Calvin Cheng Quotes

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Quotes by Ex-NMP, Calvin Cheng (followed by a selection of rebuttals)

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QUOTE #1: “I was confident that it [would] not in any way affect my ability to be impartial, objective and non-partisan.” — Calvin Cheng (July 2009)

Rebuttal: “Mr Cheng is missing the point. If NMPs are truly supposed to be non-partisan, he should have resigned from the party upon submitting his application to become an NMP, not only after the results are out.”
— Ng E-Jay / Socio-Political Blogger (July 2009)

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QUOTE #2: “The biggest danger I feel are an emerging group of Westernised, educated, champagne socialists and latte liberals who pontificate about social inequality, democracy and freedom in the comfort of their condos.”
— Calvin Cheng (Oct 2014)

Rebuttal: “The greatest threat to Singapore is in the form of reactionaries who promote self-serving policies under the guise of pragmatism and meritocracy.”
— Terence Ng (Oct 2014)

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QUOTE #3: “[The association had ‘noble goals]. . .if wages of models have been left higher and they have benefited permanently, it’s a good thing.”
— Calvin Cheng (Oct 2013)

Rebuttal: “Calvin Cheng played a central role in price-fixing as president of the Association of Modelling Industry Professionals (AMIP). . .he knew [it was] wrong, and he did it all the same.”
RedWireTimes c/o Terry Xu (Oct 2014)

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QUOTE #4: “I don’t respond to anything on The Real Singapore, which is a Facebook page and website written by morons, commented on by morons, and read and shared by morons.”
— Calvin Cheng (Oct 2014)

Rebuttal: “Disgusted to see that a Hwa Chong alumni can behave in such a pathetic manner. Never have I been more embarrassed of the fact that I too, am a Hwa Chong alumni. The tone of your comments and posts here, or anywhere else for that matter, reek of elitism. You have gone against the values that you were supposed to have as a ‘distinguished’ alumni of Hwa Chong. Quite disappointing indeed. In case you were wondering, I do read TRS too, and let me tell you this: many of the people reading/commenting on TRS are fairly smart. They are intelligent people, able to make their own judgements and form their own opinions.”
— 17 y/o Tim Ling (Oct 2014)

Rebuttal:Thanks for your mercy and snobbishness.”
— Angie Ng (to CC’s reply that she “represents the low IQ segment of the public”; Oct 2014)

Rebuttal:Calvin Cheng, reading through your earlier comments in this thread, you have clearly lost your argument to 17 year-old Tim Ling, who has shown a greater level of maturity than you. . .TRS/TRE may seem to you to be ‘moronic’ reporting, and it is so simply because it goes against the same elitist ideologies you share with the ruling elites. At least reports in the TRS/TRE are neither restrained nor controlled like that in The Straits Times which gives it a greater appeal. Thousands of readers that include ardent PAP supporters like Jason Chua (who founded Fabrications About the PAP), several PAP MPs and yourself take the time to read TRS/TRE frequently, so I presume that makes you and the people that support or are in your beloved PAP party morons.”
— Mike Tan (Oct 2014)

Rebuttal:How on earth is this loser a ‘nominated member of parliament’? I would have expected a basic amount of political correctness and common sense, instead he spends his time on Facebook trading petty, personal insults with random strangers like a 12 year old. Ridiculous.”
— Bob Chan (Oct 2014)

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QUOTE #5: “Are Singaporeans so easily offended? Please. Have more of a backbone and thick-skin. Are you going to go on a frenzied witch hunt just because some foreigner called you a loser on the Internet?”
— Calvin Cheng (Jan 2015)

Rebuttal:This smug Calvin is not the only idiot in town. He is a boon to the opposition — his silly pieces do not do Oxford University proud. Why wasn’t Ello arrested for his blast against the Muslim religion?”
Comment (Jan 2015)

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QUOTE #6: “Chee Soon Juan’s reply to Minister Chan [Chung Sing] is completely nonsensical and disingenuous, rebutting a point that was never made. Nowhere did Min. Chan call Chee a failure. Min. Chan called Chee Soon Juan a POLITICAL failure and that’s a fact. Even by the most stretched definitions, I don’t see how Chee could possibly be called a ‘political success’. ”
— Calvin Cheng (Jan 2015)

Rebuttal:I consider Calvin a success too. He single handedly proved the NMP system is a joke.
— Eric Chionh (Jan 2015)

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QUOTE #7: “Faith in our legal system and our police force underpins our hard-won social harmony and stability. By inciting people to question this and shaking the faith in the pillars of our society, these [half-wit] dissident-bloggers and websites are plainly speaking, inciting sedition.”
— Calvin Cheng (Mar 2015)

Rebuttal:Mr Cheng, I am concerned about the state of your mental health. Best regards.”
Lim Yong Chin (Mar 2015)

Rebuttal:But Mr Cheng, I notice you haven’t specifically said if you believe [what I mentioned about other parties putting anti-PAP flyers into people’s mailboxes] would be legal. Are you doubtful?
Ng Yi-Sheng / Singapore Literature Prize Recipient (Mar 2015)

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QUOTE #8: “I tell you what freedom is. Freedom is being able to walk on the streets unmolested in the wee hours in the morning, to be able to leave one’s door open and not fear that one would be burgled. . .These are the freedoms that Singaporeans have, freedoms that were built on the vision and hard work of Mr Lee, our first Prime Minister. And we have all of these, these liberties, while also being one of the richest countries in the world.”
— Calvin Cheng (March 2015)

