- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Singapore’s constitution and laws are different from the U.S. (“The Singapore 18,” Op-Ed, Friday). They have ensured law and order, stability and prosperity for Singapore. We do not seek to impose our laws on others, nor do human rights groups have the right to impose their values on Singapore.

The writer, Timothy Cooper, says that 18 Singaporeans have been unconstitutionally indicted for taking part in a peaceful assembly. They were charged with taking part in an assembly without a permit as required under Singapore law. There is nothing unconstitutional about this long-standing law, or the charges against the 18.

Mr. Cooper refers to a report by a subgroup of the International Bar Association (IBA). In 2007, the IBA held its annual conference in Singapore, despite being lobbied by Chee Soon Juan to boycott Singapore.

In his opening speech, the president of the IBA, Fernando Pombo, said the IBA had done so because of Singapore’s “outstanding legal profession” and “an outstanding judiciary.”

Mr. Pombo is not alone. The latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report rated Singapore 19th out of 131 countries on independence of the judiciary from political influences, ahead of Japan, France, Luxembourg and the U.S.

Mr. Cooper also says that Mr. Chee has been imprisoned seven times.

On five occasions the courts had imposed fines on Mr. Chee for various miscellaneous offenses, but he deliberately chose not to pay the fines and to go to jail instead. Twice he was committed for contempt of court for alleging judicial bias.

As for the defamation suits against Mr. Chee, he had accused the prime minister and ministers of lying and financial malfeasance involving billions of dollars. He has also freely made claims of corruption, nepotism and dishonesty, without any basis. They had to sue to clear their names or have the false allegations believed and their integrity impugned.

We believe that it is important to keep the public discourse honest, and that when individuals, especially public figures, have been defamed, the truth can be established in court, one way or the other.

CHAN HENG CHEE

Ambassador

Republic of Singapore

Washington


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