Monday, January 2, 2012

Singapore. The secrets of Lee Kuan Yew's criminal legal system

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You may not believe what I am about to say but sadly every word here is true, a report I am writing not only as a lawyer who had practiced in Singapore for 10 years after having been admitted to practice in England, but also as one who was personally a victim of the system.

Firstly Singapore's criminal legal system is designed for one purpose alone, to arrest criminals and others who are a pain in the neck such as political opponents and punish them. To say it another way, the moment you are arrested, your conviction and sentence is certain.

Although at first reading you may say surely every legal system in the world intends the same result. True but not entirely.

Western jurisprudence, both the Anglo Saxon Common Law system and the Roman Dutch Code system among which which the world is divided requires not only that criminals be punished, it also requires that the state ensure criminals (I use this word for ease of reference only) are given certain rights, such as the right to silence, the right to be free from self incrimination and free from illegal searches and seizures, to ensure that the innocent are protected.

NO INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY: All judges in Singapore are selected for their loyalty to Lee Kuan Yew and his government. In other words, they double as PAP politicians. Their purpose is to administer, Lee's way of thinking, which is, rid the streets of criminals thugs and other miscreants. The manner in which this is done is totally irrelevant. Their other very important duty is to punish political dissidents such as Chee Soon Juan, one his his victims who will painfully tell you this. Ask him.

NO JURY TRIALS: Singapore does not have jury trials. Every case is decided by judges who have been specially selected by the government to decide cases as the government wishes. Very often the rich and connected are never arrested for their crimes. The poor ordinary citizen doesn't stand a chance under these government hand-picked judges.

THE SINGAPORE CONSTITUTION IS JUST GARBAGE: Singapore has such a thing as a Constitution like most other countries. The words in there are very nice to hear, but with only one difference. It is only words. None of what is said in there is ever enforced.

CITIZEN NOT TOLD WHY HE IS BEING ARRESTED: When the police go out and arrests a citizen he is not told why he is being arrested. If the arrested person were to ask, he is merely told something like this "We are arresting you under Section 49 of the Penal Code". Nothing more is said. Since most people are not aware of the contents of the Singapore Penal Code, the citizen is literally kept in the dark as to why this is happening to him. This works on his mind psychologically to his disadvantage causing fear and confusion.

IN SINGAPORE, THE CONSTITUTION IS THE BEST KEPT SECRET: Most people in Singapore do not know anything that is written in the Constitution, in fact the vast majority of Singaporeans don't even know that such a thing exists. It is not taught in schools, it is never spoken about and never written about.

EVERY SINGLE PROVISION IN THE CONSTITUTION IS VIOLATED: Although the Constitution is an excellent document to read which gives Singapore citizens their human rights like other civilized countries, in reality they have no rights at all.

LACK OF EDUCATION DENIES JUSTICE: This denial of citizen's rights is worsened by the fact that most people arrested have little or no education. They do not know that they need not incriminate themselves, and the police make every attempt to capitalize on the citizen's ignorance by forcing them to confess.

NO RIGHT TO COUNSEL: In Lee's Singapore, even though the Constitution requires due process of law and the right to counsel, in fact you have no such right. What happens is this: After the police arrest you, they detain you at the police station for many days. During this time you are denied access to a lawyer and are therefore for several days completley at the mercy of the police. They interrogate you over this period, day and night. In almost all cases, the citizen eventually "breaks" or confesses, at which time they get a signed confession, after which they promptly release him on bail to retain a lawyer. Any fool can tell you that by this time, it is too late for any lawyer to do anything. He has already confessed.

POLICE TORTURE: During the time the police detain the person, they extract a confession under torture. The torture is usually not physical but mental. It could be prolonged sleep deprivation, it could be repeatedly waking him at odd hours of the night for repeated interrogation sessions, it could be threatening him and his family members with harm or a combination of these until the victim eventually "breaks" and then they have got him. The police have a nasty habit of taking the prisoner's statements at 3 am in the morning, waking him up when he is fast asleep and demanding a statement. This is done repeatedly at short intervals throughout the night. Having gone through this, the poor citizen would be prepared to sign anything given to him, just to stop this torture.

NO RIGHT TO SILENCE: Although the Constitution mandates the citizen's right to silence and to be free from self incrimination, there is no such right. There is a provision in the law which says that when a person remains silent, the court can infer that he is guilty. So whenever the citizen refuses to give a statement, the verdict of guilt is a foregone conclusion.

SINGAPORE POLICEMEN ARE SELECTED FOR THEIR LACK OF EDUCATION AND UNDERSTANDING: Many Singapore policemen of the lower ranks are Malay and of other races who have no education beyond a rudimentary stage. They have no idea about the Constitution or the laws or that the people are supposed to have rights. They will do exactly as they are told and their main intent is to please their superiors. Their superiors too have very little education, themselves taking orders from the top as to whom to arrest and whom to leave alone. In fact the likelihood of your getting into trouble depends a lot on who you are. If you are a political opponent, the likelihood of your being in trouble is great, regardless of whether you have done anything wrong.

