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.
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3 thoughts on “California Blogger Arrested for Saying that Singapore Judge is “Prostituting Herself””
It’s not as much about upsetting Singapore. It’s that this is a no win for the US. We can’t criticize any country for detaining anyone – considering what we (USA) cooked up with the Brits in the form of rendition.
Little Singapore would simply be given a podium to point out the painfully obvious and make the State Department look foolish and give more muscle to anti-American sentiment in the region.
“Insulting a public servant”…oxymoron.
It appears that Bush simply couldn’t bring himself to take the high road…on anything.
Certainly not this and certainly some flack in the State department is advising don’t do anything that will upset Singapore.
And with all due respect … don’t hold your breath waiting for the Bush Administration to act. There is much obfuscating to do, many documents to shred and a large number of White House staffers have been out searching for the Constitution that has been misplaced for nearly 8 years.
This administration talks about Freedom and Democracy or (however our President pronounces it) and considering that our Nation has been detaining people because they had falafel for lunch – we don’t even have standing to object to treatment of US citizens. Hell, we’ve just been informed by a reemerging free-press that the US government has been organizing prison cruises on Navy warships.
Speaking as no stranger to diplomatic protocol, I can assure you, that the Embassy is playing badminton with the crumpled up telephone message notes in the conference room rather than be responsible for the inspiring a public smack down of the US, with the Singapore governemtn pointing towards Cuba on a map with shrugged shoulders.
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