Sunday, November 16, 2008

Partisan political films please, we're the PAP

Three years ago, I was placed under police investagation for making Singapore Rebel. I had to surrender all my tapes and camera and was subjected to gruelling interviews by the police - all for making a "party political film", as alleged by the complainant, the Media Development Authority (MDA).

Some of my friends and acquaintances were also called up by the police for interviews, as the Singapore Gestapo combed through my phone records without my knowledge. I have publicly stated, even to the local press, that I hope to be the first and last person to be formally investigated for making a political film in Singapore.

Today, I can safely lay claim to that title.

The ruling People's Action Party will be making and posting their videos on their website. That's great news. But then someone should tell them to submit all their videos to the Board of Film Censors, as required by the Films Act. Otherwise, the censors are not averse to physically seizing films, as they did with One Nation Under Lee. Or are some parties in Singapore more above the law than others?

For the record, Singapore Rebel and Zahari's 17 Years are still officially banned in Singapore. Possession of any such copies are liable to prosecution. But yes, I do have copies, and I will resubmit both videos to the censors very soon.

And lest anyone is duped into believing that Singapore is opening up beacuse of the easing of political films, please be reminded that the Act banning such films was passed in 1998. With the latest ruling, we're really no better than we were prior to 1998. It's two steps back, one step forward. Again, if you still need further confirmation, ask him, and them.

PAP aims to click with young

Revamped website to feature party's videos in bid to connect with IT-savvy voters
By Goh Chin Lian

Singaporeans can now go online to watch short videos of People's Action Party (PAP) MPs at events on the party's revamped website that was launched yesterday.

It is a new way to reach out to young and IT-savvy voters, said party chairman Lim Boon Heng last night.

'New media is facilitating change. Our party is gearing up our resources to harness this new platform,' he told 1,500 activists and unionists at the PAP's awards ceremony.

'It will change some of the things that we do at our branches.'

For instance, at each of the 84 branches, two or three party activists will now report on events, and put up slideshows and video footage on the party website.

'Since the new media is reaching out to more and more people, not just the young but also some of the older ones who have got into IT, the party should use it as a medium for reaching out to people,' Mr Lim told reporters later.

His comments follow recent moves to ease the ban on party political videos. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated at this year's National Day Rally that he was in favour of relaxing existing rules.

A government-appointed advisory council on new media issues is expected to make known its recommendations.

Once the new rules are clear, Mr Lim said the party will ensure that its branches abide by them. Currently, the videos on its website are more like slideshows.

Some MPs like Mrs Josephine Teo plan to do more than videos. Her Toa Payoh East branch intends to set up an account on social networking site Facebook for residents to communicate with her and with one another.

That is because traditional ways of outreach are not as effective with the young.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"I have lost everything but I have no regrets"

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'
But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it's for real
The hour that the ship comes in.

Then they'll raise their hands
Sayin' we'll meet all your demands
But we'll shout from the bow your days are numbered
And like Pharaoh's tribe
They'll be drownded in the tide
And like Goliath, they'll be conquered

Lyrics by Bob Dylan
Performed by Marcus Carl Franklin


An excerpt of the introduction to Make It Right For Singapore

published in 2000
by Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam

I have, as a result of going into politics, lost everything. I have no bank account to speak of and do not own any property in Singapore nor hold any stocks or shares in any company. My practice has suffered as a result of my entering into politics way back in 1971. I drive a car but it is one that my son has lent me. I count it as the Grace of providence that I have not been detained and made to spend long years in prison like Mr Chia Thia Poh who spent 23 years in prison and often in solitary confinement.

This book is my humble presentation to the people who in any democratic society are the final judges of what is good for the society they live in. The speeches have one constant theme running through them. That in any democratic society it is the members of the society - the people - who matter.

That they should determine collectively the good of the society and not have it determined for them by anyone above them, however benevolent.

That the society as a whole should take responsibility for its affairs and participate in the making of decisions that affect them.

That power belongs to the people and the government only exercises powers delegated to it by the people.

That the people are the masters and not the government which is only a servant of the people.

That if this does not obtain in any society it ceases to be a democratic society and the people are reduced to being slaves in their own country. Slaves have no say in what their master ordains for them.

It follows that in every democratic society, the individual matters, however lowly he may be. The dustman is as much entitled to his dignity and the rights to preserve that dignity as the highest person in the land is.

These rights which have been termed human rights are inalienable and no person should be deprived of them even in the supposed interest of the community. It is a blot on the community even if one person is deprived of his rights.

It is only by protecting the rights of every single individual that the community as a whole is protected.

The rights are those that are necessary to the full development of the individual's dignity as a human being.

The rights to housing, education, medical care, food and clothing. Besides these material rights, are those inalienable rights but no less important. The right to liberty, freedom from arbitrary arrest, to think, to speak his mind, to associate with his fellow beings in speaking together, to move freely and the right to live his life without fear under the law.

To know what the law to which he has agreed through his elected representatives prohibits him from doing and to live his life fully without transgressing the law. That he can only be deprived of any of his rights after it has been proven to him that he had broken his contract with his fellow members of society.

Deprive a human being of these inalienable rights and you make him less than a human being however well off he may be materially.

A person loses his dignity if he is not allowed to think and give utterance to his thoughts whether alone or in the company of others. I am a passionate believer in all these. We are at the highest level of creation when we have taken on the image of God.

The speeches scan the period from June 1997 to November 1999. Although a full Parliament was in place in January, Parliament did not meet until the end of May. The government functioned without Parliament. In a parliamentary democracy government takes its authority from Parliament but in Singapore the government was constituted and exercised power before Parliament was sworn in. This was also the position after the 1988 and 1991 elections..

The right to justice is an integral part of human rights. Indeed it is justice that protects and safeguards human rights. I am concerned at some unhealthy trends in Singapore in the administration of criminal justice - the part of justice which protects human liberty and freedom. It is a concern that many lawyers in Singapore share.

It is my hope that Singaporeans may find some inspiration in my speeches. Although, as I said, I have lost everything. I have no regrets.

My reward has been the esteem I have met everywhere I go in Singapore and that is something no amount of money can buy.

I thank God that he has given me the health and strength to render such service as I have tried to from 1971.

- J.B. Jeyaretnam (1926 - 2008)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

JB Jeyaretnam - Singapore's Martyr

At the funeral parlour this afternoon, Kenneth Jeyaretnam related to us how despite warnings from doctors about his father's heart condition, JBJ kept putting off medical treatment until such a time when he could finish his immediate task.

And what was this task that was so urgent? He had been toiling in court to bring the Singapore Government to bear for not holding a by-election after a PAP MP had passed away recently.

He didn't have to do this, nor did he have to form a new political party, or to revive his law practice. At the age of 82, he should have long retired, as both of his sons are successful professionals.

Even to his last day, he battled for justice, for accountability, for a free Singapore. He gave away his life, literally, to the pursuit of genuine democracy in Singapore.

Martyn See Tong Ming
1 Oct 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Short film on elderly poor rated NC16

Nation Builders, a 14 minute documentary featuring scenes of the elderly poor ekeing out a living in Singapore, has been rated NC16 by the Board of Film Censors. I had submitted the film in July and it was cleared by the censors last week. No mention is made in the certificate (YN03947004) on why the film has been deemed unsuitable for viewers under the age of 16. A fee of $10.80 is payable upon every film you submit to the censors (even though the Films Act requires ALL films to be authorised by the BFC). I was told to write in to the Board to request for an explanation for the rating.

Watch the entire video here and form your own conclusions as to why the Singapore Government does not want their under 16s to watch this film in a public screening.

And oh , read this too.
From hospital, Lee Kuan Yew asks rich to help poor
"Unlike Kim Jong Il who says he is well but has not appeared, I thought I'd better say hello to you and to your guests and apologise for not being able to join you." - MM Lee Kuan Yew

The censors' clearance of Nation Builders follows the approval of six other films, made by director Ho Choon Hiong, which documented a recent spate of political protests in Singapore.

They are rated as follows.

