17 September 2005

Racist No. 3

As regular readers of this blog know, Mr Wang loves to pummel ST journalists when they spew misconceived opinions and views and reports out to the world.

Today, however, Mr Wang's fun is denied. The ST Deputy Political Editor, Paul Jacob, has a rather sensible article on the matter of the Seditious Bloggers. Mr Wang can nitpick a little here and there, but basically he thinks that Paul has got the right Big Picture.
Sept 17, 2005
THINKING ALOUD
Online activism? Root out those spewing intolerance
By Paul Jacob

THERE are some things, many actually, that are more important than freedom of speech.

One that we ought to uphold, especially with the mix of races and religions here, is that people should have a right to be protected from invective because of the beliefs they hold.

........

Why did it require the authorities here to step in and initiate action against men who ranted about Islam and Muslims online?

Why weren't active civic-minded Singaporeans online prompted to pummel and bombard them? Why not the moderators of the sites which host these chats or blogs? Why not those within the Muslim community itself?

Where was the consciousness and outrage of other individuals and a society which is supposed to promote and cherish racial harmony.

Now, instead of being aghast at our own late action to stand up against them, we are debating the merits and wisdom of the authorities stepping in and hauling them off to court.

What's also receiving attention is the use of the Sedition Act which, among other things, warns against those who raise discontent or disaffection among citizens or residents here, and those who promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes here.

There's also speculation that's been generated online: that the case is an effort to curtail debate in cyberspace which, because of its vastness, is where the authorities have the most difficulty patrolling or imposing control.

Others suggest the action is really a move by the authorities to send an indirect message about the limits of political and other discourse that have taken root in cyberspace.

I would have expected more soul-searching.

Have we, collectively as a society, grown immune to, or become so accepting of, coarse and contemptible behaviour?

Have we grown tolerant of such goings-on because we believe that people who use the Internet to promote hate and intolerance are a minority and that their messages would make little headway?

Or it is because we trust that someone else will step in and put an end to it?

The authorities do step in. But there are still many people out there at it. That they can prowl the Internet, undeterred and unchallenged, is cause for concern.

...............

If there is a cause for which online activism is needed, it is in chasing down, challenging and rooting out those who continue to promote their intolerance.

..............

There are thought to be more than one million active Internet users in Singapore, and the maths would suggest there are more people with the ability to do good and police the system than there are those who preach intolerance, ridicule and call others' beliefs into question.

So rather than question why it is that the authorities had to act, or the merits of which is the more appropriate law to use, or whether this is a prelude to a political clampdown, the Internet's cause will be better served if active users weigh in and do their own clamping down.

What these guys have done, as some have already suggested, is to give bloggers and chatrooms a bad name. And if the community does not want to have big brother watching, then it's best that it does the watching itself.
pjacob@sph.com.sg

As a consequence of us bloggers being bloggers, there is some natural tendency on our part to view these sedition cases as a potential threat to ourselves. We may tend to see these sedition cases as the government taking action against bloggers, rather than the government taking action against racists.

Both views are correct in their own way, but I think that the latter view brings us closer to the heart of this matter. As a very active blogger myself, I am personally quite unperturbed by these sedition cases. I do not see anything in these cases which make me feel that I should, for my own safety, curtail my own blogging activities. I simply do not see anything similar between what I write, and what those three seditious bloggers have written.

If I belonged to a racial or religious minority group in Singapore, I might even rejoice. The next time I come across a blog or website insulting my race or religion, I might just pick up the telephone and call the police. And I know now that there is at least some chance that they will look into my complaint.

(Mr Wang also has a strong feeling that this is how most investigations into future sedition cases in future will be initiated).

In all honesty, I find it very difficult to see these sedition cases as real threats to the principle of freedom of expression in Singapore. I saw a very real threat in the Acidflask case; I saw real threats in the Martyn See case; I saw real threats in the banning of Shanmugam Murugesu's face. I do not see any real threat in these sedition cases.

