Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hong Lim Park Countdown, 31 Dec, 6pm to 12am

What are you doing on New Year's Eve?
Singapore Democrats, 15 Dec 08

Dear all,

Every year on the eve of the New Year, we do a countdown with MediaCorp on Orchard Road and sing Auld Lang Syne with the President or the PAP Ministers. And every year nothing changes. Can the celebration be anymore meaningless?

This year, for the first time in Singapore's history, an opposition party is organising a New Year's Eve gathering. It'll be at the Speakers' Corner. While we want this to be a time of celebration, we also want it to be a moment of reflection of what went on this year and what's in store the next.

Of course, 2008 cannot pass without remembering the passing away of a friend and loyal servant of this nation, the late Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (JBJ). In the final minutes of the year, it would be appropriate to remember him and everything he has done for Singapore. More importantly, let us stand by his legacy and help make it grow. Speakers will pay tribute to the man and we will organise an "open-mic" for those who wish to remember him.

There will also New Year's Wish Board where folks will be able to write and post their wishes and resolutions for 2009. We'll sing freedom songs as well as songs of tribute to JBJ. We'll do a countdown ourselves to 2009 and usher in the New Year our way. We're also planning to do a candlelight display with the help of everyone present.

Party members and Friends of SDP will be serving a simple dinner of hot dogs and chips.

There'll be plenty to do that evening and we hope that you will bring your family and friends to be with people who truly care about this nation and its future. Let us make this a truly memorable and meaningful evening.

So join us at Hong Lim Park starting at 6 pm on 31 Dec 2008 all the way into the 2009. Tell everyone!

We'll be announcing more details in the coming days. (See here and here)

Gandhi Ambalam
Singapore Democratic Party

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Book review: Beyond Suspicion? - The Singapore Judiciary

See my earlier post for an excerpt from this book by Francis Seow.

This is a book review by Michael D Barr. Barr is the author of Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs Behind the Man which was published in 2000. This year saw the publication of the book Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore which Barr co-edited with Carl A Trocki. Barr's chapter in the book is called Singapore's Catholic Social Activists: Alleged Marxist Conspirators.

Source: Singapore Window

Pacific Affairs Fall 2008
Vol 81, Number 3

ProQuest Asian Business and Reference pg. 494

Review by Dr Michael D Barr, Flinders University, Australia

BEYOND SUSPICION? The Singapore Judiciary By Francis T. Seow; with a foreword by Gary Woodard. New Haven (Connecticut): Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 2006. xxii, 405pp. (Tables.) US$26.00 paper. ISBN 0-938692-87-9.

Order from Amazon

FRANCIS Seow's third book is a savage and unmerciful critique of Singapore's judicial system. He provides convincing evidence that the Singapore court system is basically the play-thing of former Prime Minister (currently Minister Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew, through which he toys with and destroys his enemies at his leisure; corrupting the Bench, the legal profession, the police and the profession of journalism on the way through. The case presented by Seow - which is overwhelming drawn from the intimate detail of a single legal battle - demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that Singapore is at heart a corrupt dictatorship separated from Third World dictatorships primarily by its national income and the cleverness of the techniques by which it manipulates institutional power.

It is a damning indictment that could have been much more powerful if Seow had resisted the temptation to indulge in childish name calling and heavy-handed didacticism. These acts of self-indulgence dominate the first part of the book and are never far away in the rest. Their main impact, as far as I can see, is to give defenders of the Singapore system and of Lee Kuan Yew the excuse they need to dismiss the book as "just another anti-Singapore rant". Seow's arrogant style was probably perfected while he was part of the system he is now critiquing (having been Lee's choice for the position of Solicitor-General in the 1980s), but if the reader can put these defects aside it will become clear that this is a deeply disturbing story of manipulative and duplicitous behaviour on the part of Lee Kuan Yew as he set out to use a quiescent judicial and legal fraternity to destroy an innocent man, along with his wife and his lawyer.

