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.