Friday, January 24, 2014

PAP's Abuse of Power

In Singapore, it is a well known practice that the ruling party PAP has always abused its powers to “fix” opposition parties and members. From 1963’s Operation Cold Store whereby PAP has taken the opportunity to use the Internal Security Act (which it has opposed when it was the opposition earlier on) to detain its opponents without trial to bankrupting its political opponents or putting up laws and rules that could just “fine” its opponents in order to keep them away from elections. Such abuses may not be relevant anymore in present context but such habitual style has lived on in a more subtle way but nevertheless, plain abuses of power.

Some current opposition members have made known to public that when they try to open a bank account in Singapore, be it private or company bank account, their applications would always be delayed. (e.g. Glenda Han from Workers Party). The reason is just because we are opposition members who have contested in General Elections before. I have once emailed Monetary Authority of Singapore with regards to this issue and they just gave a vague response without stating exactly WHY I have been “blacklisted”.

As I understand, the international practice is for Central Banks to check on individuals all over the world who are deemed as “money laundering risk”. These include individuals who are criminals or members of mafias and gangs all over the world, suspected terrorists, “IMPORTANT” politicians who HAVE POWER and thus, a greater potential risk of being CORRUPT etc. The most important question is, how could anyone accept bribes when he doesn’t have any “official powers” in government institutions?

I for one, would like to know whether MAS has put ALL politicians, especially PAP MPs and Ministers into this monitoring list or not? Or MAS is only interested in putting all opposition members under their “blacklist”? I would agree that opposition members who are elected as MPs who are office bearers in their respective Town Councils should be included in such monitoring list but this should apply to all other PAP MPs and Ministers as well. 

What I could not understand is that why other unelected opposition members who do not hold any official position and thus, no power and means to corrupt, are included in this list? Does MAS put all other former PAP MPs, ex-ministers or past unsuccessful candidates in the list as well? I believe not.

The worse part is that even for a person like me, who have stepped down from NSP Secretary General post, resigned from the party, are treated like a criminal as well! Do I really have that power or potentials to take bribes when I am not in any position of power? Worse of all, I believe that this “blacklist” has been distributed globally!

I have recently tried to open a corporate banking account in Hong Kong but was delayed and they asked me whether I am a “political figure” in Singapore! I was a bit surprised because I am now no longer a member of any political party! This is quite annoying and it is a prime example of PAP government abusing its power to monitor and harass its past and present opponents. There is ABSOLUTELY no ground whatsoever for PAP government to put a law abiding citizen under such a blacklist which is meant for anti-money laundering purposes, definitely not just because he or she has contested against PAP in General Elections before! We are neither a national security threat nor criminals, least politicians or ministers who have the potential power to corrupt and accept bribes. This is a blatant breach of privacy.  

This is not the only harassment I face due to PAP’s abuses of power. I have been subjected to “routine check” by the immigration at Changi Airport when I returned to Singapore recently. I was not allowed to pass through the immigration and was put in a “locked and controlled” waiting room for almost half an hour while the officers just took my passport away without telling me exactly what is wrong.

While waiting in that room with some Vietnamese and PRC women who were refused entry, I have tried to ask the officer what have I done wrong that they need to “hold” me up? In fact, I know this is the kind of harassment they have applied to some other social-political activists like Gilbert Goh before. I have no good answer other than some “routine check” excuses.

Well it is kind of ironic, really. While activists like Gilbert Goh have been very active in organizing all sorts of protests and activities in Singapore, I have not really been that active at all. It is ironic that when I was in NSP or WP, I have organized and participated in even more political activities, they have never treated me like a criminal before, apart from that annoying bank accounts monitoring. It is really puzzling that I am now given such “honoured VIP” treatment when in fact I have resigned from active partisan political engagement! This is definitely an ABUSE of power by PAP to harass political commentators like me who just don’t sing their good tunes!

Well, I want to tell PAP the same thing I told that immigration officer politely before I left the custom: what you are doing to me will not stop me from kicking PAP’s arse. And please, for goodness sake, next time if you want to give me such VIP treatment, at the very least, you should serve me a good cup of coffee lah!

