Thursday, 19 July 2012

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

In the Jack Nicholson movie, the sane actions of men contrast starkly with the insane actions of the institution. It is a Catch-22 situation: only a sane man would question an irrational system, but the act of questioning means his sanity will inevitably be compromised.

The authorities in charge decide who is sane and who is insane, and by deciding so, they make it reality, resorting to extreme measures like lobotomy. The slippery slope can start with a letter from your friendly neighborhood doctor.

Forget about the cast from the Bromptongate debacle - Bikehop Director Lawrence Lim, NParks Director Bernard Lim, Procurement Manager Wesley Su - this one could be a bigger blockbuster.

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What’s wrong with you Mr Wong?

During the time that I was practising (and even thereafter), I had not come across any instance where a Law Society representative turned up in a court to raise the issue of the competency of a lawyer to carry on with the proceedings. As lawyers, we are hung up (more than anything else) on procedural rules. Being mindful of procedure is second nature to lawyers. It was, therefore, surprising to find out that Mr Wong Siew Hong (the head of the sub-committee for Member Care in the Law Society), turned up in court with a letter written by a medical professional. (The propriety of that disclosure by the medical professional is a separate issue and ought to be properly examined by the Singapore Medical Council. But, there might be justification based on a pre-existing direction for M Ravi to be examined by a medical professional in relation to his condition.)

What shocked me the most was the fact that whilst Mr Wong might be characterised as having had “good intentions” (as stated by the Law Society), it is unpardonable that after being rebuffed by Justice Pillai in the morning, he still proceeded to adopt the same method of interfering with proceedings in two other matters involving M Ravi’s firm. It does not help that the 3 cases that he attempted to intervene in were political cases. Public perception of the Law Society is bound to get seriously damaged by these actions of Wong.

*The writer blogs at

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The M.Ravi case under the medico-legal microscope – July 22, 2012

A court hearing takes place

In a twist to Hougang resident Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu’s bid for the high court to declare that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion in deciding whether and when to call a by-election, the spotlight eventually fell on Human rights lawyer M. Ravi. In the run up to the hearing, he was under a lot of stress and had seen Senior Consultant psychiatrist Dr Calvin Fones. The latter had deemed that Ravi had a manic relapse of his bipolar disorder for the past 2 weeks in a review on 14th July 2012. In a subsequent development, he sent a letter dated on the 16th July 2012 to the Law Society, explaining his review on the 14th including Ravi’s lack of insight on his condition, and a determination that Ravi was unfit to practise law. A representative from the Law Society, Wong Siew Hong asked to address the court. Justice Philip Pillai summoned all parties to the Chambers where Wong argued why Ravi should not continue with the case, using Fones’ letter as a justification. However, Wong was rebuffed by Pillai, who was only interested in the fact that Ravi had a practising certificate, which he had.

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UPDATE at 4:50pm, Friday 20 July: From M Ravi's office: "Please note that we will not be filing the Writ today. We will instead be issuing a Letter of Demand to The Law Society of Singapore."

M Ravi files lawsuits against Wong, Law Society

Lawyer M Ravi, who has been in the news lately, has filed a law suit against the Law Society of Singapore (LSS), and Mr Wong Siew Hong, who heads the sub-committee for Member Care in the LSS.

Mr Ravi is also filing a complaint against Dr Calvin Fones with the Singapore Medical Association (SMA).

Contempt Of Court

Anyone keeping score? In the latest round of Blogger versus AGC (Attorney-General's Chambers), it was enlightening to read that the judge is not as thin skinned as generally assumed. We are given following assurance:

Expanding, the AGC spokesman added, "It is contempt, however, to say that the court was biased if there is no objective rational basis to do so." The emphasis seems to be on the word "biased", but still, you wouldn't want to tell the judge his mother wears army boots, or worse.

M Ravi to issue letter of demand to Law Society

Lawyer M Ravi on Friday said in a statement that he will be issuing a letter of demand to the Law Society of Singapore.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the letter is expected to be sent to Law Society next week.

