Monday, June 23, 2008

Donations for Gopalan Nair

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been informed by many that they would like to contribute financially in donations to help me remain in Singapore to fight this case brought on unexpectedly by the Singapore government.

I want to send my heartfelt thanks to those who have already given donations to me. Please send all donations to my lawyer, on my behalf, to his Citibank account.

My lawyer' particulars are as follows:

Mr. Chia Ti Lik,
Advocate and Solicitor
Chia Ngee Thuang and Co.
24 Peck Seah Street, #05-09/11
Nehsons Building, Singapore 079314
Tel: (65) 6225 9983
Mobile Tel: (65) 9450 8496
Fax: (65) 6223 7856
EMail: chiatilik@hotmail .com

Chia Ti Lik, Citibank Account: 0534235003

Please deposit your donations direct to Mr. Chia's account. In the event of any queries, kindly contact Mr. Chia, my lawyer.

In the meantime, I wish you to know that without your support, I would not have been able to stand up to this tyrannical Lee Administration. It was made possible entirely due to your warm support. I remain ever grateful to you.

Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

Gopalan Nair

My 29th day in Singapore. Lee: If you defame me, I will sue you!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

During the 3 day assessment of damages hearing in the High Court, Judge Belinda Ang presiding, in the Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan matter, Dr. Chee asks Lee Kuan Yew why did he say in his Affidavit that he (Dr. Chee) "hates" Lee Kuan Yew.

Then Dr. Chee tells Lee that truly, he does not hate him at all. He (Dr. Chee) in fact feels very sorry for him. Dr. Chee tells him that he (Lee Kuan Yew) cuts a pathetic figure. And that Dr. Chee is really sorry for him.

Dr. Chee is absolutely spot on here. We should indeed fell sorry for the poor old man. You see, since 1959, Lee has been holding on to power. During this time, he has built an infrastructure and brought some modernity to the island. He feels he has done well. He says he has the support of the people and the people respect him. Nothing can be further from the truth. His actions betray his weakness. Only a weak ruler will resort to violence, brutality and resort to the courts to cripple his opponents. A strong ruler who has the support of the people need not stoop so low. Someone who wrote to me compared him to Mugabe. He says they are not too dissimilar. Mugabe uses guns to stay in power. Lee uses the courts. The diagnosis is the same. Both are weak men who can only remain in power by intimidation, torture, bankruptcy and subjugation. Powerful men need not resort to this.

Look at Lee's record. Singapore is already in the Guinness Book not only for the largest number of defamation actions brought on by a ruler of a country, but also for its staggering amounts; no less that one half million dollars each time. Does Lee ever believe that Dr. Chee can pay any of this? Of course not. The whole idea is not the money. It is to ensure that Dr. Chee can never stand of elections again. What a shameful man Lee Kuan Yew is. He ensures Dr. Chee Soon Juan can never oppose him in elections. To achieve that shameful objective, he uses the courts to finish him off. The same with JB Jeyaretnam. Till today I cannot understand why Jeyaretnam decided to pay the totally illegal damages. Yes, illegal is a strong word but apt nevertheless. In all the series of court cases against JB Jeyaretnam, not even once did JB Jeyaretnam ever defame Lee Kuan Yew, that is of course if you use the normal definition of the word "defame" and not the totally Alice in Wonderland meaning given to it by Singapore.

Take my case. I did say in my blog that since Lee Kuan Yew had said, in no uncertain terms, during the 3-day damages hearing recently in the High Court, that if anyone defamed him in a blog, and if they were identified, he will sue them; I had therefore challenged him to sue me as he had threatened. Instead of suing me, he goes on to order his police to arrest me on some dubious charge that I insulted a judge in my blog. Is this a sign of a man in control of himself or that of a man who is so unsure of himself that he has to resort to bullying each time someone challenges him? And mind you, I am so far a thoroughly insignificant soul compared to the others he has gone after previously, such as Dow Jones, Far Eastern Economic Review, Asian Wall Street, JB Jeyaretnam and Dr. Chee. All these people are giants compared to me in the scope of things. Why then pick on me?

