Shanmugam: A Whiter Shade of Hypocrisy.
Recently Senior Minister Shanmugam has been sneering at the current silence of activists who supported Amos Yee back in 2015. 4 years after being granted asylum for political persecution in the US, Yee, now an adult has been charged on matters completely unrelated to his life in Singapore and his political persecution. Shanmugam, is beside himself with glee. I was never one who said or felt that Amos was a marvelous human being so Shanmugam’s remarks are not aimed at me but I will comment. Because unfortunately our Minster of Law and Home Affairs has written a petty post on Facebook full of foolish statements that do not survive examination but that worse than this, highlight areas where Singapore is out of step with the developed world. This has serious ramifications for the protection of women and children in our country and we need our ministers to step up rather than focusing on scoring petty points on social media. I believe the appropriate phrase is: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones .
Why would Shanmugam expect anyone who spoke up for Yee as a child victim of state persecution in Singapore six years ago to speak up now on an unrelated matter when Yee is an adult living in America? Would it not be hypocritical for Shanmugam to forget to mention that Yee does not even need the support of activists now that he is in a country where lawyers and legal advice are provided by the state as a matter of right and where there are laws to prevent detention without charge? And also of course where children and minors are dealt with differently by the criminal justice system. In other words Rule of Law. Basic protections that we Singaporeans do not enjoy.
More than this the facts show that it was one of Amos Yee’s keenest former supporters, Melissa Chen, who had previously arranged a place for Amos to stay after he was granted asylum in 2017, who became alarmed by his abhorrent views and was the one who reported him for solicitation of a minor, provided evidence and was therefore instrumental in ensuring he was prosecuted. This is not a former activist keeping quiet. It is the exact opposite.
Next, is Shanmugam a hypocrite because his political party and the government it forms, take every opportunity to punish foreign interference in Singaporean domestic matters yet now he is openly castigating Singaporeans for not getting involved in the domestic matters of a foreign power, namely America? You be the judge.
Crimes against children are heinous. We are all agreed on that, I hope. As you all know I regularly call out here our government and our state media’s shoddy treatment of underage victims of crime. Child victims of rape referred to as sex workers being amongst the most egregious. Or sex between teenage minors and an adult man being referred to as “consensual sex” or an “affair”rather than correctly identified as statutory rape. And in general rapists referred to as boyfriends and lovers. Shanmugam should come off his high horse,
Shanmugam went on to say it is hypocricy to have spoken up for lack of freedom of expression rights in Singapore when now Yee’s social media has been restricted in the US.
Shanmugam is just presenting Fake News here in trying to compare rights. Let’s look at the facts.
Yee’s social media accounts were closed by the companies concerned because his views violated their Community Standards. His ability to monetise his YouTube Channel was removed after the US Toy Manufacturers’ Association refused to allow toy adverts to be shown on his channel. Shortly after that it was shut down. So a restriction by corporations. Not his right to freedom of expression being curtailed and certainly not by a government.
This is a common mistake of totalitarian countries like China, Singapore and North Korea to assume that the Government controls independent actors in a democracy. The US Government had nothing to do with and did not apply any pressure on commercial social media companies to remove Yee’s access.
As I said before, a government minister can throw stones but he should take care if he is in a glass house at the time. Does Shanmugam have a genuine point though, to call out people who spoke up for Yee and praised him when he spoke out against the ruling political family but are now silent when he has been charged as a paedophile?
Here’s why I can hear the sound of breaking glass all around. Where have we heard this before? Praising a young Singaporean, rewarding him and then going silent when he turns out to be a paedophile? If our government had done that then undoubtedly we could all agree that it would make Shanmugam the hypocrite.
Let me introduce you to the sad case of Jonathan Wong.
Ah yes, the sorry case of Jonathan Wong.
Jonathan Wong was an MOE scholar. That status itself is an acknowledgement by the PAP that they admire this young man and believe he is the kind of person that Singapore needs in the future.
More he was deemed fit to be a teacher and work with children despite having been caught and caned while a 15 year old at secondary school for spying on primary school girls using the toilets. This incident was expunged from his testimonial according to The New Paper (TNP), though strangely the article describing this has now been removed
Despite the risks he was deemed to be rehabilitated after undergoing treatment and given a scholarship to study History at York University in the UK. In 2010 while studying in the UK, he was given a six months jail sentence suspended for 2 years for possession of child pornography including accusations of preparing material himself. He was expelled from the university and put on the UK’s Sex Offenders Registry (Singapore does not have one despite years of my calling for one).
