Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me introduce myself first. I am a Singaporean by birth, and opposition politician and lawyer. I have now now more than 30 years of experience in law. I practiced law in Singapore for 10 years while I was an opposition politician with the Workers Party while JB Jeyaretnam was at the helm.
I was repeatedly harassed with all sorts of accusations of legal impropriety, charged for contempt of court and finally suspended from practicing law for 2 years after I left the island permanently in 1991 for alleging that the then Attorney General Tan Boon Teik was not altogether honest when he claimed he "was not given an opportunity to be heard" at the London Privy Council hearing to determine whether JB Jeyaretnam, also a lawyer should be disbarred.
As you know JB Jeyaretnam was completely vindicated by the Lords in their scathing judgement which said in essence that the Singapore courts where nothing more than Kangaroo courts.
Subsequently in 2008 while on a visit to Singapore, I had written a blog criticizing Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean for politically abusing the courts to punish an innocent man, opposition politician Chee Soon Juan.
For that they sent me to jail for 3 months. After I returned to the US I wrote another blog making the same criticism against another judge Judith Prakash for sending 3 men to jail for being present near her court wearing T Shirts emblazoned with the picture of Kangaroos in judicial robes in reference to the Chee Soon Juan case. Just for that!
After that the Singapore authorities commenced disciplinary proceedings to have me disbarred from practicing law in Singapore. Not that it mattered as I was not living in Singapore then. Like clockwork, the required punishment was rendered and I was disbarred in Singapore.
As an active practicing lawyer in California the state bar ethics required that I report any claims of transgressions anywhere in the world. So I duly reported the fact that I was disbarred in Singapore. Not surprisingly, the State Bar of California not only failed to make any ruling on my letter, they simply ignored my letter altogether! I never received an acknowledgment that they even received my letter even though the post office confirms they delivered it! That is how much the State Bar of California thinks of Singapore and it's courts! Anyway I continue to be in good standing at the Bar in California not having missed a day of practice. I also continue to be in good standing at the Bar of England and Wales. So much for that.
If indeed Singapore authorities feel so strongly as to have me disbarred in the island, should they not press the State Bar of California to require that I answer these charges. You guessed it. They have not done anything. Perhaps they are not so sure they will succeed in American jurisdictions! We have the rule of law here.
The maelstrom that is going on now in the island concerns 38 Oxley Road Singapore a house that was left by the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's previous dictatorial prime minister who has been falsely credited in turning Singapore from a "fishing village" to a great metropolis.
If anyone knows Singapore they should know that far from being a fishing village, as far back as the late 19th century the British who had colonized the island had already turned it into the most advanced highly developed shipping and bustling trading port in the region. In fact Lee Kuan Yew was in fact a curse not a boon to the island and without him we would have perhaps become a shining democracy instead of a dictatorship it has become.
Now the question of 38 Oxley Road Singapore. As a lawyer let me tell you about the law of wills. And I will add that what I am about to say does not require someone with 30 years of experience as I have. Even a first year law student of wills can tell you that. It is simply trite. Just basic.
About 2 weeks ago, the Prime Minister's siblings had accused him of denying the will of their father Lee Kuan Yew in relation to his house. In the will he expressly stated that upon his death the house should be demolished and in the event that his daughter continues to live there, demolished after she leaves. This clause was very clear.
And below this clause which we call the "Demolition Clause" he inserted a "Saving Clause". This clause stated that in the event his intention cannot be carried out the executors could find alternative means to dispose of the house. The reasons he cited among others in the saving clause was such things as the denial of planning permission or the laws of Singapore preventing the demolition.
The place to decide on the disposition of assets upon death of anyone, including a former Prime Minister is the probate court, not Parliament not select committees, not speeches by the Prime Minister son of Lee Kuan Yew, not anyone else. That has to be understood.
The duty of the probate court is essentially to give effect to the wishes of the testator. If the testator wishes to give his property to a dog house, it should still be respected. If it is to be demolished, so it must. That much has to be clear.
Second an explanation of his "saving clause". Lawyers add saving clauses in contracts and wills to ensure that if the first preference of the contract or will cannot be carried out for some unforeseen reasons, then it can be distributed according to the testator's second choice. This always relates to unforeseen circumstances. For instance if one leaves all his money to his old school in Swatow China but in the event that the Communists take over the country as in 1949 and the school is destroyed, the testator can state the money should be given to his children according to his wish in the saving clause. Perfectly understandable.
Or for instance if you make a contract with the Germans and you fear the Nazi Party will form the government thereby making your contract illegal, you could state that the terms change to deal with that emergency.
But Lee Kuan Yew adding that saving clause did not in any way mean that he meant anything other than what he exactly intended, that is, the house should be demolished upon his death or after his daughter had vacated from the house.
In any case at the time Lee Kuan Yew made the will, there was no impediment in destroying the house. No laws prevented it. One never knows what the situation should be if his daughter chose to live in it for many years and then vacated. But in any case planning laws or government laws does not usually prevent a house from being demolished, unless of course something totally out of the ordinary happens, such as the entire island will sink into the sea if they did it! You can see my point of course. The saving clause meant in reality nothing. Unless you have an unusually vivid imagination, such as Martians landing in the island, if the house was demolished, whether now or 20 years from now, there is absolutely nothing to tear the house down.