The answer cannot be clearer than it ever was. Lee can only remain in power through instilling fear in his citizenry. And one way to do it is to go after anyone who criticizes, hoping that that others would be sufficiently scared off by news of what has happened to me.

But my answer to Lee is this. It is not going to work. You have done this once too often. And Singapore's young are bolder than what you think. This action against me is already turning out to be counter productive. Just after my case, I have heard that even more are packing off for Australia and elsewhere. This is something that Lee cannot stop. His mistake was making English the lingua franca. With English Singaporeans can leave anytime and be accepted around the English speaking world. The Chinese imports from mainland China is not a replacement. They neither have English nor the capability.

Second, more and more young people are swelling the ranks of the SDP. They are coming forward. Instead of being intimidated, they are turning out to be lions. Not just any lion but African lions. The really brave type.

I understand that Lee Kuan Yew has been traveling to places such as Sydney with hat in hand, begging Singaporeans to come back. They are not coming back. And one more reason for them not to come back is the case Singapore Public Prosecutor vs. Gopalan Nair for writing a blog!

Gopalan Nair

Saturday, June 21, 2008

27 days in Singapore. A prisoner in the island.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have now been 27 days in Singapore. I am an American citizen. I had come to Singapore to witness the case of assessment of damages in the High Court from May 26, 2008 to May 28, 2008, for 3 days, in the case of Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan. I intended to stay in Singapore no longer than June 3, 2008, which would have made my stay no more than 9 days. I had written a blog post on May 29, 2008, criticizing the conduct of the judge in this case.

For doing nothing more than writing a blog critical of a judge, I was arrested by 5 policemen at my hotel; manhandled; handcuffed; my hotel room ransacked before my very eyes, all my personal belongings seized; driven in a police car in handcuffs to Cantonment Police Station and kept 5 days in solitary confinement with the cell lights on 24 hours a day and interrogated each day; sometimes several times a day; and accused of all manner of wrong doing and treated like a common criminal, spending any time outside my cell in handcuffs.

I was released on bail, from solitary confinement on June 5, 2008; after 5 days. Not satisfied with having taken numerous statements from me while under custody; not satisfied with countless interrogation sessions; the court ordered me to continue to attend at the police station for even more interrogation sessions, which I did.

Suddenly on Monday June 16, 2008, not satisfied with the numerous statements already taken, from the never ending interrogation sessions; the court ordered me to attend the police station every day at 9 am in the morning until July 14, 2008 because, believe it nor not, the police have still not completed their investigations and according to the prosecutor, I had not been cooperating with the police in turning up for these interrogation sessions!

And while these never ending interrogation sessions continue, I, an American citizen, after having spent 5 days in solitary confinement, continue to be held against my will in Singapore now for 27 days; with my passport seized; while my law practice in California and my financial situation continues to suffer due to neglect.

And all this punishment for what? All for writing a blog post on my blog criticizing a judge in her conduct of the Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan case! Even by any third world country's standards, surely I have been punished enough! Surely any man with even the slightest of compassion; with the slightest of of humanity, would feel that enough is enough. Surely it is time to let me go.

The fact remains that all I did was to write a blog post. I have not killed anyone; I have not committed theft or armed robbery or high treason. All I did was to write. And for writing, will Singapore, this so called first world country, this country that claims to have the best legal system in the world, the best train system in the world, the best newspapers in the world, the best sea port in the world, the best airport in the world, the best airline in the world, the highest paid ministers in the world, the best of everything in the world; will they not be satisfied with the punishment I have suffered so far? What more do they want, my blood?

And what is the purpose of all this punishment? Is it to make sure that I am ruined financially? If so, they may have already achieved their purpose. Is it to make sure that I will never exercise my right to free speech again? Surely this is not possible. Unless they kill me, I will be able to return to the United States sometime or other. And once I am free, I will continue to exercise my right to free speech and expression; and if that is the case, what is the point of all this punishment?

