Unlike Raesah Khan MP, J B Jeyaretnam MP never lied or committed perjury.
In the wake of Workers Party MP Raesah Khan’s admission that she lied to Parliament and fabricated her story about visiting a police station with a victim of sexual assault, LHL and his state media have not missed an opportunity to try and smear J B Jeyaretnam.
CNA reported on Monday on the Raesah Khan matter in n article entitled, “What is parliamentary privilege and what happens when it is breached”,
Of course CNA brings in Chee and the SDP fined for false evidence to a select committee at a time when they weren’t in parliament and mentions JBJ who was also referred to the Committee of Privileges in 1986 for making what CNA calls “unsubstantiated” allegations of executive interference in the judiciary.
He was also accused of having “maligned the judiciary by insinuating that they did not exercise their duties in accordance with their oath of office”.
The complaint was filed by then-Leader of the House S. Dhanabalan, who was Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time.
Mr Jeyaretnam was found guilty of abuse of parliamentary privilege by the committee, and he was fined S$1,000. That report was presented to Parliament in January 1987.
The State media mouthpiece CNA in giving a potted history of privilege breaches alongside Raesah’s recent falsehoods to parliament and admitted perjury, is inviting the reader to draw a false equivalence. In fact I would say two false equivalences
Firstly to put all opposing government in the same boat whether MPs or unelected party members .
Secondly, that the historical breaches and J B Jeyaretnam’s questions in parliament as an MP are somehow similar to MP Raeesah’s Kahn’s lies and perjury. Lies and perjury that she admits to.
Chee and his colleagues were not even in Parliament when Chee was fined S25,000 and his colleagues fined various sums below that. By placing these different events side by side in the same article the State media is creating a false equivalence.
Imagine that CNA wrote an article about a driver who had caused a fatal crash and was in court and included details about another driver who had received a parking ticket because he just happened to live in the same street and both cases involved cars.
So what did JBJ do?
JBJ was the Workers Party leader and an MP and at that time and ,as any leader of the opposition should, he used his presence in Parliament to call the government to account. As an MP he enjoyed parliamentary immunity.
The question he asked was why Justice Michael Khoo who only found him guilty of one charge in 1986 and fined him a mere $1,000, had been removed as a district judge and transferred back to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) as a mere prosecutor. The Government alleged that his claim of executive interference in the judiciary was unsubstantiated.
The transfer of Khoo was described by the AGO itself as a sideways move but was seen universally by Singaporeans as a demotion and punishment for having dared to, even timidly, displease PM Lee Kuan Yew.
Since his chances of promotion to the Supreme Court had effectively vanished, Michael Khoo resigned from the Legal Service shortly thereafter and went into private practice,
Astonishingly the Government has now quietly admitted my father’s claims of executive interference in the judiciary were correct by amending the Constitution to separate the Judicial Service and the Legal Service:
The judicial and legal services will be separated to reap the benefits of greater specialisation, if proposed structural changes to Singapore’s legal service are passed in Parliament.
The Government has proposed creating a separate Judicial Service, which will be overseen by a newly established Judicial Service Commission (JSC) led by the Chief Justice.
Changes have also been proposed for the Legal Service, which will be overseen by a reconstituted Legal Service Commission (LSC) headed by the Attorney-General.
While the ostensible reason given for the change is to reap the benefits of greater specialisation the real reason is undoubtedly to tick boxes on the nominal requirements for judicial independence. Because JBJ was right all along.
The later separation of the judicial and legal services has moved Singapore to a higher ranking for rule of law globally.
So by diligent attention to outward forms that mask the reality of executive control; and judicial subservience, Singapore ludicrously manages to rank 17th our of 139 countries, only just behind the UK and above the US, France and Hong Kong in the World Justice Project Index
Yet, The Chief Justice., like all Supreme Court Justices, continues to be appointed by the PM with only a limited right of veto by the President, who herself is beholden to the PM.
By contrast in the UK an independent Judicial Appointments Commission appoints the judges and the Government plays no role at all. LHL even brazenly appointed his own personal lawyer to the post of AG. No qualms about conflicts of interest or independence of the AG’s office there!
It is amusing to read LKY’s tirade on judicial independence from 1986 and against JBJ, where he used the right of appeal to the Privy Council as a reason why there was judicial independence:.
But in Singapore, we have an extra supervision on them [the judges] When they write their judgments, they know that it could go up to the Privy Council and judges, nothing to do with Singapore, will scrutinise whether their findings are in accordance with the law.
When the Privy Council then found in favour of JBJ, LKY changed his mind and abolished the rights of appeal.
Far from being “unsubstantiated”,JBJ’s allegations of executive interference in the judiciary have been shown up by history to be correct.
Not much has changed since the Privy Council was horrified and disgusted by the kangaroo court judgement handed down against my father.
*The PM still appoints the judges, who are beholden to the PM, and describe their role as “green lighting” the executive.
*The AG still brings political prosecutions against opponents and critics of LKY and his son
*The state media is still used as a tool for the PAP.
In defaming JBJ, by connecting him to a self-confessed perjurer State Media simply mirrors the fear that his name still holds for LHL and his minions.
Sadly the workers Party of today bears not even a hint of the JBJ gene in its DNA. This has not protected them fromm persecution but as the Town Council debacle and Raaeesah’s lies shows, their recent problems are of their own making.
Nothing more starkly demonstrates the difference between the WP of JBJ who stood up for victims of injustice everywhere then the current WP whose MP dishonours survivors and victims of assault everywhere with her fantasies and perjury.