Archive | July, 2012

Spinning the conspiracies in the law fraternity

31 Jul

If the govt has a list of people to fix, I wonder if lawyers take up more than half that list. At least going by the number of conspiracies circulating nowadays, M Ravi being ‘fixed‘ by Law Society and Prof Tey Tsun Hang being ‘fixed‘ because his academic writings were critical of the leegime.

Could the state drive M Ravi mad? Does writing critical literature give you some unwritten consent to hanky panky with your own student? However, debunking these conspiracies doesn’t mean there was no wrong committed.

Like prominent lawyer Subhas Anandan who criticised Law Society’s actions but doesn’t deny that part of it is M Ravi’s own doing:

CNA: The Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore (ACLS) has criticised the Law Society of Singapore, saying that it viewed “with some trepidation” the actions of a Law Society representative who, on Monday, submitted a medical letter to the High Court stating that lawyer M Ravi is unfit to practise……While acknowledging the ACLS’ disagreements in the past with Mr Ravi, the letter – dated Tuesday and signed by ACLS President Subhas Anandan – said the incident “left a very bitter taste in the mouths and has potentially brought the Bar into disrepute”.

When M Ravi said he planned to appoint criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan as his ‘practice mentor’. The latter rejected it and commented ‘If Ravi would come to me for advice, I would give him advice. But I won’t give him advice that he wants to hear.’ The joke is how M Ravi “planned to appoint” Subhas!! LOL!!

If you have read Subhas’ book titled “The Best I Could”, you would come across all sorts of interesting snippets of information. Lawyers, who are after all humans, have their own character flaws too. It never occur to me going against the state makes one pristine, pure and infallible. Similarly, wearing white and winning elections doesn’t make you an immortal!

Doesn’t it occur to anyone that one’s misfortune is often one’s own doing?

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Subhas writing on Francis Seow:

“The other time Law Society stood out, when lawyers walked with pride, was when Francis Seow was its president. It would subsequently be proven though that many of his actions were fuelled by deep-seated motives or what one would consider as personal desires. 

Whatever his motives may have been, the way he conducted himself as president and the speeches he made had lawyers walking with their heads held up high. We had the feeling we could not be trampled upon. We had a leader who would stand by us.

Little did we know that that same leader would some day pack up his things and slink away from Singapore leaving behind a lot of disillusioned people who believe in him. There were those who gave him money. He still owes me $25,000. I suppose I should say goodbye to it. Most of all, there were many who thought that he would open up a new chapter in Singapore politics. 

But he was a disappointment and a disaster. He didn’t have the moral courage to return to Singapore to face income tax charges. Even if he was convicted of those charges, it would only amounted to a fine but he was not prepared to take risk. In the final analysis, he was after all, nothing.

A man who spoke well-his eloquence was often very charming-but other than that he did not have what it took to be a leader. He was not prepared to through the test of fire which all politicians must face.”

 

When I was growing up, Francis Seow was the opposition hero together with JBJ and Lee Siew Choh. Francis, Lee and Mohd Kahlit nearly even won the 1988 Eunos GRC seat. Francis and Lee were offered the first ever NCMP seats but Francis had to skipped town. As you grow older, you become more cynical and question the images, arguments and clichés that others present to you.

Lee, even though of Basrisan Socialis, never left Singapore. He held on to his beliefs, served our country valiantly and spoke up for Singaporeans in parliament and also became our first NCMP.

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Lee Siew Choh

Francis Seow is still held up as the poster boy for PAP persecution of political enemies even though his character is of suspect. Maybe M Ravi and Prof Tey are on their way there too? Like Prof Tey’s cryptic statement: “I am known to speak up, amongst other things, on the Singapore legal system. I write in good faith, and with no ill intent.”

If writing articles that criticised our govt and judiciary would grant you immunity from extra-circular activities with sweet young things, tell  me earlier lah! I would started when I was 16 years old!

Viva la PAP bashing

28 Jul

What’s new, the PAP govt is farcked up…like we didn’t know that a decade or more ago. Minister Khaw say don’t worry boh tai jee then did a u-turn and now claim that an internal audit has found irregularities with the Brompton bikes tender.

If not for the CSI done by HWZ forummers, we wouldn’t have known that there were irregularities in the purchase of Brompton bikes. And the slimy folks at MND are trying to pull a fast one by saying that they uncovered the irregularities. I would rather they give some respect and credit to the forummers !

Can’t they see that it is for the better that such possibly corrupt practices are detected and stopped. Citizen CSI should be lauded and encouraged and let’s not lose sight of that with PAP bashing. Anyone remember Pritam Singh who quoted a blogger and the idea of an Ombudsman?

No govt can be perfectly corrupt-free unless they only employ those with the surname Lee. Hah. So, every time there is a major case, many of us just kick into plain old boring irritating but still super funny PAP bashing…entertainment perhaps for us bored netizens? Getting angry in a group is more fun?