Lee Hseing Loong the million dollar Prime Minister followed in his tail by a bevy of lawyers knows that he has a right to challenge the will in the probate court proceedings. He has even said that somehow his father, himself a lawyer and a member of parliament at the time did not, believe it or not, understand the will. If so why did he not challenge it? We know that he never did and let it stand, which means he accepted that that was the last will and testament of Lee Kuan Yew as written.
But instead of challenging it in court, he now holds this clown show in parliament to debate the will! Parliament is no place to decide a will, it is the court and he knows that too well, yet he makes a fool of us all by this clown show in Parliament.
But if you have followed this cunning, or rather dumb might I add, Prime Minister in parliament, he was suggesting that the saving clause allowed him to preserves the house since according to him, his fathers wishes were, believe it or not, "not very clear" and that he had left the issue of demolition "open".
What bloody humbug is that for Heaven's sake! It is plain English. It says demolish. The saving clause in no way changed the testator's intention, which was that the house should be demolished. Simple as that! Basic first year Law of wills and laws of contract. No need for Rumpole of the Bailey to tell you that.
What has transpired during the long rambling tooth pulling pain of the Prime Minister in Parliament was a disgraceful attempt to treat us all as bloody idiots. We know that the will states what it states and that is that. No manner of subterfuge or sophistry can change that.
Now let me come to demolition of a different kind, the demolition of his political opponents in Singapore's disgraceful history. Singapore is rightly called by many as the apex defamation regime.
Which means, if you ever dare to criticize the Prime Minister or his PAP ministers, he will unleash his Kangaroo Judges upon you. You will as the sun rises tomorrow, be either sued and bankrupted in hundreds and thousands of dollars and in many instances imprisoned as well!
The argument they use to sue all and sundry is apparently an old Chinese cultural belief that if you are a political leader and if you are criticized, you will lose your moral authority to rule and therefore in order to uphold your legitimacy, you have no choice but to sue and bankrupt your political opponent.
Naturally in this way, all possible criticism against you or your government is destroyed and you can rule over your docile timid silenced population ever after. You can see how well this has worked for him looking at Singapore's history.
Continuously for the last 58 years since independence countless Singaporeans, including me, who have criticized his rule have all been silenced and his party, the erstwhile Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chock Tong and now the son of Lee himself have all ruled with total impunity.
Now comes suddenly and a peasant surprise indeed, his siblings have come out with charges previously unthinkable. After all who would have dared to stand up to Augustus Cesar and expected to have another breath.
But then his accusers are not the ordinary subjugated silenced Singaporean. It is none other than his own brother and sister, members of the elite no less and persons in important positions of authority. They have called out Lee Hsien Loong the Prime Minister at his actions. They have accused him of, no less, "lying" to Parliament, "misleading" Parliament, "not telling the truth" "using his power to hurt them" "nepotism" "Big Brother" and the attacks continue.
Naturally following the uncontroverted unquestioning rule for everyone in Singapore to follow, including his siblings who we must be assume not to be above the law, the natural consequences of uttering these accusations, under the Singaporean understanding of lawsuits, is for him to immediately sue his brother and sister for millions of dollars thanks to his puppet Kangaroo judges, and put them away forever. After all what about the Chinese adage. But no. He has said he will not sue because, he claims, they are his brother and sister! Wait a minute, one rule for the rest of us peasants and another rule for his family members. It therefore seems that only his family members are entitled to freedom of expression but no one is.
One rule for some, another for others. Unfortunately for all of us, we were not lucky enough to be part of his family. Otherwise we too can enjoy freedom of expression.
I remember since my days as a lawyer in Singapore the terror he showed to anyone who criticized. JB Jeyaretnam was repeatedly sued for defamation, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, jailed and disbarred and bankrupted. He has since died.
Tang Liang Hong an opposition politician was sued for defamation of character just because he lodged a police report in the 2007 elections and driven out of the country.
Chee Soon Juan was repeatedly sued and bankrupted and now reduced to selling his books along the Singapore sidewalk to make a living.
I was charged with contempt of court in 1991 general elections all because I said the manner Subordinate courts appointed their judges should be more fair and independent.
Now after having crushed all and every dissent in the island with an iron hand with his Kangaroo judges, does it not seem rather hollow the grandiose claims he makes of protecting his honor. Where is honor now after his own brother had called him a "liar".
Having you seen the clown show that is going on in Parliament about this. Every single member of parliament is quietly sitting like lifeless tombstones or as if they were in a church in quiet meditation.
Their faces all carry a sense of fear and if they are minded to speak they stand up meekly and utter nothing more than squeaks lest the Emperor Prime Minister and his puppet Speaker be displeased. It reminded me of watching some Hitler's Nazi Trials against some Jews who were accused of some transgression. Were they to speak even a little more, the Judge roars at them and threatens the firing squad instantly. It is a shame. Watch for yourself.
I think the man is finished now. No one can take him seriously. He is now seen as just a confirmed coward, who dares to go after the small man simply because he can get away with it, but fears to face others more his equal.
Attorney at Law
San Francisco bay Area, California
Tel: 510 491 8525
Singapore’s 38 Oxley Rise and the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Clown Show
by Gopalan Nair | Jul 5, 2017 | Uncategorized |