Monday, November 12, 2012

Trouble With Foreigners

James Minchin on "Let's Talk" video in 2012 series

Not all foreigners are treated equal. You can cuss like a Frenchman ("Chinese f**cking animals" - Olivier Desbarres), bite the hand that feeds you ("I will NOT pay a SINGLE CENT to NUS if I am expelled and what can they do to me?" - Alvin Tan), but never, never, critique the judiciary.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has barred Australian clergyman James Blundell Minchin from entering Singapore as he allegedly "abused the social visit pass privileges previously extended to him while he was in Singapore by interfering in our domestic politics and mixing religion with politics". His cardinal sin, we are told, was commenting at a Function 8 forum in August 2011, where he supposedly "alleged that the rule of law was bypassed and corrupted in Singapore, and questioned the independence and integrity of the judiciary". For his troubles Minchin was locked up for 24 hours at a Changi Airport holding room.

Dr. Christopher Lingle was less fortunate. After he wrote a response to a previously published editorial comment that appeared in the International Herald Tribune, where he was alleged to infer that some regimes in East Asia are able to thwart criticism by relying on a compliant judiciary, he was sentenced him to jail in absentia and his property in Singapore was seized. High Court Judge Goh Joon Seng said in his ruling that the October 7, 1994 opinion article's reference to "intolerant regimes" and a "compliant judiciary" could only refer to Singapore, and therefore "scandalized the Singapore judiciary."

In March 1996, Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer urged the High Court of Singapore to order Lingle to pay substantially more than $300,000 in damages for libelling the Senior Minister. Dr. Lingle comments: "I am not surprised by the Singapore judge's ruling. I guess the courts didn't see the irony in the judgment against me. As far as I can see it, the judgement vindicates me and supports the criticism that Singapore's rulers use a compliant judiciary to bankrupt their critics .. whether they are the political opposition or news media or foreign nationals."

Minchin wrote in the introduction of his book, "No Man Is An Island: A study of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew":
In a mid-1984 issue of Singapore's Sunday's Times, Dr Yeo Ning Hong recalled his first meeting with the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet ministers: it filled him with an "immense sense of awe".
Even a foreigner like myself can testify that Lee Kuan Yew, whom I interviewed briefly in 1976, comes across as no ordinary human being. To be on the receiving end of his anger must be quite terrifying. Even when he is talking calmly, there are hints that the volcano remains active underground.


  1. To be on the receiving end of his anger must be quite terrifying. it reminds me of those barbarian Emperors like Qin Shi Huang.

    1. Emperor Qin Shi Huang died at the age of 49 years.

      "The hate of men will pass and dictators die;
      and the power they took from the people will return to the people;
      and so long as men die, liberty will never perish."


  2. Our govt are hyper sensitive when non Singaporeans comment about our system.

    Strangely, I find those barred or procecuted, were, as it were vindicated.

    That never cross the ruling party thinking. They assumed that a judgement in their favour is the end of the story.

    Not so easy, if what is being challenged has something to do with our judiciary and the rules of law.

    Anyway, who am I to pass judgement. It is only my opnion. One sole opnion.

    1. Who cares if non-Singaporeans comment about our system.
      The citizenship of the person is not relevant.

      What is relevant is whether the comment is true or not.
      It is crazy to say FT is good for S'pore.
      But if an FT comments about S'pore, then that is bad.

      An FT is good enough to be trusted to stay and work here.
      But not good enough to comment about our politics here?

    2. If anyone notices, any foreign stooges praising the PAP government mindlessly is NOT considered interfering with national politics, but criticism direct at the govt is considered so. You wonder who the hell PAP is kidding us with.

      They really really think Singaporeans are daft to begin with, oldies that are gullible and naive to be fooled again and again.

    3. What is good for the Party of Traitors, is bad for Singaporeans ... true?

    4. Our PAP leaders inluding LKY & his son still thinks we are idiots to begin with. But if we such daft idiots, why pretend to listen to us on one hand and then on the other hand do all these things which make them look even more silly ?

      The only conclusion we can make is that they must be damn good hypocrites, no ?

  3. And we forgot the other foreigner...That professor who wrote scathing and critical pieces on our judicial who's now facing trial for sex favors...

    And why does the LKY Best city award goes to New York city, Mayor of Bloomberg? Oh yeah...not because half their best city has to shut down due to a sandy storm (so much for best..) but because he's newspaper and broadcasting company has so much power to keep churning positive glowing news about singapore...instead of the previously scathing pieces...

    Co-ercion, co-opting and threats..all continued signs of a bygone era continued to be practiced even more relentlessly now. Do people still have their blinders on? Go sit on top of mt faber on 21 DEc 2012 and get your consciousness knocked out of your dusty unthinking brains.

    1. There are people who live their whole life on default setting...never realizing they can customize.