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MediaCorp producer files police report against lawyer M Ravi

A Tamil current affairs producer at MediaCorp has filed a police report against lawyer M Ravi for verbally abusing her during an interview with him.

Ms Vicneswary d/o Subramaniam alleged that this happened on 13 July.

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Law Society Faces Criticism From Online Community

Singapore's Law Society is in hot water on social media platforms after allegations were made that they had attempted to prevent human rights lawyer Madasamy Ravi from continuing to fight his cases in court.

On July 16, 2012, opposition politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam – who was in court with Mr Ravi and his client Mdm Vellama – tweeted:

@KenJeyaretnam: "Law Society attempting to have M. Ravi declared unfit to practise law and sectioned under the Mental Health Act."

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Singapore. M Ravi, the Hougang by elections case, a most entertaining national theatrical comedy

And if the Law Society of Singapore wants us to believe that they did not know of the intended actions of Wong, one of their employees, you might as well ask us to believe that they thought pigs could indeed fly as well.

And as for M Ravi, I have this to say. One has to feel sorry for him. He has done a great deal uncaring to his own interests for the good of the down trodden in his island. He has worked tirelessly for the abolition of the death penalty and other causes of the underdog, which no other Singaporean lawyer would have the courage to do even a fraction of what he did.

Having said that, I also know that M Ravi does indeed suffer from a mental infliction. I remember seeing him in Subordinate Courts in 2008 during my so-called adventure in Lee Kuan Yew’s island when I ended up in jail for criticizing the judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean. Watching M Ravi in Singapore in that Singapore courtroom was not a pleasant sight. He was as you would know taken to hospital from court that day.

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Law Society says any suggestion of a conspiracy is untrue

Law Society says any suggestion of a conspiracy is untrue

The Law Society of Singapore said any suggestion of a conspiracy involving the society is untrue and irresponsible.
It added that it discharged its duties properly.

It was referring to the events on 16 July, in which Mr M Ravi turned up to argue the Hougang by—election case at the High Court.

In a statement, the Law Society said Mr Wong Siew Hong, who was the lawyer assigned by the Law Society to liaise with Mr Ravi and Dr Calvin Fones, learnt from Dr Fones regarding Mr Ravi’s medical condition on Sunday.

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A 'bitter taste'

Top criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan criticises Law Society over M Ravi incident

The Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore (ACLS) has criticised the Law Society of Singapore, saying that it viewed "with some trepidation" the actions of a Law Society representative who, on Monday, submitted a medical letter to the High Court stating that lawyer M Ravi is unfit to practise.

It sent a letter to the society, which it also released to the media. While acknowledging the ACLS' disagreements in the past with Mr Ravi, the letter - dated Tuesday and signed by ACLS President Subhas Anandan - said the incident "left a very bitter taste in the mouths and has potentially brought the Bar into disrepute".

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Law Society responds to reports concerning lawyer M Ravi

The Law Society has issued a statement detailing the events and background leading up to the incident on Monday, when its representative turned up uninvited in court to submit a letter stating that lawyer M Ravi was "unfit to practise".

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"Red flag" over M Ravi's health raised by his doctor: Law Society

The man who raised concerns over lawyer M Ravi's mental well-being to a High Court judge said the red flag originated from Mr Ravi's psychiatrist.

Law Society member Wong Siew Hong was in the High Court on Monday and presented a letter from Dr Calvin Fones to Justice Philip Pillai, who was presiding over a case where Mr Ravi was acting counsel.

The letter stated, among other things, that Mr Ravi was "having a manic relapse of his bipolar disorder" and is "currently unfit to practise law".

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4 Big Questions marks on the Law Society and Mr Wong

There are 4 huge question marks on the Law Society and Mr Wong concerning the incident in which Mr Wong barged into the High Court to try to declare lawyer M Ravi mentally unfit for Court.

1. A spokesperson from the Law Society told the media that “there was no application whatsoever by the Law Society to in any way prevent Mr Ravi from appearing in Court“.