The distinctions lie in the nature of the messages that were being spread. In Singapore, I think that the real (and longstanding) concern surrounding the freedom of expression is that the overwhelmingly dominant ruling party may use its powers to suppress the expression of critical or alternative views. These are views of people who want to point out what they see as an existing wrong in the system, or who think that they can show a different, better way to do things. We may not necessarily agree with their views, but their freedom to express such views is nevertheless something we should fight for (or at least be concerned about).

To me, however, racist messages advocating violence just do not fit the bill. I have no intention of fighting for people's freedom to spout messages clearly intentioned to be offensive towards particular races or religions.

I am happy that the government is coming down on the seditious racists. I am also aware that many bloggers will raise the subjectivity element - how does one tell where the line is to be drawn? Mr Wang will leave you with the following tidbits for thought:

1. If your posts are similar to those of the seditious racists, then you are in danger of getting yourself in trouble. Are your posts anywhere close?

2. If a clear line cannot be drawn, are you saying that it is preferable for violent racists to be completely free to run amok and spew their hate messages absolutely as they please?

3. Ask yourself honestly - how would you feel about this matter if you were a member of a racial or religious minority?

33 comments:

akikonomu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
akikonomu said...

Mr Wang, I usually agree with your analyses, but not today =D

"3. Ask yourself honestly - how would you feel about this matter if you were a member of a racial or religious minority?"

More appropriate is:
0. Ask very nicely and humbly members of the affected racial/religious minority whether they care about these seditious bloggers or what they said.

"Have we, collectively as a society, grown immune to, or become so accepting of, coarse and contemptible behaviour?"

And similarly:
1'. Have we, collectively as a society, grown stronger and more resilient so that such coarse and contemptible behaviour doesn't spark off riots and murders?

hugewhaleshark said...

akikonomu,

You are too subtle for my simple mind. Your point seems to be that if society is strong enough to reject these racist views, then it is not important whether the racists are prosecuted or not.

My simple mind tells me this: it is precisely because society rejects racism and regards it as a crime that these racists must be prosecuted.

Right?

MercerMachine said...

I got stuck right at the beginning, actually, with this:

"THERE are some things, many actually, that are more important than freedom of speech."

Maybe so. Probably so. But the author was damn quick to dismiss what a large portion of the world considers nearly sacred.

The issue of freedom of speech is complex and important, and is deserving of a rational, thoughtful discussion. Not just a brush-off at the beginning of an article that (incorrectly) scolds bloggers for not censuring two racists for their disgusting comments.

akikonomu said...

Actually, if I wanted to be really mean and call PJacob out, I'd make these points:

1. PJacob obviously hasn't been reading tomorrow.sg in June, where the holocaust II/III blogs and Phoenyx's page were featured in a post.

2. As I recall, the bloggers came under censure in the comments to the post, as did tomorrow.sg, for featuring them.

3. Conclusion: PJacob shouldn't write when he is ignorant on this subject.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Akikonomu, yes, I think Malays/Muslims would feel insulted (and rightly so). If I recall correctly, it was on Mr Brown's blog that a Malay Muslim commented that he had seen the messages and felt shocked and threatened.

Mercer, I feel somewhat disappointed that:

(a) when Martyn See came under police investigation for making a party political film, bloggers did not make a hue and cry;

(b) when Shanmugam's face was banned from promotional posters for a memorial concert to raise awareness about capital punishment issues, bloggers did not make a hue and cry;

(c) when four people staged a public demonstration about the need for greater government transparency in the affairs of HDB/GIC/CPF/NKF, bloggers did not make a hue and cry;

but when

(d) three bloggers are charged for racist messages advocating violence against Muslims/Malays, bloggers DO make a hue and cry, and start talking about all the complexities and importance of the freedom of speech.

What is happening, please?

akikonomu said...

Mr Wang, Steve McDermott made a hue and cry for items a, b, c.
Many local blogs (including yours) made a hue and cry for items a and c as well.

Am not sure what's happening here, that you're saying they haven't?

hugewhaleshark said...

I'm with Mr Wang. It is a matter of extent of the hue and cry, what. Bloggers shd ask themselves whether they are protesting a perceived clampdown on blogging, or a perceived clampdown on freedom of expression.

lbandit said...

