unpaid cigarettes at Lorong 23 Geylang. Pham was 26 years old and Chu was 36. Pham could speak a little English but Chu nothing at all.

The cell is about 10 feet wide and about 25 feet long. The ceiling was very high. There are no windows. From an opening covered by a mesh of about 1 foot in breath at the ceiling on the opposite end of the door, you could tell whether it was day or night because of the light from outside. There was also a similar opening above the door.

On the 4th floor just as in the other floors, there are a long row of cells like mine on both sides of a walkway.

The door of my cell occupies half the front of the cell. On the other half of it is an open squat down toilet. This means there is no privacy when you relieve yourself. You sleep on the hard cement floor on your thin mat. There is no bed or cushions. The sleeping was in cramped conditions as the floor space was small for 3 people.

The first day was hard for me. There was 8 weeks to go, and this was my first day.

Thereafter there was the daily routine. As you have no watch, you cannot tell the time. But it was roughly like this. You get up before sun up when it is still dark. No one wakes you up but you get into that routine. At about 7.30 am, you hear a bell ringing five times. This means you have to stand up with your cell mates with your hands behind you. An officer passes your cell and slides open the peep hole. You then say "Good Morning Sir" all together.

After that you go back to sleep if you want. About an hour later your cell is opened by a warden. Outside there is another prisoner who brings a large vessel with either tea or coffee with bread spread thinly with either butter or jam. This alternates daily each day. One day, coffee with bread and jam and the next day, tea with bread and butter. Breakfast is the same routine day after day. You also take fresh water in your container that you have. Then your cell is locked. You eat your breakfast in your cell.

After your breakfast, you and your cell mates arrange each of our boxes in a row, one against the other, waiting for the cell to be opened again for you to go to the yard. Each day, we are allowed 45 minutes in a yard outside the cell. I was kept away from the other prisoners at all times. The other prisoners in the building were taken to a large yard where they could play games and interact with others. In my case, they made sure that I had no contact with the prison population. I together with my cell mates were taken to a special rooftop yard where there was no one else other than the three of us. They did not want me to speak to the other prisoners. They did not want the other prisoners to know why I was in prison.

Before we could go to the yard, we were subjected to an unpleasant procedure. We were required to strip naked, hold the T shirt in one hand and the shorts in the other, squat down and open your mouth while a warden watched. There was also a camera watching you. The reason given for this procedure was to ensure that we did not have any hidden contraband in any orifice or in the mouth. But this was demeaning. There is no way we could have any contraband since we were locked up 23 hours of the day and the rest of 45 minutes we were under guard. It is quite clear that the reason for this demeaning procedure was to belittle the prisoner. To humiliate him and humble him.

The small rooftop yard was one flight of stairs above my cell floor. After the 45 minutes in the yard, we were brought back to our cell. We then took our soap and towels and accompanied the warden to a shower. Again, they made sure that even my shower was separate from the other prisoners. We were led to a small shower room where only myself and my 2 other cell mates had our shower.

The shower was about 15 minutes. At the shower the warden will ask you if you need a shave. If so, another prisoner will bring your shaver, specially marked with your number. You are required to use the same razor throughout your prison term. Being Indian I had more facial hair than my cell mates, they being Vietnamese. But I never got a new razor throughout my 8 weeks in prison. Maybe if I asked for a new razor, I would have been given one, but it was not necessary.

While you shower and shave a warden will be watching you. You get used to nakedness and being constantly watched.

After your shower you are taken back to your cell and locked up. After about an hour or so, your cell door opens again and outside you find another prisoner with 3 trays of food and a water bucket. You take fresh water in your small water container and each of us bends to the ground to pick up our food tray. The demeaning thing about it is that a warden stands next to your food tray and you have to bend down to pick it up from his feet. As if you are bowing to him. I have no doubt they do it intentionally. Sometimes to avoid the humiliation of this, I used to pick up the food tray from the floor with my back facing the warden. I was not challenged for doing it that way.

Lunch was again routine. Sometimes you had a piece of fried fish with rice and vegetables which I liked the most. Other days the food was a fish cake or sausage or sometimes just noodles and vegetables. On occasion we had Nasi Lemak which was small pilchards fried and peanuts and curry paste. The food was all right but it wasn't good. For lunch you also had a fruit which was invariably an apple, an orange or a small banana. Almost everyday, the best thing I enjoyed was that single fruit.

About an hour later you hear the bells again. And you stand in a row with your hands behind you back to say "Good Afternoon Sir" when the peep hole opens on your door and the warden passes.

After about 2 hours later the door opens again, this time for dinner. The same routine with changing your water bucket for fresh water and taking your food tray. About an hour later, you hear the bells again and you stand up in a row and say "Good Morning Sir" when the officer opens your peep hole on your door.

And then it gets dark and you go to sleep for another day of the same routine tomorrow.

