11 May 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Public Figures?

Yet Another Government-linked Edition

We in the Great, Bountiful and Benevolent Empire of Singapore look on in horror at the sham legal systems in lesser nations.

Under current understanding of defamation law in the US for example,

In order for a public official to recover damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct, he must prove that the statement was made with actual malice; that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false.

Yes, you need to prove malice. Apparently in the lawless West, people are allowed to offer balanced and fair criticisms of their leaders' policies. Shocking! Scandalous! You're going to make the whole economy go down, talent will leave, investments will not come - and the US will be sunk!

The US Supreme Court further defined the meaning of actual malice by stating: "And since '... erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate, and ... it must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the "breathing space" that they "need ... to survive" ...,'376 U.S., at 271-272, only those false statements made with the high degree of awareness of their probable falsity ...may be the subject of either civil or criminal sanctions. The test which we laid down in New York Times is not keyed to ordinary care; defeasance of the privilege is conditioned, not on mere negligence, but on reckless disregard for the truth."

Free debate is allowed? Criticism is not defamatory? The horrors! In the words of Sheng-ji Yang, "you must surely realize that Democracy is a menace to right-thinking people everywhere. Common citizens cannot be allowed to question the decisions of their rulers! I urge you to impose strict police control at once!"

An essential element of defamation by libel slander is that the statement published was false. Consequently, if the statement was, in fact true, there can be no defamation, regardless of defendant's motivation. Truth is an absolute defense to a claim of libel.

Further, it is even more difficult for a public figure to launch a defamation suit if say, they have been on record for making a series of controversial or inflammatory statements. In simple English, if you are a good and uncomplicated public figure, it's easier to sue people than opposed to if you were a politician with a motor mouth.

Now, someone like "Singapore's John Bolton", who is on public record for making remarks like these would never be able to launch any defamation suit, ever, in the lawless and decadent West:

"A basic science degree qualifies you to wash test tubes. A master's makes you an advanced washer. And a PhD makes you an ordinary worker."

And it is noted that much of pioneering research is done between a professor and their basic degree or even masters students.

"I don't want whining Singapore boys. They are not mature even though they have national service and are over 22 years old when they take up undergraduate studies. They give me so much trouble and waste our precious time."

Actually they give you trouble only when they are offered postgrad studies and premier research posts by their universities, and have to choose between being compelled to give up these postgrad studies because they aren't allowed to postpone their bonds, or to just simply break the bond in favor of their academic careers.

"That's not my job. My job is to create more jobs. Publishing scientific papers and Nobel Prizes do not create jobs."

And mind you, the "R" in A★★ stands for "Research" - which in common understanding implies scientific papers and Nobel Prizes, not "jobs".

Moral of the story: the world needs to import Singapore's legal system, where even a ham sandwhich can be sued for defamation.

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