Gopalan Nair / Press Statement / 11 June 2008For some background to this case, read my two posts here and here.
I am an American citizen and a Singaporean by birth and have always been concerned about the welfare of Singaporeans and Singapore.
I have been a Singapore political opposition supporter and politician from 1980 to 1991, a member of the Workers Party. I contested the 1988 and 1991 Singapore general elections under the Workers Party ticket, the former in Tiong Bahru and the latter at Bukit Merah.
I believe as a human being, it is my right and my duty under the constitution of the Republic of Singapore and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be able to speak free as a free man and to state what I have seen and heard. This benefits Singaporeans and the world at large. If I did not say what I saw, I would in fact be hiding the truth.
This is what I did. It was never my intention to malign or cause distress to anyone and if the words that I had used had this effect, I withdraw them and apologize. But as far as the contents of my blog post; as to the events that occurred during the 3 days in court, it is an accurate observation which I have stated under my right as a free man.
Even though I left for the United States in 1991, I have throughout my stay in the US been closely monitoring the political situation in Singapore and writing about it in my blog the Singapore Dissident, even though as an American citizen, I could have, like countless other overseas Singaporeans completely ignored Singapore.
As a blogger on human rights and the rights of human beings around the world, my efforts are directed to the plight of human beings who are denied their human rights and how I can expose the injustices they suffer. Not only Singaporeans but also every human being is my concern but as I am a Singaporean by birth, naturally I am more concerned with the plight of Singaporeans.
Today, not only the West but every country including ASEAN and Singapore is seen to move towards more human rights, as seen by human rights issues becoming more prominent in ASEAN and other Asian countries. This is evidenced by organs such as the Law Society of Singapore, and other organizations becoming more concerned with human rights affairs. The Law Society of Singapore has recently set up a human rights committee confirming the great interest in this area.
In the US where I come from, the judiciary just as any other government or official body is open to criticism and they accept it as necessary for the advancement and improvement of the administration of justice.
My blog was written as a message to the world about my views of matters of public interest. I have been accused of sending Emails to Judge Belinda Ang and others but this is not true. I did not at anytime send any Emails to Judge Belinda Ang or anyone else as far as this incident is concerned. The police had seized my notebook containing my Email password and my blog access.
In the Lee Kuan Yew vs. Dr. Chee Soon Juan et al, case, the assessment of damages against Dr. Chee was going to be heard between May 26 2008 to May 28 2008 in the High Court in Singapore, I made arrangements to come to Singapore to attend the hearing. I am a Singapore patriot at heart and whatever I have done and do as regards my activities relating the future of Singapore is because I care for Singapore and Singaporeans. I worry about the future of Singapore and Singaporeans and am always on the lookout to see where and how I can be of assistance for the welfare and interest of Singaporeans.In Singapore I attended the said hearing at the High Court as an observer in the gallery from May 26 2008 to May 28 2008 attending every hearing entirely.
During the High Court hearing, I found Judge Belinda Ang to be completely unfair and prejudicial to the interests of Dr. Chee, Chee Siok Chin and the SDP. Almost every question put by Dr. Chee, Chee Siok Chin and Ravi on behalf of the SDP were disallowed and each and every question put up by the lawyer for Lee Kuan Yew and his son were invariably allowed. Almost every objection raised by the lawyer for Lee Kuan Yew was sustained, keeping in mind that the lawyer for Lee Kuan Yew and son, objected to almost every question that Dr. Chee and company raised.
To state plainly, Dr. Chee and his company was denied the right to cross-examine the Plaintiffs in any meaningful way. In fact we could go even further and say that he and Siok Chin were denied the right to cross-examine Lee and Son almost entirely. In fact if Dr. Chee managed to put any questions to Lee and Son, it was over the refusal of Judge Belinda Ang to allow the questions, so much so that Judge Belinda Ang had to repeatedly prevent Dr. Chee and Siok Chin from conducting any meaningful cross examination.
My honest observation of the entire 3 days left me in no doubt at all that this Judge was clearly unfair towards Dr. Chee and Siok Chin and she did not appear to conduct herself as an impartial judge in court sitting in judgment between the parties.