After he was deported back to Singapore his details would have been passed to the Singapore Police but they failed to monitor him. The Government’s overriding concern was clawing back the bond money of $175,000 and thus they turned a blind eye to the fact that he was apparently working unchecked in the private tuition industry (again according to a report in TNP that has mysteriously been removed).
I am not a doctor, a psychologist or a social worker but my understanding of this kind of paedophile is that it is an illness and that it cannot be treated with punishment. Recidivism amongst those who have followed through on their urges is high. Therefore paedophiles like Wong need to be kept under strict supervision for life and prevented from meeting with children, certainly not on their own.
Wong then joined a church choir, presumably because it would give him access to underage girls, where he acted on his predilections again and got a 15 year old girl pregnant. I assume because of Shanmugam’s failings in protecting the rights of minors the church was unaware of his criminal history.. Because Singapore is an outlier in treating “consensual’ sex with a 14 to 16 year old as a less serious offence than sex with a minor under 14 (and not treating it as rape which goes against its treatment in most developed countries) Wong only received a five year sentence and no caning.
This despite being a repeat offender because the offence with a minor over 14 was classified as “consensual”, a category which only carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail and no caning compared with 20 years and up to 24 strokes of the cane for sex with someone under 14.
The basis for the protection of children from exploitation, sexual abuse and human-trafficking in developed countries is that minors can’t consent to sex.
Strangely Shanmugam and the Government are silent about Jonathan Wong and Singapore’s inadequate laws that treat “sex with a 14 year old as consensual and therefore not very serious.
Wong is not the only case. There was the similar case of Joshua Robinson, an American Mixed Martial Arts instructor, making videos for Contact Singapore, who had sex with two 15 year olds which he filmed, had 321 child porn videos at his flat and showed a pornographic video to a six year old while out on bail.
A six year old.
He only received a four year sentence and escaped caning for the same reasons as Wong. When there was an outcry over the leniency of his sentence, the AG’s Office “said it would not be appealing for a harsher sentence. It said the two 15-year-old victims had “consented to the sexual acts”, meaning the sentence was appropriate”
If Robinson had committed the crimes in his home country he might well have received a life sentence. Hopefully when he was deported to the US (after a mere three years in prison with good behaviour) he was placed on the Sex Offenders Registry for life and not permitted to travel abroad ever again.
Contact Singapore (and Shanmugam) were strangely silent about Joshua Robinson despite having enthusiastically used him to promote Singapore as a paradise for expats just a short time before! What’s that he said again about praising someone and then going quiet when they turn out to be a paedophile ?
Lets put Shanmugam’s quips aside. This is a very serious matter . Singapore’s lenient attitudes towards the sexual abuse of children need to be updated. This is shown by the fact that its penal code specifically exempts sex with children even under the age of 14 provided it is done within marriage.
Article 376(A)(4) of thePenal Code states :
“No person shall be guilty of an offence under this section for an act of penetration against his or her spouse with the consent of that spouse”
To those who might be horrified that marriage to an under 16 year old is even possible, in Singapore, it is provided a Special Marriage Licence (SML) is obtained. Muslims do not have to obtain an SML The approval of an Islamic judge or kadi is sufficient. This was revealed by the answers provided by Desmond Lee, then Minister for Social and Family Development, to a question asked by former Nominated MP Anthea Ong in May 2019. The statistics he gave for the period from 2013 to 2017 are shown in the tables below:
Disingenuously he failed to provide the really important information which was the number of marriages where one party was below the age of 16 which is the minimum age for consent in Singapore. But assuming that the man was 18 the woman could have been as young as 13 or even younger and on average 14 or 15.
The international NGO for , Equality Now, whose mission is “A just world for women and girls”, issued a press release on 4 November 2021 calling for reform of Singapore’s penal code to remove the marital immunity for rape of underage minors:
Article 375 and 376A of Singapore’s Penal Code provide marital immunity for sexual activity with minors under the age of 16 who are said to “consent”. These provisions encourage “child marriage” and assume the children, mostly girls, are willingly consenting to sexual activity and not coerced merely because they are married to the offender.
Yes, Mr Shanmugam, you are absolutely correct. “Hypocrisy has many shades”
In Singapore Hypocrisy is many shades of All White.