Support M. Ravi in his time of need

October 30, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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The Singapore Democrats express our disappointment at the one-year suspension of lawyer Mr M Ravi.

Mr Ravi has been a faithful servant of the democratic movement in Singapore and a dear friend of the SDP. He has also steadfastly championed against the mandatory death sentence in this country.

The fact that he is the only lawyer in Singapore willing to take on cases with political overtones, and on a pro-bono basis to boot, is testament to his courage and dedication to ensuring justice being served. In addition, he has applied himself with distinction to bringing international attention to the lack of the rule of law and the violation of human rights in the city-state.

In this time of need, when he has been punished by the Law Society and when his mental health has been affected, Singaporeans need to rally around Mr Ravi and give him the support and prayer that he needs.

The media, especially the Straits Times, should in the meantime desist in its shameless exploitation of the lawyer’s situation by repeatedly publishing stories about his late mother.

The SDP is confident that Mr Ravi will return stronger and even more determined to fight the cause of justice and human rights in Singapore. We look forward to continuing our work with him in this endeavour.

Finally, the last thing Mr Ravi should do is to heed the advice of the Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong who was reported to have told the lawyer during the hearing on 29 October 2006: “We hope that you may become the lawyer that we want you to become.”

In the 1997 General Elections, PAP ministers were seen entering polling stations illegally. When the SDP lodged police complaints, then Attorney-General Chan Sek Keong said that because the ministers were found inside the polling stations and not loitering outside of the stations, they were not in breach of the Parliamentary Elections Act. (see AG’s explanation at http://www.singapore-window.org/ag0721.htm).

Singapore court suspends human rights lawyer
AFP
27 Oct 06

A Singapore court Friday suspended a human rights lawyer from practising for one year as a result of a 2003 incident in which he acted rudely before a district judge, court officials said.

A tribunal known as the Court of Three Judges suspended M. Ravi, who has defended death-row convicts and pro-democracy activists, and ordered him to bear the legal costs.

The city-state’s Law Society referred Ravi to the court — the legal profession’s top disciplinary authority — for an incident in 2003, in which he displayed discourtesy to District Judge Wong Choon Ning.

Media reports said Ravi had turned his back on the judge, remained seated while being addressed and spoke loudly while other cases were being heard.

Ravi, who has acted as a lawyer for pro-democracy activist Chee Soon Juan and other political dissidents, could not immediately be reached for comment.

At a hearing on Wednesday in which Ravi was representing another political activist charged with speaking in public without a permit, the lawyer argued loudly with the judge and frequently interrupted him.

At one point, he asked the judge to admonish a court employee whom Ravi claimed had acted impolitely to his client, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Ravi has also represented death-row convicts and is active in a campaign to abolish capital punishment in Singapore.

Singapore carries out the death penalty by hanging, saying it is an effective crime deterrent, despite criticism from human rights groups.

Among Ravi’s clients were convicted Australian drug mule Nguyen Tuong Van, who was hanged at Changi Prison last December, and former Singaporean soldier and jet ski champion Shanmugam Murugesu, who was hanged last year, also on drug charges.