Our police state is fraying at the edges

July 20, 2010 by
Filed under: Current Affairs and Politics 

Written by Ng E-Jay
20 July 2010

Recent events have shown unequivocally that not only has the PAP Government run the country as a police state, but also that the authorities are now getting panicky and desperate to the point that they are fumbling and making glaring mistakes.

Barely two weeks ago, a member of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) was fined by the National Environment Agency (NEA) for illegal hawking. (See here.) His alleged “offence”: Selling the Party newspaper in a public area.

The NSP has written to NEA seeking a clarification on the matter, based on the fact that it was not engaging in any unhygienic activity, but merely promoting its political cause in a fashion that surely, in any democratic country, is 100% legitimate.

Apparently the authorities must have felt that NSP’s activities are politically unclean and pose a political health concern (to the PAP, that is).

To this date, as far as the NSP has revealed, the NEA has yet to reply on the matter.

This is a blatant example of how the authorities have used the rules to intimidate political opposition in an attempt to silence dissent. The motive behind NEA’s action is clear: To scare new activists into refraining from engaging in political activity, and to curb the spread of undesirable publications, namely those espousing views different from that of the PAP.

It gets worse, however.

Barely days after the NSP member was fined, the Media Development Authority banned Martyn See’s film which shows a recording of a speech by former political prisoner Dr Lim Hock Siew.

Martyn See was ordered to take down the film from Youtube and surrender all copies of the film in his possession to the MDA, or risk facing possible jail terms and fines. He has complied with the order, but he also pointed out that anonymous people in cyberspace have chosen to continue distributing the film in defiance of the law.

Readers of this blog who also follow Malaysian politics would notice the close similarity in methods used by the ruling parties on both sides the causeway to clamp down unjustly on film-makers and activists and prevent the painful truth from being spread.

In its statement to the press, the MDA said that “the Singapore Government will not allow individuals who have posed a security threat to Singapore’s interests in the past, to use media platforms such as films to make baseless accusations against the authorities, give a false portrayal of their activities in order to exculpate their guilt, and undermine public confidence in the Government in the process“.

The MDA is basically asserting that it alone has the power to judge whether a certain content is accurate or not, and to ban it if it feels it is inaccurate, in the name of protecting the public interest. There is no opportunity for dialogue and debate. There is no chance for dissent and criticism, no avenue to express a view different from that of the establishment. Either remove the banned content, or face jail time, regardless of the underlying facts, regardless of whether the content was created to distort the truth, or expose the truth.

If that is not enough, just last Saturday, a Lianhe Wanbao reporter was handcuffed and detained by the police for an hour because he was taking pictures of the flood.

Apparently, nowadays anyone who takes photographs that can potentially embarrass the Government may be given the Chee Siok Chin treatment.

Fortunately, the reporter is from the mainstream press and could use the power of his editorial to expose the injustice. His outrageous story was given front page attention on his own Daily on Saturday. If he had been from alternative media instead, his case would never have been known to the general public because it would have been covered up.

According to the police statement, the reporter, Mr Shafie Goh, was trying to take photos in the middle of the road and he had been repeatedly asked to move to a safe place as he was taking photos in a dangerous position. But he refused to comply, and continued walking along the road divider, snapping away. Officers then handcuffed him. Mr Goh was not wearing any media identification at the time, and officers were not aware that he was from the press.

In addition, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament on Monday that there is no ministry policy that prohibits the taking of flood pictures.

When the authorities get desperate enough and the embarrassment to the Government gets acute enough, they fumble, sometimes outrageously. That was what happened to reporter Mr Shafie Goh. Mr Yaacob Ibrahim could only offer empty assurances that did absolutely nothing to address the injustice and humiliation Mr Goh had suffered. Obviously he is at a loss for words regarding this incident, because it is so closely connected with his own ineptitude at handling the flood situation.

On Sunday morning, British author Alan Shadrake was arrested for criminal defamation and contempt of court, apparently in connection with his book “Once A Jolly Hangman” that was launched on 17 July. Mr Shadrake’s book is about Singapore’s mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers.

Mr Shadrake has been granted bail and has Mr M Ravi acting as his counsel.

Choo Zheng Xi of The Online Citizen speculates that the use of the draconian law of criminal defamation as well as contempt of court was motivated by Mr Shadrake’s story about the trial and execution of Vignes Mourthi which he described as “arguably one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice in Singapore’s history“.

And to show just how tight the noose can get (no pun intended), anti-death penalty activist Rachel Zeng was apparently harassed last week. Rachel was one of the organizers of Mr Shadrake’s book launch in Singapore.

How low can the powers-that-be get? How idiotic and moronic is all this?

All these incidences, put together, paint a grim picture of a Government that is surely losing control of itself.

Facing embarrassment from so many different angles and having had its incompetence as well as its draconian, autocratic ways highlighted for all the world to see and to condemn, the authorities have begun to fumble and make glaring errors that have only worsened the situation for themselves and heightened the embarrassment they are suffering.