"There are thought to be more than one million active Internet users in Singapore, and the maths would suggest there are more people with the ability to do good and police the system than there are those who preach intolerance, ridicule and call others' beliefs into question."

Gosh, this cannot be more wrong. Calling others' beliefs into question does not equate intolerance.

akikonomu said...

Hugewhaleshark, I can accept that. And we could analyse the issue based on your points.

1. "Bloggers shd ask themselves whether they are protesting a perceived clampdown on blogging, or a perceived clampdown on freedom of expression" is sensible. Bloggers are protecting their own interests in this particular instance of hue and cry. And why not?

If the forums and blogs were hosted on servers outside Singapore, I'd be very interested to hear how the public prosecutor manages to convince the judge that there's a case to answer for. The could be Singapore's equivalent of say, Germany's courts requiring their ISPs to block Nazi items on Yahoo auctions, for example. Far-reaching consequences. We could even end up implementing George Yeo's good suggestions on blog policing!

2. When Martyn See came under police investigation for making a party political film, I think there was a really huge hue and cry. Mr Wang wrote about it; Steve McDermott's attracted long comment threads; I wrote 4 articles on this, as did various bloggers like SingaporeInk, SingaporeAngle, Molly Meek, and so on.

3. Shanmugam's face: What's the point?
Even the organisers didn't make a hue and cry, or hint that their audience and supporters should. The removal of the face, with the accompanied pseudo-legal citations backing it, was tantamount to saying "We allow you to have your protests, on these conditions. Take it or leave it."

4. Almost as many people wrote about the demonstration for greater transparency as Martyn See's case. At least, that's my subjective impression, from the blogs I regularly read.

-> Perhaps it's a much better idea to ask: which sections of the blogosphere in Singapore stayed out of all these issues, and why?

xenoboysg said...

Mr Wang,

I do not for one minute doubt your stance. I agree that the three accused are f..ckers. But as I saw it, when free and hate speech becomes conflated, people start going in merry-go-rounds.

When we look at the case of Martyn and tha Death Penaly vigil and Hung@Dawn concert, the Government used softer mechanisms, softer regulations, tantamount to state harassment. In Martyn's case, it is being dragged for so long because I believe that the Police and the AGC do not have the nerve to push the case through.

In both cases, the traditional media have also conveniently shunted the issues to one convenient aside.

But this case. It is Gov's winner case. And we have a media telling everyone to be responsible. Yes it was the same rhetorical structures in the post AcifFlask environment.

Responsible blogging. responsible this responsible that. But must not mainstream media be responsible too? Or they over-responsible.?

Bottom-line? Ethics. Not state or law defined ethics. But societal ethics. My father once told me, Sg was more racist in his days but people were at least more open, more tolernt of each other. Not so today, in a politically correct world, racism sanctions too many powers to too many people.

In the meantime, like mercer and aiko, talk, discuss and keep the discourse alive.

- said...

Well,

i hate to disagree with you on this one too Mr Wang,

There are few things in a democractic society more important than the freedom of speech. Nobody should pretend this does not offend very fundamental concepts of freedom of speech (with whatever limiting factors prescribed)

Anyway - talk to much liao, so give you
poem to read..

Poem
They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a communist;
They came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a socialist;
They came for the union leaders, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a union leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me ....

--Martin Niemöller

Nobody, especially the state, should prescribe the limitations of "speech".

"Speech" with the potential of inciting actual violence, calls to arms, harming reputation e.t.c - yes because such things are harmful or going to cause or might cause actual harm due to use of words.

Anyway i have said too much,
and too much work to do

full thoughts (mini-essay on freedom of speech at blog)

mugster said...

If I'm not wrong, Britain is also taking steps to expel hate-mongerers. Is that also a violation of free speech?

Blogging is a medium, just like any other. Hate organizations have also gone online. I don't see why people should not expect any repercussions from blogging. If these two guys had printed pamphlets and put them in mailboxes, would the public be less shocked?

Mr Wang Says So said...

People, people.

When has the freedom of speech (or for that matter, ANY freedom) ever been supposed to be absolute? Even in the United States of America, the law of defamation exists.

