Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alan Shadrake accused of contempt of court....

Singapore's laws on drug trafficking are extremely harsh. Mandatory seath penalty is imposed for possession of small amounts of drugs. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act[Link], a person possessing small qualities of drugs is presumed to be trafficking it unless proven otherwise. The mandatory death penalty has been imposed recently on a poorly educated Malaysian, Yong Vui Kong. who was running errants for his mob boss when he was a teenager (19yrs old). It doesn't matter that he could've been 'forced' into it by the mob or that he was poor or that he was a teenager - the death penalty is mandatory for the amount of heroin he was carrying. Vui Kong had 47 grams on him. I wonder if he even knew that possessing 30 grams of heroin carries the death penalty - in China he would have been spared because it takes 50 grams for death penalty to be imposed. We can argue whether death penalty is right or wrong but even those who support the death penalty have to admit that our laws are harsh ...so harsh that we have one of the highest, if not the highest, execution rate per capita in the world

The problem with extremely harsh laws is that you have to apply them equally to every one and that for practical reasons is very difficult. The system has to be equally determined to prosecute someone from a wealthy country where the same crime carries a far lesser punishment. The death penalty in Singapore will trigger a big outcry in the home country, accusations of human rights violation, and protests by its leaders. Death penalty for 47 grams of heroin is quite shocking for people in many countries.

One of the issues Shadrake examined in his book is whether the law has been applied equally in all cases involving drug possession - rich and poor, people from different countries. You may think that now that charges have been brought against him, he has the chance to offer proof to substantiate what he wrote. That would be true if he was charged for criminal defamation in which case, his lawyer can defend him by showing that what he wrote is true. However, he is charged for 'contempt of court'. In Singapore, you can only legally say that our judicial system is just and all it takes for them to prosecute is for you to write something contrary to that. Alan Shadrake will be found guilty of those 'contempt of court' charges unless he can prove he did not write his book, "Once a Jolly Hangman" - at this point it doesn't matter what he wrote is true or not:
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"I submit that the ‘inherent tendency’ test does not meet the standard of rationality required by Article 14. First, when the test is applied, it does not matter whether there is any truth in the utterance by the alleged contemnor. A court may convict so long as it takes the view that the utterance poses some hazard, even if slight, to the administration of justice."

- Freedom of Speech and Contempt by Scandalizing the Court in Singapore

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British journalist accused of contempt of court [Link]

Friday, 23 July 2010 19:26

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the contempt of court charges that have been brought against British freelance journalist Alan Shadrake in connection with his new book, “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock.”

Freed on bail last night, Shadrake is due to appear before the Singapore high court on 30 July.

The press freedom organisation has seen a copy of the complaint brought against Shadrake by the attorney-general’s office. It consists of just a series of biased and malicious allegations that show that the case is an abuse of judicial authority.

The complaint says that parts of the book, which is about Singapore’s use of the death penalty, “contains imputations against the independence and integrity of the Singapore judiciary”. In evidence, it quotes around 20 passages which for the most part contain widely-known facts about Singapore’s justice system.

“He was very tired and shaken when he was released,” Shadrake’s lawyer, M Ravi, told Reporters Without Borders. “During our interview, he broke down in tears because of the pressure he had been under during the interrogations sessions. The police questioned him again today for several hours. My client insists that everything he wrote in his book is true.”

Shadrake is facing a possible two-year jail sentence and a heavy fine if convicted. Reporters Without Borders calls on the British government to do everything possible to get the Singaporean authorities to drop the charges. In response to a question from Reporters Without Borders, a Singaporean diplomat in London confirmed that Shadrake would have to remain in Singapore “to assist the police" with their investigation.

Shadrake was released from the headquarters of the Singaporean Criminal Investigation Department at 11.30 pm on 19 July after payment of 10,000 Singaporean dollars in bail. He spent a total of 39 hours in police custody, during which he had to sleep on the floor of his cell and was interrogated for several hours at a stretch about his book.

The police have confiscated his passport and mobile phone.

20 July 2010

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the contempt of court charges that have been brought against British freelance journalist Alan Shadrake in connection with his new book, “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock.”". Unquote.

If they(Reporters Without Borders) are indeed outraged, they should help Shadrake in any way they can. Worse comes to worst, Reporters Without Borders can show contempts of SIN anywhere else in the World.

Laws do not neccessarily equate or represent Justice. And Justice do not become Laws automatically and naturally anywhere.

Anonymous said...

This is a typical behaviour of kangaroo courts in dictator states!

sgcynic said...

This is clearly an abuse of the "contempt of court" charge.

There, contempt of court. Worthy of contempt.

Anonymous said...

This serves as a warning to others.

杀一惊百

Kill one monkey to scare hundreds.

So don't get caught in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

last time angmo konqet no angmo now sinkapor tekan konqet angmo every time, verysiok. come sinkapor cahri pasar.

kiss for LKY said...