The only viable solution for them is to admit they have steered Singapore down the wrong path and have committed human rights atrocities on their political opponents.

But to compel the authorities to admit the grave folly of their ways, we need a strong opposition presence inside and outside of Parliament, a political opposition that is able and willing to speak up on BOTH bread and butter issues AS WELL AS broader issues like democracy, social justice, and the rule of law.

If not, we’ll just be running around in circles and it will be cold day in hell before the Government even comes close to admitting it is blatantly in the wrong.

Comments

9 Comments on Our police state is fraying at the edges

  1. noname on Tue, 20th Jul 2010 9:33 am
  2. With the $14,000 tax-free monthly allowance & life-long pension after 2 terms in the Parliament, no wonder most our opposition politicians aspire to be glued firmly to their seats and only open their mouths for some trivial issues.

  3. patriot on Tue, 20th Jul 2010 9:37 am
  4. Haha……..

    this little city is full of jitters!

    Even those with the ultimate powers.

    patriot

  5. takemeaway on Tue, 20th Jul 2010 12:59 pm
  6. I hate Singapore for how it will forever be the PAP way.
    It’s never going to change is it?

  7. Getting panicky and insecure on Tue, 20th Jul 2010 5:09 pm
  8. Totally agree. I didn’t think that the book is totally credible when the book was first launched. After all the author’s purpose was to secure higher sales. But now looking at the govt’s actions, I am not so sure. THERE MUST BE SOME TRUTH IN IT. Why else is the govt so nervous?

  9. hahaha on Tue, 20th Jul 2010 6:31 pm
  10. If there is any truth in the “mata” story, let them sue SPH for libel/slander.
    That will be interesting.
    Otherwise, the truth is out. The photpgrapher is right!

  11. Police State on Wed, 21st Jul 2010 11:18 am
  12. Police State 21 July 10, 10:51 AM
    I totally support Mr Shafie Goh. Everybody has the civil rights to be at a public place to witness a natural phenomenon. Journalists especially has the right to report new in the public interests. The Police has no rights to restrain peaceful people like Mr Shafie Goh who did not use violence or force against the Police. This is a gross violation of Human Rights in Singapore.

    It is my personal opinion that Singapore has an environment of authoritarianism, both in the government, and to a lesser extend also in the private sector. The private sector gets its cue from the government.

    I’ve experienced many instances of authoritarian behaviour from government servants, such as police officers, immigration officers, carpark attendents, security personnel, officious election officers among others. They have no respect for the legitimate and lawful civil rights of citizens.

    These people think that they are so powerful that everybody has to listen and obey their every command, however unreasonable they may be. They think that wearing the uniform gives them extraordinary powers to abuse ordinary citizens anyway and anyhow they like. They could just issue you with a summons ticket, just by gesturing to you, and you are expected to understand what they want you to obey them immediately, just a few seconds to ask for an explanation, and you are given the ticket. No use to argue or protest. They don’t understand the word “respect” for the man in the street. On the contrary, they think that they are so powerful that they expect you to obey them immediately and instantly, although you may have the lawful right as a citizen of Singapore. These bad hats may form a minority of the police force and government officers, but if they are not disciplined by those higher ups responsible for their actions, then Singapore’s reputation as an authoritarian place will be confirmed to not only its citizens, but also to the rest of the world as well.

  13. fish 'n' chips on Wed, 21st Jul 2010 6:10 pm
  14. Sharfie Goh, where were you when Dr Chee Soon Juan was being handcuffed and led away by the police everytime when he exercises his Constitutional Rights?

    I quote

    http://yoursdp.org/index.php/perspective/vantage/3905-a-lesson-for-the-opposition

    “This is where Martin Niemoller’s poem rings so loud and ominous:”

    “THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

    To all Lianhe Wanbao staff, I only have one thing to say, “You guys deserve it.”

  15. Weekly Roundup: Week 30 « The Singapore Daily on Sat, 24th Jul 2010 10:54 am
  16. […] work anymore – Gerald Giam: Sylvia Lim grills Home Affairs, Environment Ministers – Sgpolitics.net: Our police state is fraying at the edges – The Kent Ridge Common: ST Forum: A Case of Blowing One’s Own Trumpet? – Yawning Bread on […]

  17. DavidSeeLeongKit on Sat, 24th Jul 2010 8:05 pm
  18. PAP = PAPA Always PARANOID

    PAP = PEE And POO
    (yes, as disgusting as smelly urine [pee] and stinky shit [poo])

    PAP = PILFER And PLUNDER
    (yes, as disgusting as the Barbarians who invaded ancient China; plundered the wealth of the People; molested their wives and gang-raped their virgin daughters)

    PAP = PIMPS And PROSTITUTES
    (yes, both disgusting and morally-bankrupt)

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