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Funny how the PAP IB and PAP bashers are just so alike in obsessions…

M Ravi, the bastion of Singapore free speech being kicked around like political football

24 Jul

Set up on 1st September 2000 as Singapore’s free speech area or “speak freely but police is watching”, Speakers’ Corner has proven to be the epitome of Singapore’s unique brand of democracy. After the the outrage at minibonds scam, anti-death penalty and anti-ISA demonstrations at Hong Lim Park, local human rights lawyer M Ravi has brought the govt’s vision of a “free speech area” to a new height. On 22nd July 2012, M Ravi organised a two hour solo party complete with tents, music, drama and dance to lament the various injustices that has been inflicted on his life.

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Excerpt from Yahoo News Sg:

On Sunday, Ravi said that he would be suing Wong and the Society on Monday for an apology and for damages against his reputation that will  “exceed hundreds thousands of dollars, or millions” because he had a “huge reputation internationally”.

Calling Wong a “cow dung lawyer from Law Society” who had “sh*t in his pants”, he said that he would “forgive but will never forget”.

Ravi also launched into several other bizarre rants, reserving choice words for several prominent politicians and the Law Society.

“I come from a generation of samurais, 369,” said Ravi, before challenging former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to meet him “one-on-one”, “go fly kite” and telling the 30-member crowd to “stand up for Singapore.”

He also expressed his anger with opposition politicians, calling Workers Party’s Low Thia Kiang, Sylvia Lim, and Chen Show Mao “cow dungs” for what he said was their “lack of support” for his client, Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu.

Ravi is representing Muthu in her campaign for the Court to declare that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion in deciding when to call by-elections.

Ravi’s talk at the Speakers Corner started at about 3pm and finished shortly after 5pm, despite an earlier media invite stating it would go on until 8pm. Most of his time was spent talking about his history and childhood.

Claiming to be from a secret society called “Jalan Kayu 369”, Ravi told the audience he had a Taiwanese father who looked like notorious Hong Kong pop star Edison Chen before ranting about abusive Indian fathers and the suffering of his late mother, whom he credits as his inspiration.

He also peppered his speeches with strange statements, announcing at one point that “Hot is cold, cold is hot, Yin is Yang, and I look young – that is why Hallelujah and Praise the Lord”, eliciting strange looks from curious passers-by.

Ravi also spoke of his intention to “return to New York” where there are “vampires in the Empire State Building”.

When reporters asked about his mental condition at the end of his talk, Ravi asserted that he was “fine”, calling the media “stupid” for raising the issue and refused to take any more questions.

I do sincerely hope that the interested persons mentioned above whom might have been hurt by his speech would not hastily sue M Ravi as he is suffering from bi-polar disorder. CID’s Secret Society Branch should also take his words with a large dollop of salt. Perhaps in his unique case, freedom indeed does not come with responsibility.

His most recent performance at Hong Lim followed recent allegations that he had verbally abused a TV producer at his office and supposedly flew into a rage on two occasions at a Hindu Temple in Chinatown just as his associates sent him to see his psychiatrist.

Support has been coming in for M Ravi with admirers of his legal work thanking him for his passionate artistic performance, and his SDP ally urging others not to kick him around like a political football. M Ravi is perhaps stretched out by his high case load, namely the Hougang By-election case, the drug mules on death row, SDP’s illegal assembly case and Reform Party’s Kenneth Jayaretnam case on the IMF loan.

But let’s not forget M Ravi has been legal counsel for SDP as early as 2008 and has helped them on many different cases/causes as well as joined them for their various street activities including election campaigning. Indeed, he should be resting, taking on less cases and not be kicked around like a political football like he has been all this while.

One can only wring in peculiarity why M Ravi would call WP MPs “cow dung” for their lack of support during the Hougang By-Election case while his allies from SDP and RP continue to trumpet his heroics. For who would take on these important opposition cases for Singapore politics? [Come to think of it, WP already has Chen Show Mao and Pritam Singh as legal counsels for their party.]

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M Ravi at SDP Rally in GE 2006

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Back to the case of Law Society’s Wong Siew Hong turning up during the Hougang By-election trial to inform the Judge of the letter from M Ravi’s psychiatrist. I have blogged earlier that it was Kenneth Jayaretnam that made the letter public. Persons who have attended the trial would not have knew about the contents of the letter as demonstrated by Jeanette Chong Aruldoss’ note.

Richard Wan of TRE has clarified on my blog that M Ravi gave permission to KJ to post the letter online. It was not leaked by KJ. And since Richard was running a piece to air M Ravi’s views, the letter should be taken down without any further explanation. Question is, would Richard need to run a story if KJ did not post the letter online?