You get a pen and paper every 14 days to write a letter to someone. After you have written the letter your paper and pen is taken away. The same happens 2 weeks later. Once I had some cancellations made in my letter and it was rejected and I was told to write again without erasures. Since I had all the time in the world with nothing to do, I read. But the books are not given to you immediately. You only get the books about 2 days after you had requested them. The reason for the 2 day delay is because the books have to be cleared by a censor, whatever that means. I read about 6 books while in jail. Had I anymore more books, I would have read more, but that was all I had. You see, in prison, there is absolutely nothing to do, being locked up 23 hours a day. In fact, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong if you would call it, a full room service hotel with no stars.

During my time there, US Consul Learned Dees visited me and provided consular assistance. Just before my release, Jamie Revitz took over from Learned Dees and met me twice.

On one occasion, I had told Rehabilitation Officer Mohammed Fahmi that I was unhappy to be forced to suffer the indignity every day of having to strip naked before a prison warden before going to the yard and opening my mouth. I told him that I was contemplating disobeying that rule since it was totally unnecessary and demeaning of a human being. A little while later this officer came to see me and asked me to sign a disciplinary warning that I had threatened to disobey a prison regulation and that I was being warned for a violation. I refused. I said that the way the report was written did not reflect what actually happened.

A little while later the Officer Commanding of Block A, my cell block, Assistant Superintendent of Prisons G Savier came to see me. He is an Indian Tamil. He appeared to relish the fact that I was in prison because I criticized a judge. I told him that I refused to sign something that was inaccurate. After some discussion, another warden came to see me. He asked me to take my box from my room and follow him. He took me to another cell, where I was to be all alone. This cell had a camera inside. This was solitary confinement. He locked me inside. As I knew that I cannot win in an argument in prison, regardless of how right I was, I asked G. Savier if I could now sign whatever he wanted. I then signed the document that he prepared even though it was not what had actually happened. I was prepared to sign anything he wanted. I knew that in prison, they are always right. I signed it, and I was returned to my own cell with my cell mates. I escaped solitary.

What they are trying to do in prison is to humiliate you. To humble you. To make you submit. For instance each time an officer speaks to you, you are ordered to squat down on the floor. You are not allowed to speak to him standing up. I tried to avoid squatting on the floor as much as I can by saying that my foot hurt.

While in prison, I was not allowed a single visitor other than the US Consul, even though I gave the wardens several names of people that I would like a visit from. I wrote to them in prison stationary asking them to visit. But I was told that no one applied to visit me. After I was released, I found out from Singapore Democratic Party activists that as many as 15 people applied to visit me. The prison did not allow a single one. I also did not receive a single letter. I do not know whether it was because no one wrote to me, or because the prison did not give me any of the letters.

Throughout my time in prison of 8 weeks, I kept my spirits up. To give myself comfort, I thought of Nelson Mandela who had to spend 26 years in prison. Of Gandhi who spent many years in it. Of Dr. Chee Soon Juan. Of Marwan Bargouti, the Palestinian who is serving a life sentence in an Israeli Jail. Of Ahmed Kathrada in Robbin Island, South Africa. Of Steven Biko who was murdered in custody. And not forgetting Chia Thye Poh and Lim Chin Siong who languished for a long time in Lee Kuan Yew’s jails. Compared to them what was 8 weeks. Cheer up, Gopalan Nair, you are stronger than that, I would say.

Finally the day came for my release. On Nov 20, 2008 I was taken in handcuffs in a prison van to Immigration and Checkpoints Authority next to Lavender MRT. I was processed again, fingerprints taken, my pictures taken and given a warning by Mr. Hughes Tan who works there that I was deported from Singapore. I was allowed 5 days to remain in Singapore to arrange my affairs and to leave Singapore permanently on November 26, 2008 from Changi Airport. I arranged my ticket in the meantime, and then it was Goodbye Singapore forever. I boarded flight SQ2 enroute to Hong Kong and San Francisco.

I had lost a lot of weight. That was one good thing that came out of it. Of course, it was a great adventure. Also a great honor to have been in Lee Kuan Yew’s prison for a cause that I am proud of.

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

Your letters are welcome. We reserve the right to publish your letters. Please Email your letters to And if you like what I write, please tell your friends. You will be helping democracy by distributing this widely. This blog not only gives information, it dispels government propaganda put out by this dictatorial regime.


Anonymous said...

U r one determined tough guy.....I take my hat out to you for standing up to the bullies of S'pore.
What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
I wish you the best and I'm sure you will be vindicated one day after the collapse of the LKY regime.
Regds.....u know who I am.

Anonymous said...

"I thought of Nelson Mandela who had to spend 26 years in prison. Of Gandhi who spent many years in it..."

Mandela was an ANC terrorist when he was imprisoned. He and the ANC did not believe in nonviolence. the 26 years chastened him.