NO RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM ILLEGAL SEARCHES AND SEIZURES: The Constitution does provide for the right to be free form illegal searches and seizures. But in practice, this is never complied with. The police can stop anyone anytime, without any reason, demand a right to check your car, your belongings and your home without any reason at all, or ask you any question they want anytime anywhere. If you refuse, you will be arrested and they will do it anyway. In other words, it is a police state. And every police action is justified and allowed.

LIMITED DISCOVERY: Although the Constitution demands due process, which means, a citizen arrestee is entitled to complete information of the prosecution's case including prosecution witness statements, except for a list of witnesses, the police don't provide any statements from anyone except your own, meaning, for the first time in court, you will hear what they say. In any other jurisdiction which has the rule of law, the citizen is provided with prosecution statements so that he is appraised with what he has facing.

NO FAIR TRIAL: The citizen stands no chance at the trial. His confession is produced as evidence of his guilt. He finds himself in a bind, if he now claims that the confession was involuntary while the police officer testifies otherwise. With a judge determined to show the government that he is doing his job by putting "criminals" away, the poor citizen stands no chance.

ONE LAW FOR SOME, ANOTHER FOR OTHERS: As I have said some get away Scott free because they are connected in high places. When a crime is obvious such as beating up a taxi driver, they have no choice but to arrest this VIP. But after that many ingenious procedures are adopted such as bringing a doctor's report that the assailant was suffering from diminished responsibility and other imaginary ailments plucked out of thin air, the VIP is convicted but released anyway either with a small fine or probation. This sort of special justice only happens with the select few who are connected in high places. For ordinary people such tactics will not work. In his case, he will go to jail and for a long time.


SINGAPORE'S HELPLESS LAWYERS: In Singapore, lawyer Subhas Anandan is considered the best. He claims to have defended over 1500 major cases including dozens of murder trials. He has even written a book. He has practiced for about 40 years. Yet throughout this time, under these disgraceful legal procedures, all his clients were never given a right to counsel except after they had all confessed under torture; he has lost almost every single case, and if he has won anything, it would not be more than managing to reduce the sentence from a serious charge to lesser charge, usually because his client is well connected.

The following a video clip where this man, supposedly Singapore's best criminal lawyer spoke about his experiences:

What is a tragedy for Singapore and this man is this. For supposedly the best criminal lawyer in Singapore, for 40 years he knew that his clients were denied counsel in violation of the Constitution but he did nothing to protest this except to complain to the Minister.

For 40 years he knew that many of his clients were even executed because they were denied counsel, yet he does nothing except to complain to the Minister.

For 40 years he knows that his clients have suffered police brutality by repeated police interrogations and deprivation of sleep as a result of which they have been executed, yet all he does is to complain the the Minister.

For 40 years, he knows Singapore has no rule of law but a bunch of corrupt judges but he does nothing but to complain to the Minsiter.

Yet all the while, if he did complain to the Mister, he already knew that Lee Kuan Yew's sidekick, the Tamil Minister of Law, K Shanmugam, is not going to do anything but to tighten the law even further, if at all this is possible.

And if you see the video, he even has the audacity to say that he has no regrets about practicing law in Singapore.

What he should have done, or any other decent lawyer in any other country would have done, is not just to complain to the Minister, when he knows the Minister will do nothing, but to actually occupy, picket, demonstrate and protest outside the Minister's office until he corrects these injustices which are murdering his clients.

Knowing Singapore, you would not be surprised why Lee's state controlled media proclaims him as the best criminal lawyer. After all he has never really defended any of his clients in the real sense, and in fact he does the work of the government by going through the motions of a legal practice. If such is the quality of the best criminal lawyer in Singapore, why do you need lawyers anyway, tell me that.

This poor fellow, I mean as a human being, is suffering from various ailments and from reports takes a daily cocktail of medicines to keep alive. I am sorry for him. As Edward Rice Murrows, the famous CBS reporter once said of people who do unconscionable things to make a living "I don't think he likes the look of his face in the mirror in the morning".

SECOND RATE CITIZENS WHO WILLINGLY LIVE THEIR MISERABLE LIVES: With criminal laws such as this, it does not say very much about Singaporeans who accept such lives. For one, they have to be ignorant of such things as human rights. Or Second, they are those without principles who work for Lee Kuan Yew and paid huge salaries. Or Third, they are foreigners there temporarily, without concern for such things as rights. Either way, not a population which anyone can be proud of.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Disbarred from practicing law in Lee's Singapore, imprisoned and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore's judiciary in this blog (see blogpost May 29, 2008 Singapore. Judge Belinda Ang's Kangaroo Court)
Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar.
Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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Singapore Amnesia said...

Dear Mr Nair,

What you said is true.

In Singapore, "Going through motion" is a daily public service chore to con the people & visitors into thinking that Singapore is a First World country.

Another evidence of LKY abuse which you did not mention is this .............. The National Pledge.

Do Singaporeans really know the meaning of the words?

I have put Lee Kuan Yew's Greatest Lie here. Even if this is not the Greatest Lie, it comes close.

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.