You quote me famous sayings about freedom? Here's one for you too:

"Your freedom to swing your arm stops where my nose begins."

Don't misinterpret this poem:

"They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a communist;

They came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a socialist;

They came for the union leaders, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a union leader;

They came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me ...."

Just because you don't speak up for some people doesn't mean that you don't speak up for EVERYONE. And just because you speak up for some people doesn't mean you have to speak up for everyone.

Hell, definitely I would speak up for the Jews and the union leaders - probably not the Communists. And definitely not any racists with an agenda against any particular religion or race.

The question for any society is where you want to draw the line. For myself, I know which side of the line those three bloggers are standing - the wrong side. There are lots of people in this world who I think I should speak up for - but sorry, vulgar racists advocating violence against Muslims just don't fall into that category.

Akikonomu - if you want to know what I mean about bloggers raising a hue and cry, look at Tomorrow. Go and see the number of comments and "reads" Tomorrow has, on the sedition cases. Then go and see the number of comments and "reads" Tomorrow has, on the other matters I mentioned. Oh wait, some of those matters are not even raised at Tomorrow at all.

To me, this is the great irony. You have people who want to say something about politics; about capital punishment; about the need for greater government transparency. There is so little support among bloggers for them, from the freedom of speech perspective.

Then you get two, three bloggers who say, "I hate Malays, they should die, @@#%^*&*! expletives, here's a roasted pig head for their Islam!";

and so many bloggers arise out of nowhere to defend them!?

Let me ask you this - let's suppose there is a 4-man demonstration today, four people get together with "I Hate Muslims! F--- all of them!" placards and stand in front of CPF Building and demonstrate -

would you support them? And say that is ok?

If you do support them, then I think you're a strange individual and I think there is no common ground that we can reach.

If you don't support them, then I suggest to you that as a matter of consistent principle, your position on the two, three bloggers should be exactly the same.

If on the other hand, you question the MEANS that have been taken against the bloggers, then may I remind you that while max sentence is 3 years and $5000 fine, there is no minimum sentence. That means, who knows, they could walk away with a $50 fine.