1. Human rights torch relay by Falungong in Singapore (M18)
Youtube link here
Related article : Singapore Welcomes the Global Human Rights Torch Relay


Youtube link here
Related article : Myanmar nationals protest constitution in Singapore

3. Burmese staged peaceful demonstration in Singapore (PG)
Youtube link here.
Related article : Activists Defy Protest Ban At ASEAN Summit In Singapore

4. NUS international students Vigil Walk (PG)
Youtube link here
Related article : Protest Singapore Style; 3 Marchers, 19 Media, 1000 Police

5. Singaporean started 5 days fasting against ISA on Hindraf 5 (PG)
Youtube link here
Related article : Palay ends hunger strike for Hindraf five

6. Morning May day Montage (PG)
Youtube link here
Related article : Report on SDP's Walking for Workers

Six short political films first passed by Singapore censors

Singapore - Six short films documenting political activities in Singapore have been approved by Singapore censors, the first since the easing of an outright ban last month, media reports said on Saturday. The films produced by Ho Choon Hiong, 33, focus on street demonstrations, protests and fasting.

"It is an encouraging sign," The Straights Times quoted Ho as saying of the Board of Film Censors (BFC) nod.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last month that the ban could be relaxed. He said during the National Day Rally address that factual footage, documentaries and recordings of live events would be okayed.

Still off-limits are the making or distribution of party political films, including ads by parties or other political organizations or footage distorted to create a slanted impression.

Among the topics of films that received the go-ahead are a protest against the Beijing Olympics by members of the Falungong sect in the city-state, protests by Myanmar nationals and a Singaporean fasting outside the Malaysian High Commission in protest against the detention of Malaysian Hindu rights activists, the report said.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Political films across the causeway

Malaysia's premier showcase of human rights films will travel to Johor Bahru this weekend. It will be the closest location by which Singaporeans can watch One Nation Under Lee in a public space. Director Seelan Palay will be present at the post-screening Q&A session.

Venue : Tropical Inn
Address : 15, Jalan Gereja, Johor Bahru
Dates : 12 to 14 Sept 2008
Time : 11am til 10pm
Admission is FREE

One Nation Under Lee will screen on Saturday at 4.30pm.

Other highlights include :

War on Democracy : John Pilger's latest film uses CIA files and archive footage to demonstrate how the United States had undermined democracy in Latin America, replacing them with dictators such as Chile's General Pinochet.

Promised Paradise : Jakarta-based puppeteer and troubadour Agus Nur Amal travels to Bali to call to account the people who were responsible for the bomb attack on a nightclub there on 12 October 2002. This film is officially banned in Indonesia, but shown to rapturous appluase at last week's screening in Kuala Lumpur.

A Human Request : When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted I December 1948, eight states abstained form voting arguing that certain articles were not acceptable in their cultures.

Pecah Lobang : Pecah Lobang explores what it’s like to be a Muslim transsexual sex worker in Malaysia. Crossdressing is a crime under the Syariah court system for Muslims and the penalties are severe. But it wasn’t always so. A finalist of FFF's award.

Pilihanraya Umum Malaysia ke-12 : Is elections in Malaysia free and fair? This documentary makes the case that citizens need to be educated on their voting rights. A finalist of FFF's award.

Who Speaks for Me? : This documentary explores the issue of free expression in Malaysia in the aftermath of local rapper Namewee's controversial Negaraku-ku video. Winner of this year's FFF's "Most Outstanding Human Rights Film". Watch the interview of the three finalists here.

Queer Cinema : Three films exploring homosexual relationships, including Amir Muhammad's Pang Yau.

Click here for complete list of films and schedules.

Pro-govt press interviews renegade filmmakers

The interview below was conducted some two months ago, before the recent announcement by PM Lee on relaxing the ban on political films. What was Straits Times' hidden agenda? Perhaps it's a way to profile us for the Internal Security Department dossiers. Perhaps ST has vested interest to see political films relaxed for their own RazorTV. Perhaps they want to score some brownies in international press freedom rankings. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Oh, whatever.

Film-makers on the fringe

Before the PM announced recently that the ban on political films was likely to be eased, they were already documenting scenes of S'pore politics and producing controversial films that flirted with the law. Meet the intrepid trio who believe they are rebels with a cause. -ST

Sun, Sep 07, 2008
The Straits Times

By Sue-Ann Chia, political correspondent

WHEN the death knell sounded on a 10-year-old law that imposes a total ban on political films two weeks ago, film-maker Martyn See cheered.

The move marked the biggest effort in 20 years by the Government to loosen its hold on political expression here, declared the 39-year-old.

As a mischievous tribute, he pulled together 100 films on local politics, compiling them on his blog a week after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his Aug 17 National Day Rally speech that an outright ban on political films was no longer sensible.

The 100 short clips - 'films' is too formal a term to describe them - are the work of assorted groups and individuals, most with a decidedly anti-establishment stance.

They include two by Mr See which did not make the censor's cut. One is on Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan and the other on former political detainee Said Zahari.

He plans to re-submit them to the Board of Film Censors once the ban on political films is formally eased - likely early next year - just to test the new system.

He wants to do so because the prospective change comes with caveats: Films which are partisan or give a distorted and slanted impression will still be off-limits.

His own view is that there should be no caveats. 'If it is not sheer stupidity to continue enforcing bans on these films when they can be viewed at a click of a mouse, I don't know what is,' he wrote on his blog.

How did he come to be such a fighter against Section 33 of the Films Act, which bans party political films?

Political awakening

ATTRIBUTE it to a second political awakening that came in the wake of the 2001 general election.

He had had a first awakening back in the mid-1990s, when a photocopy of a banned book came his way.

The book was To Catch A Tartar, written by former solicitor-general Francis Seow, describing his detention under the Internal Security Act in the late 1980s.

'My eyes were opened to the darker side of the PAP's history,' he says.

'I read it from cover to cover. I felt...frightened, depressed and angry at the same time.'

His hitherto placid political outlook changed then, but it was only later - after the November 2001 election - that he was really roused into action.

What caught his attention was Dr Chee Soon Juan heckling then prime minister Goh Chok Tong about an alleged loan to former Indonesian president Suharto.

'Chee Soon Juan got hammered very badly. I wondered, is this guy as bad as the media made him out to be? So I decided to check him out myself,' he says.

A few months later, in 2002, he asked to meet Dr Chee.

For the next two years, he 'interviewed' the SDP leader regularly, visited him at his home and his office, and observed him when he staged public protests - filming all the while.

He had reams of footage but no film, until Mr Lee Hsien Loong was sworn in as Prime Minister in 2004.

Mr Lee's inauguration speech, promising the opening up of civil society, inspired him to compile his shots into a 28-minute film which he titled Singapore Rebel.

He submitted it for screening at a film festival. But the film never made it past the censors.

It was deemed 'party political', and banned under Section 33 of the Films Act.

He was questioned four times over 15 months by the police and even had his video camera seized.

'They dropped the investigation a couple of months after the 2006 general election. I guess they wanted to watch if I would participate in the election,' he says.

He never did. But he continued to produce politically incorrect films.

Singapore Rebel

MR SEE titled his directorial debut Singapore Rebel. Although about Dr Chee, it sums up Mr See himself - someone bent on capturing alternative politics on celluloid.

He began his film-making career nearly 20 years ago, right after national service, learning the ropes of video editing in production houses. Along the way, he became a freelance video editor, working for renowned local directors such as Mr Eric Khoo and Mr Jack Neo.

He spends 90 per cent of his time doing such work to 'pay the bills', but the remaining 10 per cent is now consumed by his passion - making films on local political issues.

While being questioned by the police over Singapore Rebel, he produced another film, on former political detainee Said Zahari. This was also banned.

His latest, on Dr Chee and the protests he staged during the IMF-World Bank meetings in 2006, however made the cut. Speakers' Cornered was given an NC-16 rating and screened at the Substation on July 26 this year.

Despite the overwhelmingly pro-opposition - especially pro-SDP - angles in his films, he insists he is not an opposition supporter or sympathiser.

He says: 'I fill a vacuum created by the media when they don't cover opposition politicians or political dissidents. I consider myself a citizen journalist, not a Michael Moore type of film-maker.'