The man in question is Tang Liang Hong who had the temerity to question the procedure by which Lee Kuan Yew and other notables (including his son and the current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong), were cleared of any suggestion of impropriety when they accepted million dollar discounts from a property developer. Much of the book is concerned with the political and public relations machinations by which Tang was caught up in Lee's web of retaliation, but in this review it must be sufficient to relay just a few of the most salient facts to give the reader a sense of the book.

For instance, what are we to make of a legal system that gives a defendant a couple of hours (literally) to find a solicitor, a translator (since she could speak no English), and prepare and present a defence in court to a procedure about which she had literally no understanding? Or where a judge sits in judgement on a case where he himself is implicated as a recipient of one of the real estate discounts that started the whole procedure, and who had previously worked for the family law firm of the primary litigant (Lee Kuan Yew)? Or where a judge (not the same judge) can receive many sets of documents, each hundreds of pages thick and so badly copied and paginated as to substantially illegible and unreadable, and yet two and a half hours later bring down a legal judgement based on his considered legal interpretation of the implications of their contents? Or where a summons to chambers is issued by an appellant's lawyers rather than by the court, but the court upholds it? Or where evidence that proves beyond all reasonable doubt the innocence of the defendant is not only refused admission in court, but all record of its existence is expunged from the record?

Seow has drawn primarily on court documents for his evidence, having been supplied with a complete set (included documents later expunged from the record) by Tang Liang Hong, who is now a de facto exile from Singapore. Fully the last third of the volume is occupied by transcriptions of some of the most damning court documents, including a fair sample of documents where Lee Kuan Yew and his allies condemn themselves by their own words. (Seow delights in using Lee's own words to demonstrate his capriciousness and duplicity. At one point he was even able to cite Lee as his primary source to sustain his charge that Lee was the arch-manipulator of the proceedings. Seow tends to overplay his hand when using this technique, but Lee's arrogance and peremptory choice of words do rather lend themselves to ridicule.)

This is a powerful book, but it could have been much more.

Dr Barr :
Lecturer in International Relations,
School of Political and International Studies,
Flinders University

School Director of Studies (B.A)

School Ethics Research Adviser Deputy Chair,
Faculty of Social Sciences Undergraduate Standing Committee.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Report, photos & videos of Roo Boys' release from Queenstown Remand Prison

More photos here

The latest Hooray
Singapore Democrats, 19 Dec 2008

A candlelight vigil was held on the night of 17 Dec 08, the last night of Mr Isrizal's and Mr Shafi'ie's prison sentence.

More than 30 friends, family, activists and supporters came to the vigil which stretched through the night as they awaited the release of the two men. Mr John Tan started serving his sentence on 16 Dec and will be released on 30 Dec 08.

Candles were lit and lined the kerb facing the main gates of the Queenstown Remand Prison. By midnight, there were just five who were able to stay through the night. But they were not alone as messages of support and pledges of solidarity had been penned on a large placard. SMSes of the same spirit were received throughout the night.

A vigil is a kind of purposeful sleeplessness – the Latin root, vigilia, denotes "watch, watchfulness, wakefulness". Traditionally used in an ecclesiastical sense to describe a devotional exercise performed on the eve of a festival or holy day, in this instance it was a night to devote attention to our three prisoners of conscience.

Famously dubbed as the "kangaroo t-shirt trio", the contempt of court charges were brought against them by the Attorney-General who insisted that he took action in his capacity as the "Guardian of the Public Interest".

As a public interest issue, the question remains if this was the best course of action to take against three citizens for wearing t-shirts which bore an image with no words.

The night was cool and the air still. Sound carried from the guardhouse behind the gates. At one point, late into the night, the guard could be heard reporting on the vigil: "One was 'doing arts-&-craft', the others chatting whilst another was 'looking at the stars', etc." The arts-&-craft activity was in reference to the making of a "Welcome Back" sign.