Gandhi was different. The British treated him with respect when he was in jail. He had books to read. Nehru , his disciple wrote
'the Discovery of India' in Jail. They were Templars like you. But what a difference! You are an US citizen and you need not have gone to Singapore. It was an act of trouble-making. If you had stayed in USA and blogged commenting on a Singapore Judge [ as 'prostituting the law (sic)'] no one would have noticed. You did that in Singapore. They took exception to the words you used although it was a metaphor. You see, visitors to USA are subjected to treatment which sometimes is very demeaning. They are profiled and questions asked are to meant to categorize them. As an USA citizen you may not know this kind of treatment meted to visitors. One of my friends travelling to present a paper in an international conference in USA, a professor, was subjected to such humiliation through questions, that he simply returned refusing to enter. Anything goes it appears when the term terrorism is applied. If US citizens entering an European country are subjected to similar treatment, they will realise what a shame it is to go to this extreme. Ask a British attorney, a human rights attorney who appeared for many victims of injustice in US courts. I heard him comment on the treatment of those prisoners in US prisons who were often convicted on such thin evidence which a British court would reject.

If only all the Singaporeans determine, they can change their govt. They seem happy, only the fringe people seem to be agitating.

I would like you to comment on my observation about the treatment of
visitors to the USA at the airport and the fairness of it- should it be so intimate and intense.. It is a democracy and the proof of the pudding is that you should be free to comment.

Anonymous said...

I was a student in the USA during the ‘Watergate Scandal’ and watched the shameful justification coming out of the mouth of then US Attorney General. Nixon did his best to lie and why Woodward had to take such caution in gathering the story? I am not talking about the ‘Deep Throat’ who evidently had to work in secret.

If you had watched the Senate Impeachment Hearings, you would have seen the shameful sight of the Republican Senators, most of them attorneys filibustering the hearings and at times questioning the very patriotism of the
their Democratic colleagues. No one was sure how to get rid of Nixon. Even after the ’18 min’ gap in the tape was discovered and from there what Nixon lied, every one knew that Nixon had to go. But even Walter Cronkite was wondering and assuring himself that Nixon would go. The act of Ford was to
issue a Presidential pardon which many doubted was the deal for Nixon’s exit.

Fathers of friends of mine said how the FBI at that time was running around
pulling in people for questioning, some badly roughened up, several homes mysteriously burgled and documents disappearing… It can happen in a democracy like the USA. I wish you were in USA at that time. My classmates who were wearing ‘impeach RMN ‘ badges were anxiously looking over their shoulders.

What about Bush who won his Presidency, thanks to the Supreme Court judges!

Singapore judges are not unique you see.

What about that little patch of land in Cuba which holds some 'so called terrorists' and who in many cases were picked up through 'rendition' and are never tried! Obama may close this but was USA behaving as a democracy?

You should post this. After all, you live in a 'democracy' there!

Gopalan Nair said...


2 things. There are injustices everywhere including the USA. The cardinal difference is, Americans can question authority. In Singapore you cannot.

Second, "prostituting one's postition or authority" is not a metaphor. It is the plain meaning of the word. It means someone who abuses her position for a base purpose. Just as Judge Ang did to further her career and to please Lee Kuan Yew during the trial of Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee.

In America, the power lies with the people. In Singapore it lies with one man, Lee Kuan Yew. It is that which makes the Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore reprehensible.

And all that you say about Singapore being safe and so on may well be true. So was Hitler's Nazi Germany and Singapore under the Japanese Military Administration. Fear ruled Nazi Germany, Japanese Singapore and Singapore today.

The fundamental thing is the right of the people to hold their government accountable. If you dont have that, you have nothing.

That is why as we speak, Singaporeans are leaving it in droves. Not because there is great calamity, not because of floods, not because of famine, not because of pestilence. They leave becasue they and their families want to live free.

Gopalan Nair said...


You are wrong about Mandela. At the Rivonia trial, he made it clear why he resorted to violence. It was because the aparteid laws of South Africa made it impossible for the Africans to acheive their freedom through the laws as they were written. This left him no alternative but to resort to violence. Although that may be a reason, my position is different. But to say Mandela is a terrosist is to do grave injustice to a great man.

In Singapore, there is no need for violence. The power of the people through non violence and the mistakes made by the dictatorship is sufficient for change.

Gopalan Nair said...

US Prisons house criminals. Not critics of the legal system

Anonymous said...

Mr Nair,

You cleverly avoided my comments about Nixon and how he misused the power in 1970s in the thick of Watergate enquiry. I tell you, Americans felt thoroughly helpless. They were not sure what he will do next. Republican senators supported him. Although he was in his second term and when the cruch came, he had still 2 years to run. Newspapers were conjecturing about Nixon's dictatorship . This may sound crazy now but that was a plausible
conjecture then.

"The cardinal difference is, Americans can question authority"

I disagree.
1. Nixon's time

They did just that through campus protests, Newspapers, meetings and in the visual media. Nixon brushed them aside. When all was done,dusted and over, the Senate majority leader Peter Rodino heaved a sigh of relief and said the American democracy worked.
When asked whether he had any doubts about it, he replied in the affirmative and explained that he was sure Nixon would have gone at the end, but could not hazard a guess when.