Asked why he bothers to submit his films for classification when he can upload them on YouTube, he deadpans that the law requires it.

The more compelling reason is that he wants to push the envelope in the area of political expression.

'Who better to do that than me,' he says, 'since I'm already over the OB markers. I want more film-makers who want to document the political scenes to emerge.'

In this, he has found a following of sorts.

Mr Ho Choon Hiong, 33, first heard about Mr See when Singapore Rebel was banned three years ago.

He was among a group of 12 film-makers who wrote to the Government then, asking for greater clarity as to what constituted a party political film.

The incident led to him meeting Mr See.

Their subsequent exchanges emboldened him to capture on celluloid assorted scenes of political activism in Singapore.

Unlike Mr See, he was introduced to politics early by his father, who used to be a student activist at Chinese High School in the 1960s.

Like Mr See, however, his political interest was stoked by the 2001 polls and Dr Chee.

After meeting Mr See, he produced a plethora of very short films, on topics ranging from the 2006 election to protests by Myanmar nationals in Singapore. He sent six to the film censors for classification in May.

'I have to take a few steps and hope to be undeterred more and more,' says the film studies graduate from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

'I want to put my own perception of truth out.'

So far, his 'films' have been ignored by the authorities.

A prolific activist

NOT so for Mr Seelan Palay, 24, another amateur film-maker.

He had his film, One Nation Under Lee, seized by officials from the Board of Film Censors as it was being screened in a hotel recently.

The reason: It had not been passed by the censors.

His first effort - detractors panned it as a slide show rather than a film - it portrayed Singapore as lacking in press and political freedom, and tightly controlled by Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Point out that One Nation Under Lee is decidedly one-sided - it takes potshots at the Government while hailing Dr Chee as a hero - and he insists he has no political agenda.

He isn't politicised by anyone either, he insists.

'I learnt everything from reading, out of personal interest,' says the activist.


'I fill a vacuum created by the media when they don't cover opposition politicians or political dissidents. I consider myself a citizen journalist, not a Michael Moore type of film-maker.'
-- Film-maker Martyn See

He has been involved at various times with the Vegetarian Society, the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society, and the now defunct SG Human Rights Group.

Earlier this year he attended rallies by Hindu protesters in Kuala Lumpur, and upon his return to Singapore, decided to mount a one-man protest fast outside the Malaysian High Commission.

He also takes part in protest actions organised by the SDP occasionally.

He is not a troublemaker, he insists. He is just doing what he believes in.

Nothing to fear

WHAT keeps the trio going?

'Our conscience pricks us,' says Mr Ho. He sees it as his duty to document what he believes gets sidelined by the mainstream media.

The trio use the same counter when you point out that their version of 'truth' sometimes takes an extreme slant. Others have noted that it was the publicity over the banning of some of their films, rather than the quality of the films themselves, that made the public more keen to view them.

But they are not perturbed.

For Mr See, his mission is simple.

'I live by the Singapore Pledge. I live by the Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression, association and assembly,' he says.

And he aims to guard these freedoms by showing that there is nothing to fear.

The other two, less articulate about their aims, appear to go with the flow as acolytes of Mr See, enjoying the thrill of defiance every once in a while.

They are all drawn to Dr Chee, whom they see as championing freedom of expression and provoking the Government with his illegal public protests.

Still, they say, they have no intention of joining the SDP or any political party. Ironically, they fear being hemmed in by party discipline.

Mr Palay, for instance, will tell you that he supports the SDP's cause but has no wish to sign on as a member.

Have they made an impact on the political scene? They believe so, pointing to more local film-makers who remain anonymous but, like them, upload political-type films on YouTube.

They also claim some credit for the Government's decision to consider lifting the ban on political films.

It was, they say, the banning of Mr See's Singapore Rebel that sparked a debate on the relevance of the Films Act.

Future films

FOR now, the three men have film ideas that they hope will see the light of day.

Mr Palay wants to do a film on the unspoken rule limiting use of dialects in films.

Mr Ho is aiming to do documentaries on two women: Dr Chee's wife, and his own long-lost Malaysian nanny whom he is still trying to locate.

As for Mr See, he has two targets too. One is the reclusive former political detainee Chia Thye Poh. The other is Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

In the latter film, he wants to trace the People's Action Party's formation and rise to the pinnacle of power in Singapore.

Why do a film on the PAP when its story has been told so many times before? 'It is a compelling story,' he says.

So are they really rebels with a cause?

Says Mr See: 'There's definitely a purpose to what we're doing. I see it as lessening the climate of fear here.

'I want more film-makers like me to emerge, wanting to document the political scenes in Singapore.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times on Sep 5, 2008.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Top 100 Political Videos (that are likely to be banned in Singapore)


The following videos are arbitrarily ranked according to their strength of message and likelihood of being banned by the Singapore censors. The list will be continually updated.

Also visit Singapore Viewer for more videos


1. One Nation Under Lee 2008
2. The Maid Trade - Singapore 2008
3. Zahari's 17 Years 2007
4. Anti-death penalty forum 2005
5. Hitler And ERP Woes (Singapore) 2008
6. Hitler Slams Failed Investment 2009
7. Miserables In Singapore 2009
8. Dr Chee Soon Juan's Message to President Obama 2009
9. NS Song 2007
10. Singapore bans "Zahari's 17 Years" 2007

11. Singapore - Time For Change 2008
12. Lee Kuan Yew: World-renowned statesman and race realist 2008
13. Malay and Proud of It.. 2007
14. Money No Enough 3 2008
13. Riot police vs four silent protesters in Singapore 2006
14. Singapore Police Abduction (Part 1) and (Part 2) 2007
15. Censors seize film One Nation Under Lee, Part 1 and Part 2
16. Message of defiance from Singapore activists 2007
17. Singapore Rebel 2005
18. Nation Builders 2007
19. Singapore - Broken Promises 2008
20. NS for Singaporeans, Jobs & Scholarships for Foreigners 2008

21. Fixing The Opposition 2008
22. Rebels With A Faith - Singapore 2008
23. Shine for Singapore Song 晴空万里 2008
24. Said Zahari's book launch 2007
25. Poor in singapore can't afford food 2008
26. SDP Consumer Day protest - the Arrival, the Protest, the Arrest, part 2 2008
27. The Police State 2008
28. SDP World Consumer Rights Day March and Protest Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 2008
29. Singapore - Stand up for change 2008
30. PAP is the enemy - know your enemy 2007

31. Charged for speaking in public without a permit 2007
32. CSJ on Minister Pay Hike Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 2007
33. A Singaporean Singapore 2008
34. Burmese staged peaceful demonstration in Singapore 2007
35. Free Burma, Free Singapore 2007
36. Protest Outside Burmese Embassy in Singapore 2007
37. Petition-signing at Burmese embassy in Singapore 2007
38. Lee Kuan Yew 2007
39. SDP members arrested outside the Istana, Singapore 2007

40. Singapore Police video-taping protestors at Burma Embassy 2007
41. Kudos to Lee Kuan Yew, for finally succeeding in making a little girl cry! 2008
42. The Shameless LIAR- IBA letter & Report - LKY 2008
43. "Loong Loong And His Loyal Dog" 2008
44. Cowards - the father - LKY 2008
45. Cowards - the son - LHL 2008
46. Dick Lee sings We Are Singapore! 2007
47. Chee Soon Juan's WFDA address 2007
48. Chee Soon Juan addresses SDP cadres Part 1 and Part 2 2007
49. This Old Man 2007
50. The Mas Selamat Story 2008

51. Human Rights Day: Singapore Lawyers petition to Law Society 2007
52. Singapore's extraordinary government 2007
53. Homeless and poor in Singapore 2007
54. The Singapore government welcomes you to emigrate to Singapore to replace its rebellious locals! 2008
55. Flame of Democracy 2007
56. Is Chee Soon Juan A Psychopath Or Freedom Fighter? 2008
57. Capital punishment in Singapore 2008
59. Banned Conference In Singapore: Part 1 and Part 2 2007
60. SDP Election Reform Forum (Dr Chee) - Part 1, 2, 3 2008

