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Enough Already with the Hypocrisy and Lies, Lee Hsien Loong!

Dear Mr Lee Hsien Loong,

In a Facebook post on  Tuesday 10 November, following your Minister Shanmugam’s Parliamentary statement on the Parti Liyani case you said:

Building a democratic society based on justice and equality is a fundamental goal of our nation. To do this, we need proper and fair enforcement of our laws.

If we find shortcomings in our criminal justice system, then we must remedy them. We will continually strive to protect and improve our justice system, so that people can be assured that it is clean, just and works equally for all.

You paint a rosy picture of our criminal justice system that I and many Singaporeans will find bears little resemblance to reality. Your Government refuses to release statistics on the racial composition of the prison population or of prisoners on Death Row and on the average length of sentences for the same crimes committed by different ethnic groups. Instead of providing information, which you would be required to do if Singapore was a democratic society, as promised in the National Pledge, you threaten those who in the absence of information draw valid inferences from sentences handed down in our courts with investigation by the police and prosecution for stirring up racial hatred.

To many Singaporeans the clearest example of an injustice is your and your father’s  Government’s refusal to implement the recommendation of the Judicial Committee of the UK Privy Council and issue a full pardon to my late father, J B Jeyaretnam for his conviction in 1986 for a non-existent offence. As a result of his conviction he lost his seat in Parliament, was jailed and then prevented from standing again for Parliament till 1997. In the 1997 General Election, you, together with then PM Goh and Minister Tony Tan, committed a clear and blatant election offence for which your Government’s Attorney General, Chan Sek Kheong, declined to prosecute you. Chan Sek Kheong was later rewarded with elevation to Chief Justice. There can be no more glaring example of unequal treatment  before the law and illustration of the hypocrisy of you and your Government’s claim to “continually strive to protect and improve our justice system, so that people can be assured that it is clean, just and works equally for all.”

JBJ was unable to appeal against his conviction to the Privy Council because of the AG’s decision to prosecute him in the district court rather than the High Court, which was undoubtedly done for the Machiavellian reason of denying him that right. However he was able to appeal his disbarment from legal practice by your father’s old friend, Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin. I am sure you are familiar with the Privy Council judgement but in case you have forgotten (I appreciate you are now 70 and may be suffering from inevitable memory loss though perhaps you should rethink your plans to stay on as PM beyond 2024 which is only fueling speculation that you are paving the way for your son to succeed you) I will reproduce it below:

Their Lordships have to record their deep disquiet that by a series of misjudgements, the appellant and his co-accused Wong, have suffered a grievous injustice. They have been fined, imprisoned and publicly disgraced for offences of which they are not guilty. The appellant, in addition, has been deprived of his seat in Parliament and disqualified for a year from practising his profession. Their Lordships order restores him to the roll of advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Singapore, but, because of the course taken by the criminal proceedings, their Lordships have no power to right the other wrongs which the appellant and Wong have suffered. Their only prospect of redress, their Lordships understand, will be by way of petition for pardon to the President of the Republic of Singapore.

When JBJ petitioned the President at the time, Wee Kim Wee, he was told that he had shown, in my father’s words, “insufficient remorse” for his crime and that therefore the Government was unwilling to pardon him. As a result of this case your late father ended Singaporeans’ right of appeal to the Privy Council despite having said previously that he would retain the right to prove that Singapore had rule of law. By ending that right, Lee Kuan Yew ensured that there would be no right of appeal from judges beholden to him for their appointment.

As long as your Government refuses to advise the President to issue a full pardon for JBJ, it makes a mockery of your hypocritical and palpably fake claims to be striving to make sure that the justice system is clean, just and works equally for all. If you fail to respond to my open letter then I will take it that you agree and there is no rule of law in Singapore.

 

Kenneth Jeyaretnam

 

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