Saturday, February 22, 2014

Singapore's reputation for abusing the legal system to silence dissent has far reaching consequences

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore's international reputation of using the law courts to silence dissent has far reaching consequences.

Firstly, consider my disbarment in Singapore on August 22, 2011 about which I write in my earlier blog titled Lawyer Gopalan Nair makes a fool of Singapore's Kangaroo Courts. Disbarment from practicing law in North Korea (no Singapore) dated Feb 18, 2014.

In it I narrate Singapore's decision to disbar me in the island for among other things, writing a blog criticizing their judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean for blatant shameless bias in the case Lee Kuan Yew vs Chee Soon Juan, an opposition politician in May 2008. Their judgment and my comments thereto appear in that blog post.

After having stated that my actions were so outrageous as to warrant the most serious of punishments meted out to a lawyer, namely disbarment, the State Bar of California, although fully apprised of my actions have completely ignored their judgment and have taken no action against me whatsoever, although the rules of ethics for attorneys requires the discipline of a lawyer for misconduct not only in California but anywhere in the world.

Their total disregard of Singapore's judgment against me is clear indication that they just as every other respected legal jurisdiction are today fully appraised of the island's lack of rule of law and their awareness that Singapore uses it's law courts to silence and destroy opposition to their regime.

The consequence of this is of course their distrust of Singapore's legal system and their suspicion that Singapore's courts cannot be trusted to be impartial. This clearly results in American businesses being wary of trying their cases in the island and instead demand litigation or arbitration elsewhere.

Singapore, aware of their poor reputation for legal impartiality, in an attempt to improve that image, repeatedly report on an American millionaire Jim Rogers who has decided to move to Singapore. Another American who they repeatedly refer to is Edwardo Saverin, the millionaire Facebook owner who has also moved there as well as giving up his American citizenship.

I am not sure why these two gentlemen have done what they did but as the saying goes, one swallow does not make a spring. If I was to advice these two gentlemen, I would have strongly recommended that they not use Singapore due to the unreliability of their legal system.

The one most important thing, anyone deciding to park their assets in a foreign low tax jurisdiction is the question whether it has the rule of law, because in banana law jurisdictions such as Singapore where the judges routinely act to please the government rather than being impartial results in litigants not knowing which way the court will turn regardless of the merits even resulting in the possibility of your entire assets vanishing if the court so desires.

In this respect, I would like to remind you of Tang Liang Hong. Tang was a lawyer and a millionaire who had made the mistake of standing in elections against Lee Kuan Yew in 1997.

When he correctly mentioned at an public election rally that Lee and all his family members had received kick backs from the developer in their purchase of condominiums in a complex called Jade Mansions, Lee sued him for defamation resulting in his losing his entire fortune of millions which the court awarded in damages.

Literally at one stroke, Tang was transformed from multi millionaire to pauper and had to flee the island for Australia where he now resides.

I am sure that although Jim Rogers and Edwardo Saverin whom Singapore conveniently flaunt as  examples of the trustworthiness of their legal system, thousands of other Americans would probably have shunned Singapore and continue to do so, investing elsewhere instead.

I can give you several other instances where foreign jurisdictions have questioned Singapore's judgments.

One such case is Oakwell Engineering Limited v. Enernorth Industries Inc. 2005 CanLII 27149, Court File Nos. 04-CV-271121CM3 & 04-CV-274860CM2, (2005) 76 O.R. (3d) 528, Superior Ct. (Ontario).

The brief facts are the Plaintiffs and Defendants had agreed to build 2 power stations in Andhra Pradesh India which fell through resulting in the Plaintiffs demanding money from the Defendants.

As the Defendants had not paid and had no assets in Singapore, the Plaintiff tried to enforce the Singapore judgment in the Canadian court.

The Defendants had argued that the Singapore courts do not have the rule of law and their judges are mere puppets of the cabal of the few who run the island and therefore permitting enforcement of the judgment in Canada would be akin to the them collaborating with a banana legal system such as that of Singapore.

As evidence, Enernorth obtained the testimony of expert witnesses, including Ross Worthington, Adjunct Professor of Governance at the National Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance at Griffith University, Australia; and Francis Seow, former Solicitor-General of Singapore.

In his affidavit, Worthington stated that "all aspects of the governance of Singapore, including the judiciary, are carefully manipulated and ultimately controlled by a core executive of individuals who use their powers to maintain their own power and further their own political, economic, social and familial interests."[6]

Seow's affidavit claimed that the court proceedings in Singapore had not been heard by an independent judiciary due to the "consuming and controlling power of Singapore's ruling party over all facets of life in Singapore", and that defamation suits had been used by the Government of Singapore to suppress opposition politicians and non-compliant media, citing the example of the prosecution of J.B. Jeyaretnam.[7]

Although the Ontario Supreme Court found in favor of the Plaintiffs, they gave no reasons for their decision and simply upheld the Court of Appeals judgment.