But if so, why prompted Law Society member Mr Wong Siew Hong to go down to the High Court on Monday to present a letter to Justice Philip Pillai, written by M Ravi’s psychiatrist Dr Calvin Fones, stating the opinion that Mr M Ravi was currently unfit to practice law?

Justice Pillai is the presiding judge over the case of whether or not the Prime Minister has unfettered discretion to call for a by-election, a case in which Mr M Ravi was acting counsel.

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Law Society made 3 attempts to stop lawyer M Ravi

Law Society made 3 attempts to stop lawyer M Ravi
By Andrew Loh | Richard Wan

Before the controversy surrounding the Law Society’s attempts to stop lawyer M Ravi from carrying out his professional duties in the courts has died down, it has emerged that the society had tried 3 times in the space of 2 days to stop Mr Ravi from making representations for his clients in Court.

As previously reported on and TR Emeritus, Law Society representative, Mr Wong Siew Hong, made the first attempt during Monday’s proceedings at the High Court. Mr Ravi was in Justice Philip Pillai’s courtroom putting forth his arguments in the case brought by Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu to have the Court declare the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion in calling by-elections.

Mr Wong, who is the chairman of the sub-committee on member care of the Law Society, had approached both senior counsel Mr David Chong, representing the Attorney General, and Mr Ravi, outside the courtroom on Monday, before proceedings began. He had with him a copy of a letter from Dr Calvin Fones in which the doctor stated that he had diagnosed Mr Ravi as having a “relapse” of his bi-polar condition and that Mr Ravi was “unfit to practise” law.

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Kangaroo on the lose

A kangaroo was seen hopping around in town and barging into many buildings without notice, causing annoyance to its owners. It was driven out by the respective owners but not before leaving a smelly trail of kangaroo stench.

The zoo did not know that the kangaroo had bolted out on its own until it was reported in the evening news. The zoo owners denied any prior knowledge of the mischievous kangaroos and they would not be responsible for all the droppings it left behind. How the kangaroo could go to town is still puzzling to everyone. And how it got so far without anyone knowing, without being stop by the police or knock down by the traffic on the roads must be a miracle.

The strange behavior of the kangaroo, of all places, appearing in town and try barging into buildings is even stranger. Should not kangaroos be running to places that it is familiar with and comfortable, like the kangaroo grass courts or kangaroo playing fields?

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M Ravi bipolar, Lawless Society ta' ada bola

After being buttkicked by the Judge and bitch slapped by the public, the Lawless Society hides its tail between its legs and left its rep, Mr Wong Siew Hong, high and dry by implicating that he acted on his own accord. What a b*lless creep of an organisation, not wishing to take responsibility.

But in doing so, it would also mean that the Lawless Society's original intention, ie to stop M Ravi from proceeding to argue his cases, would not be effective. So the Lawless Society says that although Mr Wong SH acted on his own accord, he was doing it in the best interest of the public.

Haha. So there you have it. The B*lless Lawless Society wants to effectively tell the world the M Ravi is not a fit guy to be representing cases, but doesn't want to take the flak for the fiasco and had poor silly crappy lapdog Mr Wong SH to take the rap.

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An Own Goal

What drama! On the first day of the hearing for what has been dubbed the "Hougang by-election case", drama filled the court when Mr Wong Siew Hong tried in vain to stop the case from proceeding. Lawyer M Ravi was to argue a case at the High Court on whether the Prime Minister of Singapore has unfettered discretion in deciding whether and when to call by-elections when Mr Wong who was a representative of the Law Society, showed a letter to the judge from Mr Ravi's psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones Soon Leng.

The letter stated that Mr. M Ravi is currently unfit to practice law due to a relapse of bipolar disorder.

However the drama quickly turned into confusion when Mr Ravi openly questioned the letter from the psychiatrist. The letter stated that Dr Fones reviewed Mr Ravi on May 14 "following the concerns expressed by his friends" but Mr Ravi claimed that the date should be July 14 and he only saw the doctor for 10mins on that day. Not only that, Mr. Ravi claimed that the doctor never told him of any concerns he had of his health. Mr Ravi also insisted that this letter was just a ridiculous conspiracy against him to block him from arguing the case.