Rebuttal:There are at least three elementary mistakes that Cheng makes in his piece that allow for it to be a very useful case study in logic and politics classes. The first, and the most obvious one, is that he has mistaken security for freedom. The second mistake that Cheng makes is that Singapore never had to sacrifice freedom for security, and democracy for an effective government.”
Donald Low / Associate Dean at LKYSPP (Mar 2015)

Rebuttal: “We are a country where Human Rights are seen as luxury. The security that is achieved in Singapore is not secured by respect and understanding, it is achieved through ignorance and fear.”
Rizzy Khaos / Blogger (Apr 2015)

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QUOTE #9: “Amos Yee will be charged in court. The kind of freedom he exercised is exactly the kind of freedom no civilised society needs. Insulting another’s religion, and trying to incite hatred during a time of national unity and mourning. And so, in order to secure the freedom of our civilised society, this boy should lose his.”
— Calvin Cheng (March 2015)

Rebuttal: Are we such a petty and insecure people that we have to demand blood whenever someone insults us on the Internet? Your own words, Calvin.”
— Joshua Chiang / Former TOC Editor (March 2015)

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QUOTE #10: “There is no such thing as total anonymity on the Internet. Troublemakers can be found and will be found. Troublemakers can set up new websites but they will similarly be hunted down. I do hope that the 2 editors of TRS already charged will be handed lengthy jail sentences as a warning and deterrence to others who may have similar intentions.”
— Calvin Cheng (May 2015)

Rebuttal: “Calvin Cheng will surely be greeted with strong approval by the PAP government. He is trying to scare the people. I will suggest that he try something more intelligent. Unless there is a legitimate ground, most notably a terrorist threat, I don’t think you can just walk into another country and hunt down the foreign sites. Don’t embarrass yourself, Mr Calvin Cheng!”
— Dosh / TRE Comment (May 2015)

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QUOTE #11: “Kudos to the NAC. More grants should be revoked from those who publish objectionable content. Taking tax payers’ money to publish content the majority don’t agree with is a social sin.”
— Calvin Cheng (May 2015)

Rebuttal: Because [it’s about] Operation Spectrum. Nobody likes to talk about Operation Spectrum.”
— Acedia Nazrul Amri Tristitia (May 2015)

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QUOTE #12: “The self-radicalisation of the ISA-detained youth by ISIS propaganda is worrying. People like Alfian Sa’at for example need to be careful of their irresponsible rhetoric. . .the Government should watch commentators like Alfian Sa’at closely and if red lines are crossed, the use of the ISA on these domestic agitators should not be ruled out.”
— Calvin Cheng (May 2015)

Rebuttal: Self-radicalised Oxford-educated PAP zealot Calvin Cheng hopes the government will invoke the ISA on playwright Alfian Sa’at.
— Martyn See / Filmmaker + Blogger (May 2015)

Rebuttal: “If anyone is behaving in a traitorous manner, it is this abomination called Calvin Cheng for constantly and insidiously trying to turn Singaporeans against Singaporeans who dare to speak up on social political issues. He has made a serious and unfounded allegation against Alfian Sa’at and he should apologise if he has any conscience.”
— Min Zheng / Jentrified Citizen (May 2015)

Rebuttal: “CC: You claim that you had sought legal advice from a senior counsel and that Alfian should take proper legal advice instead of advice from armchair lawyers. Well, I happen to be a lawyer too, Calvin. And I think you’re in pretty serious trouble.
— Respect Singapore (May 2015)

Rebuttal: I believe I speak for Oxford when I say we are ashamed that a graduate of this institution would suggest using detention without trial to silence an honourable man.”
— Thum Ping Tjin (May 2015)

Rebuttal: In other more important news, my short story collection Corridor has been republished by Ethos Books. And contrary to what Calvin Cheng would like to insinuate, it’s not on ISIS’ reading list.
— Alfian Sa’at / Playwright (May 2015)

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CALVIN CHENG was a Nominated Member of Parliament in Singapore. He currently serves on the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Media Literacy Council, and the Media Development Authority’s Board for The Singapore Media Festival.

Calvin was formerly the Head of Elite Models for the Asia Pacific region. Calvin is also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

CC Online: Facebook | Wikipedia | LinkedIn | Parliament SG

Excerpts from “Scandalising the Singapore Judiciary”

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Excerpts from “Scandalising the Singapore Judiciary”

by Tsun Hang Tey (2010)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Informit.com.au | Ebscohost

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Definitions:

1. Rule of Law: The legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials (Wiki).

2. Scandalise: To dishonor and disgrace (TFD).

3. Jurisprudence: Legal system.

Extracts from Article:

1) [This article] hopes to open up a new line of debate over the extent to which it is ‘rule of law’ or ‘rule by law’ that is adopted in matters where criticisms of the ruling party and its leaders in Singapore are involved.

2) Scandalising the Singapore judiciary [is] an archaic phrase which embodies ‘any act done or writing published calculated to bring a court or a judge of the court into contempt, or to lower his authority’.

3) The Singapore courts have dealt firmly with these contemnors through the contempt of court committals, shaping a jurisprudence that places [emphasis on] maintaining good public perception of its ‘integrity and impartiality’, at the expense of freedom of political speech and critical reporting.

4) It is said that the rationale behind the law of contempt is ‘not to vindicate the dignity of the court or [judge], but to prevent undue interference with the administration of justice’, as well as to preserve public confidence in the integrity and competence of the judiciary.

5) The 11 November 1974 issue of Newsweek magazine that was alleged to have had the effect of scandalising the court of Singapore. . .ended with the shocking allegation – that ‘in the courts in Singapore it makes a vital difference whether it is the government or the opposition that is in the dock.’

