10 May 2006

Shadow Over Singapore

From Globeandmail.com
Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has paid lip service to the need for more openness in apolitical system that is democratic in name but authoritarian in practice. But his deeds show that the eldest son of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is following in his father's footsteps, with the same lack of tolerance for political dissent, open debate or free media -- essential ingredients of a functioning democ-racy.

Prime Minister Lee's ruling People's Action Party won all but two of the 84 seats in the country's parliamentary election on Saturday, the same number it held after the last vote in 2001. But its share of popular support dropped to 66.6 per cent from 75.3 per cent. In Western democracies, such a slippage in its overwhelming approval might have prompted the political leadership to reassess its policies and priorities. The fact that the small opposition parties made their greatest headway among younger voters who yearn for more political freedoms to go along with the huge economic gains of recent years ought to be a spur to modest reform. What Singapore's election result has prompted, though, is intensified harassment of political opponents.

James Gomez, whose opposition Workers' Party won a single seat, is being investigated by police for something called "criminal intimidation." His alleged crime: He incorrectly blamed the elections department (which is an arm of the prime minister's office) for losing one of his required polling forms, an accusation for which he later apologized. His real crime? The small party won 16.3 per cent of the vote, up from a mere 2.7 per cent in 2001, including a third of the ballots cast in the Prime Minister's own constituency. The leaders of another opposition party, the Singapore Democratic Party, face libel actions from both Prime Minister Lee and his father. This is an old tactic employed by the ruling party to silence critics and bankrupt political opponents, which in turn disqualifies them from holding elective office.

Lee Kuan Yew held the reins of power for more than three decades before stepping down in 1990. While his son, now 54, was being groomed for the top job, the elder Mr. Lee remained a senior minister in the cabinet of his chosen successor, Goh Chok Tong. After the younger Mr. Lee became Prime Minister in 2004, the 82-year-old family patriarch retained his considerable influence with the new title of "minister mentor." His mentoring is all too apparent.


Anonymous said...

He ought to just let go and let his son run his own show. It's almost like a wayang puppet show; the whole election strategy seems very much like how LKY would handle matters the hard way, in contrast to the past 20 months of LHL's comparatively more gentle and cultured leadership. Puppeteer-ing in the guise of mentorship. And I agree with one of the panelists - Kor Kian Beng, if I'm not mistaken - he can still contribute. But from outside politics.

Anonymous said...

Unable to let go and with much attachment to anything in life will cause oneself to be reborn as a snake. Not a joke but karmic effect!!

soci said...

So much for a learning society. Whatever happened to all that knowledge based society, changing, taking risks, moving with the times, talk. The PAP is starting to look more and more like a massive juggernaut, not just out of control, but the old man at the wheel is refusing to hand over to a man who might be able to see the way ahead.

Anonymous said...

Not too sure. Like father like son.

Anonymous said...

66.6% - the number "6" doesn't bode well for the future...

Anonymous said...

if he goes now, his son can tell people "I have the power to get him to leave..so you guys behave"; it would be worth the sacrifice

clyde said...

Ha..I didn't notice that until you brought it up. 66.6, mark of the devil. And guess who's been singled out for an eternity of pain... James Gomezzz

Anonymous said...

after the election day, all the lion dances and dragon dances for the peanut parties for what? To make them feel more lucky and fortunate to continue to bully their citizens??? whose monies are all these?

Anonymous said...

"after the election day, all the lion dances and dragon dances for the peanut parties for what? To make them feel more lucky and fortunate to continue to bully their citizens??? whose monies are all these?"

Oh come on, you see celebration events in First World democracies as well. Whose money do you think that belongs to?

- Impassioned Singaporean

Anonymous said...

"if he goes now, his son can tell people "I have the power to get him to leave..so you guys behave"; it would be worth the sacrifice"

Old Lee is still his Papa after all. There's an extra element of familial, respect-your-dad involved here. I mean, look at the forum; the panelists were flamed for being rude to the founding father of Sg. What more of his own son?

lct said...

If the PAP likes to quote foreign country examples to their own purpose,then i would say that in those countries where margins are in the 40s & 50s, there exist not 1 party but 1 other dominant opposition party (U.S, UK) & there are more than a few representatives of opposition in the govt. So getting 40/50 is a mean feat. But here, where 82 of 84 seats (before GE 2006) are from the govt, getting 66.6% is pitiful. More than that, in AMK, getting this number shows the PM does not get overwhelming support - no matter how the press show it. And they are conscious of it - thats why they keep harping on it for the next few days after the GE- to console themselves & everybody that the PAP did win by "landslide"...for a party with 82 of 84 seats, at 66.6% is shocking...

Anonymous said...

if one constituency is walkover in the past would deeme to have 100% votes but now it has been contested, wouldn't this deemed to be a fall in % already?

lee hsien tau said...

Ever since I heard James Gomez had his passport and boarding pass impounded, and his sorry ass prevented from leaving for Sweden, I have been staring at the ceiling, the words 'what the fuck' pounding through my brain. And it is Section 506 & 507 of the penal code that had got me near berserk. I had to write this.

