Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Shadrake starts jail term...

There are not too many countries these days that throw people in jail for writing books and I believe no other developed country does that anymore.

A few years ago, I saw a documentary that questioned the competence of lawyers assigned to suspects being charged for crimes punishable by the death penalty in Texas, USA. The documentary found that some of the govt lawyers assigned to suspects who were poor lost all their cases for past few years and questioned if it was right to assign such lawyers to suspects of crimes punishable by death. In the documentary, they also questioned the outcomes of a number of cases. It is legal to ask these questions about the judiciary in other countries.. I can't remember exact title of the documentary (perhaps someone can help me) but it was on one of  the major networks.

"I feel fine. I feel that Singapore has shamed itself again by jailing me,"
- Shadrake told AFP by telephone

Singapore has  the highest per-capita execution rates in the world. We should be to scrutinising our system and questioning it more than people of other countries....unfortunately it is illegal to do so....but we are expected to have full confidence in a system we cannot criticise.
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Writer starts Singapore jail term


(AFP) – 2 hours ago



SINGAPORE — A 76-year-old writer who published a book denouncing judicial hangings in Singapore started a prison term on Wednesday for contempt.



Alan Shadrake, who wrote about the use of hanging to execute drug traffickers and murderers in the city-state, turned himself in at the High Court.



On Friday he lost his appeal against a six-week sentence, the toughest ever imposed in Singapore for contempt.



Shadrake could not afford to pay a Sg$20,000 ($16,200) fine on top of the prison term, resulting in another two weeks in jail, taking the term to eight weeks in total. He could be released earlier for good behaviour.



He was allowed to undergo a medical test before serving his sentence.



"I feel fine. I feel that Singapore has shamed itself again by jailing me," Shadrake told AFP by telephone.



"For Singapore not to allow this free expression, to jail someone for their opinions... it's bloody nonsense," added the author of "Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".



London-based Amnesty International denounced Shadrake's imprisonment and urged Singapore to release the author.



"Singapore has thrown Alan Shadrake in prison solely for exercising his basic right of free speech," Lance Lattig, Amnesty Southeast Asia researcher, said in a statement.



"The Singapore government should release Shadrake and scrap laws that criminalise peaceful criticism with imprisonment and crippling fines," he said.



Shadrake's book includes a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore's Changi Prison who, according to the author, hanged around 1,000 men and women including foreigners from 1959 until he retired in 2006.



Shadrake's book features interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers, and alleges that some cases involving foreigners may have been influenced by diplomatic and trade considerations.



He was arrested by Singapore police in July last year while visiting the city to launch the first edition of his book, which was first published in neighbouring Malaysia.



Shadrake said previously that the second edition of his book was already on sale in Australia and was due to be launched in Britain on June 1.



Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

The courts (judiciary) only execute the laws passed by Parliament.

Parliament consists of lawmakers, or MPs as known to voters.

MPs are chosen by the voters.

Majority of voters have faith in PAP MPs so they give them a overwhelming 93% majority in Parliament.

So laws can only be changed if majority MPs vote for change.

This is the system. So what is the issue?

Protons said...

Death Row Texas? by NatGeo

http://natgeotv.com/uk/death-row-texas/videos/death-row-texas

Anonymous said...

I read "Once A Jolly Hangman." Maybe its time the Seals were used against Singapore to establish freedom and democracy and eliminate a corrupt bloated and expensive government.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is too tiny to warrant use of navy seals to do those things.

Anyone should expect such outcome of a non accountable and opaque government. If Singaporeans tolerate such issue, why should the USA act?

sathi said...

I also read "Once a Jolly Hangman". The author should have been hung for his terrible writing instead of being jailed for contempt.No, seriously let us, Singaporeans decide to read or not to read and make their own judgement on the book.
We don't need judges or politicians to decide for us which books are good for us.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this writer's assessment. GE 2011 is a high tide, not quite a tsunami.

Quote too
"Here in Southeast Asia, fundamentally anti-democratic elites long ago learned to release pressure for change with piecemeal reforms, symbolic gestures and modest but limited measures of popular sovereignty."

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/MF01Ae01.html

Parka said...

The writer wasn't jailed for writing a book. Lots of people write books. A book is just a medium.

Anonymous said...

Looks like common sense did not prevail. That's the problem with stooges and their inflated EGO, unable to accept criticisms.

The question is, will there be a backlash, collateral damage to citizens in the long run ?

ahsoo said...