6) Christopher Lingle, the author of an article published in the International Herald Tribune was convicted [of] contempt by scandalising the court [by] suggesting that the Singapore judiciary was ‘compliant’ to its government.

7) [The Singapore judiciary] has failed to undertake a searching or meaningful analysis of the issue of the permissibility of derogation from the constitutional right of free speech, and has also failed to appreciate the importance of achieving an appropriate balance between the social benefit of preserving its integrity, and the freedom to report critically.

8) The Singapore judges have sworn to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’, [where] the purpose of the Constitution is in protecting and guaranteeing the rights of citizens. Where freedom of speech and expression is considered to be a basic human right, it is all the more important that the courts provide a proper rationale for derogation of such a right.

9) It is common to observe the courts citing from other judgments without giving much input into the rationales and reasons for doing so. . .the rigour and depth in the reasoning employed in judgments pertaining to other areas of the law seem to be lacking in contempt of court judgments handed down in Singapore.

10) One’s right to freedom of speech and expression can be abrogated rather easily – so long as the criticism made is ‘scurrilous abuse’ or ‘excites misgivings as to the integrity, propriety and impartiality brought to the exercise of the judicial office’, one would be found guilty of scandalising the court.

11) It does not matter if one had made such criticisms honestly in exercise of one’s recognised right to freedom of speech and expression. Such an approach amounts to the imposition of a strict liability offence and renders the right to freedom of speech and expression almost obsolete (at least with regard to criticisms one can make of the courts). This renders the recognition of the right to freedom of speech and expression superfluous and meaningless.

12) While the court will expressly recognise a right to freedom of speech and expression, it will be quick to note that such a right is not absolute and subject to multiple limitations.

13) While no right can be absolute, the courts ought to engage in a rigorous analysis to find the right balance between the competing interests, and before setting down limitations on the rights it is sworn to protect.

14) The rights of the people should be given its maximum space and recognition, for the entire purpose of rights is to guarantee the fundamental liberties of the people. If such rights were to be curtailed and limited right from the start, there is not going to be much to guarantee and uphold.

15) An accused, regardless of whether he or she was justified in their statements, would be found guilty as long as the statements scandalised the judiciary. Therefore, in effect, no one can make any adverse comments on the judiciary, regardless of the extent of truth there is in the comments. This is an untenable position for it amounts to a derogation from the right to freedom of speech and expression without a proper justification, and it may potentially assist judges who do not act in the best interests of justice.

16) This right to criticise is explained by Lord Atkin in Ambard v A-G of Trinidad and Tobago [[1936] AC 322]:

. . .no wrong is committed by any member of the public who exercises the ordinary right of criticizing, in good faith, in private or public, the public act done in the seat of justice. . .Justice [must] be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments, of ordinary men.

17) See article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’.

While Singapore is not a member of the Human Rights Council in the United Nations, it has obligations with respect to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

18) Recent developments indicate that the law enforcers are swiftly and decisively enforcing Singapore’s law of contempt against contemnors exhibiting behaviour of various types, namely, contemptuous blogging on the internet and the writing of insulting emails to judges (as seen in [Mr Gopalan Nair]; the wearing of T-shirts imprinted with images of a kangaroo dressed in a judge’s robe while appearing at [the] Supreme Court courtroom; and the Attorney-General’s committal for contempt proceedings [for] three allegedly contemptuous articles published in Wall Street Journal Asia in June and July 2008).

19) Harsh allegations made by a range of international bodies in questioning the integrity of the Singapore judiciary:

What emerges … is a government that has been willing to decimate the rule of law for the benefit of its political interests. Lawyers have been cowed to passivity, judges are kept on a short leash, and the law has been manipulated so that gaping holes exist in the system of restraints on government action toward the individual. Singapore is not a country in which individual rights have significant meaning.
— The New York City Bar Association (1990)

Source: “Scandalising the Singapore Judiciary,” by Tsun Hang Tey (2010)

PDF Download: Informit.com.au | Ebscohost

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AUTHOR:

tey_tsun_hang

Prof Tey obtained first class honours from Oxford University and practised law in Malaysia before being hired to teach at NUS Law faculty. Prof Tey entered the legal service in the Supreme Court as a Justice Law Clerk during the tenure of then Chief Justice Yong Pung How. Prof Tey went on to become a District Judge, after which he returned to academia at NUS Law Faculty.

In 2011, Tey decided to go ahead with publishing a number of articles highly critical of Singapore’s judiciary without approval from the ISD. “I am no longer willing to self-censor,” he wrote. “I certainly do not want [to] compromise my intellectual honesty.”

Of the 2014 sex-for-favours case against him, Tey maintains that the case was politically motivated from the start.

Tey Online: TOC | Yahoo | The Monthly (AU) | Legal Consensus (Tey’s book on Singapore’s judiciary) | Singapore Consensus (Tey’s articles)

Tey’s Court Actions: NUS | Singapore ICA (to show how high-handed and well-coordinated the executions were)

Excerpts from “Marxists in Singapore?”

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Excerpts from “Marxists in Singapore? Lee Kuan Yew’s Campaign against Catholic Social Justice Activists in the 1980s”

by Michael Barr (2010)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Ebscohost

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Definitions:

1. Conspiracy: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

Extracts from Article:

1) Singapore’s ruling elite runs a finely calibrated system of social and political control based on a mixture of monitoring and repression by the state, and self-monitoring and self-restraint by all elements of civil society.

2) In response to the challenges [of a fresh upsurge of social justice activism and dissent], LKY created a fanciful narrative about a “Marxist conspiracy” to overthrow the state. . .this article uses archival, oral, and secondary sources [to study the] motivations of the government — which essentially means the motivations of Lee Kuan Yew.

