Thursday, July 30, 2009

Singapore. A useless legal system, beyond the reach of the ordinary man

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore Island's state controlled newspaper the Straits Times Online edition of July 31, 2009 has this story, "Deposit for appeal doubles. Bigger sum to keep pace with costs likely to be awarded". This is not the first time court costs in that island has increased; it has steadily been increasing over the years to what it is today, completely unaffordable levels. You will not be wrong to say that the courts are beyond the reach of the ordinary man. They serve only the rich.

I do not know the exact figures. While I was in Singapore last year for 6 months, many had told me this. A court case in the Subordinate Courts requires many hundreds of dollars in filing fees. In addition, each day of trial requires several hundred dollars to be paid to the court each day. In the High Court, it is double that. Several thousand dollars. Each trial day in the court there requires the payment of thousands of dollars each day. And unlike in the US or other civilized countries, there is no provision of fee waiver for indigents.

The result of all this is to deny ordinary people access to the courts unless they have the money. How meritorious your case is irrelevant. As is said in common parlance "No money no talk". In this case "No money, go to Hell".

This is not the only fact keeping litigants away from Singapore's courts. The other is the lack of respect for these courts. Repeatedly Lee Kuan Yew's government has over the years given full publicity in their state controlled press for political show trials, like they did in Russia, deliberately reminding the people again and again that there is no rule of law.

You recall how much publicity the entire state controlled media gave to the late JB Jeyaretnam, Lee Kuan Yew's arch opponent being humiliated, punished, sent to jail, bankrupted and impoverished by Lee kuan Yew's judges. Make no mistake about this. Lee Kuan Yew while perverting justice for his political ends in these many show trials was all along fully aware that people knew JB Jeyaretnam was innocent. What Lee Kuan Yew was doing was to send a message. He wants people to know that despite the law, Lee Kuan Yew can finish anyone he wants, like he did to JB Jeyaretnam.

It was the same old story with all his political opponents, Francis Seow, Chia Thye Poh, Tang Liang Hong, the honest decent people falsely termed "Marxist Conspirators", myself, Jufrie Mahmood, Dr. Chee Soon Juan! Lee's actions were, as you can see deliberate. He wanted to firmly and surely send the message that there is no rule of law in Singapore. He, Lee Kuan Yew is the law, take it or leave it. And with this he has succeeded in instilling in every humble Singaporean's mind that the law is there for the PAP elite and sympathisers. The law is not for Dr. Chee or any of us.

With both these hurdles, money for one and government influence over a corrupt judiciary for another, the law is not only inaccessible because of the expense, it is also unattractive because of the the judiciary's corruption, being beholden to the dictator Lee Kuan Yew.

It is no suprise therefore to see that Singapore has insufficient lawyers, less that 3,000; and people have become so helpless with no recourse to the law, they just live accepting anything that this dictatorship throws at them in silence. What else can they do in this hopeless situation, with this hopeless lives they live?

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

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Anonymous said...

Take a look at David Widjaja case even after spending huge sum of money they are denied justice.

Singapore is no first world country. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT.

It's a thoroughly bastardized system. It's equal are North Korea and Myanmar.


Anonymous said...

Singaporean court rules David committed suicide

Erwida Maulia , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 07/30/2009 12:40 PM | Headlines

The Singaporean Coroners Court ruled Wednesday that David Hartanto Widjaya, an Indonesian who was studying at the city-state's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), committed suicide by jumping from a campus building.

The court said in its verdict that David, 21, committed suicide after allegedly stabbing his professor with a kitchen knife, The Straits Times reported.

Witnesses had said David was seen, covered in blood, leaving the office of NTU professor Chan Kap Luk before throwing himself off the building on March 2.

The coroner's inquiry into the engineering student's death turned up strong evidence that David had been planning to kill himself, a possibility his family has repeatedly dismissed.

The court heard that David searched the Internet for ways to commit suicide and murder before he plunged to his death.

Text taken from the undergraduate's laptop showed he searched Google for "a good way to commit suicide" and the 10 most common suicide methods. He also searched for murder methods, according to Senior Sergeant Joe Ng Suan Teck, who conducted a forensic examination of David's laptop.

Teck told the court the text fragments he had extracted included Internet searches and links to web sites on both suicide and murder.

His examination of the laptop also found what appears to be a suicide note. The unsigned document, titled "Last Words", was created on Jan 25 and left unamended.

In the note, which begins "If this e-mail is sent, that means I am no longer in this world", the writer painted a picture of an unhappy family situation, saying he became "hardened" and stopped crying after he turned 16. "I just don't have any more tears to shed for other people."

The writer said he "found life much more difficult and complicated" after entering university.

David's family, who believe their son was murdered, had complained to Singaporean authorities because their request that his laptop and digital hard disk be returned to them was denied.

The family pledged to "continually seek justice" after the verdict was handed down.

David's father, Hartono, said graphic pictures of his corpse - with defence wounds - suggested that he had not committed suicide.

"I will go on. I will go to the edge of the world to find justice. I will never feel content as long as David's murderer still walks freely out there," Hartanto told The Jakarta Post via telephone from Singapore.

Hartono said he was not surprised with the court's verdict, saying that from the beginning the judges had only accepted testimony from witnesses on the NTU's side and rejected those submitted by the family.

He also expressed his disappointment with the Indonesian government, which had provided no support or legal aid to the family.

"The results might be different had the Indonesian authorities been involved; had they put political pressure on Singapore to settle the case fairly."