2. Bush's election victory handed down by the Supreme Court(SC).

That was farcical. Gore had won by a margin. People spoke but Bush and SC did not listen. I was in Texas at that time and knew how people felt-they were all those who were not neocons, religious right or pro-lifers. They all voted for Gore. They were literally disenfranchised with the strokes of pens in the SC. Power did not lie with people then.

I also knew how the religious right worked and intimidated people in Ohio-Cincinnati, Hamilton Cou etc.. which handed victory to Bush 2nd time by a small margin.

Madela was a terrorist, There is no way of mincing the word. How is he great if he advocated violence? It is the civilised world which brought down the apartheid, not him like Gandhi. The word'great' belongs to people like 'Gandhi' and 'Martin Luther King' and not to (ex-armed) terrorist Mandela.
The British resorted to violence in India too all through early decades of 20th Century-shooting Tiruppur Kumaran dead for carrying the The Indian National flag ( then illegal) in a procession for example. Some armed natives history too for a period. But the greatness of Gandhi was to shun the violence. Mandela did not. The 26 years chastened him. If he had said he supported violence during the 26th year of incarceration, he would not have been released. He knew that ANC methods failed and the world hated apartheid. I wouldn't call him a great man.

I have visited Singapore and stayed there for days at a time. I would not say that it resembled Hitler's Germany. There are stricter laws . But even many Europeans particularly the British want stricter laws enforced in many cases I referred to.

Clearly, you were provoking the arm of law in Singapore by your
comments on judges which was illconceived. You wanted to be arrested, thrown in jail and claim success of an ill-conceived struggle. You were a foreigner while visiting a foreign country insulted the country. Pure and simple. While the Govt let you outside to sweat out, you were saying something like what I said about a woman judge in my earlier posting. If you had done this in Middle East, your head would have been detached by a sharp steel from your body. What if the the court ordered 25 cane strokes? You were treated as fairly as the circumstances permitted.

Singaporeans, the native ones may be leaving, I do not say in droves
(Brits are leaving too from Britain). Others will come in and build the country. That will be the dynamics of Singapore.

As I said before, my suggestion to you is to leave this 'baggage of hate' behind and 'move on' in life. You are no longer a citizen of that country. Let those citizens determine the future of their country without some one'yapping' at the side from outside.

Anonymous said...

"US Prisons house criminals. Not critics of the legal system"

Mr Nair,

Try heavily criticising the 'Patriot Act' and go around states doing this. The FBI will slap 'national security' on you and throw in jail.

You were not merely criticising the legal system but the political system and was aiming personal abuses against the leaders in the govt. All this as a foreigner.
What did you say to the immigration officer when you entered the country? Did you say you are coming to demonstrate and criticise or merely said visiting your native country? If it is former, I say the govt treated you fairly. Why did they not stop you at immigration? That is intriguing.

Gopalan Nair said...


Sorry to dissappoint appoint you by not moving on, if that means stop writing the blog. Obvioulsy you are taking me very seriously, as seen by your writings. This is good.

If I was inconsequential, you would not be spending so much time on me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Norman Who Speaks From His Ass:

If you believe that Gopalan Nair should 'move on' BECAUSE he is an American - please conveniently obliterate all memory of his persecution by the Singapore government WHILE he was still a Singaporean - then why do you, someone who claims to be a European, insist on '(dis)similarly' interfering in Singapore's internal affairs?

Let me guess: interference is welcome/acceptable so long as you are licking the Singapore government's ass and no matter what your citizenship is, but definitely not when you are criticizing them no matter what your citizenship is.

Thank you, but NO THANK YOU, you pigement-deficient white boy.

We Singaporeans WANT our critical abilities to be developed and I personally welcome Gopalan Nair's role in helping us do that.

Instead, I am telling YOU to F**K back to Europe and SHUT THE F**K UP!

Anonymous said...

Mr Nair,

I see you quite craftily skirted away responding to my comments about Nixon, Bush and Patriot Act. The latter is as draconian as anything that Yew could design.
That combined with 'rendition' has given USA a bad name. But then what can you expect from a President who thinks deliriously God blessed him to invade another country! I do not see Obama doing much, a Carter mark 2 and the rightwingers will be back again, headed by Sarah Palin.

Taking you seriously? I would do it if you throw away your baggage and start writing something people could read instead of this rant. For a start, why not you blog about your days at the Inns of Court in London. The people you met etc..?

Now, anonymous 1.02: You deserve your govt which Nair is up against. If you care so much about your rights , come out of your hideous secrecy, stand up and be counted. I said what I said in my responses because your country is full of idiots like you, hiding and moaning. You are condemned to this infernal fate. Yew will eventually replace you with an immigrant from China and India who will shut up and do the work.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for that eye-opening first-hand account of your treatment at Lee Kuan Yew's 5-star hotel for political prisoners. Being forced to squat while speaking with prison officers? Squatting naked with all orifices gaping open for the camera? It appears Lee learned his disgusting lessons in debasement well from his time collaborating with the dreaded Japanese Kempeitai thugs in WW2. When questioned about the man-handling of his ISD-abused political foes, he is said to have claimed, "Well, at least I didn't kill them".

