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The Judge gave him a chance to apologise before the decision was made whether to convict him of or not. He refused.
The Judge gave him another chance to apologise before sentence was passed. Again he refused.
On both occasions he said that his “personal convictions” did not allow him to apologise and that he stood by his actions.
As a result Mr Shafi’ie will spend seven days in imprison starting tomorrow. He has been convicted of contempt of court together with Mr John Tan and Mr Isrizal. The three men were wearing t-shirts with the picture of a kangaroo in a judge’s gown on them during the defamation hearing between Lee Kuan Yew and the Singapore Democrats.
Mr Shafi’ie, 20, has just completed his basic military training. Quiet and unassuming, this lad has moral fibre that few in Singapore can match. The temptation to just apologise and get out of trouble was strong, but he did not yield.
Understandably, his mother is worried sick. What mother wants her child to go to prison?
But instead of feeling down, Mum Shafi’ie should hold her head high because of what her son believes in and, more important, what he is willing to do to stand up for those beliefs. Shafi’ie is being charged together with 15 other activists for protesting outside Parliament House this year.
We highlight this young man’s resolve because many youths nowadays also end up in prison but for other reasons. Theft, drugs, fighting, drunk-driving you name it and many young people in prison have done it.
But Shafi’ie is different. He believes in democracy, and he is willing to sacrifice his liberty for the greater cause. How many people in Singapore are willing to do that?
But in this system, we punish patriotic youths the same way we punish criminally-minded ones. And we wonder why Singaporeans are leaving Singapore in droves.
Tomorrow Messrs Shafi’ie and Isrizal will report to the Sheriff at the Supreme Court at 10 am to begin their sentences. Mr John Tan will commence his term a few days later after he has taken care of some personal arrangements.
The Singapore Democrats salute all three gentlemen. We shall overcome.