I can guarantee that Singapore can never achieve what the pledge set out to do, while that Old Dictator is still alive. Everyday he breathes, Singaporeans suffocate.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Singapore Amnesia,
It is not true that we are meant to live this way. It is because Singaporeans, at least those who know, are preapred to live the way the are; their shameful lives. The moment they pick up that courage to stand up, Lee Kuan Yew and his son's nonsense will be history

Anonymous said...

I am actually begining to feel sorry for Subhas.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is just another third world country with third world leaders. Yes even the elite are third raters: Unscrupulous people who are morally bankrupt. Pretty much violent people typical of a lowly thugs.

The country is run like a crime syndicate without acountability and without it the elite are embolden because they think they can get away with ANYTHING. Correction Singapore IS a crime syndicate.


Post LKY said...

Dear Sir,

I have been thinking, will Lee Kuan Yew continue to influence Singapore after his death? A journalist gives his view.

After making a serious effort, PM Lee Hsien Loong now faces unhappy PAP rank-and-filers who were looking forward to enjoy the high rewards their old-timers did. By Seah Chiang Nee.
Jan 7, 2011

(Synopsis: Moderates are satisfied, but not young citizens who think another cut is needed to prevent it staying a hot issue in next election.)

IN 1976, when I first visited China, its 86-year-old leader Mao Zedong was near death, and I ended a series of articles for Singaporeans by asking: Would Maoism survive Mao? If not what – or who – would take over?

Today’s China, of course, makes my questions seem ridiculous. But at that time Mao was so much part of the country that an alternative was unimaginable.

I was part of the media team that accompanied (then Prime Minister) Lee Kuan Yew’s first official visit to the communist country.

The two men met for eight minutes; Mao was hardly coherent (he died six months later).

Lee was then a vibrant 52-year-old and at his political and intellectual peak.

Last year, when Lee was pondering being in firm control here for 46 years, the same questions cropped up in my mind.

Would Lee’s sacred cows – including the institutions, policies, wise (and not so wise) sayings that he contributed so
powerfully for 46 years – survive after he’s gone, and for how long?

Part of the answer has come - six months after Lee stepped down from office. His corporatist strategy of paying Singapore’s Cabinet ministers sky-high salaries is being firmly rebuffed.

Faced with rising public anger, a government committee last week recommended that the PM’s annual pay be cut by 36% to S$2.2m. Cabinet ministers will get S$1.1m, a 37% reduction, while the President’s yearly salary is reduced by 51% to S$1.54m.

The PM said his government intends to accept the proposals.

The percentages seem enormous, but then so were the previous increases. The last one announced five years ago saw these ministers being given an average pay rise of 60%.

The speed with which this sacred cow is being attacked so soon after Lee Kuan Yew’s exit has come as a surprise to some party hardliners.

The cut implies that for more than 25 years, the ruling People’s Action Party had been excessively overpaying its leaders – allegedly to attract talent or prevent corruption.

At the time, his colleagues’ support was mixed, some strenuously, others offering to contribute to charity (Lee forbade it).

His Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said of the 2007 increase: “If we don’t do that, in the long term, the government system will slowly crumble and collapse.”

When the public reacted coolly, Lee painted a frightening alternative if Singapore ministers could not be paid more than leaders anywhere else.

“Your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is,” he warned, “your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries.”

Today, his son – current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – is finding that tearing down such a high massive pay structure is not so easy, because many party stalwarts have tied success to high pay.

Commentators said the PM’s immediate future would be tested on two fronts: One – a remaining large cynical public which feels their leaders are still overpaid compared with even the richest countries and, second – strong vibes reportedly coming from within his party.

To what extent will the exercise result in resignations by party aspirants drifting away for better paid private financial rewards is anybody’s guess.

At present, a little of the party mood is turning sour. The mainstream media is staying away from reports of internal PAP rifts.

Follow the link to continue

Anonymous said...

Wealthy FTs who read your article will be please to know how the legal system work in their favour. Only Sinkies will lose out an got nowhere to hide than FT have their motherland to fall back on.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said "Wealthy FTs who read your article", it will only attract the worst sort of foreign immigrants. The ones with any character would not not want to live in such a system and neither would they want to live in North Korea or Burma.

Anonymous said...

Mr Nair,

I felt injustice after an incident with FT and get to know the dark side of Singapore judicial system after I read your article.

Initially, I didn't understand why the judge at Small Claim Tribunal has ruled out of its jurisdiction to relief against forfeiture of rental deposit which a landlord has the right to exercise.

I own a property and has been renting out to foreigners for the past 4 years. It was a smooth investment until I met a tenant from hell, who is a Caucasian working for the government at A*. He left my premises after a consent pre-termination but damaged my electrical appliances without repairing or replacing it even after the landlord has served a notice that he has breached the contract.

I didn't expect the judge to rule out of the SCT jurisdiction to protect the FT that just came to Singapore for less than 6 months. I'm a true blue local and pay all my taxes but was denied protection from the government. I'm very disappointed. After I read your article, I'm even more disappointed. Singapore is attracting the worst quality of foreign immigrants and creating so much social problems.