61. Mas Selamat Kastari - Toilet escape Video. 2008
62. Mee Siam Mai Hum MTV 2006
63. Lee Kuan Yew's PAP will be remembered forever! 人民行动党 - 百世留名! 2008
64. SGHR celebrates Human Rights Day at speakers corner 2007
65. The Importance of Being Elite 2006
66. The Chees vs The Lees 2008
67. SG Human Rights petition for Burma to ASEAN 2007
69. WE LIVE IN SINGAPURA the MTV version 2006
70. CSJ's Message From Prison 2006

71. Singapore General Election 2009 新加坡大选: BERUBAH 改变 மாற்றம் CHANGE 2009
72. Chee Soon Juan prison release 2007
73. Chee Soon Juan's Release from Prison, June 2008 2008
74. NUS International Students Vigil Walk 2007
75. Betrayal (The First Chapter of a Notorious Singapore Book) 2008
76. Chee Soon Juan at SDP rally 5th May Part 1 2006
77. Dr Chee at Rally 2006 Woodlands 2006
78. 搬金八辆 (Moving 8 Lorry-loads of Gold) 2008
79. Seelan Palay's 5 Day hunger strike, part 1, part 2, montage 2008
80. Human Rights Torch Relay in Singapore 2008

81. SDP Tak Boleh Tahan Campaign! May Day, Interviews Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 2008
82. SDP's Tak Boleh Tahan Event Toa Payoh Lorong 1 2008
83. Tak Boleh Tahan press statement by Chia Ti Lik 2008
84. Umbrella at policemen / George Bush in NUS 2007
85. Tribute Video To Mr. JBJ - True Singapore Hero 2007
86. Reform Party Inauguration Dinner, Opposition show of unity, Speech 2008
87. Burmese in Myanmar Embassy in Singapore Song, Part 1, Part 2 2008
88. The Singapore Shame 2008
89. May Day Message from SDP Chair 2008
90. Kawanku by Namewee 2007

91. A video in support of Singapore's Ministry of Education (MOE)'s Civics and Moral Education (CME) and National Education (NE) curriculum 2008
92. Handphone-shot election rally videos 2006
93. Workers' Party 50th Anniversary/GE 2006 2007
94. Burma On My Mind - Human Rights Day 2007
95. SG IMF - Democracy's "愛拼才會贏" 2006
96. Ong Kah Chua 王家财(译音)主演的新加坡版《黄飞鸿》 2009
97. Por Lan Par 捧卵葩 Carry "balls" 呵脬捧卵 2009
98. 刺青 Spider Lilies - Anti-Gay Hate Speech by Singapore's PAP Minister and Nominated MP 2008
99. SDP 916 march anniversary 2007
100. JBJ forms Reform Party Part 1 and Part 2, Q&A, Part 1 and Part 2 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oops, we were too restrictive : PM Lee

PM Lee filming the audience in the auditorium with a mobile phone. The candid camera moment held a serious point - anyone can now be an amateur film-maker. -- ST

'The overall thrust of all these changes is to liberalise our society, to widen the space for expression and participation. We encourage more citizens to engage in debate, to participate in building our shared future. And we will progressively open up our system even more.'
- PM Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally speech 2008

In his annual National Day rally speech last night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a triad of policy changes aimed at loosening up political space in Singapore. Firstly, public demonstrations and protests will be allowed at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park. Secondly, political podcasts and videocasts will be allowed during General Elections. Thirdly, the law banning political films will be partially lifted. For political films, he outlined it like this - "partisan stuff" and "slanted" videos remain outlawed, while "factual footage, documentaries and recordings of live events" will be allowed. In other words, videos such as this may still be illegal while this may get the green light. Others such as this, this and this will fall in the grey zones.

In anticipation of the PM's announcements, the Straits Times rang me up yesterday to seek my views. I told them that I fully welcome the changes, that it was the biggest stride taken by the Government to loosen up political expression in the last 20 years (including the opening up of Speakers' Corner in 1999 and the waiving of police permits for indoor functions in 2004), that it was step in the right direction in meeting my dual objectives - lessening the climate of fear and a total review of the Films Act, and that the changes were brought about by the recent actions of activists and filmmakers who had pushed the envelope.

The ST journalist also told me that some of those interviewed before me remained skeptical about such promises. I assume that many will adopt a wait-and-see attitude, and that others will speculate about the hidden traps. I shall not waste time mulling over either. Since the debate over the Films Act began with my film Singapore Rebel, I will seek to end it by re-submitting Rebel and Zahari's 17 Years, both officially banned, to the censors for re-appraisal. If it is not sheer stupidity to continue enforcing bans on these films when they are viewable at a click of a mouse, I don't know what is.


Yes to factual footage
By Sue-Ann Chia & Jeremy Au Yong

MIDWAY through his National Day Rally address, the Prime Minister fished out a mobile phone and proceeded to film the audience before him in the auditorium.

Behind him, on a giant screen, the audience saw themselves featured on the web page of the Prime Minister's Office - live.

'There you are, simple as that. I've just made our first non-political video,' he said to laughter from the audience.

Mr Lee's candid camera moment held a serious point. Anyone can now be an amateur film-maker, capturing politics on film, and people will do so.

'So, we've got to allow political videos but with some safeguards,' he said. 'An outright ban is no longer sensible.'

Thanks to new media technologies, people can easily make videos and upload them on the Internet.

'This is how people communicate on the Web in daily life. They make videos, they pass clips around,' Mr Lee said in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday.

What will now make the cut with the censors: factual footage, documentaries and recordings of live events.

But some things still won't pass. 'If you make a political commercial so that it's purely made-up material, partisan stuff, footage distorted to create a slanted impression, I think those should still be off-limits,' he said.

'In between what is ok and what is not ok, there will be grey areas. But I think we can deal with this.'

Political films will be dealt with in ways similar to non-political films, with censorship and film classification standards, he said, with a panel to decide whether or not a political film would pass.

'The overriding consideration is to preserve the integrity, quality, and honesty of our political discourse,' he said.

Political films were banned 10 years ago, two years after Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan applied for a licence to sell a video-tape on the SDP.

Section 33 of the Films Act disallows the making, reproduction, distribution and screening of 'party political films'. Such films are defined as those favouring a political party or pushing a political end.

Mr Lee said political films were banned for a reason.

'Politics is a serious affair. We want voters to consider issues rationally, coolly...and think through decisions which affect your future and make a considered judgement,' he said.

'And our worry is that films are an emotive medium. The impact of seeing something on a film is quite different from reading something in cold print.

'It hits you viscerally. It engages your emotions before your thinking processes can kick in, and if you are watching it in a crowd, (it is) even more powerful.

'Then, passions can get stirred up and people can get carried away.'

The promise of some political films being allowed was cheered by film-maker Martyn See, who had two of his films banned in recent years.

'This is by far the most obvious relaxation of political space in Singapore in the past 20 years. It will lessen the climate of fear,' he said.

But Senior Research Fellow Tan Tarn How from the Institute of Policy Studies preferred there to be no conditions imposed.

'It doesn't make sense to assume that most people are most of the time not smart enough to tell the good from the bad, and truth from falsehood,' he said.

Still, film-maker Tan Pin Pin is happy with the progress.

'A gesture has been made, and I guess it's a positive thing. This is the start of a long journey, towards less frenetic governance,' she said.



'PAP welcomes the liberalisation announced by the Prime Minister. This will increase the opportunities for Singaporeans to give their views and allow political parties to better engage cyber-citizens. PAP will operate responsibly within the new and expanded boundaries to inform, educate and reach out to younger voters through various platforms. Overall, our goal is to create a conducive environment, whether online or within the general public, for political issues to be discussed seriously and productively, to help find solutions for challenges that Singapore faces.'

- Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, PAP organising secretary (special duties and new media)


'The Prime Minister is hoping that Singaporeans will go on their bended knees to thank him for these concessions. He seems to forget that the right to make political films or the right to hold demonstrations are part and parcel of human rights.'

- JB Jeyaretnam, Reform Party

Read also :

Political videos on Net?