3) The comprehensive display [at Singapore’s Internal Security Department Heritage Centre] has one glaring omission: there is no mention of Operation Spectrum, the smashing of the supposed Marxist conspiracy in mid 1987.

4) The conspiracy was so shadowy that when one of the detainees protested during interrogation that he did not know anything about a conspiracy and did not even know half of his supposed twenty-one co-conspirators, he was told with a straight face that he was “an unconscious conspirator,” and he might as well admit it.

5) According to a former journalist who was working at The Straits Times in 1987, not a single person in the newsroom remotely believed the charges, but they had no choice but to report the government’s story as fact. (Note: Read Bertha Henson’s blog about the matter — TOC.)

6) The official amnesia is perhaps a convenient cover for the fact that there never was a conspiracy, Marxist or otherwise. Then prime minister Lee almost admitted as much in confidence at the time when he told the Catholic archbishop of Singapore, the late Gregory Yong, that the detainees themselves were of minimal concern to him. He dismissed them as “do-gooders who wanted to help the poor and the dispossessed.”

7) . . .Lee Kuan Yew personally orchestrated the exercise to try to guarantee what he understood to be the elements essential to the stability of the regime beyond his impending (or so it seemed) retirement.

8) [The authors of the Church and Society series] “criticis[ed] the Government on various secular issues…[and] accused the Government of emasculating the trade unions and enacting labour laws which curtailed the rights of workers.” This hardly amounts to conspiring to overthrow the state.

9) [The Catholic activists] had no reason to doubt that they would remain under the protection of Archbishop Gregory Yong. The first of these beliefs lasted until the early hours of 21 May 1987, when ISD officers awakened and arrested the activists; the second, until 3 June 1987, when the archbishop told the priests associated with the movement that he would not defend them if they were arrested.

10) [Historical records reveal that LKY managed the detentions in] the face of significant reluctance on the part of his Cabinet colleagues, and [there] is strong evidence that he did not really believe there was a Marxist conspiracy and was certainly not interested in or worried about the detainees themselves.

11) There is no room to doubt that this was a personal campaign, micromanaged by Lee in every respect.

12) [Goh Chok Tong’s] account depicts Cabinet members being dragged inch by inch into becoming complicit in taking the decision to act, but never coming up with any better reason for conviction other than that the accused were engaged in “some nefarious activity.”

13) S. Dhanabalan [said that the detainees] were “not on the verge of overthrowing this government or starting a revolution.” We know from subsequent developments that in fact he was very unhappy about the detentions.

14) Evidence shows that Lee never believed that the detainees were part of a Marxist conspiracy to overthrow the state. . .despite these statements he concluded the meeting by asking “the Church leaders whether they were satisfied that Vincent Cheng was involved in the communist conspiracy” based primarily on Cheng’s “admission” of this charge, which had been elicited under torture.

15) Lee’s stated reason for the detentions during these meetings was that he was concerned by the activities of the priests associated with the movement [Fr. Edgar D’Souza, Fr. Patrick Goh, Fr. Joseph Ho and Fr. Arotcarena].

16) Lee demanded the complete submission of the Catholic Church to his will. Records of both afternoon meetings on 2 June show Lee personally pressuring and coaching Archbishop Yong for two clearly stated purposes: first, to ensure that the archbishop did not give the impression that he had been pressured by the government into supporting the government’s actions, and second, to avoid giving the impression that Lee personally had been heavily involved in the archbishop’s decision-making process.

17) [The priests and Church] were displaying a capacity to operate across many levels of society with great independence and a strong sense of invulnerability.

18) In 1986, only a year before the detentions, the Law Society had used its role as the professional association for solicitors to criticize a government bill (the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act) because it threatened journalistic freedoms. . .in the words of Wong [Kan Seng], “Public policy is the domain of the government. It is not the playground of those who have no responsibility to the people.” . . .one of the detainees of 1987, Teo Soh Lung, was a prominent office holder in the Law Society throughout 1986 and 1987 and [after] the first month in detention, her interrogators completely lost interest in her involvement with the Catholics (specifically her work on behalf of foreign maids) and focused exclusively on her role in the Law Society.

19) [The] archbishop must have realized that in the eyes of the government, [the] real offense of these Church workers was not any supposed involvement in a Marxist conspiracy, but the blurring of the line between politics and religion, just as the Law Society was blurring the lines between “politics” and professional responsibility during the same months.

20) The capacity of activists to cross social and institutional boundaries (for instance, from church to campus to shop floor to the media) challenged the government’s monopolistic control over the public agenda.

21) LKY knew perfectly well that the Catholic Church had been instrumental in bringing down the Marcos regime in the Philippines and that it was taking a leading role in the democracy movement in South Korea. . .Lee probably had only a vague, two-dimensional understanding of the issues involved, but he was not one to view such a pattern of events complacently.

22) The documents show that the combination of these international and domestic perspectives generated in Lee’s mind a scenario in which, at the very least, the movement posed a short-term threat to the ruling elite’s monopoly on political discourse and power just when he was planning his retirement. Lee responded by using these detentions to set tighter limits on public dissent through two new mechanisms: the imposition of legislative controls to remove the capacity for such blurring of the lines in the future and the encouragement of a culture of self-censorship and self-monitoring to avoid future clashes with the government.

23) . . .the beginning of a new pattern whereby the Church supervised its own repression. Remarkably, it was the archbishop, not the government, who suppressed publication of the 14 June 1987 issue of The Catholic News — an issue that contained a defense of the detainees and a statement of support by the archbishop himself.