But as we can see, is posting the letter online in the best interests of M Ravi? A letter that detailed his mental capacity and questioned his ability to practice? Was M Ravi clear or muddle-headed when he asked KJ to post the letter? Would you, in the position of KJ, still post the letter online? Or, in the best interests of M Ravi, speak to close associates and seek advice?

Now M Ravi wants to seek damages from Law Society and Wong, but if the public did not know about the contents of the letter until KJ posted it, who should bear the brunt of causing damage to M Ravi’s reputation?

It’s funny in political football, how one is constantly confused by who is the kicker and where the ball is.

Mr Ravi, you should rest, take care and all the best.

Excerpt from ST: Mr Ravi wants them to compensate him for the damage done to his professional reputation by Mr Wong’s actions and to make a public apology.

He claimed that Mr Wong was ‘acting under the directions and instructions of the LSS and/or his own volition and initiative’ when he appeared at the High Court on Monday morning and afternoon, before the presiding judges and state counsels, ‘thereby publishing the content of the Letter beyond the scope of the intrinsic confidentiality of the Letter’.

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Mai Sabo Leh: Kenneth Jeyaretnam spill the beans on M Ravi

18 Jul

It’s true that this buffoon man of pedigree political lineage sabo-ed M Ravi. While little brother, Philip Jeyaretnam, was beaming and adjusting his tie as he was being appointed to one of the most prestigious councils in this land, the older one with his tongue half-inch longer than necessary, cannot even help his friend by keeping his mental condition secret. This is how you payback the lawyer who is representing you for the IMF case.

M Ravi supporting KJ’s Reform Party during GE2011

Listen to his video…nice big long tongue with a lovely accent. Oh he must have endeared many women.

Despite the questionable antics of Law Society’s Wong Siew Hong to squirrel a letter written by M Ravi’s psychiatrist through the doors of justice, credit must be given to the judges who have asked for the matter to be heard in the chambers and away from public glare. Credit again to the judges for letting M Ravi continue his work as there has been no official application by either the Law Society nor the AGC to sanction M Ravi.

This much we are clear despite some quarters who are fond of spinning conspiracy theories in their free and not-so-free time, at least the judges were curiously excluded from any email chain that plotted this conspiracy. So potent were such suggestions that the self-proclaimed sane M Ravi was affected by it. “Speaking to TODAY, Mr Ravi insisted there was a “conspiracy” against him and that “they were just trying to block me from arguing the case”.”

Back to the case, the public wouldn’t have known about M Ravi’s recent condition nor the contents of the letter if Kenneth Jeyaretnam had not taken a photo of the psychiatrist letter and spread it on his twitter. If we look at Jeanette Chong Aruldoss’ account of the Hougang By-election trial, she had no clue what the Law Society representative was trying to do nor the contents of the letter.

Jeanette Chong Aruldoss:

While the AG was speaking, a lawyer representing the Law Society (whom I shall call “the LS lawyer”) entered the Court with a companion in tow. The LS lawyer wore the Court gown, thus indicating that he wanted to address the Court; his companion (whom I recognised to be an employee of the Law Society) was in long sleeved office shirt, no jacket. They stood conspicuously there at the side, between the AG and the Judge.

The LS lawyer held in his hand a transparent sheet protector containing a single piece of paper which looked like a letter. (I was expecting the LS lawyer to be holding on to some kind of court order document, but apparently not.) The AG stopped his presentation and said to the Judge something like he was agreeable “to yield” to the LS lawyer (i.e. let the LS lawyer address the Judge). But the Judge seemed to indicate to AG to finish his submission without interruption, so the AG continued speaking. As it was obviously awkward for the LS lawyer and his companion to remaining standing where they were, they then walked to sit down on available chairs. Soon, the Hearing ended and I left the Court. It was around 11am.

Mainstream newspapers like TODAY and Straits Times only reported about the contents of the letter because of KJ’s leak. They would have no details otherwise. And boy did they made every detail of that short letter known to all Singaporeans just to make sure they know that M Ravi has mental health issues.

KJ tweeted the photo sometime during lunch time on Monday but later removed it after realising that it was he who had broken doctor – patient confidentiality and not the doctor as many like Andrew Loh and Richard Wan believed. Why did KJ remove it?

The psychiatrist lettter

KJ’s original tweet showing the photo of the psychiatrist letter before he removed it.

ANDREW LOH/RICHARD WAN:

When asked about this, Mr Ravi said there were conditions on how the doctor could divulge information of his medical evaluation and to whom. The doctor could only do so after he had examined him and after Mr Ravi had seen the report. Also, the report was to be made known only to his law firm partner, Ms Violet Netto, and Mr Ravi’s younger sister. Neither was informed of Dr Fones’ diagnosis before the letter was sent to the Law Society on Monday.