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Law Society's attendance at Mdm Vallema's Court Hearing on 16 July 2012

I was in Supreme Court No. 3B yesterday morning 16 Jul 2012 at 10am to watch the Open Court Hearing of Mdm Vallema's case before Justice Philip Pillai.

I sat in the public gallery, which was packed. Reporters were also present. The Hearing started with M Ravi going first. The Judge asked M Ravi some probing legal questions. M Ravi understood the Judge's questions, and replied them in a manner which the Judge seemed satisfied with. The exchange between M Ravi and the Judge was pleasant, courteous and mutually respectful.

If M Ravi is under any mental illness, it was not apparent to me that morning. Justice Pillai did not look like he found M Ravi to be anything but mentally normal. When M Ravi had finished speaking, it was the Attorney-General lawyer's (whom I shall call "AG") turn.

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Law Society retracts its 16th July statement to the media

In a totally unexpected move, the Law Society of Singapore (LAWSOC) has issued a fresh statement to retract its original statement made to the media on Monday evening (16th July), primarily denying inter alia, that it had initiated the intervention in the court proceedings – a complete u-turn from its previous statement.

In its latest statement to the media [LINK], LAWSOC said that the Members of Council of LAWSOC were only aware of the “RaviGate” incidents on Monday afternoon when they were informed by the secretariat.

The Council, it said, was not in possession of the full facts (of the incidents) and as such, “the statement issued in the evening of 16th July 2012 contained the error that LSS had initiated the intervention in the court proceedings”.

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"Mr Wong had acted very much on his own": Law Society

The Law Society of Singapore has issued a statement with regards to recent events involving the Law Society and lawyer, M Ravi.

Here is the statement in full:

"The Law Society of Singapore (LSS) issues this statement with regard to the reports concerning one of our members, Mr M. Ravi.

Before LSS comments on the recent events, it is useful to know the background. About 4 years ago, LSS was informed of M. Ravi's medical condition. Council of LSS considered the matter. On one hand, Council was concerned that any lawyer approved by LSS to practise law should have the capacity to do so. This is a duty owed by LSS to the public. On the other hand, LSS also had the duty to assist its members as best as possible.

Doctor’s letter 'ridiculous', says M Ravi

On Monday morning at the High Court, a representative from the Law Society of Singapore attempted to have lawyer Mr M Ravi disallowed from carrying out his legal duties in Court. (Photo courtesy of
On Monday morning at the High Court, a representative from the Law Society of Singapore attempted to have lawyer Mr M Ravi disallowed from carrying out his legal duties in Court. (Photo courtesy of publichouse)

On Monday morning at the High Court, a representative from the Law Society of Singapore attempted to have lawyer Mr M Ravi disallowed from carrying out his legal duties in Court, Mr Ravi told and TR Emeritus in an exclusive interview in the same afternoon.

Mr Ravi was acting on behalf of Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu in her case to request the Court to declare that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion in deciding when to call by-elections.

Before the proceedings began in the morning, the representative from the Law Society, Mr Wong Siew Hong, had approached both senior counsel Mr David Chong, acting on behalf of the Attorney General, and Mr Ravi, outside the Court room. Apparently, Mr Wong had a copy of a letter from Mr Ravi’s psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones, which Dr Fones had earlier sent to the Law Society. The letter was shown to both Mr Chong and Mr Ravi.

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Letter to Dr Calvin Fones Soon Leng

Dear Sir
I saw the letter which you sent under your letterhead to the Law Society titled ‘Medical Report for Ravi S/O Madasamy’. It has since gone viral on the internet with different people and groups reporting on it and commenting on it.

The letter raises some very worrying questions, and I hope as a distinguished person in our society, a well regarded psychiatrist and a member of the board of Biomedical Ethics, you can help me understand things better.