Initially, I hesitated to write this article because it might just “enhance” the fear factor among activists as well as potential opposition candidate/politician wannabes. But on second thought, it is only right to forewarn them about the REALITY of choosing this path. It can be WORSE than joining a secret society or mafia for all you know because we have PAP abusing its ruling power to monitor and “fix” its opponents.

Opposition politics is not for the weak hearts and one of the important reasons that I chose to walk this path is to fight against all the social and political injustice PAP has done to the society as a whole. If I were to keep quiet on this matter, I would only be condoning their abuse of power.

ISA is meant for national security purposes, not for PAP to fix its opponents. Similarly, anti-money laundry system is meant to monitor terrorists, criminals and those in power who are vulnerable to corruptions and briberies, not meant for PAP to monitor or harass its opponents. So is the so call “routine checks” at the custom which is meant to stop unwelcome foreigners or arrest criminals, not to harass activists and opponents.

If I do not voice out such blatant abuse and breach of privacy, PAP’s will get away with its abuse of power. I urge social-political activists and opposition members alike, to stand firmly against such blatant abuse of power by PAP. We should reject the PAP’s model of police state and keep it under checks for whatever it does or answer to its abuses of power in any form.

Goh Meng Seng


The said...

/// I have recently tried to open a corporate banking account in Hong Kong but was delayed and they asked me whether I am a “political figure” in Singapore! I was a bit surprised because I am now no longer a member of any political party! ///

I think you are flattering yourself and scared of shadows.

Banks are now under strict instruction and scrutiny to do their utmost of AML/KYC. One of the red flag is PEP - politically exposed person. So, they have to ask. Not that you are anything important politically.

Admin said...

Well, where do they get their list from? It is totally illogical for banks to monitor each and every "politically exposed" individuals all over the world... whatever "politically exposed" means. Are you saying all other PAP MPs, ministers and EX-MPs and former ministers are also being monitored?

This anti-money laundering measures was basically enhanced to deal with terrorism, in the fight against international terrorism. Of course, it is also implemented to counter political corruptions.

The list must come from somewhere. It is a collaboration between central banks.

Well, I do not like flattery and definitely not self-inflation. Unless MAS come clean on its policy, be transparent on such arrangement, of course, most importantly, such policy must be implemented fairly, applied to all ruling and opposition party members alike, else, we will not take such political discrimination lightly.

Goh Meng Seng

The said...

If that bank in Hong Kong has a branch in Singapore (or a Hong Kong branch of Singapore's banks), it would be easy to know that a certain GMS was a politician. All banks subscribe to lists of PEPs and terrorists or potential terrorists for their AML/KYC work.

AML/KYC is more than countering the financing of terrorism. As the name implies, it is Knowing Your Customers - and this where PEP comes in. In many countries, politicians and their cronies are corrupt with loads of black monies.

Yes, all politicians of certain seniority, as well as civil servants of certain rank are classified as PEPs and are investigated, not just monitored.

Admin said...

The bank doesn't have any presence in Singapore at all. As I have said, I have checked and the list comes from HKMA and it is part of the bilateral or multilateral arrangement set between the various central banks.

The so called "intelligence" is shared and provided by the respective central banks.

Goh Meng Seng

Admin said...

For those “financial experts” here, I have stated clearly that I have known of such practice but wait, who provided the list of “politicians”? I believe it is an exchange of “blacklists” among central banks. As I have said, this arrangement is a measure to counter money laundering of dirty money as in bribes.

Now the following questions, since you are in the financial sectors:

1) Are PAP ministers and MPs included in this list?

2) Is it an “international practice” to include “politicians” who have never been elected or in position of power that would allow them to be subjected to potential corruptions or bribery?

3) Is it an “international practice” to include "politicians” who are no longer engaged in partisan politics? If so, are all former PAP ministers and MPs included in this list as well?

For the record, I am now free from membership of any political parties and neither do I run any NGOs or political organizations in any capacity. Thus, on what basis do they put me in the list?

Goh Meng Seng