Sidetrack: Isn’t it interesting how ex-TOC editor would pen a story jointly with an editor from the old Temasek Review considering how both were somewhat at loggerheads with each other. There are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests? hehe. But they still didn’t pick up the fact that KJ leaked it!

Sadly, only the subservient ST picked up this crucial information of KJ leaking M Ravi’s psychiatric letter out on the internet when it should have been a private matter between M Ravi, the psychiatrist and Law Society. Quoting ST, “Dr Fones’ letter was posted on Twitter by Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam. The online post was later removed, but by then, some websites had reposted it.”

With KJ taking the lead, TOC jumped on the bandwagon, and went on their own wild tangent and inaccurately reported that Law Society was applying for M Ravi to be struck off when there was no such move. At least they had decency to apologise…wonder if KJ had done the same to M Ravi?

And even Law Society had the decency to clarify that the psychiatrist was actually appointed by M Ravi instead of the Law Society. And just to add, it was M Ravi’s associate, Violet Netto, that asked him to visit the psychiatrist on Saturday, two days before the trial, as he was under much stress.

TODAY ONLINE:

When contacted, a Law Society spokesperson confirmed that it received the letter from Dr Fones, who is a doctor “appointed by Mr M Ravi, and not the Law Society”.

The spokesperson said: “The Law Society informed the judge of the contents of the letter as it felt that it was in the public interest to do so, and as officers of the court. To be clear, there was no application whatsoever by the Law Society to in any way prevent Mr Ravi from appearing in court.”

The spokesperson said that the Law Society is “not in a position to comment on the contents of the letter, as this is a matter of a member’s confidential medical records”.

M Ravi has had a history of mental illness although that has not prevented him from specialising in death row inmates. He had reportedly been diagnosed since 2006 with bipolar disorder – which is punctuated by episodes of mania and depression – and was also suspended from practising for a year in 2006.

In 2008, he was charged – and subsequently fined – with disturbing a religious prayer session, using abusive language and causing mischief, and went into remand for three weeks at the Institute of Mental Health. After the incident, M Ravi was allowed by the court to practise under certain conditions, including that he has to see his psychiatrist periodically.

There is already a witness account of M Ravi disturbing prayers at the Sri Mariamman temple along South Bridge Rd on 15 July Sunday morning, one day after his visit to the psychiatrist and one day before his Hougang By-election trial. This was the same temple he created ruckus back in 2008.

In this swirl of leaked letter from the psychiatrist, conspiracy theories and accusations of madness, the pertinent questions remained: Why did KJ take a photo of the letter and posted it online? What motives did he have? To whom did the letter belong to? M Ravi? And did M Ravi let KJ take a photo knowing that he would upload it online?

I really hope M Ravi would take a break from work and make a full recovery soon. I am sure there are other pro-bono lawyers out there willing to represent Yong Vui Kong and others on death row. Singapore would be forever indebted to M Ravi if he indeed choose to go crazy practising law rather than take his medicine and rest. I hope his real friends, not those like KJ, can advise him honestly and not continue glorify him on pedestal so that he can be their poster boy.

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Additional readings here and here. It seems like most agree that M Ravi can indeed suddenly get unstable and that the doctor is merely doing his duty although cannot deny the fact that Law Society cannot get their act together. Interesting posts here, click to enlarge:

Women’s Charter: Lamentations of a divorced man (Part II)

16 Jul

You should read Part I here before embarking on this post. The story of FA continues…

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As I was unable to bear the constant taunting, I eventually left the matrimonial flat and brought my elder son along; my younger son was too afraid to come along or perhaps still couldn’t reconcile with the fact of a broken family. Both are teenagers.

My elder son was angry that the mother had brought him out with the boyfriend and witnessed them acting intimately. Till today, he still has anger within him as he felt betrayed by the mother. Sometimes I tell him no matter what she is still your mother although I am myself incapable of forgiveness.

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After being separated from my younger son, I applied for interim care and control of both children. Although my ex-wife similarly applied, I was successful after the psychologist assessment and a court order was issued.

However, she breached the court order and refused to let me have my younger son while often using emotional blackmail on him. She later appealed against the decision to High Court and that began the alienation of my younger son from me. There was a period of time when my younger son would not talk to me and refuse all my attempts to visit him

I tried to charge her for the breach of the court order but was told that it would be very difficult as it is a family matter and not criminal. The High Court took almost one year to come to a decision (one of the delay was because the psychologists report was not given the Judge), and because of the long term alienation and delay, the High court decided in her favour although my older son remains to be under my care.

The division of the matrimonial asset was eventually finalized early this year. Despite showing proof that she is going to remarry, I agreed to monthly maintenance being granted. But the court decided otherwise and ordered that I pay her a one lump sum of maintenance for 6 years which is serious drain on my financial!