First of all, how did you conclude that without having observed him since the 14th of May, and be confident enough of your diagnosis to put it in a medical report about events that took place on and after the 24th of June?

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Law society attempts to stop lawyer M. Ravi from carrying out his legals duties in court

On Monday morning (16 July) at the High Court, a representative from the Law Society of Singapore attempted to have lawyer Mr M Ravi disallowed from carrying out his legal duties in Court.

Mr Ravi was in court representing Hougang resident, Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu's bid for the High Court to declare that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion in deciding whether and when to call by-elections. The hearing lasted an hour whereby Justice Pillai reserved judgment.

Before the proceedings began, Mr Wong Siew Hong, a representative from the Law Society approached both senior counsel Mr David Chong, acting on behalf of the Attorney General, and Mr Ravi, outside the Court room. Apparently, Mr Wong had a copy of a letter from Mr Ravi’s psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones, which Dr Fones had earlier sent to the Law Society. The letter was shown to both Mr Chong and Mr Ravi. In it, Dr Fones said: “I reviewed Mr Ravi on Saturday 14 May in my clinic following concerns expressed by his friends about his recent moods and behaviours.” Full story

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Lawyer M. Ravi unfit to practise, says psychiatrist

THE Law Society yesterday handed a letter to the High Court from lawyer M. Ravi's psychiatrist assessing him to be medically unfit to practise.

Dr Calvin Fones, a consultant psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, said Mr Ravi was having a relapse of his bipolar disorder.

The unusual move by the society came at the end of an open- court hearing over a Hougang resident's bid to get a court declaration on the calling of by-elections. Mr Ravi is the resident's lawyer.

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Lawless Society gatecrashes M Ravi’s party, gets buttkicked by Judge

Who do these guys from the Law(less) Society of Singapore think they are? Some wannabe self-appointed sheriff from the Wild, Wild, West or what?

A rep from the Law(less) Society gatecrashes right into the Court, presenting the Judge a doctor’s letter stating that M Ravi is not fit to carry out his legal duties.

The judge rightfully showed his middle finger (so to speak) to the barging interrupting rep and kicked him right in the butt (so to speak).

Score: Law and Order 1, Law(less) Society 0.

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In solidarity with my friend, fellow campaigner and lawyer, M Ravi

Ever since I’ve known him, Ravi has always been a person filled with so much passion and love for life and all of us around him. Indeed he is not perfect, the way no human being in the world is, but he is one who puts his heart and soul in all that he does.

I met up with Ravi earlier tonight, and although he was really cheerful in the company of friends, I could see that he was very much affected by what Law Society, or rather, legal representative of Law Society Mr Wong Siew Hong tried to do to him recently (ref: here and here).

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AGC rebuts blogger's post on law on contempt

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has rebutted blogger Alex Au's post arguing that Singapore's law on contempt prevents debate and curtails free speech.

Mr Au put up the post on Sunday, arguing that the Republic's law of contempt "(extends) a blanket guarantee that judges will be shielded from criticism through the use of an archaic legal concept of 'scandalising the judiciary'".

The post was put up just four days after he was made to apologise for and remove a post alleging judiciary bias in plastic surgeon Woffles Wu's case, in lieu of contempt proceedings.

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AGC issues statement defending law of contempt in Singapore

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) today issued a statement defending the law of contempt in Singapore, in response to posts by socio-political blogger Alex Au.

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AGC: Law of contempt needed to protect ‘public confidence’ in administration of justice in Singapore

For the second time in less than a month, the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) felt compelled to issue a public statement to clear up lingering skepticism in the public about its decisions.

Two weeks ago, the AGC issued a media statement to explain the charges leveled against plastic surgeon Woffles Wu for abetting somebody to take the rap for him for two speeding offences.

The fiasco sparked a massive outcry among Singaporeans, among whom is blogger Alex Au who wrote two articles insinuating that Woffles Wu was ‘favorably’ treated under the law, prompting AGC to send a letter to him threatening to charge him for contempt of court unless he retracts his article and apologizes which he eventually did so.
Now, AGC is explaining its decision to use the law of contempt to send Alex Au the warning.