Speakers' Corner: protests ok

Singapore to ease bans on political films

Singapore To Allow More Freedom Of Expresion

Singapore PM says ban on outdoor protests should ease

Friday, August 15, 2008

One Nation Under Lee to premiere in Malaysia

One Nation Under Lee, seized by Singapore censors during a private screening this year, will make its official premiere in Malaysia's Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur. Directed by local artist/activist Seelan Palay, the 45 minute documentary will then proceed to make its rounds in Johor, Sarawak and Penang. Three months after its seizure, the Board of Film Censors has yet to certify the film, which means it is effectively prohibited from public screening in Singapore.

Previous Singaporean works screened in FFF included Martyn See's Singapore Rebel, Zahari's 17 Years and Speakers Cornered, Tan Pin Pin's Singapore Gaga and Moving House, and Asia Witness Production's I Love Malaya.

Film : One Nation Under Lee
Dir : Seelan Palay
Date : Saturday 6 Sept 2008
Time : 4.30 pm
Venue : Central Market Annexe, Kuala Lumpur

Click here for the full program of Freedom Film Festival.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Democracy, Justice, Equality, Peace, Progress

Choice quotes from Singapore's political leaders.


"If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought."
- Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition leader, April 27, 1955

"If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies - even those who do not subscribe to our views - as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself."
- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, Sept 21, 1955

"Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no way you can govern a Chinese society."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

"If I were in authority in Singapore indefinitely without having to ask those who are governed whether they like what is being done, then I would not have the slightest doubt that I could govern much more effectively in their interests." - Lee Kuan Yew, 1962

"You're talking about Rwanda or Bangladesh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines. They've got democracy, according to Freedom House. But have you got a civilised life to lead? People want economic development first and foremost. The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

"What are our priorities? First, the welfare, the survival of the people. Then, democratic norms and processes which from time to time we have to suspend."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1986 National Day Rally

"There is nothing to forbid anybody from nailing his colours to the mast, and indeed it is the safest way to do it. Nail your colours to the mast, defend it and say,"This is my flag, this is what I believe in. I believe in open debate, arguments, persuasion, I hope to win by votes." But start manipulating innocent professional groups, cultural groups and make them support political causes, whether its freedom of the foreign press or whatever, then I say you are looking for unpleasant linkages with what has happened in the past."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"The People's Association is a government organisation to promote government policies."
- Wong Kan Seng, Straits Times, Mar 22 2003

"I make no apologies that the PAP is the Government and the Government is the PAP."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Petir, 1982

"The ideas of individual supremacy and the right of free expression, when carried to excess, have not worked. They have made it difficult to keep America society cohesive. Asia can see it is not working.. In America itself, there is widespread crime and violence, old people feel forgotten, families are falling apart. And the media attacks the integrity and character of your leaders with impunity, drags down all those in authority and blames everyone but itself."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Sept 1995

"For Singapore, its test for its own democracy must be whether it fit and serve the interests of its people and conditions, and not serve some abstract ideal that the Western media thought it ought to conform to. If in 10 years, Philippines, Taiwan and Korea were better societies because they adopted the US model, Singapore would hurry to catch."
- Goh Chok Tong, 1995 National Day Rally

"Political reform need not go hand in hand with economic liberalisation.. I hold unconventional views about this.. I do not believe if you are a libertarian, full of diverse opinions, full of competing ideas in the market place, full of sound and fury, therefore you will succeed."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 2005

"I think in Singapore, we stand a chance of making the one-man-one-vote system work. With amendments as we have done, you know, like GRCs.. We need to make it work. And I believe with pragmatic adjustments, given these favourable conditions, we can have more open debate."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"One-man-one-vote is a most difficult form of government.. Results can be erratic."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Dec 19 1984

"I'm not intellectually convinced that one-man-one-vote is the best. We practise it because that's what the British bequeathed us."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1994

"There is nothing to prevent you from pushing your propaganda, to push your programme out to the students or with the public at large...and if you can carry the ground, if you are right, you win. That's democracy."
- Lee Kuan Yew telling students to form political parties, Straits Times, Feb 1, 2005

"If you are a's our job to politically destroy you. Put it this way. As long as JB Jeyaretnam stands for what he stands for - a thoroughly destructive force - we will knock him. Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man And His Ideas, 1997

"I feel sanguine enough to say that there has never been a better set of conditions for open democratic politics because there is no need for unified front politics."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"If we had considered them serious political figures, we would not have kept them politically alive for so long. We could have bankrupt them earlier."
- Lee Kuan Yew on political opposition, Straits Times, Sept 14 2003

"Once in a while, Think Centre says they want to go to the Speakers' Corner and they want to plant 100 flowers there, let the 100 flowers bloom...It's a signal - speak your voice, be heard.
- Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally, 2004

"I know some people want even greater freedom. But where politics is concerned, I prefer to ease up slowly rather than open up with a big bang. When Gorbachev opened up the Soviet Union with his glasnost, the Soviet Union collapsed with a big bang. We should, therefore, pump the air into the political balloon slowly. I don't intend to change my name to 'Goh Ba Chov'!"
- Goh Chok Tong, 2001 National Day Rally

"I am encouraged also because I see more and more people write letters to the press and sign their real names. That's a good sign, a good tendency. To run a democratic system, you must have democratic impulses in the people. There must be a cultural basis for that system. It's not just having a constitution and saying," Well, there you are, the system is democratic."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"Now if democracy will not work for the Russians, a white Christian people, can we assume that it will naturally work with Asians?"
- Lee Kuan Yew, Asahai Shimbun symposium, May 9, 1991

"Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas or simply be different."
- Lee Hsien Loong, Inauguration Speech, Aug 12 2004

"They say people can think for themselves? Do you honestly believe that the chap who can't pass primary six knows the consequence of his choice when he answers a question viscerally, on language, culture and religion? But we knew the consequences. We would starve, we would have race riots. We would disintegrate."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997

"They say, oh, let’s have multiparty politics. Let’s have different parties change and be in charge of the Government. Is it that simple? You vote in a Division Three government, not a Division One government, and the whole economy will just subside within three, four years. Finished."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Today, Aug 15 2008


"If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law - if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states - then what is it?"
- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, Sept 21, 1955

"These powers will not be allowed to be used against political opponents within the system who compete for the right to work the system. That is fundamental and basic or the powers will have destroyed the purpose for which they were forged."
- Lee Kuan Yew speaking in Parliament on the Preservation of Public Security Act, a precursor to the ISA, Oct 14, 1959

"We have over a hundred political detainees, men against whom we are unable to prove anything in a court of law. Nearly 50 of them are men who gave us a great deal of anxiety during the years of Confrontation because they were Malay extremists. Your life and this dinner would not be what it is if my colleagues and I had decided to play it according to the rules of the game."
- Lee Kuan Yew speaking to the Singapore Advocates and Solicitors Society, Mar 18, 1967

"We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists. If you don't do that, the country would be in ruins."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1986

"The same law applies to me. Nobody has sued me for libel because I do not defame my enemies."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Success Stories, 2002

"Most libels, and I have taken about 30 actions, take place at election time. It has not stuck because I am prepared to go before a court, stand in the witness box and face the most aggressive of lawyers who can cross-examine me on my personal history."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, Sept 30 2002


"The way to build a cohesive society is to ensure that every Singaporean is treated equally, and that the rich and powerful are not favoured over ordinary Singaporeans, Mr Goh Chok Tong emphasised last night."
- Straits Times, Aug 12 1991

It is essential to rear a generation at the very top of society that has all the qualities needed to lead and give the people the inspiration and the drive to make it succeed. In short, the elite.. Every society tries to produce this type. The British have special schools for them: the gifted and talented are sent to Eton and Harrow."
- Lee Kuan Yew, August 1966

"If I tell Singaporeans - we are all equal regardless of race, language, religion, culture. Then they will say,"Look, I'm doing poorly. You are responsible." But I can show that from British times, certain groups have always done poorly, in mathematics and in science. But I'm not God, I can't change you. But I can encourage you, give you extra help to make you do, say maybe, 20% better."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Success Stories, 2002

"The human being is an unequal creature. That is a fact. And we start off with the proposition. All the great religions, all the great movements, all the great political ideology, say let us make the human being as equal as possible. In fact, he is not equal, never will be."
- Lee Kuan Yew, from a speech during the 1960s, Success Stories