(Personally, I think that is extremely unlikelly, as unlikely as them getting the max sentence).

~~~~~~~

Aki,

the jurisdiction point - I think it falls quite flat in this case. Acidflask had a much better chance on the jurisdictional arguments.

Here there are just too many connecting factors to Singapore -

accused are Singaporean; were in Singapore at the time of committing the offence; sites were frequented; complaint was from member of Singapore public; messages were targeted at local Malays and Muslims (and not, say, Iraqi Muslims in Iraq); messages arose in connection with a purely Singaporean matter about a Muslim asking about whether dogs are allowed in Singapore, etc etc.

(I'm presuming some of the above; most of them, I think, will be true)

It would be a fairly ridiculous judge who would say that jurisdiction in this matter should be claimed, say, by the courts of some American state where the server is located.

Mr Wang Says So said...

And Xeno, you said: "In Martyn's case, it is being dragged for so long because I believe that the Police and the AGC do not have the nerve to push the case through. "

Only time will tell for certain whether they will or will not push the case through. And if they do not push the case through, it may have nothing to do with nerve or guts.

It may simply be that the DPP thinks that as a matter of principle, he does NOT want to prosecute the case, because he doesn't think Singapore society will stand to gain anything as a result of the prosecution.

akikonomu said...

"and so many bloggers arise out of nowhere to defend them!?" But how can our blogosphere defend or even castigate them when the blogs and forum posts have been holocausted, and what they've typed are no longer retrievable?

Mr Wang, I think most are rising out of nowhere, not to defend the 3 gentlemen's right to racist speech, but to question the appropriateness of using the sedition act on them, instead of say, some other more relevant and less nastily named legislation, or letting it drop - I don't think anyone's going to riot in the streets if the 3 were not prosecuted, for goodness' sake. Like it or not, whoever plays the sedition act card will lose, in the same turn, all political capital accumulated... Like it or not, our prickly bloggers are going to see this as a pre-emptive move against their own rights to speech, and a further move into more intrusive internet policing.

About Martyn See's case: "It may simply be that the DPP thinks that as a matter of principle, he does NOT want to prosecute the case" - wait a minute, we thought the matter is still between the filmmaker and the police? When did the DPP come in?

akikonomu said...

"If I'm not wrong, Britain is also taking steps to expel hate-mongerers. Is that also a violation of free speech?"

Interesting you should mention this, but YES, expect the newly-enacted British law to be challenged in the European Court...

- said...

Relax, Mr Wang, your cat is getting flurried.

I hope I will have spoken up for the communist too. Eh i never ask for absolute freedom of speech, hor...plz..
(read my latest lar - very long, i warn you first)

Hi Mugster

Britian - if you mean legislation like this which i fairly agree with

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2987108.stm

then i am rather sure the factual matrix is very different. furthermore, if you take a look at this,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3873323.stm

which i find very interesting, the UK actually "debates" such issues (like what we do online)

I mean we can look at Australia and United States. Pretty interesting laws specifically dealing with Racial Crimes. And the reasons why they started this laws, e.t.c. Our government is so good that these matrix has yet to appear.

asterisk said...

Ask yourself one simple question: before the police charged these two young Singaporeans, were you even aware of their forum or their websites? Apparently there was a flame war at those webpages - i.e. netizens were debating the issues raised, meaning any offensive statements made were in the process of being challenged by netizens, as it should be. I liken this to a family quarrel inside some private space; it's not like shouting loudly in a crowded market place, "Where is the money, Mr Goh?" If you really want to take offense, how come you weren't upset by Wendy Cheng's "Malay fuckers", a site well known to used vulgarities to drawn in cyber traffic. Read her travelogue on the KL trip, the version before "pig" was changed to "giraffe". The fact that Paul Jacob, political editor no less, is given a full page to rant his version of free speech confirms the political agenda behind this issue. This plus the "complainant" who rang up at the curious hour of 3.00 a.m. in the morning. Anybody care to be enlightened what the fellow was doing at that hour? And does anybody realize that Madam Zuraimah's strangely worded letter could have started a riot per se? What then?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Mr Wang, I think most are rising out of nowhere, not to defend the 3 gentlemen's right to racist speech, but to question the appropriateness of using the sedition act on them, instead of say, some other more relevant and less nastily named legislation, or letting it drop."

If that is where it is really coming from, then I think those defenders have a mistaken understanding of things.

There IS no legislation that is "more relevant" and available to the DPP - at least I can think of none. If any of you can point to alternative legislation available to the DPP that is "more relevant", let me know and we will discuss further.

As for "nastily named" legislation, I have already said that the name of the legislation matters little; what you need to look at is the substance of the law; and if you look at the substance, this so-called "sedition" offence, for all the apparent "sinister-ness" of the word, attracts a max sentence no more serious than that for simple shoplifting (s 379 Penal Code);

