One Law for The Lee Family And Another For Everyone Else
Recently the Court of Appeal reserved judgement on the appeal by LKY’s two younger children, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, against the High Court decision that they would not be able to gain access to and control over their father’s transcripts until after the expiry of five years after his death.
However this article is not about the appeal but rather the extraordinary remarks made by Justice Tay Yong Kwang in his judgement back in September 2016.
According to Today’s report from 29 September 2016, the Government acknowledged that there was a “technical breach” of the agreement when they allowed Mr Lee Hsien Yang to go through the transcripts at the Ministry of Home Affairs. But Justice Tay said he accepted the explanation that they allowed this because it was a request made by the estate. “The technical breach was therefore minor and does not change my belief that this Government will act honourably and in accordance with the spirit of the interview agreement,“
Yet Justice Tay said that the transcripts dealt with “politically sensitive” matters and fell under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). So why did the Government allow Lee Hsien Yang to go through the transcripts at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)? He is just a member of the public and does not hold any official position. Why was he treated with such deference just because he is a member of the ruling family?
By way of contrast, Tharman was prosecuted and fined $1500 for a breach of the Official Secrets Act when he allowed journalists to see a piece of paper he was holding with the advance estimates for GDP growth on it. He has a conviction and a criminal record though it has not held back his ascent, at least to the highest position permitted for a Singaporean of Indian ethnicity according to PM Lee.
Another case where a similar breach has far more serious consequences for the individual involved was that of Simon Shorvon, who was Director of the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) in Singapore. Shorvon was accused of misconduct in 2002 by the NNI, an accusation that was instigated by Lee Wei Ling, who later took Shorvon’s job as head of the NNI. An internal inquiry found that “the research was carried out in serious breach of ethical guidelines which are applicable in Singapore as well as internationally”.
Shorvon signed a document accepting the inquiry’s findings because he said he was in serious fear that he would not be allowed to leave Singapore. He also feared he would be reported to the police and charged under the OSA after Shanmugam, who had called Shorvon to his office for a meeting, accused him of looking at confidential documents on his desk when Shanmugam was out of the room. After signing the document the Government allowed him to leave Singapore.
Shorvon might have hoped that that was the end of it and that he would be left alone after he made the mistake of capitulating. However in a demonstration of the typical vindictiveness of the Lee family and the PAP Government, the NNI referred him to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) The SMC found Shorvon guilty of misconduct and tried to get the UK General Medical Council (GMC) to strike him off. However the SMC failed after Shorvon was supported by several world-leading research experts. Not content with their charges being rejected by the GMC the SMC applied for a judicial review of the GMC’s decision which was refused by the UK High Court.
It is difficult to understand why Shorvon was threatened with prosecution for allegedly viewing secret documents while the MHA allowed Lee Hsien Yang to view secret documents with no sanctions or prosecution for either party and Justice Tay describing this as just a minor breach. At the very least it appears that different standards and laws apply depending on whether you are an ordinary person or a member of the Lee family.
Similar examples of double standards include Chee Soon Juan being sacked from his job because his claim for a taxi fare was $5 more than what his superior at NUS said should have been the correct fare for that route. This also could have been classified as a “minor breach”.
And of course there is the example of my late father, JBJ, whom the AG prosecuted and the judge convicted, at LKY’s direction, over the changing of a name on a cheque, which the Privy Council later said was not even an offence, let alone a technical breach. As everyone knows, the Government refused to reverse his conviction or to reinstate him as an MP after the Privy Council declared him innocent.
Clearly breaking the law is only a “technical breach” if you are a member of the Lee family. They can treat Government departments as their father’s company into which they can wander whenever they feel like it to peruse secret documents at their leisure. The situation is very different for people who speak out and whom the Lee dynasty see as enemies, like JBJ, or simply people who get in the way of their advancement, like Simon Shorvon. Outside observers, like Justice Cole in Chicago, who granted Amos Yee’s request for asylum, can see this clearly. Yet somehow Singaporeans and foreigners who do business here are unable to see the distinction. Instead they go on ad nauseam about how lucky they are to live in a country that has rule of law.