24) Lee Kuan Yew must have expected public skepticism about the accusations against the detainees to undermine the government’s credibility, but he was clearly prepared to bear this cost in order to establish a firm pattern of effective authoritarian rule that he could be confident would outlast his premiership. This he did by imposing a pattern of tough love both on society [and] on his successors in government.

25) As a direct consequence of this episode, the Catholic Church in Singapore lost both its independence and a vibrant element of its social conscience.

Source:Marxists in Singapore? Lee Kuan Yew’s Campaign against Catholic Social Justice Activists in the 1980s,” by Michael Barr (2010)

PDF Download: Ebscohost

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AUTHOR:

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DR. MICHAEL BARR is Associate Professor in International Relations in the School of International Studies at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs behind the Man and other books on Singapore politics and history, and is Editor-in-Chief of Asian Studies Review.

Michael Barr Online: Profile | Publications | Interview with James Minchin | Interview

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ADDITIONAL LINKS:

1) Remember or forget? The 1987 “Marxist conspiracy” (Alex Au; 2009)

2) 2,500 pray at Mass for detainees (Function 8; 2012)

3) 23 years after Operation Spectrum: Ex-detainees recall mental and physical abuses (SG Rebel; 2010)

4) Today in history – remembering Operation Spectrum (TOC; 2015)

5) Fighting back with words! (Teo Soh Lung FB; 2015)

6) Interview with Thum Ping Tjin about Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore – Part 3 (TOC; 2015)

Importance of History

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Thought I’d collate some excerpts on “The Importance of History” for my 50th (socio-political) blog post :)

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Importance of History / Why History Matters

1) Our view of history shapes the way we view the present, and therefore it dictates what answers we offer for existing problems.

2) What is history? [A] simple definition: “History is a story about the past that is significant and true.”

3) History is important because it helps us to understand the present. If we listen to what history has to say, we can come to a sound understanding of the past that will tell us much about the problems we now face.

4) If we refuse to listen to history, we will find ourselves fabricating a past that reinforces our understanding of current problems.

5) History teaches values. If it is true history, it teaches true values; if it is pseudo-history, it teaches false values. The history taught to our children is playing a role in shaping their values and beliefs—a much greater role than we may suspect.

Source: Gutenberg College

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6) The past causes the present, and so the future.

7) Any time we try to know why something happened—[we] have to look for factors that took shape earlier. Only through studying history can we grasp how things change; only through history can we begin to comprehend the factors that cause change; and only through history can we understand what elements of an institution or a society persist despite change.

8) History also provides a terrain for moral contemplation and helps provide identity, including a commitment to national loyalty.

9) Historical study is crucial to the promotion of [the] well-informed citizen. It provides basic factual information about the background of our political institutions and about the values and problems that affect our social well-being.

Source: American Historical Association

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10) Far from being a ‘dead’ subject, history connects things through time.

11) The study of the past is essential for ‘rooting’ people in time. And why should that matter? The answer is that people who feel themselves to be rootless live rootless lives, often causing a lot of damage to themselves and others in the process.

12) Humans do not learn from the past, people sometimes say. An extraordinary remark! People certainly do not learn from the future. Of course humans learn from the past—and that is why it is studied.

Source: The Institute of Historical Research

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13) Every authoritarian government worth its salt understands the importance of commanding the national historical narrative. It is a concept that was perhaps best encapsulated by George Orwell in his classic dystopian novel 1984:

“Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.”

14) Countless one-party states and banana republics have banned books, banished professors and pumped propaganda into the education system. But few have managed so successfully to stamp their imprint on their nation’s history as Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and his ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

15) Many Singaporeans perceive their own history to be little more than the Lee Kuan Yew story, with a bit of Sir Stamford Raffles thrown in for good measure. Given the government’s hegemonic control over the school curriculum, universities and the mass media—and its belief that these institutions must perform a “nation-building” function—this [well-rehearsed official narrative] has become deeply entrenched and gone largely unchallenged.

Source: Asian Correspondent | Global Asia

Excerpts from “The Bonsai under the Banyan Tree”

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Excerpts from “The Bonsai under the Banyan Tree: Democracy and Democratisation in Singapore”

by Michael Barr (2012)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Taylor & Francis

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Extracts from Article:

1) Singapore’s democratic processes are a bonsai version of the real thing, meaning that what passes for democracy is constrained, pruned, stunted, and mainly for show.

2) The government’s aversion to political contestation is complemented by its propensity to identify national crises and apocalyptic choices. . .Lee Hsien Loong describes this mindset as ‘paranoid government’, and it is a technique directed in part towards manipulating public fears.

3) Lee and the ruling elite do not believe in democracy, in the sense of contestation for power through the ballot box, negotiated by rules and social power structures that apply even-handedly to all parties.

4) . . .exaggerated by the system of punishment politics introduced by Goh Chok Tong that brazenly twisted the principles of technocracy and professionalism whereby services and upgrades were withheld from constituencies and even from individual housing blocks that voted for the opposition.

5) This reference to the banyan tree entered political parlance in 1991, when Minister for Information and the Arts, George Yeo, delivered what seemed at the time to be a landmark speech, promising to ‘trim the banyan tree’. It alludes to the fact that nothing grows under a banyan tree because, between the thickness of its foliage and the dominance of its root system, it sucks the life out of anything that tries to share its space.

6) Even at the time he was explicit on the limits of the ‘trimming’: ‘We cannot do without the banyan tree [. . .] We need some pluralism but not too much because it will also destroy us. In other words we prune judiciously’.