"We must encourage those who earn less than $200 per month and cannot afford to nurture and educate many children never to have more than two... We will regret the time lost if we do not now take the first tentative steps towards correcting a trend which can leave our society with a large number of the physically, intellectually and culturally anaemic."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1967

"There are some flaws in the assumptions made for democracy. It is assumed that all men and women are equal or should be equal. Hence, one-man-one-vote. But is equality realistic? If it is not, to insist on equality must lead to regression."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Create 21 Asahi Forum Tokyo, Nov 20 1992


"Repression can only go up to a point. When it becomes too acute, the instruments of repression, namely the army and the police, have been proved time and time again in history to have turned their guns on their masters."
- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, May 5, 1959

"If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it." - Lee Kuan Yew evoking the ghost of Deng Xiaoping whilst endorsing the Tiananmen Square massacre, Straits Times, Aug 17, 2004

"Without the elected president and if there is a freak result, within two or three years, the army would have to come in and stop it"
- Lee Kuan Yew on what would happen if a profligate opposition government touched Singapore's vast monetary reserves, Straits Times, Sept 16 2006


"I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn't be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn't be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervene on very personal matters - who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what people think."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, Apr 20 1987

"Every Singaporean who owns a flat can double his value in today's terms within the next 15 to 20 years. In other words, in the next 20 years, we can make everybody worth twice as much, at least."
- PM Lee Kuan Yew, National Day Rally, 1990

"We've got to compete ourselves from now on with developed countries, not with developing countries, because we are going to compete in the developed country league."
- Goh Chok Tong, 1992 National Day Rally

"Earning money is not the sole objective of life or education. A community of any quality should have a whole range of skills and interests. They should paint, write, perform, visit art galleries and enjoy world-class concerts. Only then will they form a vibrant, rounded, interesting community."
- Goh Chok Tong, 1999 National Day Rally

"In the next decade, we need to think and act like revolutionaries. We have to innovate, not merely imitate. We will succeed not be following the footsteps of the incumbent, but by introducing new dimensions into play. We need Singaporeans who can lead the way in creating new wealth for our economy."
- Goh Chok Tong, 2000 National Day Rally

"New Singapore will be one of the world's finest, most liveable cities. Arts, theatres, museums, music and sports will flourish. Singapore will be a lively and exciting place.. Our city will not only have depth, but also the richness of diversity. But above all, Singapore will a home for Singaporeans."
- Goh Chok Tong, 2001 National Day Rally

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Speakers Cornered screens in public

Audience at the Substation Arts Centre during the Q&A session

Read this blog review by Stefan S, arguably Singapore's most rabid movie buff.

Speakers Cornered, passed clean by the Board of Film Censors in April, finally received its first public screening yesterday at the Substation Arts Centre. The screening was part of the Singapore Short Cuts, an annual local short film festival presented by the Substation and supported by the Singapore National Museum and the Singapore Film Commission.

The 28 minute documentary capped a matinee of films that included Twogether by Victric Thng, Bedok Jetty by Boo Junfeng and Caramel / 黑默糖 by Kelvin Ke. Blank Rounds, a film about National Service, was withdrawn by its director Green Zeng due to a change in screening venue. An insider scoop has it that the yesterday's screening was originally slated to be held at the much larger National Museum Gallery Theatre, but was moved to the Substation theatre for "logistical" reasons. All tickets for the entire festival have been snapped up.

Speakers Cornered is my third film. The first two, Singapore Rebel and Zahari's 17 Years, are banned by the Singapore Government. I have recently submitted Nation Builders to the censors.


* Raintree Pictures has gone public with their intention to make a political feature film about Singapore's independence, tentatively entitled 1965.

* Jack Neo releases Money No Enough ll this week in local cinemas. It features scenes of anti-ERP street protests. Editing credits to yours truly.

* There is still no word about the status of One Nation Under Lee, a film by local artist Seelan Palay which Government officials seized during its private premiere.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Transcript part Vll - M. Ravi vs LKY

Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (left) with his wife Kwa Geok Choo at the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Human rights lawyer and activist M. Ravi (right) with Chee Siok Chin, Chee Soon Juan, his wife and children crossing the road towards the Supreme Court outside Parliament House.


Two months after the historic courtroom clash, reverberations are still being felt. It began with this editorial from The Wall Street Journal, then this rebuttal from Lee Kuan Yew's office, prompting another round of responses, first from Chee Soon Juan, and then the MMO again, and a final rejoinder from Chee, who also pointed out that the Lee, while under oath, had cited a non-existant letter from the International Bar Association. Then, almost on cue, the IBA releases a scathing 72-page report, accompanied by a press release, slamming the Singapore Government for its record on human rights and its lack of judicial independence. Within 24 hours, the Ministry of Law responded. But the international press seized on IBA's statement, with articles that highlighted the Minister Mentor's error in court.


Singapore Has an Independent Judiciary
Judging Singapore's Judiciary
Raising the bar
Uniqueness of perfection that sits to our north
Singapore’s Minister Mentor Slips Up Under Oath
International Bar Association gives Singapore dismal grade in free expression, human rights, independence of courts
Request to reconvene is frivolous: Davinder
Davinder Singh: Lee's IBA-letter reference only an “inaccuracy”


From left : John Tan of the Singapore Democratic Party, activists Mohd Shafi'ee and Isrizal oustside the Supreme Court on the 27th of May 2008.

An update: According to SDP's website, all three men are now placed under police investigation for wearing those T-shirts.


By request, this is the complete transcript of SDP's counsel M. Ravi's cross-examination of Lee Kuan Yew which began around 12.40 pm on the 27th of May 2008 in the Supreme Court. Judge Belinda Ang had earlier allowed an application by Lee's counsel Davinder Singh to impose a guillotine time of 2 hours for the cross-examination of both Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew.

This transcript is significant for it contains the some key remarks by LKY, especially the ones pertaining to pursuing defamatory remarks on cyberspace as well as the "near-psychopath" utterance.

Also of note :

* At about noon, Lee Kuan Yew made a surprised early appearance just as the cross-examination of Lee Hsien Loong was wrapping up. This prompted his counsel Davindar Singh to make a sudden application to postpone lunch so that LKY's cross-examination can proceed immediately. Despite objections raised by the Chees and M. Ravi, Judge Belinda Ang acceded to Singh's application to skip lunch, but ordered a 10 minute break.
* Ravi's cross-examination of LKY was conducted before the Chees.
* Lee Hsien Loong observed the entire the cross-examination of his father from a seat near the back of the court, just in front of the public gallery.
* Lee Kuan Yew drank from a flask which was placed on his table by his personal assistant, who possibly doubles up as a bodyguard. Earlier, his son drank from a ordinary plastic bottle of mineral water, possibly provided by the courts.
* During CSJ's cross-examination of LKY, a middle-aged woman in the public gallery suddenly yawned aloud, attracting stares from others. Visibly embarrassed, she quietly
apologised. She is one of about a dozen elderlies, possibly members of PAP's grassroots organisation, who had been transported by coach to the court in the morning to stake their places in the queue.


Judge : Yes, Mr Singh, call your witness.

Singh : My next witness, your honour, is Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

LKY : I solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give in this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Singh : Please sit down, Mr Lee.

LKY : Yup.

Singh : You are Lee Kuan Yew, NRIC number 0000003E, of 38, Oxley Road, Singapore?

LKY : Yes.

Singh : Mr Lee, in front of you, is volumes 1 and 2 of your affidavit. Could you turn to page 67 please? It's marked out.

LKY : Yes.

Singh : Is that your signature?

LKY : Yes.

Singh : Mr Lee, do you confirm that the contents of this affidavit are true and accurate?

LKY : Yah.

Singh : And that they represent your evidence in this court.

LKY : They do.

Ravi : May (inaudible) this courtroom?

Judge : Yes

Ravi : Good afternoon, Mr Lee.

LKY : Good afternoon.

Ravi : I won't hold you long, Mr Lee, and I hope your counsel won't object to that. Mr Lee, when did you come to know about the SDP's defamatory article?