A song* (see below) was written and rehearsed, sung tongue-in-cheek to the tune of Amazing Grace, to greet the two.

Morning came and supporters and well-wishers arrived to greet the two as the time of release neared.

At around 10 am, Mr Shafi'ie emerged. He strode to the gates, calm, composed and dignified. He was garlanded and warmly hugged. He was also presented with a booklet, a compilation of articles about his valour and strength in the face of such difficulty, especially at such a young age. The song was performed with gusto and to much laughter.

Mr Isrizal appeared soon after (at about 10.30 am). Upon exiting the prison, he punched the air shouting "Merdeka!" The same welcome was extended and he was also garlanded, hugged and "serenaded".

*Song lyrics

Oh Shafi'ie and Isrizal,
For seven days, you were jailed
Because of _ _ _ and _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (**)
And a single kangaroo

And now you're back with us today
We hope you enjoyed your stay
But John's still inside this afternoon
And the rest will join in, soon

Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray Hooray

Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray today

**Play hangman. Fill in the blanks at your own peril.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

3 Jan 09 - Memorial service for J B Jeyaretnam

Date: Jan 3, 2009
Time: 5pm - 6.30pm
Venue: St Andrew's Cathedral
Organiser: Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Sign-up/log-in to see the facebook event page here. See here for the facebook group In Memory of J B Jeyaretnam.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Overnight vigil for 3 prisoners of conscience on Dec 17

There will be a candlelight vigil from 8pm, Wednesday 17 December 2008 outside Queenstown Remand Prison for the three jailed citizens – activists Isrizal Mohamed Isa and Muhammad Shafi'ie Syahmi Sariman, and the Assistant Secretary-General of the SDP, John Tan. They were convicted for contempt of court for wearing t-shirts bearing only an image in and around the New Supreme Court Building whilst another hearing was going on in May 2008. This was interpreted to have scandalised the Singapore Judiciary.

The charges were brought against the three in the Attorney-General's capacity as the "Guardian of the Public Interest" (as recorded in the submissions made by the AG). Contempt of court is a serious charge with consequences that impinge upon the fundamental liberty of a person, and this power of the Courts should be exercised with great wisdom. Given that the matter was pursued 4 to 5 months after the fact; and that the sentences passed (7 days in jail for Isrizal and Shafi'ie, 15 days for John as well as each being ordered to be pay costs of $5000 plus disbursements to the Attorney-General) are one of the heaviest sentences, did it really serve the public interest to have theses cases brought to court? If it is indeed such a grave public interest issue, was there anything else that could have been done to resolve the matter more efficiently and effectively? Perhaps they could have been warned on the day of the incident itself, or stopped, or had the t-shirts confiscated. Instead state resources have been ploughed into putting these brave souls, who did not apologise based on reasons of conscience and convictions, behind bars.

The vigil will be a show of solidarity and support, as well as to welcome Isrizal and Shafi'ie, who will be released the next morning (Thursday, 18 December) at 9.30am. Regrettably, John would still be serving his sentence, which would have commenced on 16 December 2008.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What the Constitution gives, the State takes away

Judge refuses to consider ban on protests unconstitutional
Singapore Democrats, 4 Dec 08

In the ongoing trial of four activists charged for attempting to participate in a procession, Dr Chee Soon Juan asked District Judge Toh Yong Joo to allow the defendants to question the police on why it rejected the application for a permit to conduct a rally and march. The Judge refused.

Dr Chee also asked the Judge to determine that the policy to ban all demonstrations and processions in Singapore is unconstitutional. The Judge also refused.

Dr Chee is charged together with Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr Teoh Tian Jing for protesting during the WB-IMF meeting in Sep 06.

In his submissions Dr Chee cited a decision made by former Chief Justice Yong Pung How who had relied on Lord Justice Woolf's judgment in an English case.