In addition, after proving that she has another bank account and had lied in her asset declaration, the court decided that I must give her another $15,000 as division of the matrimonial asset without any query with regards to her actual financial status. Admittedly, I was earning much more than her but I did not expect to be squeezed so much when after all, it was because of her infidelity that we are getting divorced.

As for the matrimonial flat, although I had paid for more than 70% of the monthly installments, the court decided that she would be awarded 40% of the flat sale proceeds!!

In the end, my ex-wife could have been considered to be rewarded for her betrayal of the sacred marriage vow. The $15,000 that I have to give her would cover her divorce legal fee. She was awarded lump sum maintenance which would probably help to pay for her next wedding dinner and not to mention an additional ten of thousands from the flat sales profit.

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Her breach of the court order even helped her to gain care and control of my younger son. I absolutely feel no protection from the law as a husband that has been betrayed by his wife.

On the other hand, I have to fork out my hard-earned money for the private investigators, the divorce lawyers and even psychology treatment for my elder son who is having anger management issues now because of the breaking up of our family. I had to lower my pride and ask for a loan from my mother and sister to tide me through this difficult period.

Furthermore, I would be “held ransom” until my younger son turns 21 as the maintenance is subjected to review whenever my ex-wife thinks she needed more money from me.

All I am asking is a fairer system which would punish the party (regardless of gender) who had forsaken the family so that married couple will think twice before they do anything foolish.

Under the Women’s Charter, the female has not much to lose in terms of division of matrimonial assets and in fact they even have sympathy of the judge. There is very little consideration for the male ‘victim’ who will pay for it dearly just because he once loved a woman.

Women’s Charter: Lamentations of a divorced man

12 Jul

A friend and reader of my blog urged me to publish his story. Let’s call him FA. FA recently settled his divorce after it was dragged out for 3 years. I was really reluctant initially because divorce is a matter that hardly has any ‘innocent’ party.

Went back to FA with the idea that if he wanted to share his story, cannot be that he is the good guy while the wife is the baddie…wanted him to think more and shared it in a way that can help improve the situation or at least ask some questions.

Btw, I don’t think it surprises anyone these day that the wife is the cheating partner not that the one who doesn’t cheat is an angel. Similarly, I am not saying FA is entirely righteous when I share his story here. So here it goes.

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I read with concern regarding the recent news article that the divorce rate in Singapore has increased. I am one of those who had contributed to this figure. I doubt the figure will decrease as social fabric and moral values gradually weakens through the years while both men and women treasure their financial independence and personal pride above preserving the unity of the family.

Many men had raised their concern over the unfair advantage provided to women under the Women’s Charter but it has fallen on deaf ears. Let me share my story and experience throughout my divorce processing.

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I never really reconciled why my ex-wife strayed when I held a stable job (about 5K monthly) and provided for almost everything material in the family even though I have to admit I sometimes keep long nights because of my job. I spent most weekends with the family and seldom go out with friends like I used to.

In 2009, I filed for divorce after discovering my partner of 13 years had committed adultery. I had forgiven her once for a same occurrence many years back when our children were really young. But it was too much for me to bear this time. I presented a private investigator’s report to the court as evidence of her infidelity coupled with SMSes between my ex-wife and her lovers (yes, she was having affair with more than 1 man)!!

She even promised marriage to 2 of her lovers. One is a divorcee and the other a married man. To my incredulity, one of the judge actually commented that my evidence was not strong as I did not catch them in the act. I wonder if having photo of them going into the man’s house and coming out while hugging and holding hands after the spending the night there is not good enough, what is?

Does the PI have to barge into the room while they are doing it? Doesn’t that make the PI guilty of house-breaking or trespassing? Anyway during the ordeal, my ex-wife created havoc for me using the power granted to her by Singapore laws. It didn’t help she had engaged a lawyer who promised her the sky and hoodwinked her into filing for various matters.

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– For SGD$1, she filed for maintenance claiming that I did not provide to the family financially but I was able to counter it with evidence. Luckily, I had been transferring monthly expenses to her via Internet banking. It proved that my contribution was 10 times of what she contributed monthly and that I had used 70% of my salary while she was only using 10%. Presented with evidence, she later withdrew her allegations but not before several affidavits had been exchanged costing me a few thousands in legal fee.

– For another SGD$1, she also applied for Personal Protection Order against me when she hurt herself while trying to slam the door at me (this was witnessed by my 2 children). She sought medical attention at the hospital but the doctor did not find any injury on her. Nevertheless, she proceeded with the allegations. Apparently, under the law, she still could proceed even if there was no injury detected by the doctor. She later withdrew the allegations but not before the exchange of several affidavits which again cost another few thousands of dollars.

For the sake of my 2 children, I continued to stay in the matrimonial flat so that I could stand a better chance in obtaining their care and control. During that period, she tried to agitate me by alienating my children from me through lies and deceit. And if they tried to get close to me, they will be punished when I’m not at home.

