Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Strange Occurrences in a Singapore Court (...and SDP's website???)

I've been trying to access the Singapore Democratic Party website since yesterday night but nothing appears except a "bad request"/"page cannot be found" message. I hope there's a simple explanation as to what's wrong with the website. Maybe it'll be okay after a few hours or so. Or maybe, there's some dirty tricks operation being conducted by you-know-who as the IMF-World Bank meetings approach. Apart from that, the website also contains much news & reports on the PAP government's shennanigans and bullshit. And one of it is the ongoing case against Falungong practitioners.......

Strange Occurrences in a Singapore Court
The Epoch Times
Sept 5, 2006

Singapore is a powerful city-state that uses torture and the threat of long jail sentences as tools to suppress the freedom of speech of its people. The government of Singapore would like its citizens to believe it uses such instruments to maintain social freedoms and economic prosperity. Most citizens of Singapore do not fully understand that the use of such tools to suppress its citizen's right to free speech is morally wrong.

During the case against Falun Gong practitioners Ng Chye and Erh Tiong, who had displayed a protest banner on the streets outside the Chinese Embassy, I saw many strange events that one would not expect to see in a democratic society and/or its courts of law. The events I witnessed in this case have led me to believe that the court system in Singapore was being influenced by forces outside of Singapore, most likely from China.

Strange Phenomenon 1: Using the Smallest Court to Hold a Hearing on a Very High-Profile Case

The Singapore police accused the two Falun Gong practitioners who were peacefully protesting outside of the Chinese Embassy on July 20, 2006, exercising their democratic right to practice their freedom of belief. Their protest consisted of displaying a banner bearing in Chinese the words, "Hunger Strike on 7.20 Stop the inhumane treatment of Falun Gong in China." This statement was allegedly "insulting" and resulting in "harassment" toward the Chinese Communist Party. It was these allegations that resulted in the arrest of Ms. Ng Chye Huay and Mr. Erh Boon Tiong.

The court hearing on the case was held on August 28th. The courtroom where the hearing was held holds only six to eight people and is tucked away in the farthest corner of the Subordinate Court building. The nearly 100 Falun Gong practitioners who had come from as far away as Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, Britain, Taiwan and the United States to hear the case in person in court had no other option but to stand outside of the court and wait for news from the inside.

The presiding judge in the case refused to move the hearing to a larger courtroom to accommodate the large number of interested spectators including elderly people.

Strange Phenomenon 2: Witness Forced to be Deported

When the case against the Falun Gong practitioners had first been established, there had been three defendants. Ms. Chen Peiyu, a 73-year-old woman who had been handcuffed and detained in July 2005 for handing out leaflets, had her status changed to "witness" without any reason given by the courts. Several days before the hearing, Ms. Chen was arrested by Immigration officials and deported from Singapore.

Ms. Chen traveled to Indonesia but was refused entry and had to return to Singapore. After talking with their superiors, immigration officials granted her an extension. But soon, she was forced to go to Malaysia.

In order to attend the court hearing, Ms. Chen again returned to Singapore. Upon her arrival in Singapore, custom officials attempted to withhold her passport.

After several rounds of discussions with the custom officials, Ms. Chen eventually re-entered Singapore. But the custom officials had only granted Ms. Chen a three-day-permit, so short that it expired before the hearing occurred.

Strange Phenomenon 3: Judge Cannot Read Official U.N. Documents

The defense attorney asked the attorney for the prosecution, "Did you not know that it is a fact that the CCP is persecuting Falun Gong? The defendants are simply stating the truth. Does stating the truth constitute 'insult' and 'harassment'?"

The attorney for the prosecution indicated that he was not clear nor was he sure that the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong was real.

The defense asked the attorney for the prosecution, "If I can provide proof of the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong, will the charges be dropped?" The prosecuting attorney answered "yes." It was at this time that the defense attorney then proceeded to present his evidence of the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong.

The defense submitted to the court the United Nation's official report documenting the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong which has occurred since 1999. The presiding judge in response to this submission stated that unless the author of the document could testify in court personally, the document could not be accepted as evidence.

Can an upright Singapore judge's knowledge and common sense really be so poor? Or has Singapore, much like China, also implemented an Internet blockade of information from around the world regarding the persecution of Falun Gong in China?

Strange Phenomenon 4: All Reasonable Requests Raised by the Defense Lawyer Denied

The request of the defense to move the hearing to a larger courtroom was rejected by the court. The request of the defense to submit as evidence the report of the United Nations on the persecution of Falun Gong was also rejected by the court. Both requests appear to be reasonable as submitted. The reasons of the court for rejecting these requests remain unknown.

Against the rules of the court and standard courtroom proceedings, a witness for the prosecution appeared before the court before the trial. Under the order of an unknown court official, court staff confiscated all Falun Gong books at the entrance to the courtroom.

The court's public affairs office published distorted reports regarding the court's proceedings. It is difficult to describe in detail all that happened in this case which would be considered as outside the realm of standard courtroom procedure.

The senior defense attorney said that he had never seen such unfair treatment to a defendant in a court of law. He continued saying that such treatment was "unimaginable." During his preparations for the defense and during the trial itself, the defense attorney felt pressure from the courts as if he were also being persecuted by the government.

The defense attorney felt enough pressure that he worried about his license being suspended for his efforts to carry out a strong defense. He even considered an appeal to the United Nations regarding this additional issue. For an attorney who is familiar with the law and the courts to feel such pressure, it is hard to imagine the pressure that must be felt by a common person, such as the defendants in this case, trapped within the system.

Final Comments

This courtroom experience in Singapore gives one concern regarding the future of the people of Singapore. This author, who used to have a favorable impression of Singapore based on its past public and economic achievements, cannot help but worry about its future after witnessing this bewildering trial. This author can only ask, "In Singapore, where the social stability and economic prosperity of the country are not built on a basic respect for human rights, can its people really enjoy freedom and democracy?"

No comments: