Thursday, February 12, 2015

Singapore punishes Tamils for practicing their religion

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore's state cotrolled newspaper Straits Times of Feb 07, 2015 has this report "three Signaporean men charged with disorderly behavior attacking police at Thaipusam event" See

The picture above shows the three men arrested, from left Ramachandra Chandramohan, 32,
Jayakumar Krishnasamy and Gunasegaran Rajendran in their 20s.

According to the state controlled media, the incident happened on Feb 03, 2015 along Serangoon Road during the Hindu religious festival of Thaipusam. Thaipusam is a religious festival celebrated by Tamil Hindus in India, Singapore Malaysia Mauritius, French Reunion Island and other areas where Hindu Tamils live. The beliefs behind this religious festival are many with different versions  but simply this is what it is. Murugan who is one of the Gods had retired to a hill upset at his father Shiva who had favored his brother Ganesh (the Elephant God) over a challenge in which Ganesh in fact lost.

Idumban who is a half human daemon of sorts climbs the hill and claims it, not knowing that Lord Murugan is in fact it's owner. In a confrontation between Murugan and Idumbanm, Murugan defeats Idumban and Idumbi, his wife begs Murugan to spare her husband and in return Idumban would do penance every year for Murugan by piercing himself with skewers suffering pain carrying a Kavadi, a decorated structure on his shoulders, and dance up to the hill of Murugan.

Accordingly in observance devotees fast by not eating meat or engaging in any pleasure such as sex for 3 months devoting themselves entirely to Lord Murugan. At the end of the period, they pierce themselves with skewers through their tongue and all over the body dancing while carrying the Kavidi. In Singapore they walk with their Kavadis from Perumal Temple (also known as Lord Vishnu ) in Serangoon Raod to Subramanian (also known as Murugan) Temple in Tank Road a distance of about 5 miles.

Kavadi in Tamil is also referred to Kavadi Attam literally translated as the Kavadi dance. Dance is an inherent part of Thaipusam. Kavidis were accompanied by music of drums and flutes which is not only required in the religion because Lord Murugan requires the devotees to dance while being pierced all over their body but also for obvious reasons, since a person who is suffering pain being pierced with numerous needles would need the distraction of drum music in order to withstand the ordeal. 

Obviously dancing to music is much easier than dancing to silence.

But Lee Kuan Yew's government, predominantly ethnic Chinese, have decided for their own interests that Kavadis in Thaipusam are not allowed any musical accompaniment. I am not even sure if they have taken the trouble to understand Thaipusam.

If you knew the mentality of this government, you would know why. The reasons put forward for want of a better reason is safety. But anyone with even half a brain can see that there are no safety concerns whatsoever from Hindus playing drums at their religious festival.

The real reason is not security at all. The government is aware of the huge groundswell of  dissatisfaction against their repressive regime. With the Prime Minister and his friends open corruption in which they pay themselves no less than $3.7 million a year, and much more, with the lack of human rights, with Indians and Malays openly discriminated by the majority Chinese population, the Indians are boiling with anger against this administration.

And if they are allowed to congregate in large numbers playing music and drums in a carnival atmosphere, singing religious songs, they may begin instead to chant slogans against the government. If this happens, they fear in a very crowded island like Singapore, the dissatisfaction may spread into a riot and their grip on power may be lost.

Anyone can obviously see that there is no safety issue by Hindus playing drums at this festival. If there is an issue, it is a political issue that the government fears may endanger their ever weakening grip on power, which they realize today is getting more and more tenuous.

While a relative of Chandramohan was carrying a Kavidi, he had arranged for Hindu classical musicians to accompany him with drums. The police who were not in uniform, and Mohan did not know they were in fact policemen, had asked them to stop playing and manhandled his wife. Since no one was harmed by the drum music and his wife was assaulted before his very eyes Mohan reacted. Any other man would have done the same in the circumstances.  In the melee, there may have been an exchange of bad language between the police and Mohan and perhaps he may have pushed someone who claims to be a police officer. Clearly in these circumstances using prosecutorial discretion, no police force should bring charges. But not in Singapore.

The three men have been charged with assaulting and insulting a police officer. In fact it was the police officer acting under false pretenses disguised in civilian clothes who had assaulted them.  In any democracy, police get yelled at everyday and incidents such as this are expected in any demonstration or protest, let alone a religious occasion such as this; not something to attract criminal charges.

The reaction of the police is more akin to North Korea or Communist China, not something one would expect in so called first world Singapore.

I would urge these young men to fight these charges on constitutional grounds and not admit guilt which is what this government wants. The government in this report through their state controlled press are threatening to cane Mohan. This is a clear attempt to threaten and intimidate him in the hope that he would plead guilty. I urge Mohan not to be afraid and fight the charges. By the publicity generated by the trial, Mohan would be a hero to all other Singaporeans who are fed up with this regime and will help to encourage and inspire others to resist the repression.

I would be pleased to help and advice Mohan and his friends if they need my help. Please call me at 510 491 8525 California time and I would do all I can for you.

Also the reader should contact their lawyer James Selvaraj 101 Cecil street, #14-05 Tong Eng Building, Singapore 069533 Tel 6562215856.

Finally the important thing to realize is that Lee's PAP government is facing overwhelming opposition on the ground. Just read the Internet. They know they are severely weakened and fear every moment whether island-wide protests would topple them any minute. Therefore Singaporeans of all races, not just Tamils, who see the injustice should now protest publicly against the injustice outside the Subordinate Courts (which has now been upgraded to the name State Courts) and challenge them to arrest you as well. And then there will be even more outrage on the ground and this government would have travelled a few more inches to the precipice.

Don't protest at Hong Lim Park the Lee government designated place for protests. The Singapore constitution has no such requirement of protesting only there, and as long as the protest is peaceful you should do it in front of the Courts where Mohan and his friends will be tried.

Friends, justice is on your side. The Internet has literally finished this government and they are now clutching at straws. Make capital of their weakness. Strike while the iron is hot.

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

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