As can be seen, the very fact that the attorneys canvassed the issue of the publicly known unreliability of Singapore's legal system and their lack of impartiality and rule of law, once again goes to show that it is well known internationally that Singapore legal system is controlled and manipulated by the ruling government and their judges are merely agents to carry out their wishes.  Please see Wikipedia report

Another case, also in Canada was the defamation lawsuit brought by Lee Kuan Yew against the late President of Singapore Devan Nair (no relation of mine) in Canada.

In March 1999, Devan Nair, now deceased, then living in Canada had told the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper that he was unjustly dismissed as President by Lee Kuan Yew because he disagreed with the way the country was run.

Unhappy with the report, Lee Kuan Yew, as is his custom in Singapore, sued the paper as well as Devan Nair for defamation in the Canadian court. Devan Nair then filed a defense and counterclaim against Lee claiming that Lee abuses the Singapore legal system to silence critics

What he said was

"Mr. Lee is indifferent to his reputation among the readership of the Globe and Mail but has an established and well publicized record within the Republic of Singapore for suing his critics for defamation and using other measures which are contrary to established international rights in respect of freedom of expression with a view to silencing critics"

Unhappy with what Devan Nair had said, Lee then applied to strike out Nair's defense and counterclaim as showing no cause of action.

The court roundly dismissed Lee's application to strike after which Lee withdrew his defamation action presumably with costs.

This case clearly illustrates that the Canadian court was already fully aware of Lee's international notoriety of abuse of legal process in Singapore against his opponents and they had every intention to put Lee in his proper place.

They were clearly reminding him that Canada is a proud democracy with their cherished and jealously guarded tradition of the rule of law, not a banana republic where Lee can strut around bullying anyone he wants.

I think they were telling him that if he wants to try his monkey business, he should do it elsewhere. Please see the law firms report here and the case report here

Another case in which I was personally involved was

Diane Sahakian, a Single Woman
STATS ChipPAC . Inc a foreign corporation; Stats ChipPAC Ltd, a foreign corporation; Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd, a foreign corporation; Singapore Technologies Semiconducters Pte Ltd, a foreign Corporation,

US District Court, District of Arizona, Case No: CV08-241-PHX-HRH.

The case involves the Plaintiff claiming, among other things, that she was unfairly treated and harassed as the Defendant's employee and discriminated because she was a woman, a practice which the Plaintiff claims is common practice in Singapore.

Among other things she claimed her Singapore employer, the Defendants, were rude, discourteous and dismissive of her as an employee and as a human being and treated the way women are treated in Singapore.

My part in this case was to assist the Plaintiff's attorney as an expert witness to show that the Singapore courts abuse the legal system to silence dissent and therefore their impartiality is in doubt.

And that this reckless disregard of citizens rights has the effect of allowing Singapore employers to do anything willy nilly they want to their employees leaving no recourse for relief.

I also provided proof that Singapore uses cruel and unusual punishments such as beatings (caning) and generally bosses can push around their employees with impunity unlike in the United States.

I am no longer involved in this case and I do not know it's outcome.

I understand from the Plaintiff's attorney that the Defendant is a Singapore government linked company, owned by Temasek Holdings, which has a manufacturing business in Arizona.

For further information please contact plaintiff's attorney directly:

Peter Strojnik
3030 Niorth Central Avenue
Suite 1401
Phoenix, Arizona 85012
Tel: 602 524 6602
Fax: 602 296 0135

I am sure there are numerous other cases brought against Singaporean companies in the US, and I have no doubt that the moment Singapore is mentioned, anyone working for it has a good chance of filing a lawsuit for unethical work practices based on the well known notoriety and bad reputation they have for abusing the legal system and treating their employees and citizens no better than slaves.

In conclusion I have to say that abusing the law to silence critics results in Singaporeans themselves losing respect for their legal system resulting in many like me, leaving the country for good for settlement elsewhere.

It also results in foreign businesses not trusting Singapore's courts to settle disputes in an impartial manner, and instead demanding that contracts be litigated elsewhere such as in London.

It also results in foreign companies being wary of doing business within the island for fear that any dispute would invariably be settled in favor of the government or their government connected elites regardless of the merits.

The US State Department in their Country Reports, which is relied on by many outside Singapore, not only by Americans, repeatedly refers to Singapore's abuse of the rule of law and reports on instances almost every year of critics being sued for defamation or facing other legal action to silence them.

Recently the International Bar Association in their lengthy 58 page report pointed out Singapore's repeated abuse of the law to silence dissent and the invariable long reaching deleterious consequences this has on their legal and human rights reputation.

Coming to the low tax jurisdictions around the world, in fact, it has been said by many experts on the subject that the best jurisdictions to invest in are those with the rule of law, because of the great importance of the knowledge that your money is safe.

As a result the better jurisdictions would be Britain or it's outlying jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man, many US jurisdictions such as Florida or Delaware which has not only very low taxes but also give the guarantee that your money is safe because they have the rule of law.

This is why I have pointed out that the attempts of Singapore to become a legal hub for the region is doomed from the start.

