Sunday, May 5, 2013

Singapore Island's threats to bloggers cartoonists and graffiti artists to keep in line

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore Island, the virtual property of the very insecure Lee Kuan Yew family who have ruled it since 1959 through their Peoples Action Party as a totalitarian one party police state, has had to routinely threaten anyone who criticizes lest the criticism burgeons into something which unseats them.

In the 1970s and 1980s it was the opposition politician the late JB Jeyaretnam who was becoming dangerous to the Lee Kuan Yew family's continuing their rule, which meant numerous fake law suits on fake charges, which resulted in his being removed from Parliament, denied an opportunity to make a living as a lawyer, bankrupted and impoverished. He has since died.

In the 1990s we see opposition politician Chee Soon Juan suffering the same fate; removed from his post as a professor at the local university, bankrupted and discharged. Today he is very quiet, not even a shadow of the rambunctious fire that he was late.

Within the last week, we have seen the arrest of a cartoonist, Leslie Chew for a drawing that showed the racial discrimination that the government officially practices against the minority Malays, who, by the way were the first inhabitants of the island even before the likes of ethnic Chinese Lee Kuan Yew family ever stepped foot in the island.

A day after his arrest, Mohamad Khalid Mohamad, a 32 year old Singapore Malay was arrested for writing the words "Democracy" on a World War I monument along the city's downtown seafront. It is reported he has been sent to a mental asylum to establish his normality.

Some months ago, Alex Au, a blogger was sent a lawyers letter by the Lee government for accusing them of nepotism and corruption involving the sale and purchase of computers by a company owned by the ruling party to government community center offices. Au immediately apologized and promised never to criticize the government resulting in the proceedings being dropped.

The problem that the government of the island faces is this. As the citizens become more educated, and as they have more access to the Internet, it is unavoidable that they become more critical. At the same time, this insecure one party police state of the Lee Kuan Yew family simply cannot allow this, because if allowed to continue, it will become a revolution and topple them.

The reason for their insecurity is simply because their authority is clearly illegitimate. It is not based on law. In fact one can go so far as to say their government is simply illegal.

This is because the very foundations of their government are illegitimate. For one, there is no rule of law, while the Constitution mandates it. Every Singaporean knows that the law is routinely bent to destroy political opponents or to favor government supporters against government critics. There are no free and independent newspapers as the Constitution demands. There is no racial equality in violation of the Constitution. There is no right to freedom of speech expression or assembly even though these rights are clearly spelt out in the Constitution. In such an atmosphere where the island government blatantly abuses citizen’s rights, it becomes dangerous to allow any criticism since it will clearly have the result of removing them from government.

As a result, in order to remain in power without any real legitimacy, the Lee Kuan Yew government is forced to use violence and arrests against any critic to make sure they are denied the ability to make public their feelings.  This is why we see periodically almost in a routine fashion, headline news in their state controlled newspapers, that so and so has been taken in for investigation for criticizing, that so and so was sent a lawyers' letter.

Today far too many Singaporeans consider this government illegitimate and simply illegal. In their minds they have lost the moral and may I add, the legal authority to rule. And we are seeing, as a result more and more Singaporeans openly criticizing the government.

As for the Lee Kuan Yew government, they find that they simply are not in a position like they were in the past to arrest and sue everyone who criticizes, because if they did, they would be alienating the entire population. As a result we see the modus operandi of the government is to simply send out warnings and if the victim submits, they drop the case. In the cartoonist’s case, he has been taken in for questioning. I predict, the moment he apologizes and removes the cartoon, they would probably leave him alone. As for the graffiti artist, they expect him to apologize and if he complies he too would be let off.

The point of the exercise of arresting the cartoonist or the graffiti artist was not so much as to punish them but merely send smoke signals and warnings to the rest of the  population, that it is unwise to criticize the government. And by doing this, the government hopes that their citizens would be sufficiently intimidated so that if anyone had ideas of criticism, they would drop them.  

I don't think the government will see their desired result. The Singapore population has become emboldened day by day, and these threats are not going to move them. It is simply too late. As someone said the cucumber has already turned into a pickle. They are no longer the submissive ignorant peasant that the Lee Kuan Yew family would like them to be.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What happened to Alex Au?
Alex did not publish anything since Feb?