Woolf LJ had ruled that where it is pointed that there has been an abuse of power and bad faith on the policy maker a criminal court should allow cross-examination of the prosecution witness to determine the issue.

The issue stemmed from prosecution witness Deputy Superintendent Marc E Kwan Szer's testimony that the "policy position of the police regarding outdoor processions and demonstrations is one of disallowance."

Dr Chee asked Judge Toh to rule that this policy contravenes the constitution that guaranteed Singaporeans the right to freedom of speech and assembly.

"No person, able to reason, would conclude that the policy is not substantially out of line and patently unreasonable with the Constitution, both in spirit and in the letter," the SDP leader pointed out.

He added that the police are playing the fool with the Constitution which according to Article 4 "is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution void."

He cited Lord Justice Woolf's judgement on this issue: "No citizen is required to comply with a law which is bad on its face. If the citizen is satisfied that that is the situation, he is entitled to ignore the law."

The Prosecutor insisted that the only thing that mattered was whether or not the defendants had a permit to conduct their activity. But didn't DSP Marc E testify that all applications for demonstrations and processions would be disallowed?

"The illogic of the charge jars the reasonable mind. Can the police accuse anyone of not having a permit when it makes clear that it will not give that permit?" Dr Chee posed the question to the Judge.

"If the Constitution clearly tells me that I have the right to freedom of speech and assembly," the SDP leader continued, "but the police tell me that it will not grant me a permit for it, then the police policy is clearly [unconstitutional].

"This being the case, LJ Woolf, to which Yong CJ attached much importance, tells me that I am not required to comply with such a policy."

Judge Toh dismissed Dr Chee's arguments and insisted that the only thing that was important was the "existence or non-existence of a permit."

The hearing continues at Subordinate Court 19 at 9:30 am tomorrow.
Full text of Dr Chee's submissions

Your Honour,

When the defence tried to question the witness, licensing officer DSP Marc E Kwan Szer, to show that the police had acted in bad faith when they rejected my application for a rally and march on 16 September 2006, and hence violating my constitutional rights, the prosecution objected on two grounds:

One, the line of questioning was irrelevant to the charge and, two, that even if it was relevant, this court is not the forum to hear such an issue. The proper forum should be by way of a Judicial Review.

Let me begin by addressing the second question first, that is, whether this court is the proper forum to canvas issues about bad faith and mala fide on the part of the police as it relates to the constitution.

I will do this by citing the decision of Yong Pung How, then CJ, in Colin Chan v PP (1994) 3 SLR 662. In the decision, Yong CJ had examined a host of authorities and culminated with the citing of an English case Bugg v PP (1993) 2 WLR 628 which was heard by Woolf LJ.

Yong CJ remarked that some “conflicting decisions seem to have been finally determined“ by Woolf LJ in Bugg v PP. I quote Yong CJ to emphasize the weight he placed on Woolf's LJ judgment, that there was a sense of a finality, and hence great importance, in Woolf's decision.

Woolf had addressed the issue of the role of a criminal court, such as this one, as it related to the question of substantive validity of a law or subordinate law. Woolf LJ said:
"These developments are, in our judgment, of importance when considering the proper role of a criminal court where a defendant who is charged with breaching a byelaw seeks to challenge the validity of that byelaw. It is possible to identify at least two different situations in which this will arise. The first is where the byelaw is on its face invalid because either it is without the power pursuant to which it was made because, for example, it seeks to deal with matters outside the scope of the enabling legislation, or it is patently unreasonable. This can be described as substantive invalidity."
Is there a question of substantive invalidity in the present case? Of course, there is. I want to place these two statements side by side. The first statement is Article 14 (1) of the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land:

(a) every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) all citizens of Singapore have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms; and

(c) all citizens of Singapore have the right to form associations.

The second statement is from the witness DSP Marc E: "police position regarding outdoor processions and demonstrations is one of disallowance...Our policy position is clear: Outdoor processions and demonstrations are disallowed whether or not there is a major meeting going on.