It's bad reputation for legal impartiality immediately prevents it from being chosen by any discerning foreign businessman who knows what goes on in that island under Lee Kuan Yew and his son.

The fear must be even more at this time when there is rumor that the 90 year old gravely ill Lee Kuan Yew may not be alive much longer.

With the island totally lacking in any established system for a change of leadership, with the country being run entirely by the dictates of Lee Kuan Yew and now his son, there is no way that one can predict what happens after Lee's demise.

Whether it is total chaos or something else is anyone's guess.

This too is another very important factor that people everywhere have to be wary of a government such as this which abuses their people's rights as and when it appears convenient. 

Important Caveat: The only reason why I can write this blog without being arrested by the Singapore government is because I am now physically in Fremont, California, USA. If I wrote this from within Singapore, I would have been immediately arrested.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525


Linda Kosmanto said...

Sadly, outsiders view any Singaporean who "has made it" as someone who has brown-nosed his way and sucked up to the Lees.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading this book by M Barr.

He argues that the contemporary networks of power are a deliberate project initiated and managed by Lee Kuan Yew and designed to empower himself and his family.

The Ruling Elite of Singapore: Networks of Power and Influence

Anonymous said...

A new Singapore bill, called the “Protection from Harassment” bill will cover various harassing acts including sexual harassment, cyber-bullying and stalking

The bill will also attempt to extend to those outside Singapore where a Singapore victim is involved.


They are trying to use this bill to attack S'pore bloggers based overseas. LKY will be the 1st victim to seek redress.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said,

"They are trying to use this bill to attack S'pore bloggers based overseas. LKY will be the 1st victim to seek redress".

I think you don't understand the law. It is not what you think it is. Singapore can pass any law it wants within Singapore but the question is whether it will bind any foreigner outside Singapore.

The test is whether the law passed in Singapore comports with the law of the foreign country. For example Singapore has caning but not the US. So Singapore cannot demand an American or Englishman or Irishman or anyone else be extradited to Singapore to be caned if caning is not permitted in the USA or elsewhere.

The test is if the stalking laws and blogging laws will pass the American or foreign jurisdiction test. The other test is whether there is extradition for such an act.

So it is not so easy as you suggest. They can pass any law on bloggers they want and sit on it in Singapore till the cows come home. No, it will not bother me or anyone else outside Singapore.

You have to understand the fundamental question. Singapore is a one party dictatorship. Europeans and Americans are a democracy.

If you are physically within Singapore, they can do anything they want. But not if you are outside. I trust you understand this now.

So don't get all excited about Singapore laws affecting foreigners. Of course you have to worry if you are a Singaporean within Singapore as you do now.

Anonymous said...

Former National University of Singapore law professor Tey Tsun Hang said on Friday that the "sex-for-favours" case against him was politically motivated right from the beginning.

In his first response to Yahoo Singapore via e-mail right after his acquittal from six corruption charges, he also spoke strongly against Singapore’s judiciary and prosecutorial regime, saying he had “no confidence” in them.

“I have always maintained, and continue to maintain, my innocence,” he wrote, saying he was repeatedly disallowed from seeking evidence that his prosecution was politically motivated by former Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye, who presided over his trial.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"Former National University of Singapore law professor Tey Tsun Hang said on Friday that the "sex-for-favors" case against him was politically motivated right from the beginning."

Tey's claim that his case was politically motivated is simply rubbish as can be seen by the very circumstances of the case. I trust you are aware that he was acquitted on appeal. It is simply common sense to know that in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, if his case was "politically motivated" he would not have been acquitted on appeal. The government which controls the trial court also controls the appeal court. If they wanted to "politically" finish him off, they would have affirmed the conviction.

Tey was never any political threat to the Singapore establishment for them to "politically" destroy him. Unlike Chee Soon Juan, who was also a professor, he was not the Secretary General of an opposition party nor did he ever openly challenge the Singapore establishment like Chee did. For your information, Chee has never had any acquittals either in the trial or any other court in Singapore, and never will. Chee is truly a threat to the establishment. Tey is simply a boo boo.

Tey, a university professor, is simply stupid for sleeping with his student. There was also evidence of gifts from her as well as her receiving better grades. This sort of stupidity is a no no not only in Singapore but everywhere else.

There is no reason for Singapore to go after him. He is simply another professor who willingly teaches at a university controlled by the state knowing full well that he has to conform his lessons to that of state ideology, just as a professor in the former Soviet Union would have to do.

He also claimed, believe it or not, that he, a professor of law, was intimidated and coerced into signing confessions by the Singapore police! What is he, an ordinary ignorant layman or law professor?

When I was arrested and kept in solitary confinement in 2008 in Singapore for writing a blog post critical of their judges, I too was repeatedly threatened to sign confessions which I never did. Why, because I know the law and I know my rights.

He should stop trying to be a hero and admit that he had made an unwise decision in sleeping with his student and not having the courage to admit it.