Yeah, right. One has to ask which is the greater sin: subjecting a dissident to a swift, brutish death or brutalising him mentally with slow, deliberate, psychological torture and sadistic humiliation designed to deprive him of every last shred of self-respect? What word would adequately describe this would-be world statesman, Cambridge law graduate, and revolting oppressor of his own people? How about "UGH!" ?

Gopalan Nair said...

My dear Norman,

I am writing a blog. I am not having a debate with you. So please, I dont have to answer your questions. You are obvioulsy trying to persuade the reader that Singapore is a great place. I wish you luck. I am posting your comments on the blog. Surely that is enough. You are getting the exposure you want.

And the reader can decide for himself. Surely that is fair. You can rest assured that unless there are obscenities and and clearly unacceptable language, your posts will see the light of day.

So Norman do keep writing. I will put them up.

It is clear we disagree. But that does'nt prevent writing.

Anonymous said...


Do please continue to publish every single one of these hopelessly desperate attempts by the PAP brigade to silence your voice. It's highly amusing to observe the tactics they employ in the fond belief that readers will be taken in by their comical good-cop/bad-cop routine.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner we have 'Thomas' and his countless 'Anon' clones specialising in crude personal insults, the more outrageous the better, and taking the greatest delight in rolling in the gutter — schadenfreude with bells on, you could say. All done in the worst possible Engrish and taste, naturally.

And in the blue corner we have the rather more emollient persona of 'Norman', an EXTREMELY well-travelled, urbane 'European' (not Singaporean of course, good heavens, never) who 'has visited Singapore', 'does not support the Singapore government' and has an unusual number of friends who have been dreadfully mistreated, especially by democratic countries, in particular the US and UK, natch. So, surely what's sauce for the UK/US goose must be sauce for the Singapore gander, he implies, innocence personified. LOL, we believe your hypothesis, Norman, really we do!

Norman claims to have been present during the Watergate scandal in 1972 and recounts with barely concealed delight Republican senators being 'unpatriotic', the FBI 'beating people up and breaking into homes' and his classmates 'being intimidated'. Hey, if the USA can do it he implies, why pillory the Singapore government, right? Except he carefully omits the bottom line — that President Nixon was forced from office and died in disgrace, that every single one of the dirty tricks squad (Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt, et al) were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and sentenced to years in jail, and that justice was rendered to the American people without fear or favour.

And that was only for a burglary! One wonders what Norman would have made of this scandal: the Workers' Party complaint in 1997 to the police that Mr Goh Chok Tong, Dr Tony Tan and Brigadier-General (NS) Lee Hsien Loong had been caught inside a Cheng San GRC polling station on Polling Day, an offence under paragraph (d) or (e) of section 82(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act and surely, an act of far more serious consequence. What were they up to — fiddling the ballot? — the mischievous might reasonably ask.

Section 82 (1)(d) provides that - "No person shall wait outside any polling station on polling day, except for the purpose of gaining entry to the polling station to cast his vote".

Section 82 (1)(e) provides that - "No person shall loiter in any street or public place within a radius of 200 metres of any polling station on polling day."

And Attorney General (now Chief Justice, *pat, pat*) Chan Sek Keong's Solomonic verdict?

"Plainly, a person inside a polling station cannot be said to be within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station. A polling station must have adequate space for the voting to be carried out. Any space has a perimeter. The words "within a radius of 200 metres" ' therefore mean "200 metres from the perimeter of" any polling station.

The above interpretation is fortified by the context of the provision. The polling station, as a place, is distinguished from a street or public place. It is not a street or a public place. Hence, being inside a polling station cannot amount to being in a street or in a public place. By parity of reasoning, loitering in a street or public place cannot possibly include loitering in the polling station itself and vice versa."

Muahahaha! Cough, cough, ahem! Oops, sorry, must run the vacuum cleaner - bit of kangaroo hair got up my nose.

Sauce for the gander, please, Norman?

Btw, between Mandela being a terrorist and Gandhi a trouble-maker, mark my words, it won't be too long before Norman tries whale song to make his point.

Anonymous said...

"Try heavily criticising the 'Patriot Act' and go around states doing this. The FBI will slap 'national security' on you and throw in jail."

Norman, do you really enjoy being beaten up in cyberspace? Simply type 'patriot act criticism' into any search engine and wallow in page after page of fierce debate both for and against it by, yes, Americans, American news feeds, and American websites. Go on, it's called 'free speech' in case you don't understand the concept, and you won't end up in Gitmo.

Amongst the critics you will find a US District Judge and a Portland attorney, no less. Neither of them are in the slammer squatting with their orifices agape for their jailors and camera to goggle at.

"27th Sept 2007:

A federal judge today struck down provisions of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, adding fuel to the politically charged debate over the controversial law.

US District Judge Ann Aiken slammed Patriot Act amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for eviscerating the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects against unwarranted government searches, and can only be modified by further constitutional amendment.

Judge Ann Aiken ruled that FISA "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment".

"For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."

