The PAP Silences All Those Who Call Out Institutional Racism by Prosecuting Them Instead
A couple of days ago state media announced that Subhas Nair, perhaps better known as the brother of Preetipls, was going to be prosecuted for creating ill-will between different racial groups after breaching a conditional warning issued in August 2019.
To recap for those who might not remember the details, the warning was given after he and Preetipls produced a very funny satirical music video in response to an advert for NETS which featured Chinese actor Dennis Chew in “blackface”, portraying an Indian man and a Malay woman Yet no action was taken against either NETS, the advertising agency or Dennis Chew for their offensive, insulting and racist advert. It was like something from before the 1960s, when white actors routinely played black and Asian characters in films and TV entertainment, the most famous example being the Black and White Minstrels Show. Not only was it by then offensive and racist, it also denied employment to members of those communities.
I wrote about the double standards and hypocrisy in my blog entitled “Why a Police Warning for Merely Stating What Is De Facto Government Policy?”. I will reproduce the last two paragraphs:
How can it be offensive or inaccurate to say “No matter who we choose, the Chinese man win.” when Lee Hsien Loong and Heng Swee Keat have both said that Singaporeans are not ready for an Indian PM, when the boards of major Singapore companies (which are mostly majority owned by the Government) have much less than 25% minority representation, when Government scholarships go overwhelmingly to Chinese candidates and when the self-styled Father of the Nation has said innumerable times that Indians and Malays are of lower intelligence than Chinese and been allowed to get away with it? Yet when a member of the minority states what is de facto Government policy they are threatened with prosecution for offending the majority.
All the steps the Government has taken have reminded minority Singaporeans that, despite the promise in our Constitution of equal protection under the law, some are more equal than others. If the Government was serious about ending discrimination it would enact the equivalent of the UK Race Relations Act and Equality Act or the 1964 US Civil Rights Act. While the PAP by their actions show that they are not serious about tackling discrimination, indeed enshrine it as necessary to protect Chinese culture, Shanmugam’s words that the Nairs do not need to use “the language of resistance” in the United States because Singapore is in a “very different” situation are hypocritical and divorced from reality. Instead of addressing minorities’ legitimate grievances, Lee Hsien Loong feels compelled to shut up anyone who states the truth.
The State Times cite several examples of where Subhas allegedly created ill will after he was issued a conditional warning. However all the examples involve calling out institutional racism. Instead of answering the accusations and refuting them with evidence, which clearly the PAP cannot do, the Government’s response is to try and bury the evidence of institutional racism by making it a crime to discuss it.
The first of these, according to State Times, was in July 2020 where Nair said, in response to a video by Chinese Christians employing hate speech against the LGBTQ community, that if it had been Malay Muslims who made the video the response would have been different. The Christians were not prosecuted but apologised and took down the video after criticism. In any case, sexual orientation is not a protected category under the Penal Code, which dates back to the British Indian Penal Code of 1860, and the Government in any case supports the stigmatisation and marginalisation of gay men by keeping Section 377A on the statute books. So Subhas perhaps did not choose a good example.
However if racial and religious harmony is so important, why did the Government not prosecute the PAP Youth member, Jason Neo, who in 2011 posted a photo he had taken of a school bus of Muslim preschoolers and captioned it “Bus filled with young terrorist trainees?” As well as being offensive, racist and a breach of the children’s privacy, it was also a clear incitement to violence. Yet despite it appearing to be a clear cut case, Jason Neo was never prosecuted. Later the US judge who granted Amos Yee asylum cited the example of Jason Neo as one proof among many that prosecutions were arbitrary and discretionary and used to silence political opponents: “Jeyaretnam explained that others in Singapore had made similarly offensive comments regarding religion and had not been investigated or prosecuted including Lee Kuan Yew himself.”
The second example was where “Mr Nair was alleged to have attempted to promote feelings of ill-will between Chinese and Indians by claiming that a Chinese suspect involved in the murder of an Indian man at Orchard Towers on Jul 2, 2019 received lenient treatment by the authorities by virtue of his race.”
In my blog, “The AG Should Produce Statistics Rather Than Issue Threats” I said that the treatment of the suspects in the Orchard Towers murder case by the AG appeared to be unduly lenient compared to the treatment of suspects from other communities. I have also separately asked why it was not treated as a hate crime since all the suspects were Chinese and they decided to confront and attack, if not intentionally kill, an Indian man. Here is an excerpt from my blog:
“It would appear that the other defendants were astonishingly lucky to get off with such light penalties, particularly the ones who were involved in fighting. They knew about the weapon, they must have seen the knife being wielded and by also attacking the victim they must have made it more difficult for him to escape from being slashed to death.
It may only be coincidental that the group were all from the majority race and that the murder victim was Indian, maybe a foreign national. The AG is silent on whether there was a racist motive to the killing which has been brushed under the carpet with a complete lack of explanation as to how the fight started.
However there are many other examples where the PAP Government has passed legislation that has had such a disproportionate application to minority communities. Also the AG, which is supposed to be non-political but is in practice controlled by the Government, and the courts have applied the law in ways that seem to treat minority defendants more harshly than those from the majority race.