7) Since April 2009 freedom of assembly has become more restricted than it was in 1991, with the courts now having the power to declare a single person in any public place to be an ‘illegal assembly’.

8) It is with this history in mind that I turn my attention [to] the possibilities of democratization in this stultifying atmosphere, and characterize the operation of democracy in Singapore as being akin to a bonsai growing under the banyan tree.

9) In 2011 the bonsai plant started growing beyond its wire binding, thanks in large part to the perseverance of both opposition and civil society groups that have learnt their craft under the shade of the banyan tree, operating in an environment where the media, all the instruments of the state, and most elements of society are subservient to the ruling elite.

10) Government ministers have lost – possibly forever – the presumption of professional authority that they enjoyed before. This changes the dynamic of political contestation in Singapore.

11) The government is being challenged by a new constituency and found to be out of touch. This is a constituency of tertiary educated, middle-class Singaporeans, who are too young to have personal memories of the hardships of the 1960s and 1970s but are acutely aware of numerous grievances.

12) [The government] has built an education and social system based on ruthless competition, but argues that competition is bad in politics. It sets the pay scales for ministers by the standards of the CEOs of multinational companies, but argues that neither ministers nor the Cabinet as a whole should be held to account when they make mistakes.

13) Some of [the 2011 opposition] candidates are clearly more competent as politicians than most members of Cabinet, but this is setting the bar rather low, since none of these government ministers has had to face serious adversarial interrogation or criticism for decades, if ever.

14) Put bluntly, the crop of ministers and new candidates that contested the 2011 general election would not have passed muster in Lee Kuan Yew’s heyday.

15) It is easy to be pessimistic about the prospects of dramatic change, and yet who would have thought the opposition would even get this far? It has learnt how to survive under the banyan tree, and even forced the government to engage in some reluctant pruning.

Source: “The Bonsai under the Banyan Tree: Democracy and Democratisation in Singapore,” by Michael Barr (2012)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Taylor & Francis

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DR. MICHAEL BARR is Associate Professor in International Relations in the School of International Studies at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs behind the Man and other books on Singapore politics and history, and is Editor-in-Chief of Asian Studies Review.

Michael Barr Online: Profile | Publications | Interview with James Minchin | Interview

Excerpts from “The Politics of Judicial Institutions in Singapore”

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Excerpts from “The Politics of Judicial Institutions in Singapore”

by Francis Seow (1997)

Link to Article: Singapore-Window | PDF

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Definitions:

1. Acquittal: A judgment that a person is not guilty of the crime with which the person has been charged.

2. Executive: Also used as an impersonal designation of the chief executive officer of a state or nation. (Black’s Law Dictionary)

3. Rule of Law: The legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials. (Wiki).

Extracts from Article:

1) While [certain features of Singapore society] may be desirable, the manner of their implementation depends on certain anti-democratic and authoritarian structures and institutions.

2) I was astounded when my attention was first drawn to an October 1993 Straits Times banner-headlines, Singapore’s legal system rated best in world: Full confidence that justice will be fast and fair.

3) Some history is needed to show how the legal system was systematically undermined by the prime minister after the People’s Action Party (PAP) came into power.

4) The sudden transfer in 1986 of senior district judge, Michael Khoo — one of the ablest judges to grace the subordinate court bench — to the attorney general’s chambers following his acquittal of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam [engendered] much controversy. From being the respected head of the subordinate judiciary, Khoo overnight became a mere digit within the attorney general’s chambers.

5) Jeyaretnam appealed [his] disbarment to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council — Singapore’s ultimate court of appeal in London — which roundly castigated the chief justice and the Singapore courts for their legal reasoning.

6) The minister for law [moved] in parliament for the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council decrying it as being “interventionist” and “out of touch” with local conditions.

7) Asked about the abolition of the privy council, Goh Chok Tong responded that [the] privy council was “playing politics.” It was a disgraceful statement. As the Roman satirist Juvenal once said: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will guard the guards themselves?)

8) The Jeyaretnam case [highlights] the grotesque contortions the politically corrupt judiciary went through to rid a political irritant to the prime minister and his government. It demonstrates the misuse of the law in advancing the agenda and interests of the ruling political party.

9) [The attorney general] argued the court could [not] “inquire into the reasons why [a] detention order is made [through the Internal Security Act (ISA)]. This is an executive act.” The court for its part willingly abdicated its judicial responsibility in favour of officialdom rather than the cause of justice.

10) In 1987, twenty-two young Roman Catholic and social activists were arrested under the ISA, accused of being Marxists involved in a dangerous conspiracy to subvert the PAP government through violence. They were released only after they had made the ritualistic television confessions. But eight of them were re-arrested when they disclosed those confessions had been coerced out of them. In the ensuing [proceedings], the [appeal was allowed] on technical rather than on substantive grounds, thus enabling the government to hurriedly amend the constitution and the relevant laws, and order their re-arrest.

11) Although the PAP government recognizes the role of the judiciary in the body politic, it no longer sees it as a check on the balance of power in the traditional sense but rather as an important instrument for the prolongation of its political longevity.

12) Judges on contract, renewable at the will of the prime minister, is not conducive to judicial independence. . .it is not uncommon to find a particular judge, like T.S. Sinnathuray, being commonly assigned sensitive cases with predictable results. Judges known for impartiality, independence and strength of character are never assigned them.

13) The then prime minister [LKY] appointed his banker-friend, Yong Pung How, as chief justice, who had not practised law for 20 years, whose superior claim to this illustrious position was that he is a loyal crony.

