The paradox of the Singapore courts

April 25, 2017

Do I agree with Shanmugum’s latest clarification on how sentences meted out by the Singapore courts need to take cognizance of public opinion so that justice is not merely done…but more importantly it is SEEN to be done.

Absolutely. Infact I agree with the law ministar to such an extent where if you want the reasons why I agree with him….kindly just read what he has to say concerning this subject. I really have nothing further to add.

Infact the degree of my agreement is so complete and total I have even abandoned all plans and aspirations to start a criminal career in Singapore as church leader or director of a Football club.

But…yes there is a BUT I am afraid…and a very big BUT at that.

As how is the courts supposed to go about gauging public opinion when in the last 6 years, the government has relentlessly clamped down on all commentaries concerning court proceedings – this it continues to do by holding the proverbial sword of Domacles over anyone or institution that comments on, on going court proceedings by leveraging on the law of contempt of court. To exacerbate matters the enforcement of this legal structure has been administered in such a arbitrary manner approaching strictly liability that even the most casual opinions concerning on going court proceedings can be interpreted as tantamount to scandalising the judiciary.

As a consequence hardly anyone these days will venture a comment, opinion or even anything approaching a complete sentence on, on going court proceedings – given that the narrative is already bracketed in earnest.

This should prompt the perceptive reader to ask, HOW can one indulge in talk about capturing accurately public opinion when it doesn’t even exist in the first place and if that is the case HOW the hell is the courts supposedly to accurately scale their sentences in such a way where justice is not only done…but it is also seen to be done in the court of public opinion?

It cannot..there is a fundamental cognitive flaw in Shanmugums logic. As the instrument to gauge public opinion is well and truly shuttered.


‘When I first heard about the move to clamp down on all discourse about court proceedings. I was quite surprised. As doing that is akin to killing the proverbial canary in the mine. Because even if there exist strict laws to stop people from talking about the courts and even if there are attempts to bracket the narrative – it doesn’t mean no one talks about the subject any longer. Don’t be immature that is not how the real world works not even in Looney tunes. It just means when they talk it is probably in some place that you don’t even know about and can’t hear what the substance of the conversation is or even how big or small it is and that is all it means. Neither do you have the slightest idea where that conversation might be going….it is just a big black hole.

If this comes as a big wallop of a surprise to you….you should try growing up.

Time and again history has shown the narrative cannot be effectively bracketed. As even under the panoptical pineapple eye of soviet era surveillance the conversation continued thru the samizdat movement.

So the question is how can officialdom be part of that conversation? – it cannot….not in my opinion at least, because the traditional conversational pathways have all been short circuited.

So this idea of talking about gauging public opinion can only conducted contemporaneously, it cannot be conducted in real time and for anyone to try to do so is akin to having a conversation about snakes in Norway…the bloody thing doesn’t exist over there!

And if it doesn’t exist. Then how can one reasonably go about the business of intelligently gauging public sentiment?

Do you see the cognitive flaw in logic?’

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