And if the the point of all this punishment is to deter Singaporeans from ever criticizing Singapore judges, surely in this day and age, with an educated population, that result is highly unlikely. In fact the opposite may be true. The people might become instead, outraged, defiant and emboldened to speak their mind even more.

And while the Singapore government, intolerant of dissent, jail me in solitary confinement and hold me back in Singapore against my will and unable to return to my home in California; the free world watches the actions of this so called first world country. And they begin to see what this first world country really is. A country that rules by instilling fear among its citizens, threatening them with solitary confinement for extended periods if they ever dare to to criticize a judge.

This much must be told to this government. In order for the judiciary to function properly; in order for ministers to function properly; in order for policemen to function properly; in order for the government to function properly; what is needed is criticism. Criticism makes these government officials accountable. Without criticism, there is no check on people in authority and when there are no checks, judges, policemen, civil servants and ministers are liable to abuse it. If you want good government, you have to have criticism. Without it you have dictatorship and tyranny.

And by the way, this government has to be reminded that it is the tax payer that is paying their wages. And judges too have to be reminded that their wages too are paid by the Singaporean taxpayer. This makes them accountable for their actions and accountable to the people of Singapore.

I would say this to the Singapore administration. If you want to be taken seriously on your claim that you are a first world country, then act like one. First world countries do not go around throwing bloggers in solitary confinement and preventing them returning to their homes. These are not the actions of a first world country. More the actions of dictatorships like North Korea.

Gopalan Nair

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Laser, Byte, 420, 470, Sunfish, Topper or Lido 14 or similar dinghy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since I am going to be here for the foreseeable future, and there is nothing that I can do to change it, I might as well make the best of it.

I am a dinghy sailor and would love to borrow a boat of any of the above categories or similar type to sail off Changi or East Coast waters. I used to be a member of Changi Sailing Club but have not been one for several years now. Not possible to borrow one from them.

I am quite capable of sailing even the 2 crew 420, 470 and Lido 14 or other similar boats single handedly. I dont need a crew.

So if there is a dinghy sailor out there who reads this and has a boat, I would love to borrow it.


Gopalan Nair

A day in my life in Singapore, June 19, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been in Singapore 25 days. During this time, not only all newspapers but also all television channels have splashed my face across the screen and the newsprint pages almost on a daily basis. I have been told by passers by more than once that my face in person is exactly like it appears on TV screens and newsprint. I understand unlike others. So they say, I can be easily identified.

I have seen this to be true. Very true. Each day that I walk in public, total strangers come up to me and say they saw me in the news. Everyone so far has been supportive, often with vulgarities and abuses in the various languages of Singapore hurled at the Singapore government and you know who.

I understand that the Singapore state controlled press and media is trying very hard, naturally, to make me look a heinous serial killer. But regrettably for them, they are not succeeding. The effect on the ground appears counterproductive to them. It is not anger and opposition that I face from Singaporeans. It is appreciation, admiration and acknowledgment of bravery on my part. Yes, it has been a good feeling to walk about in Singapore among Singaporeans.

As I am being forced to stay longer each day in this country, both local and international awareness in my case increases. Yesterday it was the turn of San Jose Mercury News to contact me. They are running a story on my case in their San Jose paper.

I am sure as time goes on the awareness of my case throughout the world will only heighten. As to how this is going to advantage this government is a mystery to me; just as their other mind boggling actions like calling in the riot squad to shoo off 4 peaceful unarmed protesters outside the CPF building some 2 years ago!

If the intention of the Singapore government in arresting me and keeping me in solitary for 5 days and intimidating me with repeated interrogation sessions with all manner of serious charges is to frighten all other bloggers from criticizing, I am not sure if this will be the end result. One thing I am sure. Many more educated people will permanently emigrate. Rather than frightening anyone, bloggers might become outraged, enraged and emboldened and criticize even more, not less.

Only time can tell. In the meantime, I wait in Singapore. That itself continues to be great punishment.