14) LKY’s hour-long defence of the appointment in parliament — during which he delved into bathetic nostalgia; [and] his inquiries of his judges to name the three best persons, excluding themselves, all of whom in a remarkable coincidence, named his friend [Yong] as “the best of the possibles” — rang somewhat hollow and contrived.

15) The salaries, which the PAP government pays its judges, have much method in its generosity. High court judges receive A$630,000 per annum plus a minimum bonus of three months’ salary or A$205,020 at A$68,340 per month, totalling A$835,020, besides other perks and privileges, like a motor car, a government bungalow at economic rent. The chief justice receives A$1,260,000 per annum, besides an official residence (or an housing allowance in lieu thereof), a chauffeur-driven car, among other handsome perks and privileges of office. Indeed, he receives more than the combined stipends of the Lord Chancellor of England, the Chief Justices of the United States, Canada and Australia. As a Queen’s Counsel pointedly queried: “Is this kind of money a salary or an income of permanent bribery?”

16) Supremely confident in the reliability of his judiciary, the prime minister uses the courts as a legal weapon to intimidate, bankrupt or cripple the political opposition, and ventilate his political agenda. Which judge would be so reckless or foolhardy to award a decision against him? Judges know on which side their bread is buttered.

17) The notorious case of Public Prosecutor v Tan Wah Piow demonstrates the [precarious] state of the judiciary in Singapore. . .vital defence witnesses were arrested on the morning of the trial, and deported.

18) An Australian Queen’s Counsel, Frank Galbally, who observed the trial for the Australian Union of Students, said: “In Australia, the case would be laughed out of court … [The three accused] did not get a fair trial. … In my opinion, it is just a political trial.”

19) [In a 1995 criminal trial in Singapore] Alun Jones, QC, discharged himself “for the first time in 23 years’ practice,” describing the judicial proceedings as “a travesty of a trial” and a “perversion of a judicial process.”

20) The New York City Bar Association, after a fact-finding mission to Singapore led by the late Robert B. McKay, then dean of the New York University Law School, observed:

What emerges. . .is a government that has been willing to decimate the rule of law for the benefit of its political interests. . .The only check on the Singapore judiciary is the prospect of ultimate appeal to the Privy Council in London.

That report was published in October 1990. Since then, appeals to the privy council have been abolished. The supervisory powers of the courts have been removed.

21) In a fateful [1996] interview, opposition Workers’ Party candidate, Tang Liang Hong, observed:

“Why wasn’t [the Nassim Jade] matter handed over to a professional body like Commercial Affairs Department or Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau? They are government departments [well-known] for being [firm and impartial]. They would be more detached and their reports would have been more convincing to the people.”

Lee and his son took offence at those remarks, and commenced a libel action. The presiding judge was Justice Lai Kew Chai, a former partner of the prime minister’s law firm of Lee and Lee.

22) Lee and his political colleagues’ [papers] were served and heard the same day — a privilege and sense of urgency denied to Tang and his wife. Tang described it as PAP’s ‘instant justice.’

23) Let me recall to mind the dreadful words of Dr Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s notorious minister of propaganda:

“Justice must not become the mistress of the state, but must be the servant of state policy.”

Those words could just as well have been spoken by Harry Lee Kuan Yew or by any one of the PAP ministers. For Singapore’s judiciary is well on its way to this Goebbelsian utopia.

Source: “The Politics of Judicial Institutions in Singapore,” by Francis Seow (1997)

Link to Article: Singapore-Window | PDF

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francis-seow

FRANCIS T. SEOW is a former Solicitor General of Singapore and a brilliant Public Prosecutor. He was awarded the Public Administration (Gold) Medal during his 16-year career with the Singapore Legal Service.

Francis became the lawyer for several of those detained in 1987. Regrettably, in 1988, he too was arrested under the Internal Security Act and detained without trial for several months.

He is the author of several books on Singapore, including To Catch A Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s Prison, The Media Enthralled and Beyond Suspicion? – The Singapore Judiciary.

Francis Seow Online: Profile | Wikipedia | YouTube | Beyond Suspicion | Foreword by Devan Nair

Amos Yee on Vincent Law being “Immensely Creepy”

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Note to Reader: “Make your own conclusion.”

(Paraphrased from Amos’ Facebook description: “I don’t need a description, check out my content and form your own.”)

13 May 2015: STATEMENT BY AMOS YEE ON VINCENT LAW

“[My former bailor] Vincent Law didn’t really molest me, haha,” Amos wrote. “Though he is immensely creepy. I’ll save the specific details for another time.”

Source: Straits Times

Source: Amos Yee (Facebook)

15 May 2015: AMOS YEE’S BLOG POST — CLEAN / SUMMARISED VERSION

1) Although Vincent didn’t sodomize me physically, he did violate me emotionally.

2) About 2 days before the court date, a lad by the name of Jolovan, whom my mom and I had met in a little activist get-together, came along and said that there were 3 people who were willing to be my bailors, and he would pick the best one to do so.

3) After I was released at the bail center, I immediately had dinner with Jolovan and he shared with me the reason why he chose this stranger [Vincent Law] to be my bailor. He gave several reasons like the fact that he was a) mostly unknown, comparatively to other people; b) his reputation was least likely to be stained if he were to be associated with me; c) he wasn’t political, so people would not accuse me of collaborating with a political party to further their political goals (which really isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

4) Once I went out of the bail center, I saw my family, Vincent and some other friends. The first thing that Vincent said to me was: “Hello, I am Vincent your bailor. I think the first thing you should know about me is that I’m a Christian.”