My ex-wife also started throwing away my personal belongings, clothing, medication, etc. There were times that I will return home to find that my ironed clothing had been thrown on the floor and all crumpled. There were also times when my already washed laundry was purposely thrown on the toilet floor and dirtied.

She did more than just these to agitate me and get me out of the house and away from my children. I refused to to engage her in such silly games hoping that my children will understand one day.

But, I blew my top once when she intentionally commented in the presence of the children that she having a time of her life by having sexual relationships with 2 men at the same time. I was depressed and angry during those dark days. In a fit of folly, I smashed the standing fan at the corner of the room.

The next thing I knew, the police were knocking on my door as my ex-wife had reported that there was family violence. I explained the whole incident to the police and they left after reporting the incident. Of course, in the following affidavits, she used this to argue that I am unsuitable to be a caregiver to the children due to my violent nature.

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I will follow up with the rest of FA’s story later. Btw, I think the low $1 to file various matters with Family Court is to protect those women who do not have money or savings after spending years as homemakers after marriage. Any experts on Women’s Charter out there? Is there a way to prevent abuse because we find modern women these days increasingly being almost as successful as men?

S’pore falling birth rate: Getting it on but to not much effect

11 Jul

Surely Singaporeans are getting more bedroom action. Circumstantial evidence seems to indicate so with our youths getting sexually liberated much earlier than their parents, the exciting night scene, the frequent overseas holiday with that special someone and even the rising transmission rate of STDs seem to say so. But why are our much-aroused factories not producing as many little ones as this govt so desires?

Singapore’s low TFR of 1.2 is a joke of sorts after spending $1.6billion annually on various packages to boost child-bearing and parenthood.  And  our most esteemed DPM Teo is probably right when he uttered, “Relying on government measures alone would not raise Singapore’s birth rate, as getting married and having children are personal decisions that reflect broader social values and attitudes.”

Chancing upon the fertility clinic

Last week, gallivanting around Marine Parade Central with my Minister of Home Affairs, happen to walk past the Chinese sinseh clinic at Blk 81 and it brought back memories of how we conceived our first child. Not the excitement of the actual act but the anticipation and disappointment in trying for a baby! We went for all sort of traditional and western treatments, tests, tonics, fertility clinic etc (spending all the money with nothing to show for!), nearly giving up on hope, before consulting this sinseh through the introduction of a friend and wham, bam, thank u sinseh! But all the troublesome in going for consultations and preparing the medicine and dealing with my moody emotional Minister…

Sometimes, I think it is an art to conceive, there are so many physiological factors in play not to mention how highly strung and stressed out young Singaporean couples are from their jobs, social life, hobbies, financial commitments etc. When we walk past the clinic, it was still fairly crowded with young couples seeking the holy grail.

Lending a helping hand to those who want but don’t get

Thus far, policies to boost child-bearing and parenthood have been aimed at improving the conditions in the post-natal environment, you know, Baby Bonuses, tax breaks, maternity leave, non-discrimination of preggers mothers, pro-family initiatives and the list goes on. Has the govt looked into specific actions to assist Singaporean couples who are trying for a baby?

Maybe MCYS can consider subsidizing fertility check-ups and tests, appointing certain doctors and sinsehs to research and treat those couples who are healthy but are somehow unsuccessful in having a little one? There should be more thought (or even publicity) spent on assisting those couples who are trying keenly but with no results.

MCYS has a website called http://www.maybebaby.sg (but it should really be definitelybaby.sg) where they share general information on preparing for a baby, preconception tests, maximizing fertility etc…hmmm maybe they should put up direct links or a hotline where couples can book an appointment with doctors, sinsehs or even sex therapists from govt hospitals.

The only govt sponsored fertility aid I know of is the assisted reproduction treatment subsidy that co-funds half of IVF treatment at public hospitals, capped at $3,000 per fresh cycle and up to a maximum of three fresh cycles. Medisave can be used to pay for part of the treatment but the subsidy is only for women below the age of 40, as the success rate of IVF drops drastically with age.

Should govt do more in this area? How many people take up this subsidy annually? What is the proportion of Singapore couples visiting the doctors because of fertility problems? More studies should be done to see if it is worthwhile for the govt to invest money into fertility aid and research as young couples are increasingly less inclined to having babies and more stressed with everyday working life in sunny Singapore.

What a boring post, but just doing my bit I guess.

All Eyes on the Judges: Death Penalty no longer Mandatory

9 Jul

Judges will finally be made to work harder, at least when it comes to the death penalty as it is applied in drug trafficking and homicide cases. The Singapore govt has seemingly out of the blue announced that mandatory death penalty in the two aforementioned mentioned offences would now be amended to allow judges’ discretion. Discretion in drug trafficking offences will apply to those only playing the role of a courier and if they cooperated with the CNB in a substantive way or proven to have mental disability. In homicide cases, it is proposed that the mandatory death penalty will apply only where there is an intention to kill.

