by Mathew Carr
Sometimes countries just have to grow up, embrace the real world — every now and then it’s best just to keep quiet and listen.
The International Bar Association searched the globe for the best human rights lawyer of 2023.
It has a membership of more than 80,000 individual lawyers and more than 190 bar associations and law societies — spanning over 170 countries.
It last year chose Ravi Madasamy, a lawyer in Singapore fighting (among other things) disproportionate death sentences for drug offences. Singapore officials know these sentences are stupid, but they like to think of themselves as hard men (apparently), so they persist with the stupid laws, which effectively breach human rights. They are simply cowardly bullies.
The statement from the Ministry of Law issued a few days ago against Madasamy demonstrates a government so devoid of ambition, it chooses to spend its limited resources to continue its shameful campaign of harassment against a loyal Singaporean fighting for the common man and woman.
When Madasamy criticised judges, he was giving them feedback …knowing Madasamy a little, he was probably giving that feedback out of love — I’m certainly not saying he’s perfect. He genuinely wants the Singapore judiciary to do better.
Instead of listening to him, a few days after Madasamy received his award (he could not do so in person in Paris because he probably would have been stopped at the Singapore airport as he tried to fly out) …they locked him up in jail in what I think is mainly petulant retaliation (but of course they had their reasons).
How dare you stand up to us, is what Singapore seems to be thinking, instead of being thoughtful.
This is highly disappointing for me.
Outgoing Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is not a cowardly man, I think …or at least I thought this when I met him in Victoria Park, London, a few years ago.
Here he is calling out the current US administration for failing to reverse US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies … and for potentially spoiling for an outrageous new war in the Pacific Ocean.
He uses an interesting word:
In continuing in 2024 to harass Mr Madasamy after years of doing just that, the Singapore public service seems to have forgotten the importance of that “level headed” state of mind — equanimity, (indeed much of the world seems to have done so).
Accepting verbal or written criticism, while difficult, is not such a big deal, really, is it (especially in the context of brutal warmongering)?
The forgetfulness of equanimity also seems to almost justify another example of cowardice linked to Madasamy’s award last year:
Lexis Nexis, the giant legal publisher that sponsors the IBA, didn’t put its branding on Madasamy’s IBA trophy, perhaps because it feared the same infantile retaliation from the Singapore government (it has a sizeable business in the city state). [I tried hard to get a coherent comment from Lexis Nexis on this, yet I failed on that front.]
So the Jan. 19 press release below seems to underpin that company’s decision to be cowardly because who needs petulant retribution if it impacts actual company profits, right? That seems to be Lexis Nexis’s stance (but as I say I could not get executives to engage properly on its motives.)
Singapore needs to decide whether it really deserves its reputation for brave competence.
It will be a shame if one of Mr Lee’s legacies is this kind of gutless government culture.
His Dad Lee Kwan Yew, the earth-changing leader, statesman and lawyer who died in 2015, would not be proud if that turns out to be true.
This write-up was first published on carrzee.org
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