Justice Singapore Style and Something Else,

douglass st.christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Thu, 21 Apr 1994 09:24:43 -0400

For those curious about the turns and twists this case has taken, here is
a brief update.

Yesterday Michael Fay, the 18 year convicted of vandalism in Singapore
who is awaiting a sentence of six strokes of the cane [ for stroke read 6
brutal skin removing swipes] has filed his final appeal for clemency
withe the president of Singapore. Commentators on this last effort seem
to all agree that it will be fruitless. However, there could be some
considerable delay in the president's response.

At the same time his family has mounted one last ditch attempt to absolve
the young man of the crime. All along they have accepted the conviction
and argued that the sentence was unfair, raising two issues:

a] he did not realise the severity of the punishment his actions
would elicit.
b] he suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and so, for reasons
really made clear by this lawyer and family, should either not be
held responsible or should be granted leniency because the
punishment would put him at some risk.

However, last night the family reversed its position almost completely
and is now arguing that Michael Fay is, in fact, innocent; that he
entered a plea of guilty in his mother's advice to,in her words ' get it
over with and let us put this behind us'. This puts an entirely different
spin on the situation since, if his mother is telling the trut

a] he should not be punished for the acts of vandalism to which
he pled guilty
b] his lawyer had better start looking up the statutes on perjury
which are in effect in Singapore

I personally feel the families manouverings betray a fundamental
arrogance and disrespect for the Singaporean government and for
Singaporean law, a disrespect motivated by bald self interest and not
some political or moral outrage over the repressiveness of the
Singaporean system.

And that this question of inter-cultural differences in standards of
punishment is belittled by our having to debate the issue around so
patently misguided and arrogant a case.

I hope the president of Singapore, whatever his merits as the head of
what appears to be a tyrannical government, recognizes that this boys
butt is not worth arguing about and simply strips the brat naked, and has
hime chased through the street by a mob armed with tins of
red spray paint where he and his self serving supporters can be
ingloriously deported in the cargo hold of a garbage skow.

The question of activism on behalf of some minimal standards of fair play
in policing and politics and the rest is too important an issue to have
it tarnished by arguing the merits of this bizarre and offensive case.
But until they either ship this kid home or whup his butt, it simply
will not go away.