FAR more serious penalties are imposed for vandalising public property or smoking a bit of harmless marijuana.

Re your comment about Martyn See's case - the police regularly consult and report to DPP on their investigations; and certainly the DPP will be heavily consulted in a case like Martyn See's. Plainclothes police officers walk in and out of the Attorney-General's Chambers every day.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Ask yourself one simple question: before the police charged these two young Singaporeans, were you even aware of their forum or their websites?"

No, I wasn't. There must be millions of blogs, forums and websites out there in cyberspace, and there are probably only 20 or 30 that I visit with any regularity. What is your point, please?


"Apparently there was a flame war at those webpages - i.e. netizens were debating the issues raised, meaning any offensive statements made were in the process of being challenged by netizens, as it should be."

Yes, I agree. I think Paul Jacob would agree too. Your point is? There is a flame war, therefore authorities should not take action? Sorry, I cannot see the connection.

"I liken this to a family quarrel inside some private space; it's not like shouting loudly in a crowded market place, "Where is the money, Mr Goh?"

If you are choosing to measure the seriousness of the act by the number of people who witnessed it, I am quite confident that many websites would beat a crowded marketplace hands down. How many people can there be at a crowded marketplace - 100, 200 or 300? And how many people can visit a fairly popular website where a message can be posted indefinitely?

"If you really want to take offense, how come you weren't upset by Wendy Cheng's "Malay fuckers", a site well known to used vulgarities to drawn in cyber traffic. Read her travelogue on the KL trip, the version before "pig" was changed to "giraffe"."

Wendy Cheng has a site named "Malay Fuckers"? This I must see. What is the website address? If she has written things similar to what these three bloggers have written, then Mr Wang will personally call the police.

"This plus the "complainant" who rang up at the curious hour of 3.00 a.m. in the morning. Anybody care to be enlightened what the fellow was doing at that hour?""

Oh please. You want to make a conspiracy theory out of this? I was up at 3 am last night. After I changed my baby's diapers, I couldn't sleep so I went surfing on the Internet instead. * yawn * I think I need to go for an afternoon nap now.

mugster said...

Britain's intended laws will probably be challenged but they will also probably be passed in the end. Our society was faced racial tensions in in the past, and we reacted with a law. Now you will see western nations doing the same.

I think it's important to nip racists in the bud. These things can spiral out of control, and there are many such episodes in history. Hate is a very ugly thing and can fester over simple words and actions. You may think the racial harmony in Singapore isn't perfect, but it took very long to get to even this state. No idiot should be allowed to use the Internet to spread his racist agenda.

Come on, if you're a minority and someone starts a hate tirade against you, would you want legal recourse?

Recruit Ong said...

Hate is a form of strong emotions, irrational even. Emotions are what make humans human. There are better ways to deal with hate than applying something as poorly defined as the seditions act.

Edan Bernardino said...

Like it or not, our prickly bloggers are going to see this as a pre-emptive move against their own rights to speech, and a further move into more intrusive internet policing.

Only if these prickly bloggers are also morons.

(Mr. Wang said the above more politely in his response, but I think this deserves to be said.)

Interestingly, regarding British law, there have been recent attempts to eliminiate judicial review on every level for the purposes of something similar to the Singapore ISA. Apparently a draft was sent to the lord chancellor to check if it succeeded - and he wrote back with a long list of methods which judges could use to challenge a finding (under that act) and something to the effect of 'ha! you'll never stop them'. Of course those loopholes were plugged, but whether it is completely effective remains to be seen.

The point is - It's a pity that there is no judicial activism at such a level here, because a strong judical arm would do much to allay fears of a rampaging executive/legislation. Oh well.

Edan Bernardino said...

(addendum: Not that this has any impact upon the seditious bloggers...)

ivan said...

aki:

"If the forums and blogs were hosted on servers outside Singapore, I'd be very interested to hear how the public prosecutor manages to convince the judge that there's a case to answer for."

seriously, it's not going to be a problem... but i wonder why you'd say it's a problem?

"Interesting you should mention this, but YES, expect the newly-enacted British law to be challenged in the European Court..."

you're skipping a step... to bring a case up to the ECHR or the ECJ (i didn't what you meant by European Court, as there are 2), you need to firstly have fulfilled the criterias (thus establishing locus standi), and mind you even fulfilling that, the ECHR does have a principle called a "margin of appreciation" and the ECJ sort of respects that as well/adopts a similar thing (not portrayed accurately, but it's the gist of things).

edan
"British law, there have been recent attempts to eliminiate judicial review on every level for the purposes of something similar to the Singapore ISA"

they did not seek to eliminate judicial review, but sought to have the law lords to lower their head and say "it's parliament's intent, as such we cannot interfere."