I was slapped with 8 email harassment charges back in 2000. Because 8 email harassment charges couldn't have kept me locked up, Investigating Officer Oem Prakash Singh of Clementi Police Division (hereafter referred to as 'the modern singh') slapped an additional charge of criminal intimidation on me so as to raise the bail amount the judge then pegged at $50K (the same amount which, may I remind you, TT Durai is presently running around loose on). Of course the modern singh counted on me not having a bailer with $50K, so I spent 5 months inside awaiting trial.

The excuse for the criminal intimidation charge was a phone call I made to Koh Chong Huat (a cousin of mine) telling him in exact words 'You are 50+, sooner or later, you have to die'. I thought it was a given, nothing being more certain than death and taxes, that reminding somebody, anybody, of his age couldn't possibly constitute a criminal offense, especially since the guy was actually 50+ (I'd admit Lee Kuan Yew may be offended to be reminded of his age, and that death was likely to be knocking on his door anytime, but not enough to constitute a criminal offense, especially when he's going to be continuing to be having birthday parties, and his cronies are going to be showing up not trying to pretend, I hope, that it is something other than birthdays that they are going to be celebrating.)

But not to digress. The reason why I was locked up was because I had finally found something I was looking for on and off since 1995. And I was showing up at all the awkward places, the CPIB, the Law Society of Singapore, and the Legal Aid. They all found excuses of one sort or another. Sooner or later I was going to latch on to a lawyer, yes?

I latched onto the wrong lawyer, however. Someone by the name of Chiam See Tong. He suggested leaving Hoo Sheau Farn out of the lawsuit, and sue principally Koh Thong (Koh Chong Huat's old man), and Lim Swee Ying (my late father's old hag), and he also told me that he didn't want to figure in the case, and therefore would be helping me sue my relatives in my own name. Who's to know Chiam See Tong would be colluding with Yik Tze Kong, the lawyer representing the respondents to the suit.

Time was of essence. If I wasn't latching onto Chaim See Tong, I would've to latch onto some other lawyer pretty quick. The plan was to have this Chiam See Tong set up a case for me, I land in jail, and the case applied to be struck out by the respondents, the lawyers acting for the parties being in collusion.

So Koh Chong Huat made a complaint against me. That made me a 'wanted' person. And I was supposed to know that (not that I did). Then Yik Tze Kong applied to have the case that Chiam See Tong set up for me struck off by the civil court expecting me not to show up to defend.

But I got arrested at Changi cargo complex going through the check-point reporting to my first day of temporary work. And I was held for 5 months awaiting trial. I made calls to Chiam See Tong then at the police lockup, wrote to Chiam See Tong whilst I was remanded, met Chiam See Tong whilst I was at the Subordinate Court, and Chiam See Tong visited me whilst I was held at Buangkok Chalet, but he wouldn't help me with these fresh charges I was up against, and resisted suggestions that the civil case he was helping me with and the criminal case I was facing were connected.

Topmost in the mind of the modern singh must've been whether I had knowledge of the application by Yik Tze Kong to have the case set up for me by Chiam See Tong struck off. If so, and I apprised the court of the fact, the judge would likely find that I have no case to answer. So was it a coincidence then, that when I was finally released, my laptop and papers pertaining to my civil suit were missing from my rented room, and I had to cough up $50 to get them back, and later, when I thought it wise to ask for a receipt for the $50, was refused, and the $50 returned instead?

Because I was arrested in the wrong sequence, and the all important letter was left undiscovered in my post office mailbox, Yik Tze Kong didn't show up at the civil court to have the civil case set up for me by Chiam See Tong struck out (references to it at my blog).

You may be asking me why the modern singh would have me arrested in the wrong sequence. The modern singh didn't have me arrested. I was arrested by the police division (Bedok) in charge of the Changi cargo complex. I cannot be 'wanted' unless there was an APB out for me. With an APB out on me, it was always possible for me to be arrested in the wrong sequence.

There is a lesson in all this for James Gomez.

Even though I was remanded without having visitors (except for the one-time visit by Chiam See Tong at Buangkok Chalet - now upgraded to Buangkok Recreational Club - where I was also warned by Dr George Fernandez to be careful of what I say in Court or face institutionalization on Christmas Day, 2000 - bloody arse hole showed up just to warn me), and therefore could not otherwise seek representation, had the criminal intimidation charge struck off by the kangaroo of a judge in half a day of deliberation.

The trial was scheduled for a 2 day hearing. There was a lot of shenanigan going on in Remand. I was being threatened (and the irony was that I was in there for Section 506 & 507) such that I was disinclined to drag proceedings beyond the day. All that seemed to be coming out of the mouth of Koh Chong Huat was that he was felt 'very harassed'. For nearly half the morning I was standing in the dock with my hands cuffed behind my back (and who said our legal system was just? and there is no kangaroo jumping around in Court?) until the judge noticed.