One recent example is the case of a man who killed his son-in-law (who appears to have been Indian) in a premeditated murder (as the victim lay dying he stood over his victim and prevented passersby from helping him). He only received 8.5 years jail because he was supposedly suffering from a “major depressive disorder“. This contrasts with the mandatory death sentence for anyone caught in possession of more than small amounts of drugs and therefore deemed to be trafficking. It seems unjust and inequitable that someone trafficking in drugs receives a mandatory death sentence, whatever the circumstances, whereas someone committing premeditated murder gets only a few years in jail. The Government provides no statistics on the ethnic composition of death row inmates but most of those executed in the recent past have been ethnic minorities or foreign nationals from Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria. Lawyers like M. Ravi, who does many of the pro bono appeals, have stated publicly that 90% of inmates are minority race.
There have also been cases where the AG has withheld evidence from minority defendants who have been sentenced to death, most notoriously in the case of the Malay men who were only saved by JBJ’s dogged persistence, so well documented in Lee’s Law by Chris Lydgate.
There also seems to be a disproportionate treatment of sexual offenders even though again the Government refuses to provide any statistics. I have previously drawn attention to the case of a 63 year old gynaecologist who was only sentenced to ten months in jail after having sex with a 14 year old on three occasions, an astonishingly light sentence compared to what he would receive in most developed countries. Not surprisingly he claimed “depression” as a mitigating factor. Then there was the case of the US martial arts instructor, Joshua Robinson, who only received four years for having sex with two 15 year olds. By way of contrast an Indian minimart worker was sentenced to 13 years jail for sexual assault, though not sex, with a 12 year old minor.
The AG insists that justice is colour-blind in Singapore but if the Government has nothing to hide then Law Minister Shanmugam should provide statistics to show that it is. The Government insists that all Singaporeans be identified by race on our NRICs so it cannot claim that it does not have the data. It may be that race is just a proxy for income levels (minorities are likely to have lower median incomes than the majority though again the Government fails to provide statistics that might embarrass it) and that justice in Singapore is relatively colour-blind but a more lenient view is taken of those with the potential to excel in life, as shown by Justice Kaur’s sentencing of an NUS student to probation for molesting a woman on the MRT. As with other controversial subjects such as the size of the reserves and the PM’s wife’s civil servant salary, the statistics regarding sentencing and the ethnic make-up of the prison population and death row inmates are kept secret, presumably only because they might cause embarrassment to the Government. In the US there has been a huge outcry over racial unfairness in the treatment of African Americans in the criminal justice system. A large part of this is over the harshness of sentences for drug offences and in particular for crack cocaine, which historically was used more by black Americans than white. By failing to provide detailed statistics the AG and the Law Minister are the main culprits in creating the conditions which “have the potential to disrupt racial harmony in Singapore.” Why are they so reluctant?
The AG also had the cartoonist Leslie Chew arrested and kept in prison for 46 hours and then bailed but forced to report to the police for months in 2013 while he was investigated for sedition. This was for calling attention to unequal treatment of the Malays in a cartoon that I reproduce below:
This is what I said in my blog “
Je Suis Charlie Hebdo”:
“I argued in my blog post (“Singapore: No Bullet was Fired in the Harming of Our Cartoonist”) two days ago that authoritarian governments like Singapore were only different in degree of violence from the terrorists who killed the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. The Lee family and the PAP do not need to resort to crude tactics like murder in order to intimidate the Singaporean people and prevent them asking awkward questions.
When a blogger, a cartoonist, a comedian, a social media commentator, is taken in for questioning in Singapore the suspect article or picture is removed by everyone who had previously shared it so quickly the resultant vacuum could physically suck you in. It is removed at the first hint before any charges are laid or the article is proven to be defamatory or seditious (not that anyone is sure what sedition is.) The mere fear that it might be is enough to get the whole country hitting the delete button
Is this self censorship? No, it’s self-preservation – borne out of fear. If your father is a violent man who frequently hits you over the head, you learn to keep quiet, your head bowed, you hunch down. Not out of deference to your father or respect or for the sake of the family’s income but because you don’t want your head caved in.
So it is with the Lee family and their minions. We don’t behave because we have agreed a pact of obedience in return for a high standard of living which is what the West believes. We keep quiet because we don’t want to end up denied a place at a school or a university or employment, be audited, be sued into bankruptcy, be detained with no charge or even be jailed.
Rather than win the intellectual argument or produce the statistics to rebut their critics, which we can assume is impossible, LHL and his minions just use the sledgehammer of their repressive laws, applied selectively and unfairly, coupled with Singaporeans’ pervasive fear of retaliation from LHL’s totalitarian control of all aspects of the economy and society. The whole intention behind the new laws such as POFMA and FICA and the new forthcoming racial harmony law (all of which serve to replace the old sedition law) announced by the PM at NDR 2021, is to further intimidate Singaporeans into keeping quiet and accepting PAP rule.
If the Government really believed that there was no institutional racism in Singapore then why have I not been prosecuted for going well beyond what people like Subhas Nair have said? I know that LHL looks at my blog, since the editor of the Economist told me that his press secretary complained about an image I put up showing LKY shafting (literally!) Amos Yee and called it disrespectful. Yet no Government Minister has ever attacked me directly for what I say here, not even Shanmugam. Singaporeans should draw their own conclusions from the Government’s silence.