Gopalan Nair

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another day of U Turns and Fishing Expeditions by the Police

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just to reassure any reader new to my case, who may quite reasonably think after reading this blog spot that I had actually killed 20 people in cold blood and had I not been stopped in time, I would have butchered another 400 just for the fun of it; please be reassured I have done nothing of the sort! All I did, believe it or not, was to write 2 blog posts on my blog the Singapore Dissident criticizing Judge Belinda Ang, a Singapore High Court Judge on her conduct of a defamation case recently.

June 17, 2008, Tuesday, Singapore Cantonment Police Station.

The time is 8.45 am. As required by the Court Order of June 16, 2008, I appear for interrogation at the police station at 9 am. The court had on June 16, 2008 ordered that I appear every day at 9 am at the police station for interrogation until next month because the police claim they are investigating further unspecified offenses.

3rd Floor of the Police station, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 8.45 am.

At 9.04 am Assistant Superintendent of Police (officer) Mr. Razak Jakaria, the Investigation Officer appears and takes me to an interview room. Another officer sits in the room.

Now the officer says that I am being investigated for an offense under Sec 4 (1) of the Sedition Act which he deliberately stresses is a seizable offence, obviously to threaten me into confessing something or other. He repeats that this offense carries a maximum jail term of 3 years, to stress it's seriousness.

The Section reads as follows: Any person who does or attempts to do or makes any preparation to do or conspires with any person to do any act which has or which would if done have a seditious tendency shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction of a first offense to a fine not exceeding $5000.00 or to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both.

After showing me the charge, he begins the questions.

This is yet another day of U Turns by the police. You will recall the several changes that the police have made to date on what to charge me with. First it was an Email to Judge Ang. Another charge that I sent Judge Lai an Email more than 2 years ago. Then the decision to drop everything and proceed with a Sedition Charge. Then the dropping of the Sedition Charge and charging me with insulting Judge Ang through my blog. Now this latest version of resurrecting the Sedition charge one more time!

Mind you, from the time of my arrest on May 31, 2008 Saturday and my detention in solitary confinement for 5 days continuously, and despite my having been brought to court several times, up till now the police have not formally charged me with any single offense and neither have they taken any plea from me.

One can only assume that the police are just continuing with their roundabouts.

This time, the officer goes back and covers the same ground he covered in the past by showing me Emails which he claims I sent to Justice Belinda Ang and others. As before, I again deny having sent any Emails to any of these people.

He then produces an extract of the Criminal Procedure Code which requires an accused or witness to allow his computer system (I suppose including Email account) to be looked into, when a crime is suspected and failing to allow the police to look at it, itself becomes an offense. He then asks if I am prepared to log into my Email account to the computer at the police station for him to inspect the contents of my Email account.

The Singapore police system clearly, as in this case, does not provide due process to an accused. Here, once the police had articulated a suspicion that an offense has been committed, regardless of whether or not they had a single shred of evidence, they can insist that my Email account be available for their examination; failing to provide co-operation becoming an arrestable offense immediately.

In this case, the police had alleged they were suspecting a crime. Since that was done, I had no choice but to permit them to have access to my private Emails. Of course, I did not send any emails to anyone, but knowing that since my arrest, the police had seized my notebook containing my Email password, there was no telling what the police would do, such as tampering with my Emails or implanting offending Emails by themselves.

Clearly Singaporeans do not have the right to privacy or the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure or if they did; the police have the right to just ignore it.

I had no choice but to permit the officer to have access to my Email account. I had stated in my written response that I was permitting them to have access to my Email account under protest since it has now transpired that they or others at their behest may have tampered with my Email account since they have produced documents falsely accusing me of sending Emails to Judge Belinda Ang and others. Therefor since I am to use the police computer, there may be a strong possibility that they may have implanted offending Emails into my email account so as to falsely accuse me of having sent them.

I was brought down to the computer or meeting room of the Cantonment Police Station. There were 2 photographers there. I was asked to key into my Email account. I demanded that that they stand away while I keyed in my password so as to avoid its detection by them. They complied.