Now why would the govt suddenly do so is still not quite clear as there was no real mainstream public pressure on them…in fact, most Singaporeans seem to agree with the death penalty although there is a small group of activists, like TOC, MARUAH, Kirsten Han, M Ravi, Andrew Loh etc, who have dedicated their time and effort to the anti-death penalty movement. Some, like me, are entertaining the thought that this govt has grown a conscious at least in terms of recognizing how we can over-punish criminals with harsh sentencing. Anyway, kudos to the minister for doing the right thing, who was btw a practicing lawyer himself.

Without saying that it is related, just two weeks ago, the Singapore govt signed a MoU with their Malaysian counterparts to foster closer cooperation in drug enforcement. And within an hour after the announcement of the proposed amendments, the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore (ACLS) and the Law Society of Singapore issued statement hailing the proposed changes to how the mandatory death penalty is applied. So fast? It seems to indicate that they might have a hand in this.

“This is a historic moment for the criminal justice system in Singapore. The announcement represents a significant step in humanising the criminal law. The criminal Bar has laboured many years for such a change to the mandatory death penalty in order to give the courts more discretion. We are very happy that the Ministry of Law has heard our voice over the years and that our views matter. As criminal lawyers, we are proud to be a stakeholder in the administration of criminal justice,” wrote Mr Wendell Wong, Chairman, Criminal Practice Committee, Law Society of Singapore.

Whatever the forces that might have worked behind the scenes, this is a progressive and forward-looking development for the criminal justice in system. Now, all eyes will be on the judges as they shoulder a heavier responsibility in meting out equitable (not fair) and explainable sentences. Are our judges ready for such a duty when previously the duty to pass the death penalty have been burdened on the law books rather than judges’ discretion. Would it be fair to question the judges, who if given a choice, would act like any normal human being and be less inclined to shed blood and proclaim the death penalty?

Just as there are mistakes in mandatory death penalty, there will similarly be mistakes (perhaps even more) in judges’ discretion. No system is perfect. How tolerant are we of mistakes of a different nature?

Also, which way forward for the anti-death penalty movement in Singapore? After calling for the riddance of the mandatory in death penalty, would they now turn their attention to the complete abolishment of the death penalty?

Excerpt from TODAY.

First, the trafficker must have only played the role of courier, and must not have been involved in any other activity related to the supply or distribution of drugs.

Second, discretion will only apply if – having satisfied this first requirement – either the trafficker has cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau in a substantive way, or he has a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act.

The Government has proposed to change the law such that when these conditions are met, the courts will have the discretion either to sentence the trafficker to death, or alternatively to pass a sentence of life imprisonment with caning, said Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister.

…………………………

‘JUSTICE CAN BE TEMPERED WITH MERCY’

In homicide cases, the Government also proposed that the mandatory death penalty will apply only where there is an intention to kill, said Law Minister K Shanmugam. The mandatory death penalty will, however, continue to apply to firearms offences to maintain a highly deterrent posture.

In making the changes today, the Government seeks to achieve and balance two broad objectives, said Mr Shanmugam. The first is to continue taking a strong stance on crime. The second is the refinement of our approach towards sentencing offenders.

“Our cardinal objectives remain the same,” he added. “Crime must be deterred and society must be protected against criminals. Criminals should receive their just desserts. But justice can be tempered with mercy and where appropriate, offenders should be given a second chance.”

Update: Please read here for MARUAH statement on the mandatory death penalty.

MOE Sexperts: Having the Expertise without the Sex?

5 Jul

I got a confession to make lah. Something that mummy wouldn’t be too happy if she reads about it (luckily she doesn’t even have a handphone :p). Like many of my readers (yes, you!), I too engaged in pre-marital sex despite mum telling me it was wrong (she didn’t even liked the fact I had a ‘steady’), despite my teachers advising against it and despite my own realization that if shit were to happen, I probably can’t clean up after myself. But, I have to admit, it did felt good, too good (who was I kiddin’ with my guilt trip).

The Ambivalent Teacher

I used to go out with this lass who was also a teacher long long time ago and boy was she hot or what. She was not only hot, she was very intelligent too. Like you could never get bored with her around, she was so well-read and her interests so wide-ranging that the conversation never stops with her. Despite being very knowledgeable, she was very tolerant of divergent views and never forced herself onto others (at least not in that way).

Get this, she was damn sexy as well, which is different from “I think she was sexy”. She was so confident of her sexuality that she would go out and get herself nice lingerie or outfits so that she could, you know, we could, you know…normally it would be the guy initiating but hey she was leading it (but it was always with the necessary precautions). I never met a girl like that, ever. Too bad, we broke up because we were always arguing and fighting, guess we were too much alike. Headstrong.