The case was brought by Brandon Mayfield, a Portland attorney whose life was turned upside down by the feds after he was mistakenly fingered by the FBI for involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Mayfield settled for $2m, but retained the right to challenge the Patriot Act in court.

Judge Aiken dismissed the government's arguments with extreme prejudice, accusing the US attorney general's office of "asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so"."

Now THAT'S democracy at work, norman.

Anonymous said...

Norman Wisdom

I know who you are. It is a pity you use a psudonym. Suddenly a guy 'norman wisdom' crops up from no where and quotes judges!!! That is really funny!!!!!

You don't have any wisdom left in your grey cells. I did not say Gandhi a trouble maker. You forget anything short of Supreme Court judgement is not going to help. Hence all provisions of the 'Patriotic Act'stays. These judges you quote are tinkering at the edges. All the FBI has to do is to slap 'national security' and anything goes.

I do not claim to be in USA in Nixon's time. I was there and know more than you about Nixon's machinations. Ask any one who lived in that period, they will tell you how Nixon was manipulating and getting away with his misdeeds. He did not die in disgrace, he was rehabilitated.

Obviously, you can't read properly what I wrote. Before jumping on Singapore or any other govt, just look at what is going on in your backyard. You want Singapore to have a Western style democracy. Can you find such a democracy anywhere in ethnic SE Asia, leaving out Australia and NZ? It took hundreds of centuries for Britain to evolve what it is today. Even there, the terrorism act is used to confiscate civilian assets of Icelandic bank, recently arrest and harass a prominent opposition member of parliament sending out anti-terrorist armed police to fetch him for questioning for 8 hours. The Brown govt which did it, including Brown when in opposition handled the same kind of leaks as this member of parliament is accused of. That is happening in a country of Magna Carta, the country which gave legal framework to the world and the country which has mother of all parliaments. Singapore is just a new nation and will take longer to evolve but any one knows that it cannot be a Western style of demoacacy. Even India, with its democracy has problems and the govt state and local have too much power. Today, in Tamil Nadu ruled by Karunanudhi, his minions roam and beat up badly anyone who criticises him in public. A Hindu religious leader was arrested , a pious man and was thrown in jail a few years ago. Politicins manipulate media and use police every state.

Singapore ruled by Chinese majority will never have a Western style democracy as cultures differ they way they practice. Unless China becomes a Western style democracy, Singapore will remain the way it is now.

'Norman Wisdom' the hydra, take note of what Ihave written!

Anonymous said...

'Norman Wisdom' or Goplan Nair I presume!

It was stupid of you to blurt out that you will not be 'moving on' which I asked Goplan Nair and to which 'Norman Wisdom'replied that he will not 'move on'! See the comment in the previous blog posting.

Gopalan Nair, You think that I am rebuttal machine of Yew. I can assure you that I am not. I live
thousands of miles away from Singapore in Europe. My IP address should tell you. I stumbled on to your ranting blog by accident.

Let me say that I studied in USA during 1970s, worked under many brilliant scientists and engineers.
What I say about Nixon etc.. is from my first hand experience of meeting and talking to people. I still like that country, visit there often, have many ex-students and relatives there. But.....

'Norman Wisdom' laughs when I said British kids are becoming illiterates. All he has to do is to check various education web sites in the UK. I know more than him, indeed more than any one who blogs here about the state of education in Britain, the indiscipline, the thuggery, the crime that the kids are afflicted with. 'Norman Wisdom' quotes Rowling and I too can quote Pinter, Lessing and other Nobel Prize winners who are British. But that is not real Britain. the real Britain today is in crime ridden Brixton, the plethora of illegal immigrants coming and enjoying benefits, the single teenage mothers, the work shy locals, the politics which has become a cynical exercise-the Blair and Brown etc..There is a huge underdog of semi-educated youngsters in Britain. One only has to see the litters in the subway, streets, the mugging, the knifing to understand that some strong dosage of discipline is needed. Some purpose is needed and many say Singapore provides it.
They say the pendulum has swung too far the other side in Britain and Europe.

I say it again. Singapore will never become a Western style democracy. It is not racist as 'Norman Wisdom' or Nair implies, that is a fact. There is no pluralist thinking. Chinese culture good as it is cannot embrace the Western democracy unless the China itself undergoes political metamorphosis. How do I know this. In the past 40 years I have taught students of American, Indian, Chinese, Arab, Israeli and European origins. Two clearly stand out- the Arabs and Chinese who do not know pluralism in thinking. Pity theirs are ancient cultures.

Hence I see the futility of 'Norman Wisdom' or shall we say Nair's rants. He has an agenda, a political agenda. the way he misunderstood what I wrote
tells me that he is short of reality check. He is a lawyer from one of the inns in the City of London. But he is too smitten by his baggage. he has to 'move on'. Otherwise, he will die a miserable person, ranting and raving. He comes from a good Keralite cultural stock which produced the Great Shankaracharya.
I suggest, you read his 'Bhajagovindam' verses, full of
gems of wisdom. That should tell you though I am an European, I am of Indian orgin. Countless saints were born and preached in India. Produced scientists from Arya Bhatta to Chandrasekhar, the last Nobel Laureate. The land of Gandhi has democracy which is faulty. Indian political leaders are getting away with what Yew is doing. See Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi or Karnataka Deve Gowda. These are thugs in the mould of Yew, if you will. I say no more.

