Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alan Shadrake Self-Pwnage

Alan Shadrake is now a popular name. He is being pictured as an opponent of the death penalty being persecuted by the regime. This is a clever presentation of facts as it wins more sympathy. People are more inclined to believe that the regime is intolerant of criticisms of its policies. Who can blame them? They are right in most cases. However, the regime's version is that Alan Shadrake is being charged with criminal defamation of the courts. So Alan is placed on the docks not because of his criticism of the capital punishment system, but the court system. In the regime's defence, they are right. Nobody ever was arrested for their views on the death penalty per se e.g. the good people from The Online Citizen.

What is old ground is this - the regime uses the letter of the law to its legal extreme in selective castigation of selected critics. So far, from FEER to Dr Chee Soon Juan, it always has been civil suits for defamation made against the regime's leaders. And this is where old ground gives way to new ground movements, shaking Western modern-day "missionaries" who want to come over and instigate the natives if the government's message is read correctly. Now the stakes of the game are higher with Alan Shadrake as a foreigner who is on Singapore soil, as the regime has decided to unsheath criminal defamation charges. Fines and jail terms, not monetary compensation is at stake here.

Although no criminal defamation charges were used then, the precedence was Gopalan Nair. Gopalan, a former Singaporean and a naturalised US citizen, who was dragged to court and sentenced to 3 months jail in 2008 for insulting a judge for the way the judge handled a defamation case involving Chee Soon Juan. When Gopalan visited Singapore, in reference to his earlier taunts to the regime and the court, he wrote in his blog "I am now within your jurisdiction… What are you going to do about it?"

Gopalan found out what the court would do about it. Just like Alan is getting a lesson on it now. Criticising the court is a no-go area for foreigners (I don't recall the local usual suspects being treated this firmly), especially if they are standing on Singapore terra firma. Just that some self-centred foreigners think they have this magic amulet that protects them from being arrested just because they are foreigners.


Paul Ananth said...

I am a Singaporean and I am ashamed that it took a British journalist to find out some basic facts about Singapore. Thank God for the alternative media and Remy....


Alan Shadrake’s crime?
Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 19, 2010 54 Comments

Choo Zheng Xi -

Alan Shadrake’s book “Once a Jolly Hangman” makes for uncomfortable reading. One case in particular might have made those in power uncomfortable enough to arrest Mr Shadrake on the rarely used draconian charge of criminal defamation.

A defamation action is usually instituted in civil proceedings by a person or an institution that believes its reputation has been harmed by a statement of the defendant. Even Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew used a civil defamation action in pursuing his detractors in the international press and local opposition.

Criminal defamation brings the resources of the State to bear in what is essentially a question of protecting personal reputations.

In 2009, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) intervened to discontinue proceedings in a criminal defamation action on the grounds that “the law of criminal defamation is not to be resorted to lightly”. The AGC noted that in a civil action, the possibility that costs may be awarded against an unsuccessful plaintiff acts as a natural barrier to frivolous action. There is no such safeguard in criminal defamation.

The United Kingdom abolished criminal defamation in July 2009.

So what agitated the authorities enough to arrest Alan Shadrake for criminal defamation, amongst other charges?

The Vignes Mourthi case?

One possible contender is his characterization of the trial and execution of Vignes Mourthi as “arguably one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice in Singapore’s history”.

Vignes Mourthi was arrested on 20 September 2001 and convicted of trafficking 27.65 grams of heroin.

Mourthi’s conviction rested largely on the strength of evidence of the officer who arrested him, Sgt S Rajkumar, a senior officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau. Sgt Rajkumar was a key witness in the prosecution’s case, and Mourthi’s defense was that an incriminating piece of evidence collected by Rajkumar had been added at a much later date.

Shadrake reveals that just three days after Mourthi’s arrest, on 23 September 2001, Sgt. Rajkumar was himself arrested for allegedly handcuffing, raping and sodomizing a young woman and for subsequently bribing her to keep silent.

In the judgment convicting Rajkumar of bribery, Judge Sia Ai Kor described his actions as “so obviously corrupt by the ordinary and objective standard that he must know his conduct is corrupt”.

Shadrake points out how the ongoing case against Rajkumar was never revealed to Mourthi’s defense lawyer, and surmises that the prosecutor and other parties must have known about Rajkumar’s case but chose to keep silent.

In his book, Shadrake characterizes Mourthi’s case as groundbreaking enough to resemble the “catastrophic failures of the justice system in Britain” that contributed to the death penalty being abolished there.

If Shadrake is right, then the authorities could very well be stepping up to the criminal defamation plate to contest his version of events.

K Teo said...

"Just that some self-centred foreigners think they have this magic amulet that protects them from being arrested just because they are foreigners."

No. Just that Alan Shadrake is couragous enough to challenge the Singapore government. Locals have been terrorized into self censorship. Thank you Alan Shadrake. One day, Singapore will realise how much they owe you.

daikor said...

K Teo
"No. Just that Alan Shadrake is couragous enough to challenge the Singapore government. Locals have been terrorized into self censorship. Thank you Alan Shadrake. One day, Singapore will realise how much they owe you."

With those words fawning Alan Shadrake, you have flippantly dismissed all the efforts made by locals against capital punishment. Come on, Singaporean activists have also been campaigning against the death penalty, and they are slick enough not to get jailed compared to this oaf.

daikor said...

Paul Ananth

Yes, Remy Choo did a good write up speculating why Alan Shadrake was in trouble and thank you for posting the whole piece here instead of highlighting which part was especially good to share.

Like K Teo, where have you been all this while? There are many Singaporeans who have campaigned against capital punishment for some time. You should be ashamed that you thought that that British tourist provided you an epiphany on capital punishment.