01 November 2005

Sedition by the numbers

3 down, 1 more to go

Usedbrainsforsale, my fellow writer at Singabloodypore, reports the capitulation in court of the third blogger to be charged with sedition (for posting racist remarks online) in Singapore.

As xenoboysg (another fellow SBP writer) points out, we are witnessing an incredibly efficient legal process at work: the machinery of the state moves on relentlessly, crushing all miscreants in its way. This is not hyperbole, by the way.

Even the token arch-conservative member of SBP - marked by his espousal of the doctrine of police infallibility and dedication to a strong crime and punishment style towards our polis, is awed by how the state has handled the trial of the bloggers. The judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney assigned to the case are top-notch pillars of the legal community. Judge Bala used to be the most senior deputy public prosecutors persecutors around, with his hardline stance - a stance which Mr Wang neglects to inform readers, may have continued in his tenure as a judge. The prosecutor for the case is Jaswant Singh, a "top guy" in the attorney-general's office. On defence was Edmond Pereira, an ex-judge and DPP.

Mr Wang is convinced that with the best of the crop involved in this case, justice will be impeccably served. Trust these men, he seems to say. Be assured that whatever sentence is meted out will be fair, just, and legal.

Now, all these blogging trials are remarkable. They involve young men shooting off their mouths online and having their politically incorrect remarks read by people who weren't expected to read them. This crime is of such national, political and racial important that it warrants the mobilisation of the Big Guns. Or, you could look at the identities of the judge, prosecutor, defense lawyer and say that they were impeccably selected to ensure a very entertaining and informative show trial. Propaganda through the courts.

So: 3 down, 1 to go.

The Internets problem

Also, gay dating websites with members-only galleries like www.sgboy.com and www.fluffboy.com were fined and shut down respectively. Despite fluffboy being hosted overseas...

Some political bloggers in Singapore have quietly stopped updating their sites, or completely changed the focus content. This is not to say that they can feel what may be in store soon: a political website and blogger(s) being made an example of, under the Political Broadcasts act. Their fear is overstated - the point about the sedition trials is Singapore has passed the age where the state can, with impunity, charge people who are really seditious (spies, traitors, guerillas) with sedition. We are reduced to having people who are nowhere seditious to be hammered with the sedition law. By the same reasoning, the upcoming shutdown of a select few political blogs will not affect any real political blogs.

It's not about racial harmony, promotion of undesirable lifestyles, or political punditry by ordinary citizens. It's about the internets.

No really, it's about the internets

Singapore has an efficient legal system where judges, DPPs and the police will pounce on any criminal and process his case swiftly finish him off.

I want to know why no sedition act was thrown at the following people for making certain racist, antireligious, and misogynistic remarks that were much more offensive and shocking, in view of their status as national leaders and the very public avenues their remarks, which have caused popular condemnation or moral outrage in their time:

Former MP Choo Wee Khiang, in 1992, made a speech to Parliament "One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around."

Then-Brigadier General (Reservist) and cabinet minister Lee Hsien Loong, in February 1987, clarified in Parliament the reason behind the non-existence of Malay figher pilots: The Government saw armed conflict with Malaysia as a possibility when he defended the policy of taking limited number of Malays into the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) and then not placing them in militarily critical roles. Minilee argued that the policy was intended to avoid dividing soldiers' loyalties between their nation and their religion. [The Pacific Review Vol. 4, No. 3] (Minilee leaves it to us to decide whether Malays cannot be trusted to defend Singapore because of their race or their religion.)

Then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in September 1999, remarked in the "Tanjong Pagar Singapore 21" public consultative forum reiterated that Malays cannot be trusted to defend Singapore in stronger terms than Minilee: "If, for instance, you put in a Malay officer who's very religious and who has family ties in Malaysia in charge of a machine gun unit, that's a very tricky business. We've got to know his background."

As a prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew in December 1967 gave a lecture to the nation's top students at the Premier Institute for Social Engineering on the superior glands of the Chinese race (reported by Michael D. Barr, Journal of Contemporary Asia v29, n2 (1999). The lecture began with an anecdote: "Three women were brought to the Singapore General Hospital, each in the same condition and needing a blood transfusion. The first, a Southeast Asian was given the transfusion but died a few hours later. The second, a South Asian was also given a transfusion but died a few days later. The third, an East Asian, was given a transfusion and survived. That is the X factor in development."

Remarkable racism, and very public racism at that.

Note that the text in the Sedition Act do not specify race as a basis to identify groups that are clearly offended and divided from the state by a sedious remark. How about sex/gender as a group?

1990. Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, on a tour of Australia, expressed his regrets about extending higher education and equal rights to women. (Facts on File: Asian Political Alamanac, p387) "The government was young, ignorant, and idealistic," said Lee. In 1986, Lee Kuan Yew mentioned that it was "wrong, it was stupid" to introduce monogamy.

It is certainly my belief that the current crop of seditious bloggers being tried is a testament to the dictum that leaders aren't subject to the same laws they impose on their followers. There are lots of people online who defend the prosecution of the 4 racist bloggers as necessary, legal, and just. Where are they when our leaders shoot their mouths off?


AG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AG said...

i'm sure you'll find some clause in fine print protecting our dear beloved ministers from any repercussions.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that the concern over having family ties elsewhere is valid, even if the statements could have been made in a more delicate manner perhaps.

akikonomu said...

kaf, due to the joint history of the Malayan states, many Malays, Chinese and Indians in Singapore have relatives across the border. It's sheer hypocrisy that Papalee only talked about Malays having family ties elsewhere.