Having seen this, there was a compelling need for me to tell the world what I saw, and not publicizing this would be denying the right of Singaporeans to know the truth of what happened in court during the 3 said days; and it was also necessary for me as a human being, to make it public and to the world what this court actually was, since they would not have had the luxury of being in court during the 3 days.
These are two media reports on today's events,
US blogger called Singapore judges 'corrupt': indictment
SINGAPORE, June 12, 2008 (AFP) - A US-based blogger accused of calling Singapore judges "corrupt" could face up to a year in jail, according to charges filed Thursday.
It was the second charge filed this month against Gopalan Nair, a former Singaporean lawyer who is now a US citizen, for his alleged comments about the judiciary.
Nair, 58, was in court to hear the latest allegation against him. He is charged with insulting Supreme Court Justice Lai Siu Chiu in an email on March 17, 2006.
The email said Lai has "no shame" and that judges "are selling their souls and their conscience for money," according to a court document.
"Your Singapore judges, including Lai, are corrupt judges," the document cited his email as saying.
Nair allegedly sent the email on the day Lai sentenced opposition party leader Chee Soon Juan to a one-day jail term and fined him for contempt of court.
Earlier this month, Nair was charged with insulting another judge, Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean.
Court documents in that case allege he sent an email accusing Ang of "prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore's founding father) and his son (the current premier) and carrying out their orders."
Nair's lawyer said those comments essentially repeated ones that Nair made in a blog about a defamation case filed by Singapore's leaders against Chee and his party.
In the blog, Nair strongly criticised a legal hearing at which Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, testified.
Nair told reporters later Thursday at an open-air coffee shop: "Well, my stand is to dispute the charges."
He also said if he used words that Justice Ang or anyone else found offensive, then he apologises. "But I am not apologising for the contents", he added.
Nair said he travelled to Singapore specifically to witness the hearing involving Lee Kuan Yew and Chee.
"My blog was written as a message to the world about my views of matters of public interest," Nair said, adding that he can no longer access his blog.
On the day of his arrest, Nair wrote on his blog that he was in Singapore at a particular hotel, and gave his phone number.
"I am now within your jurisdiction... What are you going to do about it?" wrote Nair, a former Workers' Party candidate for parliament.
"I wouldn't say that I was taunting the authorities. I just wanted to make it clear that I was in Singapore. I was also very upset," Nair told reporters.
The latest charge against Nair carries a maximum fine of 5,000 dollars (3,600 US), or one year in prison, or both.
Singapore's leaders say the city-state's judiciary has been been held in high esteem by the World Bank and other international groups. Foreign investors have also praised the country's legal system.
U.S. lawyer faces more charges of Singapore judge insults
SINGAPORE, June 12 (Reuters) - A U.S lawyer already facing a charge of insulting a Singapore judge was indicted on Thursday in a Singapore court for disparaging another member of the bench in an email he sent two years ago. The second charge against Gopalan Nair, a former Singaporean now based in California, said he insulted Judge Lai Siu Chiu in an email sent to her secretary around March 2006 and accusing her of bias.
It is not clear what case the judge was presiding on.
The maximum sentence for the second indictment is a fine of S$5,000 and a jail term of one year.
"The reason why and her fellow judges punish and silence PAP critics is because judges are well paid and have comfortable lives," court documents quoted Nair's email as saying.
The PAP, or People's Action Party, is Singapore's ruling party headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. It has dominated Singapore politics since independence.
"It is my right and it is my duty under the constitution of the Republic of Singapore and Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be able to speak free as a free man and to state what I have seen and heard. This benefits Singaporeans and the world at large," Nair, on bail, told reporters ahead of a hearing next Monday.
Nair was arrested after returning to Singapore last month to attend a three-day hearing presided over by Judge Belinda Ang to determine defamation damages to be paid by a Singapore opposition party and its leader to Prime Minister Lee and his father Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore's prime minister for decades.
Nair, a critic of Singapore's ruling party, stood for election in 1991 as a member of the opposition Workers' Party. He was later found guilty of contempt of court stemming from an election rally speech and ordered to pay S$21,000 in legal costs and fines.
The U.S. embassy said it was monitoring the case.
"We are consistently advocating for the freedom of expression, including the Internet," an embassy official said.