The judge was screwing me left and right for everything that was coming out of my mouth until Koh Chong Huat said that he had a pretty good idea who was at the other end of the phone (that being me). The judge made certain he heard right what Koh Chong Huat said, then struck out the criminal intimidation charge. As I'm no lawyer, I don't actually know what the fuck happened. But I will try to figure it out here. Section 506 & 507 cannot be liberally applied or else a Pandora’s Box would be opened, and total anarchy will ensue. There must be a threshold above which genuine fear can reasonably be deemed to be inculcated in the criminally intimidated, such as where the victim doesn't know who is victimizing him. A fear transformed into terror by some unknown quantity.

After that the DPP started to sweat like a pig, and Koh Chong Huat started to need a microphone to be heard, and the judge started turning on me. It was as if a big concession had been made to me, and the kangaroo had begun jumping all over the Court again. The biggest problem going for the trial was Koh Chong Huat needed a microphone, I complained to the judge I couldn't hear him without a microphone, and the judge sitting practically next to Koh Chong Huat couldn't understand what the fuck I was unhappy about (and who said our legal system was just? and there is no kangaroo jumping around in Court?). I was practically forced to abdicate my defense.

The judge offered, before his lunch break, to lynch me on 4 charges of email harassment, if I capitulated, or on all 8, if I continued with my defense. What troubled me was my cousin needing a microphone, the DPP needing a towel, and the kangaroo jumping all over the court room. Something just wasn't right. I wondered what was in my post office box (which had rental renewal coming up), and I didn't want to go back to Remand where I was being threatened. So I capitulated, and the judge fined me $6000, and stretched me for more than 30+ days in lieu (which Dr Chee Soon Juan, may I remind you, got off for just a week).

Out of jail, Chiam See Tong was a little scared to meet me along North Bridge Road outside his law office. Until I had a talk with Chan Fook Meng, I wasn't too clear why. Then there was the 2001 general election. But Chiam See Tong was dragging his feet with the case he was 'helping' me with even after that. So I had to start writing my own letters.

A letter I wrote to Standard Chartered Bank caused Ow Koon Thiam to threaten to sue me for defamation through his lawyer Hoh & Partners (now Hoh Law Corp). So I went along to Chiam See Tong to consult (until I had a talk with Chan Fook Meng, I didn't see why not), and he offered to help me with the defamation suit. Even though I hadn't had my talk with Chan Fook Meng yet, I saw a problem. Chiam See Tong was dragging his feet with my civil suit, did not defend me in my criminal case, and now was offering to represent me in this defamation suit.

I told Chiam See Tong I was getting the hang of it with this Court thing, fresh from my victory against the modern singh and his Section 506 & 507 and all that, and since a defamation suit is something somebody else set up for me, and all I have to do is show up and get fucked by the judge, I'd handle it myself, thank you very much. And I was pressing him to carry on with the original civil suit. I wrote to Ow Koon Thiam's lawyer, a Ms Petula Wong, that I would've been most pleased to see them in Court (and you should read the reply I got at my blog). And you can understand why Chiam See Tong decided to be a full time member of parliament after that. And you can understand why I have a price on my head.

Can you understand why Lee Kuan Yew and Wong Kan Seng are such mother fucking idiots? (and those people who voted for them as well?) If you can gerrymander the laws just to keep yourself in power (for whatever honorable or dishonorable intentions), you cannot then call to account those certainly more dishonorable persons from using the same laws to their own personal advantage.

If Lee Kuan Yew is going to be troubled by James Gomez not suing for being called a liar, the mother fucker is going to have a hard time going to sleep every night. The Cantonment Complex, even if it is re-built into the Cantonment Catacomb, is not going to be able to handle half the lying population asked to show up every day justifying themselves. And would he then be going to be going after Ow Koon Thiam because he didn't after all sue me and SOMETHING HERE IS GENUINELY NOT RIGHT.

And worse still, which fucking moron came up with the idea that Section 506 & 507 would stick on James Gomez when it didn't even glue on me for half a day in Court? And me not even being represented? And should Section 506 & 507 be bounced around all over the place from now on when somebody tells a lie such as when a student is late for school and fib to his principal?

Is James Gomez and his 'lie' such a big issue to the MIW that they have to scrape barrel bottom for something as inappropriate as Section 506 & 507. Or is Lee Kuan Yew trying to cover up for his one, ever, and only election strategy gone berserk (which even the UMNO deceased would be sick of by now). From my own personal affront at the wrong end of Section 506 & 507, I can assure you that everybody in the know, including Dr Chee Soon Juan, just have to be uncontrollably laughing their socks off. And the courtroom is caught between a pit bull and a lapping dog. How is the court ever going to placate Lee Kuan Yew and Wong Kan Seng over the James Gomez non-event without losing its dignity?

I do not pretend to not to know that should Lee Kuan Yew, if he were to read all this, whether he'd pin me up together with Dr Chee and his sister. It would've been my privilege, my honor. Go tell him. I need political asylum to live beyond of next month. There is after all a price on my head, whether I keep my trap shut or not. So I'm not worse off by it.