To 20:36

Yes, the backlash will be fast. The PAP-sponsored presidential candidate will lose a few percentage point in votes the coming election.

Anonymous said...

I find this case similar to Susan Lim's. Given the judiciary system we have, hard to get justice even with a fair court since rules are set and changed by a PAP majority parliament.

Jim Goh said...

Dear Anon 15:04,

The issue is that the AG can choose not to prosecute Shadrake. AG is not an elected official. He can choose not to prosecute Shadrake. If AG feels that Shadrake wrote nonsense, then AG should write an article in the MSM to rebut Shadrake and expose Shadrake's inconsistencies. Better still someone from the pro death penalty group can write a book to contest Shadrake's conclusions.

Putting someone behind bars for writing a book puts us in the same league as North Korea/Iran and gives the author unnecessary publicity. Sales of his book will soar and the percieved lies in his book will reach a wider audience.

goondoo said...

We are a strong ally of US and the western world. No one will condemn us for jailing Alan Shadrake. He is a nobody. Excuse me for being cynical but this is how the world works.

The said...

/// ahsoo said...
Yes, the backlash will be fast. The PAP-sponsored presidential candidate will lose a few percentage point in votes the coming election. ///

Not really. The presidential election will be similar to the referendum on whether Singapore should join Malaysia. Instead of real choices (that is, to join or not to join), the referendum was framed as:
A) to join with set A conditions
B) to join with set B conditions
c) to join with set C conditions

A real Hobson's choice.

Likewise, in this coming presidential election, the choices will be:
A) PAP-backed candidate A
B) PAP-backed candidate B
C) PAP-backed candidate C.

So, does it matter which candidate lose a few percentage points?

Anonymous said...

Likewise, in this coming presidential election, the choices will be:
A) PAP-backed candidate A
B) PAP-backed candidate B
C) PAP-backed candidate C.
The 2/6/11 14:07

Why you assume all candidates are PAP-backed?

There may even be independant and qualified candidates.

The said...

/// Why you assume all candidates are PAP-backed?

There may even be independant and qualified candidates.

2/6/11 15:22 ///

Like who? Tan Cheng Bock? George Yeo? Stephen Lee? Lim Boon Heng? Abdullah Tarmugi? Zainal Abidin?

Anonymous said...

I thought there was one Mike Lee, who is not publicly known to be from PAP and also interested. And he also had experience managing a more than 100 million dollar company.

Looks like he is eligible for President what.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter, Mr Tan, is that the PAP government does not trust its citizens. Hence that's the reason it continues to enact many laws to suppress the people's freedom of speech and the other daft 60% says it's OK.

Anonymous said...

It is not so much a matter of trust but rather knowing the citizens. And PAP knows the citizens very well.

That's why they can have the kind of unpopular policies and the kind of GRC electoral system to win big.

And sure enough, the majority citizens made PAP win big again.

"Know yourself, know your enemies, 100 battles, 100 victories."
The Art of war by Sun Tzu

The said...

/// I thought there was one Mike Lee, who is not publicly known to be from PAP and also interested. And he also had experience managing a more than 100 million dollar company.

Looks like he is eligible for President what. ///

You think so? Why do you think the criteria for eligibility are set so high? And who do you think are on the panel that decide the eligibility? I can bet with you to my last dollar that Mike Lee will be found ineligible.

Anyone who qualifies to be a presidential candidate will have the backing of the power-that-be implicitly.

The said...

There you have it.

Presidential hopeful drops out from contest

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/presidential-hopeful-drops-contest-043951155.html

Even if Mike Lee has done more than 3 years as Chairman of a $100m company, there are many other areas where he can be found wanting.

Anonymous said...

Tan Kin Lian seems interested.

Compare to Tan Cheng Bock or George Yeo, I think he will be the most independent Presidential candidate.

If he is eligible, he will have my vote as he is the best among the 3.

The said...

TKL was a PAP card-carrying member for more than 20 years, and only resigned some years back. He was also actively helping those who were burnt in the toxic products/junk investments a few years ago. While that is good public service, it may be perceived by PAP as taking on the government. I don't think they would support him.

Anonymous said...

What is the issue here? I'm afraid it's a classic case of US poking its nose into other's affairs once more. I don't see an issue with capital punishment in SG, to be honest.

Anonymous said...

You don't, but others do. Some take issue with the death penalty itself, some take issue with the mandatory aspect, and some still others believe it should be restricted to a smaller set of crimes.

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