It makes it easy for IBA or IBAHRI when they review the performance of SINgapore's judiciary.

I hope lawyers and law schools around the world openly discuss whether there is legal wisdom in kangaroo logic.

Perhaps a nobel prize for our judiciary ?

Anonymous said...

thanks for explaining it so simply. i hadn't understood all that pap's fuss till now.

i think it's really interesting to debate on this case with my frens

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if he even knew that possessing 30 grams of heroin carries the death penalty..."

I thought it is 15 grams...

Anonymous said...

Lately we have become experts in making a fool of ourselves. Our first class leaders have certainly increased their productivity for stupidity

runroad said...

This is the dishonourable face of justice in S'pore. The checks and balances of jury trial have been abolished along with most other protections of common law against arbitrary authority. Laws and archaic punishments long discredited as barbaric and unbecoming of a civilised nation are used as a stick to beat its people into submission.

Judges are required to both interpret the law and based on their glorified opinion, execute it.
Irrespective of the reasonableness, fairness or dishonesty of the verdicts rendered, their motives must never be called into question.
To do so would hurt the sensitive feelings of the judges and scandalise the Court, which might cause people to question its integrity and doubtless lead to the end of life as we know it.

No proof of the harm alleged to have been done (to the system !!) is required before you can be accused of contempt of court.
That leaves you effectively defending yourself against nothing more than the solemn assertion (of the system !!) that you have committed the offence.
Oh, and did we mention that in this cockeyed judicial system, the accusor gets to pass judgement on the accused?

You now have as much chance of winning the case as you have of pulling the proverbial greased stick from a pig's bottom.
It lends a whole new meaning to the saying, "My word is Law", doesn't it? Not even a saint could raise a defence against such a manifestly discretionary charge.

Can we see now why a titter ran round the globe when Singapore grandly suggested that the nation might become a 'regional judicial hub' for all of SE Asia?

Lucky Tan said...

anon 20:41,

Thanks for the correction. I think it was once 30gms but the kept reducing it. I think most offenders don't even know the amount...and they are hanged for that.

Anonymous said...

SIN is long known to be a state ruled by laws made by the Rulers.

patriot

Alan Wong said...

I am really curious in the case of the JC/NMP's son drug trafficking case, what factors really made the Prosecutor to end up charging him with only 14.99g of heroin although it was reported somewhere that the amount caught was much higher ?

- Because the heroin actually weighed 14.99g ?

- Or was it because the heroin actually weighed a very nominal amount exceeding the 15g MDP limit ?

- Or because he was not really trafficking the heroin ?

- Or because he was a Judicial Commissioner's son ?

- Or because he was a PAP NMP's son ?

- Or because he was both a JC and a NMP's son ?

Another question that I have been wondering is why it appears that our Prosecutors has more discretionary powers than our judges if prosecutors are allowed to have the discretion to charge an accused with 14.99g even when the amount of heroin caught is higher than the MDP limit of 15g ?

Why then do we have a law that stipulates that more than 15g of heroin will carry the MDP and then we have the Prosecutors manipulating the evidence to let the accused escape the gallows ?

Can the Attorney General care to clarify on this because it gives us the impression that if the accused is a privileged person, they can really do wonders for him like he doesn't even need to appeal to the President for clemency, all he is required to do is just to appeal to the prosecutor-in-charge ?

You mean our Prosecutors are even higher in position than our President ?

Unless they convince us to the contrary, otherwise we can only jump to the conclusion that what Alan Shadrake is writing is actually true.

And then how can he be charged with contempt of court if what he is alleging are the truth and nothing but the truth ?

Anonymous said...

The police have confiscated his passport and mobile phone.

They are never that efficient when it comes to the Romanian case.

Lucky Tan said...

Alan Wong,

That feller probably belonged to the Intellectual class.

I'm curious to see how the Shadrake case goes. The only face saving move for the authorities is to convince him to plead guilty, pay a fine and leave the country. Shadrake threatened with a long jail term may have to consider...given his age, I think we cannot fault him.

Lucky Tan said...

Alan Wong,

That feller probably belonged to the Intellectual class.

I'm curious to see how the Shadrake case goes. The only face saving move for the authorities is to convince him to plead guilty, pay a fine and leave the country. Shadrake threatened with a long jail term may have to consider...given his age, I think we cannot fault him.

Anonymous said...

If goal post can be shifted and laws enacted at will, will there be any principle in anything?

patriot

ghost of JBJ said...

Lucky,
walter woon must be saying to himself, "heng ah! got out in time from doing the prosecution."

do you think walter saw it coming?
in doing the emperor's dirty work he will reap bucket loads of shit?

i believe the scums in white will try to solicit advice from walter,
and of course, walter should refer them to lee wei ling...

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