Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Singapore's apathetic lawyers

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Starting from the first letter of the alphabet, A, a search on Singapore's lawyers would reveal an astonishing fact, which is, Singapore's lawyers display an almost total disinterest in lawyering, when it comes the most important duty of a lawyer, and upon which every other law depends, the defense of human rights!

And I am not just talking about a few lawyers, but the entire legal profession in that island is that way. They have no interest at all in defending any client who claims his human rights have been violated! They never have, and they never will.

Beginning with the letter A, lets start with one of the largest law firms in the country, Khattar Wong and Partners. It's website shows under the letter A, Abdul Rashid Gani. He is listed as a Senior Partner. His practice areas encompass almost every speciality, from Arbitration to Shipping. He has been practicing in the island for nearly 40 years if not more.

But the disgraceful common denominator between him and every other lawyer there is this; he deliberately distances himself from the most important piece of legislation not only in Singapore but every other civilized country in the world, the

Either he has never heard of articles 14 and the related articles in it, which protect the rights of his countrymen against violations of their rights, which obviously cannot be the case, or even if he has heard of them, he wants nothing to do with it.

For 40 years or so, in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, he, just as his fellow lawyers there, have managed to practice a form of law which has nothing to do with any of these rights and carefully separated those provisions from the other work he does such as contracts!

Gani is about 60 or 70 years old. I am not sure how, this long dexterous two- headed career, which is to pretend to be a full lawyer but actually only half, minus the Constitution, can be rewarding. I wonder whether when he looks at the mirror, does he see a full face of a lawyer or only half the face, devoid of the Constitution!

His law firm is www.khattatwong.com, his Email is abdulrashid@khattarwong.com. Phone; (65)6238 3009. If you contacted him, frankly, I don't think he will have anything definitive to say.

Gani is this way either because he is a man who has no care or concern for the plight of his fellow Singaporean or he is this way because he fears being a real lawyer representing Lee Kuan Yew's victims of persecution will anger the dictator which may have deleterious effects on his career.

But Abdul Rashid Gani is not alone in his unwholesome indifference when it comes to the rights of his fellow men. The entire Singapore legal profession is this way, with the sole exception perhaps of the lawyer who is now making waves in Singapore for defending Alan Shadrake, the English author in trouble for writing a book critical about the Singapore legal system.

Going through the lawyers of this firm we see next Amarjeet Singh Senior Counsel. His seniority has only gone to the extent of defending criminal defendants, but at no time has he ever argued or will dare to argue that these laws which deny the right to free speech and assembly and association are unconstitutional; no he will never do that because that means getting into Lee's bad books which is not good for making money.

You can go down the lawyer list yourself in the firm's website but you will see nothing but bums, all of them. Not a single one there would have stood up for Chee's human rights, a man whose rights have been routinely abused, repeatedly charged and sent to jail.

Not just him. In the entire history of Singapore, there has not been a single lawyer who is prepared to do the obvious, which is, to be a lawyer and not a coward.

And mind you, these men and women are according to Singapore's opinion, the very best lawyers in the country, which begs the question, if these are the best lawyers, then why do we need bad ones!

Many of these men and women are in their late 60s and 70s. With the repeated lawsuits and criminal charges by Lee against human rights activists and foreign newspapers critical of him, Singapore's legal profession has been thoroughly discredited which explains why today they find it almost impossible to get new entrants to the profession.

In fact for an island with 5 million people, my guess is that there are only 3,000 or less lawyers in practice, as the Singapore Law Society refuses to disclose how many lawyers there are. I expect that with the death or retirement of these aging lawyers, the Singapore legal profession may disappear altogether or there will be foreign lawyers from China replacing Singaporean ones.

Lee's and his legal profession's bad name today both locally and abroad is occasioned entirely by the Internet. This blog the Singapore Dissident also hurts him badly since what appears in it is not entirely flattering of him or his legal profession.

But circumstances are simply working against him. Unlike Saudi Arabia, North Korea or Burma, he is unable to muzzle the Internet because the consequences of that is worse for his claimed international city which we know it is not.

As an example this blog's statistics show that for Singapore alone since May 2010, it has had about 160,000 page reviews. That is a great number of people reading Singapore Dissident in Singapore which hurts his plans for total control. This blog and the Internet constantly keeps Singaporeans and the rest of the world reminded as to what dirty tricks are being played on them by the regime to keep them in bondage.

Gani just as all the other so called lawyers in Singapore will continue to push the paper the way Lee Kuan Yew wants and in return they will live their uneventful boring mundane lives. They will never ever really practice the law as lawyers do around the world. They have no burning passions, no strong opinions, no nothing, simply wasted lives and wasted careers lived solely to please a master.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
Email: nair.gopalan@yahoo.com
Blog: http://singaporedissident.blogspot.com/

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Anonymous said...

It behoves the entire Singapore legal fraternity that so little is done to push for Singapore to sign and/or ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (A United Nations Treaty) and they are keeping silent about it. Shame on you Singapore lawyers, even the People's Republic of China and Cuba have signed but yet to ratify. On the other hand Singapore have neither signed nor ratified and rank with the following countries.

Neither signed nor ratified
Antigua and Barbuda
Burma (Myanmar)
Marshall Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saudi Arabia
Solomon Islands
United Arab Emirates
Vatican City (through the Holy See)

What fucking first world oasis are you talking about Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

President Obama or Secretary Clinton please take note of this.

Lawyers in Singapore are duds with no concern for civil and political rights of a basic human being created with unalienable rights of civil liberties.

H. said...

Great article! The soon Singaporeans wake up from their daydream of an international tropical island the better off they will be. Did you hear that Singapore is number ONE in suicide rates? Just checking. Ha.

Anonymous said...

As far as civil liberties go Singapore is a fourth world country on par with Myanmar.

Anonymous said...

In Canada there is a subject taught in many law faculties, namely Human Rights law.
This subject is obviously unheard of in Singapore.
The whole country is becoming disgusting and spineless.

Anonymous said...

How can a country that does not practice human dignity be considered a First World Country!!!

I understand that it is possible to work 7 days a week without leave in Singapore, with passport withheld and be treated like sub-human. That honour goes to the infamous Singapore maid. I told my Singapore sister to treat her maid better, but to deaf ears because the maid is her punching bag after a stressful work day.

There is even a game in Talkingcock to see how many maid can you save, fall from HDB flats.

A First-World nation for some, those who are able to exploit other humans. Hope this will backfire after Lee Kuan Yew dies.

Anonymous said...

You can rename SIngapore lawyers as Singapore royals to the Leempire. What they carry insde their berife case to courts is copies of Lee books, just in case they fumble and hurt him they quickly refer to Lee's book.