Shadrake Jolly No More…For Now

The PAP has activated its police to do its dirty work, a police force which not only handcuff photojournalists, but recently arrested a visiting British author who wanted to test the limits of Singapore’s freedom of speech and liberty by launching his book about the death penalty in Singapore.

This reminds me of that loser Gopolan Nair slightly as Gopolan was officially a US citizen and got arrested for contempt of court. Alan Shadrake is also in a similar situation – a foreigner who came here to push the boundaries thinking he could get away with it but got caught in his own public relations trap in the end. He got the controversy he wanted, we Singaporeans got the controversy we wanted at no expense to ourselves as we let a foreigner get the sharp end of the stick and the PAP looks bad.

With the arrest of Shadrake, the whole issue is less about the death penalty, and more about where we draw the line on supposed foreign intervention. Cracking down on local politicians getting foreign money and logistics is fine with me. But turning the screws on a foreigner in his book launch, although the foreigner is like a taunting Oliver Fricker and asking for it, is a bit too much in my book. Unless there is more than meets the eye here.

Singapore arrests British author
July 19, 2010 – 1:54AM


Singapore police arrested a British author on Sunday, a day after he launched a book alleging double standards in the city-state’s use of the death penalty.

Alan Shadrake, who wrote the book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice on the Dock, was detained on charges including criminal defamation and contempt of court, police said in a statement.

“Police confirm that they have arrested British national Alan Shadrake. He is being investigated for alleged offences of criminal defamation and other offences,” it said.

“Alan Shadrake has also been served with an application by the Attorney-General for an order of committal for contempt of court,” the statement added.

It said that the arrest was made “pursuant to a police report that was lodged” by regulator Media Development Authority.

Shadrake’s arrest came a day after the launch of his book, which contained an interview with Darshan Singh, the long-time chief executioner at Singapore’s Changi Prison, who has since retired.

The book also features interviews with local human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers on various cases involving capital punishment in the city-state, which carries out the death penalty by hanging.

In Singapore, the death penalty is mandatory for murder, treason and drug trafficking, among other crimes.

Despite criticism from human rights activists, Singapore officials have maintained that the death penalty has been a key factor in keeping a low crime rate in the island-state, one of Asia’s safest countries.

Shadrake, who wrote articles for London’s Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, told AFP after the book’s Singapore launch on Saturday that he had expected trouble, but felt that the authorities were not going to take action.

“If they do anything, it’ll just draw more attention to it all, and they have no defence,” he said.

Defamation carries a sentence of two years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.


13 responses

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  3. Swagman

    I think you are right that Alan Shadrake wanted to do a Lloyd Dane Alexander and scoot off scoring publicity and controversy for his book launch as a gimmick “I stuck my head in the Merlion’s jaws”! In the end, he was a Oliver Fricker and got caught rather than Lloyd who managed to get away. The cheek for a foreigner to come here and talk about the death penalty and make money out of it. If it was a Singaporean, I don’t think there would be a problem

    July 20, 2010 at 11:54 am

    • Paul

      Alan Shadrake’s crime?
      Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 19, 2010 45 Comments

      Choo Zheng Xi –

      Alan Shadrake’s book “Once a Jolly Hangman” makes for uncomfortable reading. One case in particular might have made those in power uncomfortable enough to arrest Mr Shadrake on the rarely used draconian charge of criminal defamation.

      A defamation action is usually instituted in civil proceedings by a person or an institution that believes its reputation has been harmed by a statement of the defendant. Even Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew used a civil defamation action in pursuing his detractors in the international press and local opposition.

      Criminal defamation brings the resources of the State to bear in what is essentially a question of protecting personal reputations.

      In 2009, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) intervened to discontinue proceedings in a criminal defamation action on the grounds that “the law of criminal defamation is not to be resorted to lightly”. The AGC noted that in a civil action, the possibility that costs may be awarded against an unsuccessful plaintiff acts as a natural barrier to frivolous action. There is no such safeguard in criminal defamation.

      The United Kingdom abolished criminal defamation in July 2009.

      So what agitated the authorities enough to arrest Alan Shadrake for criminal defamation, amongst other charges?

      The Vignes Mourthi case?

      One possible contender is his characterization of the trial and execution of Vignes Mourthi as “arguably one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice in Singapore’s history”.

      Vignes Mourthi was arrested on 20 September 2001 and convicted of trafficking 27.65 grams of heroin.

      Mourthi’s conviction rested largely on the strength of evidence of the officer who arrested him, Sgt S Rajkumar, a senior officer of the Central Narcotics Bureau. Sgt Rajkumar was a key witness in the prosecution’s case, and Mourthi’s defense was that an incriminating piece of evidence collected by Rajkumar had been added at a much later date.

      Shadrake reveals that just three days after Mourthi’s arrest, on 23 September 2001, Sgt. Rajkumar was himself arrested for allegedly handcuffing, raping and sodomizing a young woman and for subsequently bribing her to keep silent.

      In the judgment convicting Rajkumar of bribery, Judge Sia Ai Kor described his actions as “so obviously corrupt by the ordinary and objective standard that he must know his conduct is corrupt”.

      Shadrake points out how the ongoing case against Rajkumar was never revealed to Mourthi’s defense lawyer, and surmises that the prosecutor and other parties must have known about Rajkumar’s case but chose to keep silent.

      In his book, Shadrake characterizes Mourthi’s case as groundbreaking enough to resemble the “catastrophic failures of the justice system in Britain” that contributed to the death penalty being abolished there.

      If Shadrake is right, then the authorities could very well be stepping up to the criminal defamation plate to contest his version of events.

      July 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm

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