LKY : I cannot remember. All I knew was I had an email or some fax message to say that this article has appeared. Lawyers have been consulted and the lawyers have advised that this is defamatory. So I said go ahead. I don't read the New Democrat or all the other papers. I got too much on my plate. These things are brought to my attention.

Ravi : Mr Lee, when it was brought to your attention, did you then read the article?

LKY : Did I what?

Ravi : When the defamatory context was brought to your attention by your lawyers, did you choose to read the SDP's article?

LKY : No, with the message came the SDP article.

Ravi : And going by your memory, would you agree that it was during the elections that or after the elections was announced that you commenced proceedings?

LKY : Once I saw that article, I knew that the PAP was considering early elections at that time. I was quite convinced that this would be made an election issue. In fact, I read - I can't remember is Dr Chee or his sister - said this was going to be an election issue and they were going to bring this up so we have to have the matter thrashed out in court because otherwise it goes into the hustings - I said this, they said this - and endless arguments. But you say what you like during the election campaign. In the end, you have to come to court and prove that they are true. If they are, then the government is demolished. If you don't, then you've lost (end of audio clip) again you diminished yourself and embarrassed yourself.

Ravi : Mr Lee, do you agree with the description which your counsel has given that this case is perhaps the gravest defamation that has ever been considered by Singapore court?

LKY : Your honour, I don't keep track of all the cases that happened in these courts and since Mr Ravi is a qualified counsel, he knows the client leaves the description of the offence to what he thinks is proper legal language. Is not - I'm not interested in whether it's the right formulation or not. I've always believed never to be my own lawyer.

Ravi : Mr Lee, I do understand the detachment to this matter and equally you are also a trained lawyer and of course taking up one's case and arguing is not something that it's not even recommended by the Law Society rules. But Mr Lee, I'm sure that if your counsel says that this is the gravest defamation that has ever been considered, you must consider that to be a gravest defamation for your counsel to make a condition that -

LKY : Your honour, I have been a lawyer acting in defamation cases and I pitched my client's case in the most graphic, the most vivid and the most telling terms. That's what a good lawyer supposed to do. I once in one case against Mr Jeyaretnam. I had an eminent Q.C. representing me and another eminent Q.C. representing Mr Jeyaretnam and he waxed eloquent and quoted Shakespeare. I didn't object to it. That is the way in which a good counsel would present his client's case.

Ravi : Mr Lee, I would like to give you a quote, "Never chase a lie, let it alone and it will run itself to death." Do you agree with that? That quote is from Lyman Beecher. Have you heard of that, Mr Lee?

LKY : I've heard many similar such phrases and I get endless advice from Western correspondents that if I just ignore the opposition, it will just become completely meaningless. I take a contrary view. I know the mentality and the attitudes of the people in Singapore, and they know me by now that if anybody impugns the integrity of the government of which I was a Prime Minister, I am (inaudible) sued and I must demand that either the court finds that those defamatory words true in which case I'm demolished or there's a penalty.

Ravi : So it is part of your political credo that very lie has to be nailed?

LKY : Every lie that relates to the integrity, honour and the rectitude of the government. This government has lasted through 11 general elections from 1959 to 2006. Nobody has said that the elections was rigged, not even the SDP.

Ravi : Mr Lee -

LKY : I put myself before the public. My government - 7 of those general elections, I personally led the government and I know that that was only possible because we run a clean, efficient, effective, competent government that works to the benefit of people.

Ravi : So any statements that is defamatory of the government - that particular lie has to be nailed?

LKY : Yes, of course. No, not any particular - I said integrity, rectitude, propriety.

Ravi : Do you surf the internet, Mr Lee?

LKY : I do.

Ravi : Have you seen any allegations of impropriety, integrity, circulating around the internet?

LKY : That's cyberspace and the laws on cyberspace has not been able to capture in a appropriate way how a person should protect himself. New rules are being formed in cyberspace but everybody who reads what's on the internet knows you got to check who said it or risk his credibility. You know, you've read Malaysiakini or Malaysia Now. They say many things not said in the Malaysian press. But, is everything said there true? Some are true, some are not true.

Ravi : So, if defamatory remarks that goes to the governance integrity of Singapore had been circulating on the internet, you are prepared to tolerate that?

LKY : I have no choice but if anybody puts his name in print or verbally identifies himself out of court with those remarks, he's challenging my integrity, he's prepared to stand on his credibility and we will need to have it resolved.

Ravi : There are quite a number of postings where people in their own names quite clearly actually challenge that, giving their particulars at that, and you have not taken any action.

Singh : Your honour, we are going over old ground. When Mr Ravi was cross-examining Mr Lee Hsien Loong, we referred to his authority and his bundle of documents Gladlee (spelling) on libel which made it plain that whether or not the plaintiff had sued others who had published defamatory remarks is irrelevant.

Ravi : Your honour, I'm not going into that. I'm going into the effect of the defamation. Please allow me to raise a few questions. I won't take long. I do understand the guillotine and with due respect, Mr Lee, so you would consider that Singapore can still be governed and despite the challenge to your integrity on the internet?

Singh : I have said that in cyberspace, the law cannot capture the culprit.

Ravi : Okay, so I take it that if the law captures, you would pursue?

LKY : Yes, I would.

Ravi : Okay, I'll leave it at that, Mr Lee. I won't go further than that.


Ravi : Mr Lee, do you hold Dr Chee in any esteem?

LKY : Sorry, do I hold?


Ravi : Okay, I'll rephrase that question.


Ravi : Do you consider Dr Chee as a man to be believed?

LKY : I've been asked to testify as to his character. Well, let me tell you what I've said publicly and I'm prepared to say it again. Publicly - without the privilege of saying it in court that he's a liar, a cheat and altogether an unscrupulous man. And I could also add that I had several of our - my own doctors who are familiar with such conduct, people, tell me that he is near-psychopath.

Ravi : Mr Lee, do you take his comments seriously?

LKY : I have to because he takes it very seriously enough to tell the public to believe him. If I did not take him seriously, and he keeps on repeating this and others repeat this, at the end of the day, I and the party that I used to lead will be totally destroyed. Am I being asked to say that your client's credibility is so low that I should ignore whatever he says? Is that what you are putting to me?

Chee Siok Chin : Your honour, I like to make an application for our Assistant Secretary-General John Tan. He was sitting here this morning and I don't know all of a sudden the people won't let him in to witness the rest of the proceedings. He was sitting right here this morning. Could you allow John Tan - tell them to let John Tan in?

Singh : Your honour, I know nothing of this, if Mr John Tan wants to come into open court like any other member of the public and behave himself -

Judge : He can sit in the public gallery.

Singh : Yes, he can.

Judge : We have space for him there.

CSC : No, he was sitting right behind here this morning and there was no objection, nothing, and now he's supposed to sit in the public gallery knowing full well that there is no more space in the public gallery so could you just instruct -

Judge : There is no announcement of Mr John Tan -

CSC : I'm sorry?

Judge : There is no notice to the court of Mr John Tan -

CSC : Well, there was no notice to the court about who these people right behind, yesterday, when you allowed them in? So could you please allow the Assistant Secretary-General -

Judge : They are secretaries of Law Club (garbled, check spelling), Miss Chee, if you must know.
CSC : Now, it's an afterthought. Now after 24 hours, you tell me.

Judge : Please continue, Mr Ravi.

CSC : Can you allow our Assistant Secretary-General John Tan to come in?

Judge : Mr Ravi, carry on.

Chee Soon Juan : Even though we are asking you right now, telling who he is because we need him to help us take notes, will you allow that?


CSJ : We are telling you who he is, his name is John Tan. He is the Assistant Secretary-General of SDP -

Judge : Mr Joseph here taking notes for you?

CSJ : We are having a few people trying to assist us in our note-taking. So please, you've already allowed people in unannounced yesterday -

Judge : Provided he is here just for note-taking and nothing else, alright?

CSJ : I'm sorry?

Judge : Provided he is here just for note-taking. Alright, carry on Mr Ravi, please.