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Using power to give immunity to the powerful, part 2

The Attorney-General’s Chambers issued a press release yesterday (17 July 2012) in response to my post Using power to give immunity to the powerful which was published on 15 July.

The press release opens with a re-assertion of one of the two usual justifications for the law on scandalising the judiciary. It said: “Accusations of bias diminish it in the eyes of the citizen, lower it and ultimately damage the nation. Such accusations can occur frequently, with the judges not being able to respond. That is why confidence in the administration of justice needs to be protected from such allegations.”

I had dealt with this so-called justification right at the top of my earlier post as well as in its final quarter. Firstly, there is no reason why judges should not be able to respond, and secondly how does one distinguish between allegations and truth unless the initial assertions are allowed to be discussed further and aired? Sometimes, allegations eventually turn out to be true. To prohibit all allegations is to choke off any further discovery.

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Using power to give immunity to the powerful

The executive has effectively given our judiciary a blank cheque to be mercenary, biased, lazy and incompetent. It has done this by extending a blanket guarantee that judges will be shielded from criticism through the use of an archaic legal concept of “scandalising the judiciary” – a form of contempt of court.

Under this concept, any criticism of judges and their work is a criminal offence, unless the criticism can be proved, hammered in with nails large enough to crucify Christ. The problem with extending such immunity is that it creates a moral hazard. In fact, it is entirely logical that in the long run, that immunity itself will corrupt the judiciary.

There are two grizzled “justifications” for such a law.

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Case to stop S’pore’s US$4b pledge to IMF heard in High Court

Reform Party Secretary—General Kenneth Jeyaretnam is proceeding with his legal bid to stop Singapore’s US$4—billion pledge to the International Monetary Fund.

His case was heard in the High Court chambers in a pre—trial conference on Tuesday morning.

In April, Singapore made the pledge to bolster the International Monetary Fund’s war chest, as emerging economies responded to a request by IMF chief Christine Lagarde for at least US$400 billion in new money to draw a line under the euro zone debt crisis.

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Rule of Law – Dirty Tricks?

This is my comment on the attempted action by the Law Society of Singapore against Lawyer M Ravi which I witnessed in court today.

When I ran my Hedge Fund I had a “global” remit meaning that I had permission to trade on any and every stock exchange.

Potential Investors would usually query that, asking whether I would really take a position in any country. My answer was that I would only invest in trades originating in Nations where there was a legal framework that I was familiar with ( UK or US model) and where there was also demonstrable ’Rule of Law’. Although I had legal consultants on retainer for the details, I needed those basic pre conditions before I would consider a position.

There has never been any doubt that Singapore and its courts score high on ‘The Rule of Law’ and control of corruption indicators certainly as scored by institutions such as The World Bank’. However as a report by Lawyer’s Rights Watch of Canada said,

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Dr Chee has a v.v. gd point

[T]he government cannot discriminate against political activities by banning them in public areas, while allowing commercial ones to take place.

“My colleagues and I were prosecuted for distributing flyers without a permit but the police said during the trial that a similar group distributing flyers for, say, a tuition centre does not require a permit,” Chee explained.

“This is not provided for under the law.”

Sticky Lady, if she gets charged for any offence, should argue along similar lines. If money lenders and property agents are not prosecuted for plastering state property with their telephone numbers, why should she be penalised? Govt cannot use law to punish non-commercial activities only.

Let’s see how the government and judges tackle the point. Prosecutorial discretion is my bet.

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Four SDP members take illegal assembly case to Court of Appeal

Four opposition politicians convicted of being part of an illegal assembly in 2008 are now seeking to have their cases heard in Singapore's highest court, the Court of Appeal (CoA).

They are Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, his sister Siok Chin, assistant secretary-general John Tan, and member Seelan Palay.

The four were convicted of being part of an illegal assembly on National Day 2008 and fined between $900 and $1,000 by the Courts in 2010.

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