Monday, August 2, 2010

A Case Of Singapore Not Helping Itself

I do not know who Alan Shadrake was. I never knew he was an author. I never even knew he existed! I do now and so does the rest of the world. The reason is because the Singapore Attorney General has decided to charge the author for criticizing Singapore's use of the death penalty in his book "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".

I am a supporter of the death penalty here in Singapore (there are just some people who deserved to die) and I am less than happy that we just made an international celebrity out of a no-name author who is now making a name for himself. I mean who the hell is Alan Shadrake?

I mean what’s the big deal about an ang moh criticizing the death penalty? His book barely made a beep on Singapore’s radar till the local launch of the book. That was when he was arrested by the Singapore police when he came to Singapore to promote the book. If not for his arrest, I would be here asking, “What book?”

Now Alan Shadrake is suddenly a well-known author whose name is on news services around the world. Needless to say, sympathy is with him as it was widely reported that the prosecution offered to drop the charges if he apologized to the court. Shadrake refused and was defiant in a media interview after he was charged in court. Not helping matters were reports that the prosecution will put up 20 pages of Shadrake book as evidence in the case. 20 pages out of a 219 page book!

If you read foreign news service, this is almost a case of David against Goliath. With Singapore being the big, bad Goliath!

All this could have being avoided is we just let the author go in and out of Singapore without incident. I mean he is not the first guy to complain about the death penalty and he will not be the last. So he criticized Singapore's use of the death penalty; who cares? Alan Shadrake was a nobody but now he is famous and his book will now sell like hotcakes due to the free promotion he is receiving. How does charging the man help Singapore?

It doesn’t.


Anonymous said...

Please read the book to know why he was arrested.

Anonymous said...

Remy Choo made some comments:

Alan Shadrake’s crime?
Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 19, 2010 61 Comments

Choo Zheng Xi -

Alan Shadrake’s book “Once a Jolly Hangman” makes for uncomfortable reading. One case in particular might have made those in power uncomfortable enough to arrest Mr Shadrake on the rarely used draconian charge of criminal defamation.

A defamation action is usually instituted in civil proceedings by a person or an institution that believes its reputation has been harmed by a statement of the defendant. Even Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew used a civil defamation action in pursuing his detractors in the international press and local opposition.

Criminal defamation brings the resources of the State to bear in what is essentially a question of protecting personal reputations.

In 2009, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) intervened to discontinue proceedings in a criminal defamation action on the grounds that “the law of criminal defamation is not to be resorted to lightly”. The AGC noted that in a civil action, the possibility that costs may be awarded against an unsuccessful plaintiff acts as a natural barrier to frivolous action. There is no such safeguard in criminal defamation.

The United Kingdom abolished criminal defamation in July 2009.

So what agitated the authorities enough to arrest Alan Shadrake for criminal defamation, amongst other charges?

The Vignes Mourthi case?

One possible contender is his characterization of the trial and execution of Vignes Mourthi as “arguably one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice in Singapore’s history”.

Vignes Mourthi was arrested on 20 September 2001 and convicted of trafficking 27.65 grams of heroin.

Mourthi’s conviction rested largely on the strength of evidence of the officer who arrested him, Sgt S Rajkumar, a senior officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau. Sgt Rajkumar was a key witness in the prosecution’s case, and Mourthi’s defense was that an incriminating piece of evidence collected by Rajkumar had been added at a much later date.

Shadrake reveals that just three days after Mourthi’s arrest, on 23 September 2001, Sgt. Rajkumar was himself arrested for allegedly handcuffing, raping and sodomizing a young woman and for subsequently bribing her to keep silent.

In the judgment convicting Rajkumar of bribery, Judge Sia Ai Kor described his actions as “so obviously corrupt by the ordinary and objective standard that he must know his conduct is corrupt”.

Shadrake points out how the ongoing case against Rajkumar was never revealed to Mourthi’s defense lawyer, and surmises that the prosecutor and other parties must have known about Rajkumar’s case but chose to keep silent.

In his book, Shadrake characterizes Mourthi’s case as groundbreaking enough to resemble the “catastrophic failures of the justice system in Britain” that contributed to the death penalty being abolished there.

If Shadrake is right, then the authorities could very well be stepping up to the criminal defamation plate to contest his version of events.

Ghost said...

No matter why Alan Shadrake was arrested, the fact reminds that his book was never ever going to reach any bestseller's list in Singapore. I for one never knew the man existed, but all this changed the moment he got arrested. Attention was given to him and his book and I fail to see how that is something that is good for Singapore. Worse, he is now determined to have his day in court, which will attract even more attention to our justice system. No matter what happen in court now, arresting and charging him has become a no-win situation for Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Don't you understand it's Catch-22.

Ghost said...

My point exactly! We got ourselves in this Catch 22 situation because Alan Shadrake was arrested! We don't arrest him and who the hell would know the man!

Anonymous said...

Go read "testimony from IBA said"... comment to skeptic on August 2 @ 8:45 PM,
". . . letting Alan off would imply the judiciary concedes to the contents in his book . . . "
They have no choice but to arrest and walk right into Alan's trap. Alan is no idiot. At 75, he has nothing to lose.

Ghost said...

They have a choice. A choice of just letting the guy come and go into Singapore, and no one will remember him the next day. They arrested him and now Alan Shadrake is on BBC.

Anonymous said...

If they have a choice, why then they arrested him. Ghost, they shld have consulted you and not those idiots!

Anonymous said...

Every civil servant who values his or her career in the civil service knows exactly what is expected or kiss his/her career goodbye!

Anonymous said...

And I have tuna for lunch... What are you (guy above me) hitting at?

Anonymous said...

We should thank Shadrake for coming in to participate at a time when many Singaporeans are pleading mercy for a young Malaysian.

The timing co-incided very well.


Ghost said...

If they did consult me, I would have told they to ignore Alan Shadrake. No harm there because he wasn't well-known; he was a nobody. They arrested him and now there is harm to Singapore with more on the way once his trial starts.

Anonymous said...

Ghost, Don't you get the pun!

Ghost said...

I got the pun…doesn’t mean I can’t it with a straight face. :)