Friday, May 27, 2011

Rule of Law - Justice and Equality

All of us remember how "efficient" the police was when they reacted to the police report filed against James Gomez by the Elections Department over that "criminal intimidation" charges. This happened in 2006, right after the General Elections.

Even Opposition MP Mr. Low Thia Khiang was interviewed within days after James Gomez was prevented from leaving the country and brought back to Cantonment Police Headquarters for investigations.

Fast forward to 2011. New electoral rules were added by the ruling party, People's Action Party (PAP). Particularly, the cooling off period ruling was implemented, initially perceived by many to give PAP the advantage. However, what we have witnessed is a series of possible breach of these rules by PAP itself.

We have seen how grassroot leaders sending out SMS messages to its network of members to mobilize them to go out all force on cooling off day to talk to people on the ground, trying to canvass votes for PAP.

We have seen how PAP's own candidate breaching the rule and indirectly admitting to the act when she tries to put the blame on someone else.

We have residents from various constituencies complaining about PAP's foot soldiers and contractors distributing pamphlets, booklets, flyers and even PAP's party publication Petir during cooling off day. Some of these acts happened in the wee hours of cooling off day! PAP's response to reporters' enquiries were that Petir was printed before cooling off day! Here again, they have indirectly admitted that such acts were committed during cooling off day but the excuse given was that the publication distributed was printed before hand. It seems that even PAP members don't really know nor understand about the cooling off day's rule. But wait, isn't these rules written and implemented by PAP itself?

Some Singaporeans have reported police about the breaching of these rules by PAP. Notably, the police report filed on the breach of the rules by Tin Pei Ling's FB administrator (well, we don't even know if she has nominated an administrator or not) was done on 12 May 2011. The case was allocated to an Investigation Officer from the Commercial Crime Division (well,they don't have Political Crime Division). It has been almost two weeks but nothing has been heard of. Well, at the very least, there isn't any report on MP Tin being interviewed by any police officer.

I was a bit puzzled on the deterioration of the police's efficiency after these 5 years. Back in 2006, a speedy investigation was carried out right after GE. But now, after two weeks, there is still no news about any investigation being launched.

I could empathize with the police department which was tasked to investigate this case as well as other cases involving PAP's breach of electoral laws. But I believe, as civil servants, these policeman would carry out their duties without fear or favor.

It is obvious to many people, especially those who are active on Social Network on the internet, that a law has been breached. There are also public records of what Ms Tin has said which could well be submitted as evidence on such breach of law. The comments on her FB was deleted after 20 minutes but that doesn't change the fact that the law has been breached. In fact, strictly speaking, it could be viewed as a deliberate effort to destroy critical evidence. Luckily (or unluckily?), a screen shot of this evidence was recorded in public domain as well. I believe that the with all these evidences available on public domain, it should not be a very difficult case to investigate at all.

NSP has lodged a complaint to Elections Department on polling day with regards to two breaches of law by PAP. The Elections Department has brushed off the complaint by asking us to make police reports. At that point of time, I found it pretty absurd that the Elections Department didn't react to the breach of electoral laws which they were supposed to enforce. I would expect them to make the police report instead. I decided not to report police at that point of time because the issue might be painted into a case of petty politicking.

However, now that police reports have been made by the members of public, we should follow up with these cases to make sure that the Rule of Law applies. These cases will also become the first precedences of such breaches of the cooling-off day rule and it is important for us to see how such rules can be enforced.

If we want to build a Democratic Society based on Justice and Equality (National Pledge), we must make sure that the Rule of Law is applied across the board.

I have absolutely nothing against Ms Tin personally. Unfortunately, it is in the Nation's interests to make sure that the law (set by PAP itself) is being enforced fairly. Ms Tin just happened to be implicated in one of these cases.

I hope that the police could act on this case with the same efficiency that they have shown in 2006 against James Gomez. Whether the police will take action or the AG chambers will press charges, the authorities should at least give us a reasonable explanation on whatever actions they intend to take. Such actions will form the basis of precedent case for future enforcement of the Cooling Off Day rule.

Goh Meng Seng


Ajohor said...


To clarify are you requesting for the rule of the "letter of the law" or the rule of the "spirit of the law".


sgcynic said...

Whether spirit or letter, there should be transparency and consistency.

sgcynic said...

Whether spirit or letter, there should be transparency and consistency.

Jonathan said...

Hi Ajohor,

I do not study law, so I am not sure what's the distinction that you have made.

Yet, it is not up to the individuals to decide whether "letters of the law" or "spirit of the law" should be observed. There are clearly written laws that govern the acts of citizens. People should follow the letter of the law first. If there is a dispute of interpretations, then the judge will decide. For example, if a poor mother steals a loaf of bread to feed her dying child, then clearly, she has broken the law. The judge can make a reasoned judgment factoring in the circumstance facing the mother, but that does not change the fact that the law has been breached.

Thus, I think the distinction that you have set up is a false dichotomy.

Anonymous said...

Can NSP change the uniform colour of the trousers from brown to dark blue, dark grey or black.

It will make your all look like more professional, more dignified, mature and more easy to match the colour of the shirt.