We still have mutual friends and they tell me she’s married and mother of two now, very good in teaching and a very responsible parent. I bumped into her once and her kids are angels, so much more well-behaved as compared to mine brats. And I would think she would make such a great sexuality programme teacher, (even when she was single and no longer a vergeen) because she was well-informed, street-smart, knew what are the the best practices and the risks if one doesn’t follow best practices.  And, she was tolerant of other sexual orientations but at the same time knew that this society is not yet ready to accept them in their full glory. Above all, despite of her non-abstinence, she was a person of good character and join the teaching service out of her good heart for her students.

MOE Sexuality Programme

Even as MOE clarifies on its Facebook that they are not looking for vergeens, the main criteria for selecting teachers to teach sex education must not only be goody-two-shoes angels. They must have a right mix of moral character and also street smart-ness so that they can impart not only what is in the textbook but also out there in the real world…a wild world. Of course, parents hold the first line of defense; and MOE or teachers shouldn’t be mindlessly blamed when things go south.

And even as we impart the mainstream values (a euphemism for ‘right values’), which is abstinence, what are the chances that our kids will stay as vergeens till the night of their marriage vows. I am not too optimistic of my own brats. I even struggle to think of a name among my close friends who remained chaste until they put on their ring (which means there was none!). And that was decade ago! With the omnipresence of the Internet and 3G phones now, what are the chances…

But it doesn’t mean that we should stop imparting kids mainstream values, at least when they are still relevant. As a parent, I think that is the right thing to do. Both pre-marital and extra-marital should be mildly frowned upon by the ‘mainstream’, look at our divorce rates! I was a heavy smoker and I used to smoke more than a pack a day, does that mean all the nagging asking me to quit smoking should stop? So I find it quite peculiar when bloggers and writers like Jen (jentrifiedcitizen.wordpress) and Kirsten write to criticize MOE’s approach to this topic. Fark sake’s, for once I think they did right and no one agrees with me? As long as they teach abstinence and protection, I don’t see how they cannot complement one another in this modern age.

We should take a liberal view on things when they are applicable to our society and not just a blind pursuit of liberalism. For eg, Pink Dot, tolerance and understanding of LGBT relationships and the repeal of 377A are just causes. But if we sit and think about it, is it a coincident that the anti-death penalty, anti-ISA, pro-human rights, absolute freedom of expression and assembly, anti-free market economy, more welfarism are also the same group of people? Hmmmm….

Parents can read more about the programme here. For a funny take, read Mr Brown’s blog. And before I forget, if you vehemently oppose the sexuality programme, as a parent, you can opt your child out if it.

Btw, I just found the perfect picture to start talking about the difference between fertilization and fornication with my brats.

P.S. Mum, really sorry to disappoint you so many times when I was younger, it must have been the nicotine and alcohol (amongst others) screwing up the otherwise rational me.

Serious: Singapore is taking over Penang

3 Jul

In what is the most ingenious move from the PAP govt to solve over-crowding in Singapore, PM Lee Hsien Loong and his super-elite-thinking-out-of-the-cardboard scholars have hatched a plan to takeover Penang and possibly Malaysia, the land that is truly Asia, while Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea and the others are not very Asia.

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With Singapore bursting at her seams as more than 6 million people can be found on the little island any given day, and the opening of a Marina garden or shopping mall can cause massive human traffic jam, the S’pore govt has found creative ways to expand the country’s borders and Crossover to reach out to non-converts who still doubt the efficiency and effectiveness of Kong Hee PAP rule.

According to Malaysian super-exclusive-bumi-Malay-supreme-pizza newspaper Utusan, the Singapore PAP govt still secretly led by emeritus senior citizen ultraman Lee Kuan Yew (Kuan Yew in Singlish means to control you, so he like to control everything in S’pore), is going to remote control the collapse of the Malaysian ruling Barisan Nasional formed by many many political parties who cannot agree which race is the smartest in Malaysia.

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After BN collapse, it will be replaced by DAP, a party that has allegedly secretly taught rocket technology to the Iranians and is apparently super best friends with PAP because they are only an alphabet apart. According to Utusan, PAP has waited more than 48 years to achieve this dream and will prove to Singapore citizen although it is in ineffective in handling housing and transport, it can takeover a country 469 times bigger than itself.

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Just last month Utusan charged that 3 beautiful Singapore diplomats wearing yellow walking with tens of thousands of Malaysian might cause their govt to topple. Until now, there is no still no documentary proof of such a curious incident.

Meanwhile property prices in Penang is seeing a a massive boom due to the sheer number of Singaporeans buying property on the northern Malaysia island in anticipation of a successive PAP takeover.

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