I was asked to open each item in my Email, namely the Inbox, Sent, Thrash and Bulk. The police photographers took several photographs of each page of those items. The officer then asked me to open several of those Emails, which he read. He could find nothing offensive or suspicious. The Emails that he had accused me of sending to Judge Belinda Ang and others were not there, and neither were the undeliverable messages he accused me of having received.

By this time the interview which had stated at 9.04 am had reached 2.30pm, that is 5 1/2 hours. Suddenly the officer disappeared and came back with a letter from the police that I need not attend everyday at the police station at 9am until the middle of July 2008 as ordered by the court, and I only need to attend if I was so advised. Another U turn, you may say.

Finally I must add how the officer uses one psychological technique to try to wear me down. He gets another officer to sit next to him at the computer while he works on it. The other officer then looks at the computer as if he has discovered something incriminating against me. Then both the officer and this other officer talk in whispers. All this must be to intimidate me into believing that there is something highly incriminating against me in the computer, thereby suggesting that I come clean by confessing at the first opportunity.

This observation, consultation and whispering between the officer and his second, at the computer carried on not only at the interview room but also at the computer room. I realised what they were doing and objected to the other officer being present but the officer's stand was that it was his office and he could do what he wanted.

It was quite apparent to me that this constant U Turns and checking my Emails is nothing more than a fishing expedition. Not having anything concrete, they are going over the same ground repeatedly hoping that they will find some contraditions in my statements; or looking into my private Emails hoping that they could find something new to charge me with. This sort of investigation is only done by police forces not intent on detecting crime but rather to eliminate government opponents. These are political police forces working for tyrants and despots, not independent ones.

And so was wasted the whole of a very good morning at Cantonment Police Station. I have been here now for 25 days, since my arrival on May 26, 2008, when I should have gone back to California on June 3, 2008, 16 days longer and still in Singapore. My law practice is already in serious jeopardy and so is my other financial situation. But I remain adamant in standing my ground. Mahatma Gandhi had said, "you may imprison my body, break my bones, even kill me, but you cannot take my spirit and my resolve. That will remain with me till the end". Mahatma Gandhi was right.

In the meantime, I am grateful for the massive congratulatory messages sent to me asking me to remain strong during this difficult time. I am also been receiving offers of help from people both in Singapore and worldwide to whom I remain eternally grateful.

It seems the longer I remain in Singapore, the greater the worldwide interest in my case. It truly does appear to me, that no matter what the Singapore government may or may not think of the right to free speech and expression; the people of the free world do really take it very seriously. And if Singapore is at all concerned about its standing among the free countries in the world then it too should take it seriously.

So I am clearly not alone in this. Good people not only in Singapore but worldwide stand with me on this important question of free speech and expression. And this is reassuring. Very reassuring.

Gopalan Nair

Monday, June 16, 2008

Singapore. Another day in court.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I attended court 26 Subordinate Court at 9 am today as required by court order.

Mr. Chia Ti Lik, my lawyer appeared together with other supporters including my bailor Mr. Jeffrey George, Mr. Gandhi Ambalam, SDP Chairman. I am very grateful for the support shown to me by these supporters without whose help, life would have been infinitely more difficult in the already difficult circumstances.

I am also grateful to the representatives of the US Embassy who have continued to maintain their presence in court. I understand the US State Department is being briefed daily on my situation.

I am an American blogger who had intended to remain in Singapore only from May 25th 2008 to no later than June 3, 2008. My being charged for criminal offenses for writing a blog criticizing a Singapore Judge on May 29, 2008 is forcing me to remain in Singapore much longer than I had expected. This is causing me untold misery by my inability to attend to my law practice in the US and other financial difficulties including my inability to attend to my house mortgage and other financial affairs. Regardless of what I have to undergo, I refuse to surrender to this punishment by the Singapore authorities. What I had said in my blog is what I had witnessed during the 3 days of the hearing before the High Court Singapore in the case of Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan from May 26 2008 to May 28, 2008. I strongly believe it is the right of every free man to speak freely without fear or favor, without which he no longer is a man but a coward. This right is a right enshrined in the Constitution of Singapore as well as constitutions throughout the world as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Money can be had today or tomorrow but once a man loses his freedom, he loses everything. This has always been my belief which I will cherish till the end.