Your Honour, you will first have to rule whether, on the face of it, this police policy enunciated by DSP Marc E is substantively invalid vis-a-vis the Constitution.

I recognise that subsection 2 of Article 14 provides that Parliament may by law impose restrictions. But these restrictions are imposed only under certain circumstances such as the security of Singapore is concerned, or where public order is threatened.

It does not allow the government, or worse the police, to adopt a "position" that "outdoor processions and demonstrations is one of disallowance" and that "all applications are rejected."

The police are playing the fool with the Constitution. They are making a mockery of our Constitution which states in Article 4: "This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void."

It would take someone very reckless to say that there is no substantive invalidity in this police policy. No person, able to reason, would conclude that the policy is not substantially out of line and patently unreasonable with the Constitution, both in spirit and in the letter.

Or course the next question that is: Does this court have the power to consider such a question of substantive validity? Of course, you have. Woolf LJ writes:
"In the criminal proceeding what has to be established is that the byelaw is unreasonable in the way in which it operates. This aspect of substantive invalidity was illustrated by Lord Russell of Killowen CJ in Kruse v Johnson (1898) 2 Q B 91, 99 as occurring, for instance, if the byelaws:'were found to be partial and unequal in their operation as between different classes; if they were manifestly unjust; if they disclosed bad faith; if they involved such oppressive or gratuitous interference with the rights of those subject to them as could find no justification in the minds of reasonable men...' "
Woolf reiterates this point later:
"In the case of substantive invalidity, it is a matter of law whether, for example, a byelaw is unreasonable in operation or is out with the authorising power. No evidence is required; the [criminal] court can decide the issue by looking at the terms of the primary legislation and the subordinate legislation which is alleged to be invalid."
So the law is utterly clear that the criminal court, that is this present court, can consider the question of whether the written policy of the Singapore Police Force is substantively invalid of the Constitution.

Which brings us to the next question: What does this Court do with a policy that is substantively invalid? On this subject Woolf LJ didn'tt mince his words:
"Where the law is substantively invalid...No citizen is required to comply with a law which is bad on its face. If the citizen is satisfied that that is the situation, he is entitled to ignore the law."
I had a discussion with a lawyer and she had tried explaining to me what an "element of the charge" was. She used the analogy of a person being charged for, say, not displaying a parking coupon. An element of the charge is that there was no coupon displayed at the time the car was checked.

She went on to explain that the driver cannot then say that at that time the shops were all closed and there was no one from whom he could purchase the parking coupon. Such a defence was irrelevant to the element of the charge.

But what if the authorities said they did not sell the coupons? Would the matter now change? The driver had no way of buying such coupons at any time to display on his car. Could he still be charged for parking his without a coupon?

This is exactly what is happening in our present charge. The prosecution maintains that the element of the charge, or at least one of the elements, is that we did not have a permit for the procession. But as you have heard from DSP Marc E, the police's policy position is that they reject all applications and that they disallow all processions.

The illogic of the charge jars the reasonable mind. Can the police accuse anyone of not having a permit when it makes clear that it will not give that permit?

If the Constitution clearly tells me that I have the right to freedom of speech and assembly but the police tells me that it will not grant me a permit for it, then the police policy is clearly substantively invalid and this being the case Woolf's LJ decision, to which Yong CJ attached much importance, tells me that I am not required to comply with such a policy.

Clearly there is an abuse of power on the part of the police to not give permits under any circumstance because, as I outlined above, the Constitution does not grant the blanket ban on demonstrations and processions.

We have been trying to demonstrate to the court that there is abuse of power, mala fide and bad faith by the police. The only way that we can do this is to adduce evidence through cross-examination of the present witness, Mr Marc E. Should Your Honour allow us to do with such cross-examination?