Ravi : Mr Lee -

Singh : I think we (inaudible) where we (inaudible) off, your honour, where Mr Lee is asking Mr Ravi whether it is Mr Ravi's suggestion that Dr Chee Soon Juan has absolutely no credibility?

Judge : Yes, Mr Ravi?

Ravi : Your honour, I am here to put my question and the plaintiff's counsel is putting questions to his counsel, through my mouth. I find that very strange but nevertheless, with due respect, I will conduct my case the way I deem it fit.


Ravi : Mr Lee, in your opinion, do you think the majority of people believe what Dr Chee says?

LKY : We have not done a public poll and it's not possible for us to say with certainty what percentage of the population believes him but if you go by the election results, he scored 20% of the votes in Sembawang, so obviously 20% of the people in Sembawang decided what Mr Chee and his supporters were saying in the campaign - repeatedly - that the Singapore Government is run like the NKF, that was put to the test so there's 20% in Sembawang. And that's with vigorous campaigning on the PAP side. So you cannot dismiss the effect of such repeated attempts to discredit the reputation of the leaders of the PAP.

Ravi : So therefore your conclusion would be the fact that the SDP scored 20 odd per cent in the last election that the public do not attached importance to what SDP had said?

LKY : Even if only 5% voted for them, we would still consider very important that the rest of the population knows what was uttered was a pack of lies.

Ravi : Mr Lee, would you agree with me that a government which is so insensitive, sorry, sensitive to unfair criticisms, confrontation, slight innuendos that it feels that it must nail every lie in court, is one that lacks confidence in the intelligence of its electorate?

LKY : Counsel must understand that when you spread this message across the population, unless it is challenged, that message will begin to sink home. Repeatedly, it will sink home. And we have repeatedly disprove it. That's why the PAP is up and standing. That's why I'm here and may I point out to counsel that there's a guillotine of 2 hours and the interjections by him and his two other defendants means that there are no questions of relevance to ask me and put me on the spot but are playing for time to let the time run out. My counsel knows the game. He's kept me informed. I have been a counsel myself. I know exactly what the game is. If they have imporatant devastating revelations to make, they wouldn't be allowed you to put all these irrelevant questions to me because it is time-wasting.

Ravi : Mr Lee, with due respect to you, if my questions have been irrelevant, the court is there to abjudicate on those matters -

LKY : You are wasting the time of the court!

Ravi : Mr Lee, are you the judge here?

LKY : I'm not but you are asking me for my opinion and I have to give it -

Ravi : Please don't usurp the role of the judge, Mr Lee. I have been extremely respectful as you can see. I have a role to play. You must understand an unenviable one too and I don't have the privilege of a glass of water but I would definitely ask that you must answer my question. It is not up to you to make remarks about my questions and the same equality before the rule of law must apply, Mr Lee. And I will pursue my next question, Mr Lee. With due respect, Mr Lee, you must understand that you must bear with me however you disgree with me, however you feel that I may not be the counsel to be asking you the questions, if you do feel that way too, but respect that I'm also a member of the bar.

LKY : May I remind counsel that he's wasting the guillotine time.

Judge : Mr Ravi, please carry on.

Ravi : Isn't it part of our legal system that as opposed to litigation, mediation is an option?

Singh : What is the relevance of that?

(LKY laughs)

Judge : Disallowed. Carry on, Mr Ravi. Next question please.

Ravi : Mr Lee, could you consider mediation?

Singh : Sir -

LKY : May I - your honour, it is so bizarre a question I will need Soloman to be revived and I don't believe Soloman can mediate between a psychopath and sane, rational people.

Ravi : I see. Then all mediations must fail?

LKY : No, I'm saying in this specific case, you're suggesting an absurdity.

Ravi : Mr Lee, have you suffered any damage or is your integrity still intact after the defamatory statements have been uttered?

LKY : I haven't carried a poll but I'm quite sure at least 80% would consider my reputation intact but I cannot say it's a 100%.

Ravi : Even God can't say, Mr Lee.


Ravi : Mr Lee, is it the case that you are bringing this action in your personal capacity as an individual?

LKY : That's what the law requires me to do. You know that.

Ravi : Are you here to defend your personal reputation or your government's reputation?

LKY : As a matter of form, I'm here in my personal capacity to defend my reputation but in fact it is the reputation of the leaders of the PAP and I do not successfully pursue this action, we will suffer terrible damage. The damage is not in this court. The damage is with the standing of this government with its own people. And that is what this is all about and therefore when I appear as a plaintiff, I'm really representing the whole leadership of the PAP.

Ravi : I see. So you have come to represent, to protect the reputation of the PAP and the government in this court?

LKY : I have said that the law requires us to sue in our individual capacity but in actual fact, the impact of any adverse outcome is on the whole government and the PAP.

Ravi : So you have come to the court to defend the entire government and the PAP, am I correct?

LKY : I thought counsel understand English?

Ravi : No, Mr Lee, I don't understand Greek. Mr Lee, I'm here -

Singh : Your honour, that is an insulting question that's gone on the record. Mr Ravi should know that. He should also know that counsel is not permitted to insult a witness but he's chosen to do that and let it be.

CSJ : Your honour, I think this objection is out of line. I think Davinder Singh is trying to -

Singh : The second point -

Judge : Mr Chee, you will have your turn -

CSJ : Intimidate the SDP's counsel -

Judge : Dr Chee, you will have your turn. Mr Singh.

Singh : Your honour, the second point is that the witness has already explained twice that whilst he sues in his personal capacity, if he fails, then the entire government and leadership is affected but he is here in his personal capacity.

Ravi : Mr Lee, I apologise if you have been offended by anything that I said earlier because I thought we had the latitude. Not mean to insult you when I said, you know, I won't go into that - what I said earlier - but I will pursue this question -

LKY : May I suggest, your honour, that -

Ravi : Your honour, I'm here to ask questions. There is no suggestion for the witness how this course or conduct of proceedings should be made and I with due respect urge the bench to have some control over this matter and the witness.

Judge : Yes, please carry on, Mr Ravi.

Ravi : Thank you, your honour. So you have come to the court to bring a representative action under the cover of a personal action?

Singh : I object, your honour, the same question was asked -

Ravi : Your honour, I won't pursue that question.

Judge : Mr Ravi, that's not what the witness said. Please carry on. Next question.

Ravi : I put it to you, Mr Lee, this defamation suit is a cynical abuse of the legal system to commence personal proceedings built upon a desire to protect the institutions of government. Yes or no?

LKY : No!

Ravi : Thank you, Mr Lee. Mr Lee, would you refer to page 42 of your affidavit?

LKY : Yes.

Ravi : And page 42, para 101. You say that CSJ's hatred of me and you say that 101 para A, CSC is CSJ's sister - do you follow, Mr Lee?

LKY : Yes.

Ravi : And is politically allied with CSJ and his cause against the government. What is Dr Chee's cause against the government?

LKY : I think you should ask the person next to you.

Ravi : Mr Lee, I can't be asking Mr Davindar Singh for that. Oh, I'm sorry. But I am saying that I'm asking you, that it's your affidavit, you and "his cause against the government and PAP and me". I'm asking you what is that cause against the government that you think he (inaudible)?

LKY : His cause against the government is that we have been able to demolish him at every turn that he takes which was wrong and offside.

Ravi : I understand my guillotine is running.

LKY : Yah, helping it to run out and to save -

Ravi : And thank you for accelerating it, Mr Lee. Mr Lee, you said that - are you aware that the Democrat was published February 2006?

LKY : I've already answered those questions and we're covering old ground. I thought there were a great urgency to ask me powerful questions which are relevant to the reputation and would justify what they have said - that this government is run like the NKF and that we have people like either me, or the Prime Minister, or Mr Goh Chok Tong, is like a T.T. Dorai. That's the implication.

Ravi : Mr Lee, you know that this is assessment of damages. I wish to ask you so many questions against the backdrop of this time, all the constraints, but I can't but since the second and the third defendents have been subject to this time, with due respect, I end my cross-examination.

LKY : You've run out of questions then.

Ravi : Mr Lee, please don't challenge me. It is not necessary.


CSJ : Mr Lee, we get to meet at last.

Continues here at Transcript part ll : CSJ vs LKY




PART lll