furthermore judicial review does not invalidate the ruling nor the law. All it does is to 'fast track' a request for parliament to reconsider the law.

i believe it was lord hoffman "Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention is a quintessential British liberty, enjoyed by the inhabitants of this country when most of the populations of Europe could be thrown into prison at the whim of their rulers"

judicial activism is one thing, but that decision made a mockery of UK law. i quote Lady Hale “Executive detention is the antithesis of the right to liberty and security of person. Yet that is what the 2001 act allows.”

akikonomu said...

Hi Ivan,

"seriously, it's not going to be a problem... but i wonder why you'd say it's a problem?" One could argue that the crime took place overseas. The DPP had better have a very compelling reason to justify Singapore's extra-territorial reach.

I believe that the ECHR has been a total ass to UK's attempts to expel some illegal immigrants and failed assylum seekers, so it's not that far a stretch to assume they just might rule similarly to the UK's new speech law.

As for the "what if there's a riot because these 3 bloggers were not punished?" family of arguments... there's really not much else I can add from what sgclassics, merermachine and myself have said, except:

Vague hand-waving counterfactual nods in the direction of the prevention of possibly bad future outcomes shouldn't trump hard won and long-standing liberties.

Mr Wang Says So said...

It is a legal non-issue.

Criminal jurisdiction focuses on where the effects of the criminal act are felt. If the effects are felt in Singapore, then the Singapore courts can claim jurisdiction.

Suppose Osama, while in Afghanistan, plans a terrorist attack in Singapore. His henchmen come to Singapore, execute his plan here and blow up a building.

Notwithstanding that Osama did all his planning overseas in Afghanistan and never set foot in Singapore, he would have committed a crime in Singapore.

If he can actually be caught and arrested by the Singapore police, the Singapore courts have no legal difficulties at all in claiming jurisdiction over the case.

The focus is on where the effect of the crime is felt. If Osama;s henchmen had instead blown up a building in Malaysia, then the Singapore courts have no claim over the case.

akikonomu said...

So the question we will be watching in the trial for is: did all 3 bloggers single out Singaporean Malays specifically?

ivan said...

akiko:
"So the question we will be watching in the trial for is: did all 3 bloggers single out Singaporean Malays specifically?"

i doubt it'll be as specific as that... though it'll be the least legally contentious method of claiming jurisdiction.

imho (for what it counts as i'm no lawyer)

1) the accused committed some part of the offense in Sg. ie. typing the entry and posting it online.

2) the effects can be felt in Sg. ie. they post the comments from the US on a US server but targeted at unsettling Sg.

3) the comments published/made has been viewed or published in SG. (which occurs whenever a person in SG views the post/forum comment)

"I believe that the ECHR has been a total ass to UK's attempts to expel some illegal immigrants and failed assylum seekers, so it's not that far a stretch to assume they just might rule similarly to the UK's new speech law."

yes yes they have been quite a pain the the ass, BUT for a reason. and the reason can be grounded specifically in law - namely the protection of human rights, it would be inhuman for the UK to deport the II/aliens to a place with offers less protection than the UK. Basically it's contravenes their human rights for the UK to deport them to a place where they'll be chopped up boiled and eaten.
It has nothing to do with what you are mentioning. Assuming i support your argument that the ECHR will rule against the validity of the new racial law (despite 9/11, the bomb blasts, and the vaunted Margin of Appreciation), SHOULD they establish locus standi, the above scenario will not feature in any arguments made before the ECHR. it is irrelevant.
Furthermore, the UK has a principle of parliamentary sovereignty, even should the ECHR rule against the validity of the Act, it does nothing but exert political pressure on the legislature to change the Act.

anyway this deserves a topic on it's own, practical v theoretical, postulation and assumption are all that have been made and there is still on going academic commentary on what will actually happen, and if the ECHR (which isn't BINDING -surprise!- as compared to the ECJ, essentially they do not have legal powers) or ECJ rules a UK law is incompatible and the UK doesn't want to change it. Factoring political considerations, and the state of the EU now, i suspect the ECJ will be reluctant to shake the foundation further (so that leaves the ECHR with nothing, NO power!).

ivan said...

"the reason can be grounded specifically in law - namely the protection of human rights"

oops i forgot which article of the ECHR protects that right.... need to do some research to pinpoint it...

bottom line stills stands, the right you are talking about ( freedom of expression) and the example you quoted are covered under different Articles.

The Void Deck said...

Trackback - The Void Deck

Mr Wang, any other type of laws in Spore where bad choice of words used on a person could mean legal trouble? Besides defamation laws.

Anthony said...

Eh, velly late. Solly hor.

:D

Well, let's just put it this way. How many of us organise protests or make films?

We're making noise because it affects us personally. It doesn't mean we're not concerned about Martyn See or the Sham protest. Just that it's human nature to complain more loudly about things that personally affect you.