Just One Word

by Teo Soh Lung

I am sad for Singapore and Singaporeans. A single word about the judiciary in a private facebook entry which drew just 20 likes has attracted the attention of the Attorney-General’s Chamber.

How did my country descend to this depth?

Singaporeans have been silent observers for too long. We don’t care when fellow Singaporeans get into trouble. Indeed we rationalise that the person who gets into trouble chose to ignore the reality of Singapore. We dare not challenge the reality because it is too unreal, too cruel. Yet when others take up the cudgel, we call them fools because we have to justify our cowardice.

Decades ago there was J B Jeyaretnam. He got into endless trouble because Singaporeans wickedly rationalised that he deliberately looked for trouble. Then there was Dr Chee Soon Juan and his SDP team. They protested in public. Singaporeans conclude that they know full well that under Singapore laws they will get into trouble. And so they deserve to be sent to jail.

I too was subjected to criticisms when I was arrested under the ISA. She looked for trouble and wanted to be a martyr.

In recent years we have Alex Au, Roy Ngerng, Han Hui Hui and so many others.

It is easy for people to criticise so as to justify their reluctance to assist the person in trouble and ease their conscience. There is so much to lose – giving financial assistance or even words of encouragement to Jeyaretnam or Dr Chee means to express sympathy to their causes which may incur the wrath of the government. The police force and the attorney general know everything and we will forever be marked like citizens of communist regimes. So we reason that it is best to metamorphose ourselves to become the three monkeys – see nothing, hear nothing and speak nothing.

Our sorry state is the result of our so called decades of apathy or being apolitical, which in fact is to be extremely political. Becoming the three monkeys signify our desire to allow our government to do anything they want with us. We renounce our duty to act as thinking human beings. We want to be powerless slaves despite the fact that it is we, not the government who built Singapore.

Li Shengwu, grandson of Lee Kuan Yew has now attracted the attention of the attorney general’s chambers. I believe the chamber was already watching him when he took side with his father, Lee Hsien Yang over his and his aunt’s dispute with the prime minister.

The attorney general will tell the world that there is no conflict of interest when his chamber decides to look into the private facebook entries of Li Shengwu, but I will not believe that. What business has he to look into a person’s private facebook? Isn’t there more important work than to spy on personal facebooks?

Having encountered trouble with the police (in Li Shengwu’s case it is much worse for it is the attorney general who is looking into his case) and having heard the numerous stories of activists being hauled up before the Central Police Division in the Police Cantonment Complex, I know for a fact that any “looking into the matter” by the attorney general entails at least one interrogation session and the likelihood of a house search with mobile phones and computers being seized.

Singaporeans must always remember that almost all offences under Singapore laws are classified as “arrestable”. This means the police can arrest and seize properties without warrant i.e. without the consent or knowledge of our courts.

I don’t expect Li Shengwu to be treated differently. Orders from the attorney general must be obeyed by the police.

It will be a sad day for Singapore if Li Shengwu joins the ranks of Dr Ang Swee Chai, Tang Fong Har, Ho Juan Thai, Tan Wah Piow and so many loyal Singaporeans before them.

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