From the way Today presented the facts, it looks like after the full weight of the letter of the law is brought down on Gopalan, he is recanting and repenting for the sake of escaping a heavy punishment. Shrewd as the government now cannot be too harsh. The government also now have the reason not to be too harsh, as being too tough in the sentencing might get bad press as after all, all they wanted to do is to make a strong point across.
The judiciary hounded Gopalan as he dared attack the judiciary openly. I can’t help but think of the bad press the Malaysian judiciary is receiving now because they bended to former PM Mahathir’s political whims and fancies when he ruled Malaysia. Is the judiciary falling into that image trap? With the new AG in town, I initially thought that his credentials might bring a positive change. What do you think?
Another judge, another charge
Gopalan Nair accusedof having insultedJustice Lai two years ago
Friday • June 13, 2008
Leong Wee Keat
ALREADY facing one charge of recently insulting a High Court judge, former Workers’ Party candidate Gopalan Nair has now been accused of having insulted another judge two years ago.
The 58-year-old lawyer, now an American citizen, allegedly insulted Justice Lai Siu Chiu in an email sent to her private secretary, on or around March 17, 2006.
According to the charge filed in the Subrodinate Court yesterday, Nair had accused Justice Lai of having “no shame”. He also accused other judges of “selling their souls (and) their conscience for money”. He charged: “Your Singapore judges including Lai are corrupt judges.”
This offence allegedly took place while Justice Lai was sitting in a judicial proceeding. The High Court judge had sentenced Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Chee Soon Juan to a one-day jail term and fined him for contempt of court, on the same day Nair had allegedly sent the email.
This new charge was filed under the Penal Code. The earlier charge, in which Nair is accused of insulting Justice Belinda Ang last month in the execution of her duty as a public servant, fell under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisances Act). Both carry a maximum punishment of a year’s jail and a fine of $5,000.
On May 25, the former Singaporean had returned to observe a three-day court hearing to assess damages in a defamation suit that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had won against the SDP and its leaders. It was alleged that Nair had sent an email containing comments from his brief on Justice Ang to the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General during his stay.
And yesterday, Nair apologised for the impact his words might have had — but stood by his blog’s contents.
“It was never my intention to malignor cause distress to anyone and if thewords that I have used have this effect, I withdraw them and apologise. But as far as the contents of my blog go, as to the events that occurred in the three days of court, it is an accurate observation which I have stated under my rights as a free man,” he said during a 25-minute press conference at a coffeeshop at Peck Seah Street following his court appearance.
Nair said the incident involving the 2006 email was “too long ago” and he “probably did not send” it to Justice Lai.
He also claimed he did not send any emails to Justice Ang or anyone else regarding last month’s incident.
While he migrated to the United States in 1991, Nair said he “is a Singapore patriot at heart”, and felt a “compelling need” for him “to tell the world” about what he had witnessed at last month’s trial.
Nair’s lawyer, Mr Chia Ti Lik, said his client intends to claim trial for both charges. Nair, who was released on $5,000 bail yesterday with his passport impounded, will next appear in court on Monday.
Law Minister K Shanmugam had earlier this month condemned attacks made on the Judiciary as “totally unacceptable”.
“To make sure that you protect the integrity of the Judiciary … you have to be very, very strict about anyone who attacks the judiciary in scurrilous ways, or calls into question its independence,” he added.