Sunday, March 3, 2013

Singapore. Foreign law firms allowed to practice; collaborating with a dictatorship

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The state controlled Singapore paper the Straits times, Feb 19, 2013 has the story "Four more law firms allowed to practice here". See

The article reads

"Four more foreign law firms will be allowed to practice in Singapore after a second round of licenses were awarded, the Law Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Under the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice Licenses scheme foreign law firms are allowed to practice in all areas of law except domestic areas of litigation and general practice, like family or criminal law. They are given an initial five years license period.

The four firms are: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Jones Day, Linklaters and Sidley Austin. They join six other law firms awarded licenses in 2008.

Chosen from 23 applications, the four firms have "extensive global networks" and "deep expertise in key practice areas". This will support the growth of the economy here and the development of legal services, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry added that the scheme also aims to reinforce Singapore's position as a premier global and regional legal services hub."

Their working in Singapore of all places is difficult to understand. I am not sure if they are aware that Singapore has in reality no Constitution. Although such a document exists, every single Constitutional right is completely ignored. There is no right to free speech, expression, assembly, a free press; simply nothing. Perhaps to a lesser degree, it is no different from Assad's Syria.

And its judges are all poodles for Lee Kuan Yew government. They routinely deliver judgments tailored to please the Lees.

As for police powers, they are unlimited. They can search you anytime, anywhere and even lock you indefinitely.

In 2008, I was jailed, deported and disbarred in that island, for writing a blog critical of Lee's judges. (Not that the Singapore disbarment has affected me one bit, since the California Bar where I practice have decided to totally ignore it, and so has the English Bar of which I am also a member). Chee Soon Juan, the Secretary General of an opposition party has been repeatedly jailed and bankrupted just for exercising his human rights of free speech. So have a series of political opponents who have been destroyed for doing just that.  

It is puzzling now to see top law firms from respectable proud and well respected democracies such as the UK, Australia and elsewhere, who must be fully aware of what Singapore is in this Internet age, willingly coming to Singapore for the work. Being motivated for profit is understandable, but should they not also consider the way they make that money. Is not having an office in Singapore tantamount to giving their tacit approval to a regime which openly flouts the human rights of their citizens.

Moreover this raises a very important question. Regardless of any area of the law, it sometimes has to do with constitutional law. For instance in a libel case, a defense would be the right to express oneself. The same would apply in an intellectual property case and for that matter in a wide variety of situations. The question here is how are these foreign lawyers who are accustomed to appear before independent judges in their countries, going to come to terms with the decision of a Kangaroo legal system which denies such rights?

Have they considered how they would deal with a situation when they have to appear before a disgraced Lee Kuan Yew judge such as Belinda Ang Saw Ean who willingly bends the law for her master's pleasure?

Granted, most of the cases dealt with by these foreign lawyers will be commercial in nature, are we to assume that a judge who willingly abuses the law to please Lee Kuan Yew in a defamation lawsuit will somehow become impartial in a case non political in nature?

Have these foreign law firms been told that Singapore, a crowded island of no less that 5 million only has about 2,000 local lawyers and a shrinking number at that. And do they know that the reason for this de minimus totally inadequate number is because all the local lawyers who know first hand what Lee's Kangaroo courts are, have decided not to have anything more to do with it and have all left for Australia and the West. And do they know that they, the foreign lawyers, are in fact taking the places of Singapore lawyers who have left the island permanently in disgust?

And are they aware that just like Gopalan Nair, myself, a former Singapore lawyer who has left not wanting to have anything to do with that disgraced legal system, so have thousands of other lawyers who have all left the island permanently for settlement abroad.

I am not sure if they know this or don't but sooner or later they will have to come to terms either with their conscience or their clients when things go wrong, when they will realize that it is not so good working in dictatorships like Singapore or North Korea. It is not good for their soul and neither is it for their client; unless of course he is a money launderer millionaire of which there are many running around in Lee Kuan Yew’s paradise island.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 4375


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Nair,

morality in the West is dead. It has been killed by the economy. Even George Sorros lamented that these days it only matters that you make money, but it no longer matters how you make it (excluding himself, the hypocrite). People who come to Singapore as expats are of course the worst kind we have. Which decent person would throw their democratic values over board to further the interests of a quasi-totalitarion dictatorship? At least Shane Todd was regretting having come to Singapore before his death. But having said all of this, Singaporeans are still way ahead of us. Literally everything that counts for them is money and what investors may think about this and that. What makes them think the West has corrputed values when it is them who are the most corrupted society on earth. How arrogant, ridiculous and sad.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised. Lawyers are people with low morals e.g LKY & his wife KGN.