In court today, the prosecution took another U turn. Call it flip flopping if you like. You will recall from my last post the tortuous course these proceedings are taking. During my time in custody in solitary confinement from May 31, 2008 to June 05, 2008 (6 days) the following occurred. First they charged me with sending an Email to Judge Belinda Ang, alleging that I insulted her. Second they charged me with sending an Email to Judge Lai Sui Chu more than 2 years ago alleging the same. Third they withdrew all charges and charged me under the Sedition Act of Singapore for what I had written on my blog of May 29, 2008. Fourth, they withdrew the Sedition charge and wanted to proceed on the earlier Email charges.

Today in court there was a further U Turn. Now they are no longer proceeding with the Email charge to Judge Belinda Ang or the Sedition charge and have instead charged me with having insulted Judge Belinda Ang on May 29, 2008 by reason of what I had written on my blog as well as the 2 year old matter with Judge Lai. I cannot remember whether I did or did not send the 2 year old Email.

The Judge Ang charge is that I had offered an insult to Judge Belinda Ang, a civil servant, on May 29, 2008 by what I had written on my blog of the same date. As to how I could have possibly insulted this Judge by writing something on my blog is no doubt mind boggling. I had not invited the Judge to read my blog and neither did I go to her court and insult her personally. I had merely written a blog post and nothing more.

I am not surprised why the Singapore authorities have decided not to proceed with the charge that I had sent an Email to Judge Ang. I had all along claimed that the police had seized my note book which contained my Email password. I had all along maintained that if anyone had sent any Emails to this Judge, it wasn't me. It appears that the police have finally accepted my claim that I had not sent any Email to this judge or anyone else on May 29, 2008.

During the time I was in custody, the police had shown me Emails with my Email address which had purportedly been sent to Judge Belinda Ang, the Attorney General of Singapore and one other person in authority whom I cannot recall. This was after my notebook containing my Email passwords were seized by the police. I had all along denied ever sending any of these Emails. The question therefore arises as to who sent them!

So the latest position as regards the charges now is firstly, an accusation that I had insulted Judge Belinda Ang on May 29, 2008 by reason of the contents of my blog post of the same date and the accusation that I had insulted Judge Lai in an Email to Judge Lai more than 2 years ago in March 2006, keeping in mind that I had travelled to Singapore more than once during the last 2 years without incident. If indeed I had sent any Email to Judge Lai, which I deny; why Judge Lai should now be suddenly offended by an Email which may or may not have been sent to her more than 2 years ago from California, is puzzling.

Not satisfied by keeping me in solitary confinement for 6 days from the time of my arrest, the court had today ordered that I am to report everyday at 9 am at the Cantonment Police Station for interrogation until further notice. The police have claimed that despite my incarceration for 6 days in a police station cell since my arrest in solitary confinement where I was interrogated at least twice each day, they claim that they still have not completed their investigation and therefore the need to interrogate me each day, and every day, until such time they finally decide that they have had enough. One would have thought that I had killed 20 people in cold blood! For Heavens sake, I only wrote a blog.

I do not know the purpose of this all but perhaps they had miscalculated my reaction. Perhaps they thought that I would buckle under at the first opportunity and grovel as other Singaporeans are expected to do. Well, I am not guilty. I wrote a blog. I wrote what I saw. I was exercising free speech. Free speech is essential for good governance. If the Singaporean authorities are unwilling to accept this, it is time they did.

After all they claim Singapore to be a first world country. With international banking trade and commerce. All of this requires free speech. The sooner they realize this the better.

I have to get some sleep now so as to report to Cantonment Police Station to be interrogated in the morning.

Good night.

