Chee replies to PAP supporters: Is the life of a Singaporean that cheap compared to a foreigner’s?

November 25, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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25 Nov 05

Below is the letter Dr Chee Soon Juan sent to Today and Straits Times in reply to letters published in the newspapers’ forum pages on 24 Nov 05.

I am not surprised that the Government-controlled media has again portrayed me as a “traitor” out to “undermine” Singapore. This is exactly the tactic the press is adopting with the flurry of letters published. (24 Nov 2005)

It merely confirms my suspicion that the Government cannot answer the questions and arguments that I and other Singaporeans have raised about the execution of small-time drug couriers. As a result, it resorts to labeling me as a traitor in the belief that if you smear the messenger, you don’t have to address the message. It’s an age-old tactic.

Singapore is reported to be the biggest business partner of Burma with US$1.5 billion worth of investments. Former US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gelbard stated that “since 1998 over half of [the investments from] Singapore have been tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han.”

There are reports that Lo Hsing Han now operates a deepwater port in Rangoon and a highway from the center of Burma’s poppy–growing region to the China border, facilities well-suited for exporting drugs.

Remember, the drugs that flow from Burma are ones that our youth consume. If the PAP is really concerned about the scourge of drug abuse, why did it do business with a notorious drug lord and, hypocritically, take the moral high ground by executing drug couriers many of whom are Singaporeans.

Let me ask the questions that I have been asking since 1997: Will the Government open its books so that we can verify if our GIC funds are still invested in projects linked with Lo Hsing Han? What steps has the Government taken to pressure the Burmese regime to crackdown on drug kingpins like Lo? Why does our Government continue to trade with the Burmese junta when it has been shown that the military has close ties with narco-producers like Lo?

In addition, Singapore has been fingered in the laundering of Burma’s drug money. Bruce Hawke, an expert on narco-trafficking in Burma, wrote: “The entry [of drug money] to the legitimate global banking system is not Burma but Singapore.” Is this true?

I have been raising these questions since 1997 but each time the local media assiduously blacks them out. Other arguments against the mandatory death penalty for drug peddlers raised by people like Dr Anthony Yeo, Mr J B Jeyaretnam, Mr M Ravi, Mr Alex Au, Mr Sinapan Samydorai, and Brother Michael Broughton have similarly been censored.

The same arguments were raised when a Singaporean, Mr Shanmugam s/o Murugesu, was executed in May this year. I brought up the Singapore-Burma affair then when we were fighting to save Mr Shanmugam as I am doing now for Mr Nguyen Van Tuong.

The only reason why this issue has gained more prominence now is because the Australian media, which unlike its Singapore counterpart are not controlled by the state, have seen it necessary to highlight it.

Criticising our government for killing small-time drug peddlers while doing business with drug lords is necessary. Whether it is a Singaporean or an Australian who is going to dangle at the end of the rope is immaterial. A life is a life and if we are going to take it, let us be absolutely clear of the excruciating hypocrisy that currently exists.

Ms Siow Jia Rui argues that Singapore’s laws must be allowed to “run their course” and that “no other country has a right to interfere.” If that is the case then why was the charge for Ms Julia Bohl reduced after the German ambassador and government had mounted a diplomatic campaign on her behalf, meeting several senior Singaporean ministers in the process. Within months several of the charges were dropped and the amount of drugs she was accused of carrying was reduced from 687g to 281g. She escaped the gallows and served about three years for her crime. Is this not outside interference in Singapore’s justice system?

Ms Siow continues that laws in Singapore are “applied fairly across the board to Singaporeans and foreigners alike.” The life of Julia Bohl, a German, was spared because of pressure from the German Government. What about the life of Mr Shanmugam, a Singaporean who served in the army and did Singapore proud by winning medals in ski competitions? Ms Bohl served three years in prison but Mr Shanmugam was hanged. Is a Singaporean’s life so cheap compared to a foreigner’s?

I have no doubt that when Singaporeans come to hear both sides of the debate, a debate that the media is determined to quash, they will reject the hypocrisy and discrimination of the PAP Government.

CHEE SOON JUAN

Secretary-General

Singapore Democratic Party