Archive for the 'law, crime, court cases' Category



The right to burn the flag

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Helen Saada-Ching complained in a letter to the Straits Times (Life! section, 27 July 2013) that at a recent performance of Alfian Sa’at’s Cook a pot of curry, many in the audience did not stand up for the national anthem. Then the play ended with a “cheap gimmick” when the stage curtain — the Singapore flag — “came loose and plummeted to the ground”. Quoting another playwright, Eleanor Wong, she lamented the desecration of national symbols. Continue reading ‘The right to burn the flag’

$1.7 million worth of questions the government is disinclined to answer

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In any real democracy, there would likely be demands for an independent commission of enquiry. Wrong-doing within the ranks of an anti-corruption agency is serious stuff. Any government that truly aims to live up to the highest standards of accountability will agree to one.

Instead, we have a longish statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that contains no information as to how it occurred. Continue reading ‘$1.7 million worth of questions the government is disinclined to answer’

Death behind high walls and carefully scripted statements

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It was disturbing to read that there will not be a coroner’s inquest into the case of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah who died inside Changi Prison on 27 September 2010.

Responding to queries from The New Paper, an [Attorney-General's Chambers] spokesman replied in an e-mail: “In view of the conclusion of criminal proceedings, the inquiry has been discontinued.”

— 24 July 2013, The New Paper, Coroner’s Inquiry into prisoner’s death stopped

Continue reading ‘Death behind high walls and carefully scripted statements’

Home Affairs hits out at filmmaker for ‘contempt of court’

He Junling

He Junling

A few days ago, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) issued a letter of warning to filmmaker Lynn Lee  for “having committed contempt of court”. It asserted that two video clips released by her, featuring interviews with former bus drivers He Junling and Liu Xiangying, “amounted to contempt of court by creating a real risk of prejudice to criminal proceedings which were pending then”. Choo Zheng Xi and Andrew Loh, writing respectively at The Online Citizen and Andrewloh.com, have criticised this move by the AGC, albeit from slightly different angles. Both however are concerned that this represents a usurpation of judicial power by an executive branch.

I can imagine a retort that the AGC’s warning is just that:  “rather than proceedings in Court to commit Ms Lee for contempt of court” (words from the AGC’s statement), it is a warning that prosecution will occur if she repeated her act. That said, the opening sentence in the statement itself — “for having committed” — would undermine such a rebuttal; it sounds like passing judgement. Amazing how AGC lawyers can’t even write clearly! Continue reading ‘Home Affairs hits out at filmmaker for ‘contempt of court’’

Second of two 377A challenges may have to wait a long time for a decision

pic_201303_01aWednesday, 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’

Book: Authoritarian Rule of Law, by Jothie Rajah

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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’

First of two 377A challenges heard in closed court

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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’

Lee Hsien Loong’s French bottom falls out

Demonstrators march through the streets of Paris in support of the French government's draft law to legalise marriage and adoption for same-sex couples

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’

Democracy and human rights in deep freeze: the legacy of Operation Cold Store

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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’

The prime minister needs to meet real people at concerts

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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’


For an update of the case against me, please see AGC versus me, the 2013 round.

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