Gopalan Nair

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Singapore. My Arrest

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After I had posted the blogpost of May 29, 2008, at about 9 pm, May 31, 2008, I was arrested by at least 5 plain clothes policemen including at least 2 women. I had just promised Mr. Gandhi Ambalam, Chairman of the Singapore Democrat Party and Mr. Jeffrey George, committee member of the same that I will join them for a drink at a nearby coffee shop. I was appropriately dressed in shorts, T-shirt and slippers, not to offend the Singapore heat and humidity. I entered the elevator on the 8th floor of the hotel and descended to the 1st. When the door opened the aforementioned police were there blocking my way. Among them was Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mr. Razak Jakaria, from the Cantonment Police Station, the police station in charge of my arrest.

At the ground floor when the elevator opened with me inside, the said police blocked my way. They showed their police identification. Forcibly restrained me inside the elevator. Handcuffed me while they took me back to the 8th floor into room 708.

Inside my hotel room, while I was in handcuffs, ASP Jakaria produced a warrant for my arrest. He stated that I was arrested under some section of the Singapore statutes. He refused to state what I was being arrested for. This procedure seems highly improper. Telling a citizen that he was being arrested under Section 200 or 2000 of the Penal Code without telling him what that meant is totally ridiculous! Did they expect every citizen to have studied Singapore law and the provisions of the Penal Code! Yet that is exactly what is done in a case where the accused is merely told of a particular section of the Penal Code! Despite my asking what I was being arrested for, I was not told what it was. Jakaria's answer was that he would tell me later. This was no help at all!

I was driven to Cantonment Police Station in a police car. ASP Jakaria was seated next to driver's seat. Next to me was a Chinese policeman. I was in handcuffs.

At the police station, there were usual procedures of taking account of my belongings and storing them. I was ordered to change into prison clothes and taken in handcuffs to a cell. From that moment I was kept in solitary confinement alone in a cell. The light was kept on 24 hours. There was no bed or even a mattress on the floor. I had to sleep on a hard floor. Although it can become cold there was no blanket. Unable to withstand the cold, I began shivering uncontrollably. I asked for a blanket from a passing guard. He provided it. This was on the 3rd or the 4th day of my confinement. Truly, it was not a blanket at all. It was a thin plastic sheet, which was not even long enough even to cover your feet. It did not keep you warm. But anything was better than shivering.

As the floor was solid hard, I could not sleep. Each time I had to toss and turn after a few minutes because it hurt. The light being on 24 hours, you did know it was day or night. Being kept alone in solitary confinement did not help either.

I was kept in this manner from May 31 2008. Since it was a weekend, I had to be kept till Monday morning to be brought to court.

I was kept in this manner till June 5th 2008. Between this period I was taken for interrogation many times on different days before ASP Jakaria. The interrogation was held in interview rooms. Each time I was walked in handcuffs from my cell to the interview room.

I was told that I was being charged for various offenses during this period at various different times. It was as if the police were at a loss what to do. First it was a charge that I had sent an insulting Email to Judge Belinda Ang. Later I was accused of insulting Judge Belinda Ang through my blog post. Later I was told that the earlier charges were dropped and I was charged under the Sedition Act of Singapore because of my blog. Later an additional charge that I had sent an Email to Judge Lai Sui Chue in March of 2006 more than 2 years ago.

As far as the accusation that I had sent an Email to Judge Belinda Ang; this is entirely untrue. I never sent any Emails to Ang or anyone else. All I did was to post my blog post. There were no Emails at all. The police had seized my documents and belongings from my hotel room. Among the items seized was an old blue tattered notebook. This is not a computer, which has been wrongly described as one in the papers. It was a tattered old notebook. In it there was my password for my Email and other personal numbers.

As far as the Email to Judge Lai Sui Chu, this was more than 2 years ago. I cannot remember if I sent that Email. Even if I did, I was not in Singapore at the time. I was physically in Fremont, Northern California. If I sent the Email, it was from Fremont Northern California. From 2006 March to present I had traveled to Singapore on at least one occasion on November 2006 without incident. It is odd that they want to proceed on a matter that I did or did not do more than 2 years ago! If indeed anyone had been insulted, it was more than 2 years ago, for Heavens Sake! Even if there was insult, which is denied, surely anyone would have got over the insult by now, unless of course they are afflicted with incurably delicate nerves!

