In a serious attack on both free speech and free press, the Singapore government has arrested a California blogger (and U.S. citizen) after Gopalan Nair, 58, criticized Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean. Nair is a former Singapore lawyer who is now charged with insulting a public servant and has already spent a year in jail. He could be faced with one year in prison.
Nair was upset about three-day legal hearing last week at which Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, testified. She sent an email in which said the judge “was throughout prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders”. Nair openly taunted authorities by given his hotel and address and saying, “I am now within your jurisdiction… What are you going to do about it?”
Nair is charged with insulting a public servant, which on conviction carries a maximum fine of 5,000 dollars (3,660 US) or one year in prison.
While we have seen periodic outrages in this country where judges abusively seek to discipline lawyers who criticized them, here and here, the notion of criminal punishment magnifies the threat to free speech. What I have not seen is an official complaint from the Bush Administration after a week of confinement of a U.S. citizen.
For the full article, click here.