5) The first few minutes that I talked to him, he seemed like a relatively harmless person, serviceable, but bland, nothing particularly special about him, no truly interesting or provocative views or delivery, been there done that. But as we went along, Vincent then decided to discuss with about religion. And from there the meat-headed conservatism commonly upheld by fundamentalist Christians, soon emerged.

6) I responded with the usual Atheist arguments of there’s absolutely no evidence at all that Jesus existed, [you know] the common, simple basic refutations of religion. Then [Vincent] just sat there, face stern, chest upwards, with the air of a hot-headed bull, and said to me:

“Oh well since I’m a Christian,and you don’t like religion, then I guess you don’t like me, so maybe I should just discharge myself as your bailor!”

Wow…WTF? That seemed a little uncalled for. What’s up with the threat?

7) So I calmed him down and said it’s all cool — just because someone disagrees with a person’s views, doesn’t mean that they think the person is bad, nor does it mean you have to hate him for it. So he became calm and cool and we continued a peaceful conversation, we met the lawyers, had lunch and then I left for home. But needless to say, I already did not like him.

8) Whenever I expressed further displeasure and reluctance on meeting him every day, he would then, once again, threaten to discharge himself as my bailor.

9) Another instance, Vincent even started whining to me in a shrieking voice and said, “You know how many hate messages I have gotten once I became your bailor! You know how many people have criticized me on Facebook? You better appreciate what I’m doing for you!”

Buddy, you’re the one who went up and said you wanted to be my bailor, now that it’s not going favorably for you, that’s your problem not mine, I’m not going to be sympathetic to any of your whining. Appreciation is earned, not demanded.

10) I continued to engage in theological debates with him, and blatantly revealed the falsehood of every one of his supposedly Christian tenets. The aspect of the bible that we argued the most about was the infamous bear story, where God chose to summon a bear to maul a group of boys after they made fun of a bald priest.

The verse was from 2 Kings 2:23:

‘Some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.’

I of course said that this was quite evident that God was a mass murderer. And [Vincent] refuted that claim, and it really provided me further insight to the extent of just how delusional a religious person can be.

12) Vincent’s mistreatment and intimidation towards me, is deemed as a ‘counselling technique.’ If this is truly one of Vincent’s techniques he uses as a Youth Counsellor, then you can see why I would feel absolutely no remorse if he loses his job.

13) Even though he didn’t molest me, seeing what he said and the ‘counselling techniques’ he used on me, I think it would be wise for parents to not hire Vincent for their children. Unless you feel that emotional torment is helpful to your child emotional state, though the view of which is unsurprising since that would be the mentality that you hold when you decide to put your children in schools.

14) First the Government, then my father, and then Vincent, I’m really always getting incessantly victimized aren’t I?

15) I’m never affected by the response of stupid people because you should never be intimidated and stop doing what you love, just because many people are against you, especially when those people are idiots.

16) Right now Vincent is hogging my mother, demanding that I issue a public apology to him and his family, otherwise he would get a lawyer to sue me. I think that’s pretty clear enough evidence that Vincent Law is [a] hypocrite and he is a fraud.

He’s standing up for me, he’s fighting for freedom of speech, he’s fighting against the laws that claims that even if somebody lies, mocks or offends a person or large amounts of people, it should not be deemed as a criminal offense.

But now, when the cause that he so boldly advocated, is used unfavorably towards him, he is now threatening to use those exact same laws that he went against, to sue me. And yet you all claim that his intentions were genuine. But let me tell you Vincent, if you do indeed sue me for defamation, then I’ll sue you for emotional abuse of a child. And seeing how I’m already baselessly deemed as a mentally disturbed teenager, I think the judge will look very favorably to my case.

17) Unbeknownst to me initially, my mother revealed that there is in fact a 2nd definition of the word ‘molest’. With reference to thefreedictionary.com:

mo·lest (mə-lĕst′) tr.v. mo·lest·ed, mo·lest·ing, mo·lests

1. To disturb, interfere with, or annoy

After you’ve read this tale you would know that Vincent did in fact disturb and annoy me. So technically, Vincent didn’t molest me, but yet he did. The beauty of contrarieties in life.

18) Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold. And after my little accusation of molest, all is well and good. It was an ingredient to effectively troll the media (i.e. to make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them), I managed to publicly humiliate Vincent, and after this incident he has decided to wash his hands off me and that means, I will never see or talk to him again.

19) My fellow friends, this is what happens when you get a Christian as a bailor.

Source: https://amosyee.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/the-molestation-of-vincent-law

16 May 2015: MY COMMENTS

What Amos did may have been irresponsible from a certain angle. Based on this version of events, it is equally irresponsible for a youth counsellor to make use of a case or situation as an opportunity to evangelize (i.e. convert a non-Christian to Christianity).

Amos has a reasoning capability that is above average, which is especially notable when one takes into context his young age (16 years old).

The intersection of religion, responsibility and freedom of speech, brings to mind the following quote:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868)

UPDATE (18 May): Words of Advice from An Older Reader (re: Amos’s style)

Amos Yee should curb his inordinate exuberance if he wants to continue to have public sympathy and support.”
(sent via email)

UPDATE (27 May): Singapore prosecutors demand that a rebellious teenager be sent to a reformatory after re-posting anti-LKY video (MSN).

“The vindictive PAP is out again to punish Amos. Can’t they be rational and more humane? What kind of laws we have and what kind of petty PM to take revenge on a 16 year old kid? Really disgraceful.”
(CWW / FB)

UPDATE (27 May): Photos posted by Riz Ras and Chris Ho

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“Cut from the same punk cloth, I dare say!”
(Chris Ho | Pic of Amos Yee beside Vivienne Westwood)