On Monday June 2nd, 2008, I was brought to court in handcuffs in a police car. I have not been officially charged with anything in court. The prosecution requested and was allowed to keep me in custody for a further one week. I was taken back to solitary confinement in Cantonment Police Station.

I was suddenly told without prior warning that I was going to be released from custody prematurely on June 5th 2008 on bail while the police continued with their investigations. Bail was fixed at fixed at $5000.00 for the accusation that I had sent an Email to Judge Belinda Ang. As there was another charge being tendered for the accusation that I sent Judge Lai an Email more than 2 years ago, I was ordered to appear before Court 26 on Monday June 09, 2008, another court, in the Court complex for the matter to be looked into.

On June 09, 2008 this other charge, being the over 2 years old accusation, was looked into. I was again given bail of $5,000.00.

For both cases I have been bailed out. I am presently out on bail.

The police had impounded my passport and I cannot travel. I am forced to remain in Singapore during these proceedings. I had originally intended to return to the US no later than June 3 2008, having arrived in Singapore on early morning May 26, 2008. Forcing me to remain in Singapore and being unable to return to the US is by itself causing me untold harm. My law practice in the US is suffering and various other matters such as my house mortgage cannot be attended to. This alone is causing extreme hardship to me.

Furthermore I am facing severe financial hardship in having to remain in Singapore much longer than expected.

The American Embassy, Singapore has been monitoring my case. I am grateful to Miss Julie Kavanagh, Consul and recently Mr. Learned Dees, Vice Consul together with another officer from the Embassy who have been taking special interest in my case. They have always been present at all my court hearings making it known to the Singapore court that they are watching.

This whole matter boils down to one question. A right to free speech and expression. It appears to me as well as anyone watching this case that what the Singapore authorities are trying to say is this. Do not criticize the Singapore judiciary no matter what. Even if the Singapore judiciary were to say, two and two is ten, the Moon is made of cheese and Christmas Day does not fall on December 25th, we have to keep our mouths shut and go about our business as if nothing happened! What the Singapore authorities are trying to say, if I correctly understand it, is that human beings are disallowed from criticizing the judiciary, period! They are above criticism. They are beyond question. They are invincible. Infallible. They are the best, and need no criticism from mortal human beings! That they are Gods.

I, as a human being cannot understand this to be correct, surely. I was born a Singaporean. I lived my life here in Singapore. I am a former Singapore politician. The welfare of Singapore and Singaporeans should be more my concern than that of Central West Africa! Surely. Criticism is necessary for any organization to improve, to get better. Without criticism, there is stagnation. And with stagnation there is no hope. This has always been the case. What I had done and said was for the welfare of Singapore, a country that I care for and a country in which I have a stake, even if I am now an American.

Forcing me to remain in Singapore for a long period is no doubt causing me great hardship. Of course I also worry as to what is in store for me at the end of the court hearing.

But one thing is certain. Regardless of what I have to suffer, I will not admit to anything I did not do. I have a right to free speech and expression and I had exercised that right as a free man; as a human being. If have to pay a price for what I had said in my blog, so be it.

The Singapore government would be better off if they faced reality. In this day and age, and in a country such as Singapore with an educated population, demanding that citizens keep their mouths shut and comply as obedient sheep is not only untenable, it is counter productive. I have said this many times before, and it has to be said again. You cannot expect to become a first world country by forcing people to remain silent when criticism is warranted. This refusal of Singapore to face the reality of the times is the very reason why Singaporeans flee their country in droves.

Being forced to remain in Singapore against my will, I naturally have to live among Singaporeans. What I have found so far is by and large; educated Singaporeans are recent immigrants from somewhere else. From India, from Europe and from elsewhere. I am not seeing any local educated Singaporeans. I have no doubt that they have left the country. They have emigrated to other countries in the world, and left Singapore for good.

Perhaps, like me, they too think that the administration should be subject to criticism. And that includes the judiciary. Judges are not Gods after all.

Gopalan Nair