Wednesday, 6 March 2013, was the day Tan Eng Hong’s challenge to the constitutionality of Section 377A was heard in closed court. Section 377A of the Penal Code is the law that criminalises “gross indecency” between two men.
This follows quite soon after the court date for another challenge to the same law, mounted by Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee and reported in First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court.
In the Tan Eng Hong case, there are pages and pages of arguments, but my sense, on reading them, is that the issue is being distilled to a few crucial points. And these crucial points are not specific to the “gay issue”, but will prove important to any future constitutional challenge that is based on Article 12 (the equality provision) of our constitution. Continue reading ‘Second of two 377A challenges may have to wait a long time for a decision’
If you have time for just one chapter, read Chapter 3 on the Vandalism Act. You will not see Singapore law the same way again.
Most of us are happy that Singapore is a relatively graffiti-free city, but as law academic Jothie Rajah demonstrates through her unearthing of the parliamentary speeches surrounding the bill in 1966, the intention of this law was completely different. It was a bulldozer of a law designed to destroy an opposition party. Through this law, ‘vandalism’ was made a cipher for opposition politics (page 74) and the aim of the law was to extinguish the Barisan Sosialis’ messaging to the people. Caning was its chief instrument. Continue reading ‘Book: Authoritarian Rule of Law, by Jothie Rajah’
The first of two cases challenging the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code was heard today in the High Court. Referred to here as Chee and Lim versus Attorney-General, the plaintiffs were Kenneth Chee Mun-leon and Lim Meng Suan. They were represented by Peter Low and Choo Zheng Xi.
The court was not open to the public; it is not known who applied for the court to be closed. I only know that the plaintiffs did not.
I have not yet seen transcripts of the oral arguments, but can only rely on the written submissions. However, oral arguments tend to follow written submissions closely. The longish article below outlines the key arguments deployed. Continue reading ‘First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court’
Barely a week after Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong cited opposition in France to gay marriage as a reason not to do anything about Singapore’s anti-gay law, he was shown up for his piss-scared views by the government of President François Hollande. The French National Assembly approved a key part of Hollande’s Reform Bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The French showed that controversy is no excuse for inaction.
With that, the bottom fell out of Lee’s argument.
Continue reading ‘Lee Hsien Loong’s French bottom falls out’
Guest article by Poh Soo Kai, by invitation from Yawning Bread
Operation Cold Store was launched on 2 February 1963 by the British colonialists with the connivance of Lee Kuan Yew. Over a hundred left-wing activists, including myself, were arrested. In one fell swoop, the entire leadership of the Barisan Sosialis, the main opposition force in Singapore, was decimated. Continue reading ‘Democracy and human rights in deep freeze: the legacy of Operation Cold Store’
In Pastor ambushes Goh Chok Tong with demand to defend 377A, I said that Goh Chok Tong gave a wooden response. Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong seems determined to outdo Goh in maladroit replies.
At a forum on Monday, 28 January 2013, he was faced with a question on section 377A of the Penal Code, asked by Braema Mathi, the president of human rights group Maruah. Today newspaper reported the question, although it did not report her name. Continue reading ‘The prime minister needs to meet real people at concerts’
Uzzal Kumar Mondal won his case at the ‘Labour Court’ and was awarded compensation totalling $69,838. A workplace accident left him virtually blind in his right eye. The compensation order was issued on 25 October 2012. His employer has stubbornly not paid despite being given a deadline of 21 days from the date of the court order. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is not lifting a finger to help him get what is due to him.
Quite the contrary. In the second week of January, an MOM officer called him back and interrogated him. For four hours, according to Uzzal, he was talked to constantly. The officer asked him all sorts of questions about the accident all over again, at one point saying something to the effect that if his details today did not coincide with his earlier statements, there would be “problems” for him.
What was meant by that?
Uzzal felt harassed throughout. He felt that the officer was intent on tripping him up, and fishing for ways to reverse the court order; perhaps even looking for a way to prosecute him for lying under oath. Continue reading ‘Injured worker awarded $69,000 in compensation, employer not paying’
These five men, all farmers from the rural backwaters of Bangladesh, were flotsam for our bureaucracy for three months recently. They didn’t know what was swirling around them and had absolutely no control over their fate. All the while that they were stuck here and not allowed to work, their already-poor families fell into financial desperation.
Their experience reveals a side of Singapore we can’t be proud of. Continue reading ‘Five men, like flotsam’
Last Friday, 30 November 2012, a new constitutional challenge was filed in the High Court against the constitutionality of Section 377A of the Penal Code. The plaintiffs, Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, partners for 15 years, say the law entrenches “stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people in society.”
The Singapore constitution’s Article 12 promises equal protection under the law. Continue reading ‘New constitutional challenge to Section 377A filed’
If there was any breath of fresh air in the news last week, it was the attitude of Alvin Tan Jye Yee. In a week dominated by Deputy Prime Minister Yeo Chee Hean trying drearily to spin his arm-twisting of the Catholic archbishop into a friendly chat, and the tabling of a data privacy bill before parliament that completely exempted government agencies from its scope, it was wonderful to see a young man stand up against convention.
As most readers will know by now, the law student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) had uploaded onto his blog sexually explicit photos and videos of himself and his girlfriend Vivian Lee (some however have said she is not his steady girlfriend, but this is not a material point). When he posted on an online forum a link to his blog, he became the sensation of the week. Continue reading ‘Alvin and his university, Jovan and his school’