Woolf LJ cannot be clearer on this:
"We have particularly in mind cases where it is suggested that there has been an abuse of power because of mala fides on the part of the byelaw maker. In the case of bad faith, there may be an issue which the criminal court can determine and if so, evidence will be required."
To recap:

The crux of the matter is that our constitutional rights may not be taken away by the police taking on some "policy position." Such policy is substantively invalid.

The issue of substantive invalidity of the police policy must be relevant to the charge because it renders the charge null and void. No citizen is expected to obey a law that is substantively invalid to the Constitution.

There is more than a suggestion of bad faith and mala fide on the part of the police. This necessitates our cross-examination of the licensing officer in order for us to adduce evidence.

Because of the issues of substantive invalidity and bad faith, this court has the power to hear the arguments without the need for a Judicial Review.

Your Honour, the law is clearly with the defence and we ask that you administer justice accordingly.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back to being Singapore Dissident

I wonder what the Attorney-General's Chambers means when its reported to have said its "currently looking into the matter". Ominous choice of words. Don't tell me they're going to pursue Gopalan Nair all the way to the United States.
Nair retracts apologies
by Zakir Hussain, ST Online, 3 Dec 08

FORMER Singaporean lawyer Gopalan Nair, now back home in the United States, has retracted apologies and statements he made in court here last month.

Mr Nair, an American citizen, had admitted to being in contempt of court and apologised for offending remarks he made about the judiciary and a district judge.

He also promised to remove two blog posts relating to his trial and conviction for disorderly behaviour.

But in a blog post on Nov 28 - two days after returning to the US from Singapore - he announced that he was withdrawing the admission and apologies, and repeated his criticism of the judiciary.

Mr Nair, who lives in Fremont, near San Francisco, wrote: 'The only reason for my apology was a desire to get out of prison as soon as possible.

'They brought these new contempt charges while I was incarcerated in prison, with only eight days to go for my release. If I had not apologised as Lee Kuan Yew wanted, there was the possibility that I could be kept in prison for a further period of up to six months...'

On the two postings he agreed to remove, and which he did delete from his blog, he 'will be re-posting those two blog posts and stand by every word that I had written in them'.

He has yet to re-post them, a check last night showed.

Asked for comments on these developments, a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said it is 'currently looking into the matter'.

Mr Nair came to Singapore in May to attend a hearing to assess damages in a defamation suit that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew won against the Singapore Democratic Party, its chief Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin.

In writing about the case on his blog, he insulted High Court Justice Belinda Ang, who presided over the case. He was charged and found guilty of the offence and received a three-month jail term in September.

Separately, in July, he behaved in a disorderly fashion and hurled expletives at police officers. He was charged and after a trial held on various dates between July and September, he was fined $3,000.

In late October, while he was serving his three-month term, the AGC applied to start contempt proceedings for Mr Nair's attacks on the independence of the judge and judiciary. These were made during his trial for disorderly conduct and in two blog posting.

The posts on Sept 1 and Sept 6 were titled 'Another classic case of trying to use the courts to silence dissent' and 'Convicted'.

But when he was brought to court on Nov 12 for the contempt hearing, Mr Nair unconditionally withdrew the allegations he made against District Judge James Leong, and statements alleging that the courts were beholden to the Government.

As a result of the apology and an undertaking he gave not to make such statements in future, and to remove the offending blog posts, the AGC did not press for a jail term.

Mr Nair was admonished, warned against launching future attacks on the judiciary, and had to pay the AGC $5,000 in legal costs.

Shortly after his release from prison on Nov 20 - following a one-third remission on his three-month sentence for good behaviour - he returned to the US.

Apart from last Friday's blog post retracting his statements, Mr Nair had a separate post on Sunday criticising High Court Justice Judith Prakash. This was over the jail terms she imposed on three men found to be in contempt of court for wearing T-shirts depicting a kangaroo in judge's robes.

