Gopalan Nair and Peter Lloyd – update, no release

July 22, 2008

The troublesome [to the Singapore government] Mr Gopalan Nair is in all sorts of trouble. He is not allowed to leave Singapore.

Neither is Australian journalist, Peter Lloyd

Mr Nair is a citizen of the United States, but he has been denied the return of his passport. His lawyer has withdrawn from the case and Mr Nair’s future is in limbo.

Bad news.  Another day in court

Meanwhile, Peter Lloyd is facing drug importation charges, and he’s not going anywhere soon. In Singapore drug offences carry heavy penalties.

Unfortunately for Mr Nair and Mr  Lloyd, “justice” in Singapore grinds along slowly.

Gopalan’s US passport is being kept from him and Peter Lloyd is in Changi prison with an eye infection. This is not good for either of them.

Meanwhile Cameron to meed Lloyd and the Australian foreign minister says “Oh well”

I wish both men the best of luck. If you’re not across these stories, backtrack:

Tight chain

Self destruct

This is serious – self-destruct season #2

July 18, 2008

I’m bewildered and saddened. On top of everything else an Australian journalist is now facing up to 20 years in gaol for drug offences in Singapore.

I was a bit shocked by the news about ABC reporter Peter Lloyd. It was a similar feeling of numb “Huh?” that I felt when I first heard/read about Tony Veitch.

What’s going on?

I can’t help thinking – and not for the first time – that journos (we) have a self-destructive streak. Though I’m not really convinced that it is explained by purely psychological causes.

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Gopalan Nair – a new charge and a tight chain

June 17, 2008

Singapore blogger, lawyer and general pain in the ass of the Singapore government, Gopalan Nair was back in court Monday. He is now facing new charges and his bail conditions mean that he has to report to the police station every morning at 9am and can be held there all day.

His life is on hold, but there is virtual silence from the blogosphere. What’s happened to all of the hype about freedom of expression.

Turn your back until it’s your turn to be persecuted, then wonder why you’re alone.

Do not forget the case of Gopalan Nair. Singapore today, where next?

Chia Ti Lik’s update 17 June 2008

Free at last: Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin out of gaol

June 16, 2008

Good news, Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin were released from prison. Siok Chin came out on Saturday and Soon Juan yesterday (Sunday). The news was reported on the Singapore Democrats site. Which also features a longer piece by human rights lawyer, Chia Ti Lik.

Mr Chia’s post is a strong rebuttal of denigrating attacks on Chee Soon Juan in the government-controlled Singapore press.

Second charge for Gopalan Nair

June 13, 2008

The blogging critic of Singapore’s government, Gopalan Nair, was back in court yesterday (Thursday 12 June) facing a charge of insulting a public servant.

As a result of yesterday’s hearing, Mr Nair is now facing a second charge. The charges relate to emails sent by Nair to two Singapore judges, one of them in 2006.

Mr Nair held a press conference after his court appearance yesterday and said he would fight the charges. He’s back in court on Monday 16 June.

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Sedition in Singapore – as easy as pi

June 10, 2008

I’m keen to keep up with the Gopalan Nair case, so today I visited Chia Ti Lik’s blog. Ti Lik is Nair’s lawyer and so fairly close to the case.

The most recent post is one I’ve already linked to, dated 5th June. But I started to re-read it and realised that Nair is likely to face a sedition charge when he appears in court again on Thursday 12 June.

Singapore’s sedition law is a product of old colonial rule – as is so much of “law” in former colonies – and it had fallen into disuse until recently. It was used in 2005 against a small group of bloggers who were allegedly inciting racism against Malays. This was apparently the first time since the mid-60s.

The sedition law was originally used to prosecute alleged communists in the early post-war years. The Cold War was very useful then and it still is today.

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Soon Juan and Siok Chin are in jail

June 8, 2008

This post on the interesting and bolshie website confirms that the Chees are in jail in Singapore. The news-blog reports a lively protest outside the prison on Friday night:

The candle-light vigil for Dr Chee Soon Juan at the Queenstown Remand Prison last Friday night ended with a difference.

Departing from the normal, the more than 30 SDP members, supporters and activists sang the song “We shall overcome” with gusto as bewildered guards inside prison gates were startled and stared with a sense of loss at the group outside.

The emotionally charged number reverberated through the still night, prompting the impromptu choir to go for an encore.

Dr Chee is serving 12 days in prison for a contempt-of-court offence.

His sister, Chee Siok Chin, is also in prison for the same offence. [read]

It’s time to step up demands for their release and for the dropping of all charges of contempt and defamation against the brother and sister activists.

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Gopalan Nair – bloglines update

June 6, 2008

The Gopalan Nair case is beginning to attract some attention. is a good place to get updates. A 6 June update quotes a US Embassy official as saying:

‘The embassy continues to follow the case very closely. The United States consistently advocates freedom of expression, including the Internet.’ [Yeah right.]

A number of other Singapore-related blogs are also commenting quite frequently.

The States Times blog suggests that human rights have been abolished in the Singapore legal system.

Freshly minted Attorney-General Walter Woon had declared human rights is “all hyprocrisy and fanaticism,” and posited “that we should not confuse public law with politics, and that some people assume that their definition of human rights is the decision of the rest of humanity.”

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Is Chee Soon Juan in prison?

June 6, 2008

More grim news from Singapore. Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan was sentenced to 12 days in jail on Monday 2 June. He was found guilty of contempt of court during his own defamation trial.

According to a report in the AFR [4 June p.53], it was a “theatrical performance”:

Chee said justice in Singapore had been “kicked”, “raped” and “quartered”. I can’t link to the story because it’s PPV.

Chee and his sister, Chee Siok Chin, are also facing longer jail terms and heavy fines for speaking in public without a permit. He is bankrupt, so very likely to go to jail.

In my view the Chees would be political detainees – or as Amnesty International might put it, they’d be “prisoners of conscience”, like Soon Juan was in 1999.

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Still not much news about Gopalan Nair

June 6, 2008

I’ve had a bit of time this morning to look for more news items about Gopalan Nair – the blogger arrested and charged with defamation in Singapore now out on bail. Nothing in the New York Times or the Guardian. The Sydney Morning Herald is carrying the AFP wire story I referred to in an earlier post.

There’s some coverage in the Straits Times, which claims it is “independent” even though the government-owned investment company Singapore Holdings is the largest shareholder.

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