Politics are for the scoundrels.
Hence 'Norman Wisdom' or Nair or any other Hydra, you and I do not have many years life in this world. Rant as you will, but I suggest forget politics and do some thing more useful to your adopted country. I have my ex-students in Silicon Valley, yes I am computer scientist. Why did I get so much time for blogging. I enjoy arguments. I irritate Indian blogs when I say that Mumbai terrorists acts were waiting to happen. I say to them do not blame Pakistan, blame yourselves that is Indian political leaders, who are corrupt, short-sighted and selfish. That country can be great again, if only the Yews there are flushed out.

Finally, I have expertise in Biology, Biochemistry, Computing, Sanskrit,
Indian classical music,
English Literature and History. I am busy.


Anonymous said...

Mr Nair,

I said 'bye' in my last comment. I will say this and fade away.

Why do you think so many Indians, not Singapore Indians, but Indian Indians who studied and worked in Britain and USA have come to Singapore? Look at them in numbers in NUS and Nanyang. Many worked In America for years. They say that they want to bring up their kids in a country sans crime,drugs, thuggery and direction. For them unlike you, Yew matters very little. I know other scientists and engineers of Indian Indian origin studied in Europe and USA working in Singapore for the same reason.

For you it is politics and for them it is the environment in which thy bring up their kids. You may laugh. That is the reality. They are not stupid but very smart.
Singaporeans may go to USA, Australia and NZ in search of political freedom. But will they be happy there? Theyonly discover after they have children.

Many thosands of Indians-American Indians returned to India. Main reason- they do not want their kids to be so independent in their formative years that drugs and girls become the norm for them. They dislike the way their kids question their parents and argue. Who would blame them?

I am happy in Europe with my family. Would not change it even for USA where I studied and worked.

But There are two sides to every story. Yours is politics and mine is real life.


Anonymous said...

I will relish the day when PM Lee is Prisoner number 1290682009.
The day will come very soon.

Anonymous said...

To "Norman said".

From your posts you seem to be a very disgruntled person.
You have complaints about almost every other person. You complain about Bush, Mandela, Hitler etc etc.
Heck you even complain about the children of those who emigrated.
In fact from what you write you seem to have a quarrel with everyone. You portray the image of a very unhappy person.
But strangely you at the same time self praise yourself and also state that you have expertise in history, biology, computing, Indian classical music, Sanskrit, rocket science etc. etc. Seriously, you need help. You appear delusional.
You apparently did not make it good in life.
You might just call in at the IMH in Singapore. I hear Singapore has excellent facilities.

Anonymous said...

"'Norman Wisdom' or Goplan Nair I presume!"

You presume wrong, Sherlock. I have to say that for such a self-proclaimed jack of all trades and long-term resident in the West, your ability to pick up on the nuances of English prose does leave rather a lot to be desired. Leaving aside the nutty idea of Gopalan posting on his own blog under another name, only the merest cursory glance would be necessary to show the glaring differences in style and choice of phrase between Norman Wisdom and Gopalan Nair.

If you knew the slightest thing about Singapore, you'd have understood that the phrase "let's move on" is notorious for having been recently uttered by a senior cabinet minister in an attempt to brush aside the government's cock-up in losing the (alleged) master terrorist that they had in custody. It has ever since been the butt of mockery, scorn, and countless bitter remarks up and down the land. And you failed to pick up on the irony? You also came to the simplistic conclusion that only a lawyer like Gopalan Nair would cite judicial references, therefore Norman Wisdom must be he? Now would be a good time to engage brain before putting mouth in gear, dude!

I suggest that therein lies your problem — you're a non-Singaporean attempting to pontificate on matters Singaporean. You haven't a clue what undercurrents roil beneath the peaceful calm of the nation nor what ails its people. Yet you somehow feel qualified to prescribe a status quo panacea and arrogantly assert that 'Singapore will never become a Western style democracy' because Chinese and Indian cultures preclude 'pluralist' thought. Hmm. You're someone of Indian ethnicity living in Europe. Do you hold pluralist perceptions? If you managed it then what precludes others from doing the same? If you don't then why should anyone pay the slightest attention to your obviously illiberal views?

Tell you what, Norman, you come across like the travel writer who on the basis of a week in a country thinks he knows all there is to know about it and commits silly faux pas like referring to Lee Kuan Yew as 'Yew' without realising that Chinese place their surnames first, unlike the Europeans. You either call him 'Lee' or 'Kuan Yew'. Otherwise it would be like my leaving off the 'Nor' and calling you 'man', get it? You must have annoyed more than a few of your Chinese students, I suspect.