Fremont attorney released from Singapore jail
By Linh Tat, The Argus, 28 Nov 08

FREMONT — Immigration attorney Gopalan Nair returned to the Bay Area this week after six months in Singapore, where he was imprisoned for two months after being convicted of sedition.

Nair, a San Jose resident who practices law in Fremont — in an office above The Argus — maintained his innocence Friday and continued to lash out at the Singaporean government as being corrupt.

The 58-year-old had traveled to his homeland in May to observe the defamation trial of some opposition political leaders.

Afterward, he criticized the High Court judge, Belinda Ang, as a "stooge" for the country's leader, Lee Kuan Yew. She was "prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders," he wrote in a May 29 blog entry.

Friday, he pulled out his Webster's dictionary to explain what he meant by prostitute: "a person ... who sells his or her services for low or unworthy purposes."

Nair said he did not mean the judge engaged in sexual activities, but that she had misused her powers.

"Those words were strong, no doubt. But ... those words were necessary because this judge was ... shamelessly abusing her authority," he said.

"She was not carrying out her duties in a judicial manner."

In the same blog entry, Nair seemingly challenged the court by providing his name and the name and address of the hotel at which he was staying, stating that, "It will be interesting to see if ... Lee Kuan Yew and son, who strut around ... bullying everyone who so much as criticized (them), will sue me now for calling him nothing more than a small time street bully."

Nair was arrested at the hotel May 31 and spent several days in solitary confinement, during which time police officers would interrogate him at odd hours of the night to try to get him to confess to e-mailing the judge with threatening letters, he said. He has continued to deny that accusation.

The immigration attorney posted bail about a week after his arrest, and a trial date was set for September. But Nair said authorities confiscated his passport, forcing him to remain in the area.

Homeless, Nair at one point slept in a warehouse and developed a respiratory problem that landed him in a hospital for five days, he said.

On July 4, while awaiting trial, Nair was arrested again — this time for disorderly conduct and insulting an officer. He denied both claims, saying he was walking alone on the street when five plainclothes officers attacked him. Nevertheless, Nair was found guilty and fined $3,000.

As for the sedition charge, despite his insistence that he had used the term "prostituting" correctly and that he never sent threatening e-mails to the judge, Nair was sentenced in September to three months in jail. After serving two months, he was released Nov. 20 for good behavior.

A week before his release, Nair said authorities accused him being contemptuous in court during the trial regarding his July 4 arrest. Because he did not want to jeopardize his chances of being released, Nair said he pleaded guilty and agreed never to criticize the government on his blog again. He also agreed to remove controversial entries he had posted Sept. 1 and 6.

But on Friday, he said he plans to repost the two previous entries and that he will continue to write critical pieces of the government, realizing he'll never be able to step foot in Singapore again.

Nair, who lived a total of 35 years in Singapore, twice ran for Parliament as a member of the Workers Party, but lost his bids for office. He immigrated to the United States in 1991, where he was granted political asylum and became a U.S. citizen in 2005.

After leaving Singapore this week, he flew into San Francisco airport Wednesday, and spent his first two nights back in the United States at the Islander Motel in Fremont because power and water lines had been turned off at his San Jose home. Although electricity had not been restored to his home by Friday evening, Nair planned to return home.

He owes about six months in mortgage payments for his house, back rent for his law office, plus he needs to pay off his credit cards, including half a year's worth of interest. While waiting for his trial to begin in Singapore, Nair took out cash advances on his credit card to pay for living expenses.

Factoring in lost wages, court fees and the interests on debts he owes, Nair estimated that the entire ordeal has set him back $100,000 — and he believes he is in danger of losing his house.

"I paid a price, but the Singaporean government has paid a bigger price," he said, adding that his case has shed more light on what he called a tyrannical government.

"Before this incident, I was just Gopalan Nair. Who? ... But after this case, (Singaporean leaders) have made me more popular. They made my blog popular. They've given publicity to my cause," he said.