It's all about billable hours. Does not matter if those hours came from Idi Amin and come from Little Kim of North Korea.

They are not called ambulance chasers for nothing.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"Not surprised. Lawyers are people with low morals e.g LKY & his wife KGN".

You are painting the entire profession with an unfairly broad brush. You forget, I, Gopalan Nair, am also a lawyer and I have never sold my conscience the way many have. Please remember other than the sort of lawyers that you mention, there are equally large numbers of upright lawyers who have given their effort time and even their lives for a worthy cause. I did not want to put up your comment but then what you say about some of these foreign lawyers is correct. To that limited extent it is postable. Otherwise it is simply bigotry and ignorance.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymopus who said

"But having said all of this, Singaporeans are still way ahead of us. Literally everything that counts for them is money and what investors may think about this and that. What makes them think the West has corrputed values when it is them who are the most corrupted society on earth. How arrogant, ridiculous and sad."

Once again, like the other commentor, you are throwing the baby away with the bathwater. Once again, what you say about some, even many Singaporeans may be correct. But you forget the most important thing in Singapore, which is, hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans have left the island in disgust for the West, not wanting to live in a dictatorship. In fact Lee Kuan Yew's son's main worry is the unstoppable and mounting brain drain. Those by and large are Singaporeans with some integrity who have decided that living in a dictatorship is not good for them nor their children. It is incorrect to paint every Singaporean as an unscrupulous oppurtunist. You forget, I Gopalan Nair too am a Singaporean by birth. And a constant pain in the neck for the father and son team forming the Singapore dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

How about this specimen of a lawyer, Singapore's own towelhead.

Surely, you must be impressed by this lawyer.

Davinder Singh Sachdev (Punjabi: ਦਵਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਚਦੇਵ; born 1 August 1957), SC, is one of Singapore's foremost trial and appellate lawyer, having attained the title of Senior Counsel in 1997, and having been described by Asia Pacific Legal 500 2009/2010 as being "without peer at the bar"

Anonymous said...

The Joke of the Day

“The same law applies to me. Nobody has sued me for libel because I do not defame my enemies.”
- Lee Kuan Yew, Success Stories, 2002

Anonymous said...

Singapore blocks FBI inquiry into American’s death


Mr. Todd believes the Singapore Police Force — at best — botched the investigation into his son’s death. At worst, it is part of a conspiracy that killed him because he learned too much about Singapore’s shady technology transfer deals with China.

“They are trying to cover their tracks,” he said of the Singaporean police. “They have lied to us from the beginning.”

Read more:

Anonymous said...

What arrogance.

ST Managing Editor Han Fuck Kwang

On 24th February, Sunday Time’s headline on its regular column by ST’s Managing Editor* screamed: “Who’s out of touch – our leaders or people?”. In slightly smaller lettering,” S’poreans have to also prove that they are not a mollycoddled lot who have forgotten the realities of making a living in this competitive world and how this country made it against the odds.”

Anonymous said...

Baucus Demands Answers on Engineer Death in Singapore

I hope that you, GN, reached out to the Senator and revealed how LKY = PRC = Huawei i.e. a threat to the security and well being of the USA.

Anonymous said...

given what I know about the activities of the Singapore government in partnering with the Chinese military and known nuclear weapons proliferators, I am very willing to consider the possibility that Singapore government linked entities are helping the Chinese military.

Christopher Balding

Remember, the US tolerated Saddam during the cold war, until he went against their interests.

And, LKY during the Vietnam war. One just gets the feeling the PAP-Chinamen may have got a little too cosy with the PRC, and started acting againsts the interests of the USA.

Anonymous said...

So, who decided that this is what Singapore should become:

Wealth Over the Edge: Singapore
$26,000 cocktails. Traffic jams freckled with Ferraris. The world's sternest city is now the richest. Why?