Jumping in with both feet after glancing at one or two of Gopalan's latest posts is simply not good enough, my man. You need to read the rest and follow the links before you're up to speed to discuss the Singaporean angst over National Service, Foreign 'Talent', obscene ministerial salaries and marsupial judiciaries, to name but a few sore points.

Btw, did you know that British comic Norman Wisdom is one of China's most recognised and popular comedians? I picked the name with mischief aforethought.

Anonymous said...

Final response to some calling himself 'norman wisdom' and another one called 'anonymous'.

My real name is norman- norman kumar. I pity you guys living in Singapore and commenting using pseudonyms. Very clever 'norman wisdom', why did you spring up from nowhere and said you are not moving on! I did not address you! I seem to have not noticed you in Mr Nair's blog before. Where were you, hiding from the SPF?

The day you guys start protesting like Mr Nair ( I have disagreed with him but cannot question his bravery for taking on Yew in person (I will use the name the way I want to use it)using your own name, that day will be the deliverance for your country. Until then you deserve the regime you have. The chances of Singapre becoming a Western style democracy are nil as long as you guys rant and rave using pseudonyms. Cowardice is the name comes to my mind.

I am OK guys, healthy, have a good salary and freedom to speak in my country using my own name!!!

Don't bother to respond. I am away.

Anonymous said...

Heh. My real name is Norman Kumar Wisdom — Norman Wisdom for short but not for long. What makes you think it's a pseudonym?

Ho hum. First it's 'I am busy. Bye.', then it's 'I said 'bye' in my last comment. I will say this and fade away. Bye.', and now it's 'Final response to ... Don't bother to respond. I am away.'

Can't you make up your mind whether you're coming or going, Mar? How can you expect to be taken seriously when you vacillate like a woman torn between two lovers? Admit it Mar, your arguments are shallow, the untenable in pursuit of the insupportable. But on behalf of the ISD, may we thank you anyway for your wise advice that democracy will blossom just as soon as people in Singapore start ranting and raving using their real names.

So is it really farewell this time? Boo-hoo-hoo, sniff, snuffle, sob! Goodbye, Mr. Chips...

Anonymous said...

To Norman Kumar.
My real name is Anonymous Antonio Gonzalves.
I am shocked that a person who claims to have such an excellent education spanning from during the Nixon era and such varied interests which include expertise in rocket science has still to work as an employee and not as the employer.

Get a life Norman Bates, sorry Kumar.

By the way which country are you writing from.

Anonymous said...

Aiyah Gopalan, I tell you lah, you can't get anywhere with these heroics because you are not Brad Pitt lah!

Alamak, you and Chee are small fries, nobody knows you, the media won't be interested. You think the world or the world's media care about 2 kuching kuraps in jail in Singapore? Got better and bigger issues to follow lah! If you are Brad Pitt and Chee is Angelina Jolie, then kena lah publicity, but who want to report or care about you two? I suggest ah, you go get brad pitt lah, he lives somewhere near you in LA what, you tell him to come to Singapore and start chaos, then it will become big news lah, then maybe all the whole world will care (like how he's doing for Darfur). You, and Chee, you think people care meh? You think your small prison stint make the world sit up meh? If it was Brad Pitt who was made to squat naked and open his mouth, tentulah the world will know, so either you become famous or you ask brad to come to Singapore lah and do some naughty business, because you wasting your time with this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Powerful blog entry there!
U should consider writing a book. Serious.

Anonymous said...

What a bad english you have there. 1st world country? hahahahahaha
ah, lah, kuching kuraps, meh.

and the wonder Mr. Lee's campaign is still "Speak Good English"

Anonymous said...

To Norman Kumar,
You are a typical Indian. BIG ego. Knows ALL. And always have something to say. But really do nothing, for self or community! I know your type. Have worked in India. Seen them all.

And Heh Nair! Many Thanks for doing what you are doing. Chins up. All will be fine one day. After all Evil must perish and Good must prevail, all ways.

Anonymous said...

"On occasion we had Nasi Lemak which was small pilchards fried and peanuts and curry paste."

Wow! And you are still complaining?

You are in prison remember?

Anonymous said...


Not withstanding your other comments, I ABSOLUTELY AND STRONGLY agree with the following:

"Now, anonymous 1.02: You deserve your govt which Nair is up against. If you care so much about your rights , come out of your hideous secrecy, stand up and be counted. I said what I said in my responses because your country is full of idiots like you, hiding and moaning. You are condemned to this infernal fate. Yew will eventually replace you with an immigrant from China and India who will shut up and do the work."

SINKaporeans should really learn not to sing praises for the emeroro's new clothes when its so obvious that he;s not wearing one.

Misnomer said...

Thanks for that post. Most Singaporeans are just conformists because we know all the stories of opposition leaders. Hopefully we'll be able to truly voice our opinions and get a better sense of democracy.

It is really sickening to know that all this happens within Singapore, and even now as I write this post I have to wonder if the government keeps tags on this blog. Hopefully not.

Being the average brainwashed student I wouldn't have known much of the true political situation if I wasn't in debate.

Best wishes to you and your family.