Thursday, February 17, 2011

Singapore's secret punishment, confiscating your passport

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Alan Shadrake, the British author who was arrested in July 2010, in Singapore after he wrote a book which did not please the island's strongman Lee Kuan Yew is still in Singapore. He is literally a prisoner in the island, meaning, the island's police have confiscated his British passport thereby preventing him from leaving Singapore these last 6 months!

As far as I know, Singapore has not given him a work permit to work to maintain himself this long time, which means, unless you are a millionaire and can stay in hotels in Singapore at your own expense indefinitely, don't ever commit any offense in that island, because they will not only punish you, they would also financially ruin you as well.

Without a passport Shadrake cannot leave the island, and Lee Kuan Yew has instructed the airport not to let you leave, even if your embassy gave you another passport!

I guess the plan of this banana republic is this, it is not enough that you are punished by the court, you should also be ruined financially by forcing you to spend every penny you had, max out every credit card you have, and ruin your credit, by forcing you to keep spending your money in board and lodging in Lee Kuan Yew's island paradise for as long as they want!

I have read in Singapore's state controlled press that Shadrake had applied to leave the country and had promised to return for his trial, but they would allow no such thing. They told him that unless he put up an enormous sum of money, something like $80,000.00 in security, they insist that he remain in the island, and ruin himself!

Anyone can see that this is a disgraceful way to treat foreigners who ran foul of the law in Singapore. I can fully appreciate if the defendant is accused of serious crimes such as murder and has been denied bail. In such a case, one can understand why they won't let him go.

But Shadrake has not been detained. He is on bail. What is more, his arrest and conviction is illegal as a violation of his human rights of free speech. Even if it was a crime under Singapore's laws, it is a very minor one after all. In such a case there can be no justification at all to detain his passport and financially ruin him by refusing to let him leave and carry on with his life.

I am not suggesting at all that foreigners be treated any better than locals. But I am suggesting that the realities of a foreigner forced to remain in Singapore for long perioods should not be forgotten.

It is obvious that their situation is not the same as those living in that island. A Singaporean on bail is not prejudiced as he carries on with his normal daily life, continues to earn a living while the law takes it's course. But foreigners are different. They don't live there. They earn a living elsewhere. By forcing them to remain within the island for months or years at a time, by confiscating their passports is unjustly punishing him twice.

Singapore is a country that has no sense of decency or proportion whatsoever. It appears as a country with no shame. It simply does not care what anybody else thinks of them.

Any decent country worth it's salt would have some concern what the international community thinks of them. In a case involving a foreigner charged with a minor offense such as this, they should realise that he would be unfairly prejudiced if he is not dealt with immediately. Foreigners should be charged immediately, their cases heard within a few days and if there is an appeal, that too should be dealt with expeditiously. If that is not possible, they should be given work permits to earn an income for their upkeep over the long months. Merely confiscating their passports to ruin them financially is really a shameful act.

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

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Anonymous said...

Alan Shadrake's passport was confiscated but Singapore grant passports for companies to trade who are on the SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) List of the US Dept of Treasury.

Included in the list are:

NATIONAL IRANIAN OIL COMPANY PTE LTD, 7 Temasek Boulevard #07-02, Suntec Tower One 038987, Singapore; Registration ID 199004388C (Singapore); all offices worldwide [IRAN]

P.C.C. (SINGAPORE) PRIVATE LIMITED (a.k.a.P.C.C. SINGAPORE BRANCH; a.k.a. PCC SINGAPORE PTE LTD), 78 Shenton Way, #08-02 079120, Singapore; 78 Shenton Way, 26-02A
Lippo Centre 079120, Singapore; Registration ID 199708410K (Singapore); all offices
worldwide [IRAN]

P.C.C. SINGAPORE BRANCH (a.k.a. P.C.C.(SINGAPORE) PRIVATE LIMITED; a.k.a. PCC SINGAPORE PTE LTD), 78 Shenton Way, #08-02 079120, Singapore; 78 Shenton Way, 26-02A
Lippo Centre 079120, Singapore; Registration ID 199708410K (Singapore); all offices
worldwide [IRAN]

Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore colludes with the criminally rich but bullies the righteous poor. All for the love of $$$$. Lee Kuan Yew is morally bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

A notable conclusion by Lawyers Rights Watch Canada in 2007 on the rule of law in Singapore is as follows:

"A number of factors amply demonstrate that Singapore is not governed by the rule of law.

These factors include: a demonstrated lack of independence of lawyers to stand between the state and citizens without fear of reprisals, inadequate statutory safeguards of the independence of the judiciary, a perception of executive influence over the judiciary in cases involving PAP interests, the stifling of public debate regarding issues of public importance through laws restricting freedom of assembly and freedom of expression to a degree incompatible with democracy, the threat of arbitrary arrest and detention through use of the ISA, and, the use, by members of the executive and the PAP, of defamation suits to punish and incapacitate government critics and members of opposition parties.

Indicated as curative measures are: ratification by Singapore, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and enactment of the law reforms required to bring domestic legislation into compliance with the ICCPR and also with international standards safeguarding the independence of the judiciary and that of lawyers, protecting freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and preventing arbitrary detention."

And to quote Aung San Suu Kyi

"I think this is the case in the great majority of authoritarian states:
on the surface, because of repression, everything seems frozen,
but when the sun comes out and the ice melts, you find that there
was a lot of life underneath all along. ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

:-) said...

I too am in a similar situation, however I do not have the years mr shadrake has behind him and his career as a published writer. I am 25 years old and came to Singapore to work and build a career for myself, my company went bust and I was allowed to leave, only to return 6 months later and be arrested at the immigration line at changi. I was only coming for one day for an interview, so far my bail was allowed to lapse and there has been no charge placed against me however they see fit to keep my passport while they investigate mis goings on at my previous company. I have supplied all this evidence they required to prove I had nothing to do with whatever I was being accused of (lying to my boss) and I now have been forced to stay here until the investigation is over. I don't hav much money and my mother is extremely Ill and I have produced hospital and doctors letters to back this up, yet they drag their heels. The only crime is the Singapore government is allowed to do this to people, if it was the uk there would be human rights involved, better yet I would not have been arrested in the first place! If this is not sorted by next week I will be out of cash and living on the streets of Singapore. In Which they wi probably arrest me for.

Anonymous said...

@ Chris : What happened to your case than. even I have same issue. i am here working on Employment pass. Some one complained about me wrongly and they detained my passport. its already 2 months passed but they said they are investigating. I see no response from them from last 1 month. My EP is expiring after one month. to apply new job or renewal I need my passport. I dont know what to do. Can you please tell me what happened to case later. So it will help me set my next step.

Jenna said...

Please anyone updates? I am in the same boat; its impossibly expensive and frustrating

Jenna said...

Please anyone updates? I am in the same boat; its impossibly expensive and frustrating