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Alan Shadrake and the Police State

Attorney-General’s Chambers opposes Alan Shadrake’s application to leave Singapore

Reports from today’s editions of Straits Times and TODAY. See also my posts here, here and here.

Shadrake appeals against sentence and conviction
Selina Lum, Straits Times, 27 Nov 2010

BRITISH author Alan Shadrake yesterday filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence for contempt of court, more than a week after the punishment was handed down.

The filing came amid a hearing into an application by the 76-year-old to leave Singapore.

In an affidavit filed yesterday, he said he intended to seek further medical treatment in London, as his cardiologist here has recommended that he be fitted with a pacemaker and undergo a double angioplasty.

Shadrake said in the affidavit that he would like to leave Singapore no later than Dec 6 and return no later than April 1 next year.

The hearing into his application to leave Singapore has been adjourned, and will be heard next Thursday.

At a closed-door hearing on Monday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had asked the court to impose a condition on the stay on the sentence – that Shadrake has to seek the court’s permission if he wanted to leave Singapore.

He and his lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, maintained that this was an ‘invitation’ for him to leave Singapore – a suggestion which was rejected yesterday by the AGC.

A statement by the AGC said: ‘At no point in time has the Attorney-General made any such invitation.’

Chief Counsel David Chong told the court yesterday that the AGC was opposing Shadrake’s application to leave Singapore.

Earlier this month, the author was found to have impugned the impartiality, integrity and independence of the courts in 11 passages in his book, Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice In The Dock.

On Nov 16, Justice Quentin Loh sentenced him to six weeks’ jail and a $20,000 fine – the heaviest punishment handed down here for contempt of court by way of scandalising the judiciary.

As Shadrake could not decide if he was appealing, Justice Loh granted him a one-week stay on the sentence.

Two days later, Mr Ravi wrote to the court that his client was appealing against the conviction and sentence, and asked for a hearing date for him to apply for a further stay.

The fresh stay was granted on Monday, pending the appeal.

Yesterday, Justice Loh adjourned Shadrake’s application to leave Singapore till next Thursday, for a few things to be sorted out. Among the issues, he said he wanted to see a doctor’s letter giving details of the procedure, given that Shadrake’s earlier affidavit said he wanted to go home to spend Christmas with his family.

The judge also wanted both sides to submit arguments on whether Shadrake should be made to put down a sum of money as a deposit to secure his return.

While the judge stressed that he has yet to make up his mind, he said the deposit should be in the region of $80,000.

Outside court, Shadrake told reporters: ‘If they are going to make it difficult for me, I will stay here. I’m quite happy to live in Singapore.’

Judge asks for British author’s itinerary
Teo Xuanwei, TODAY, 27 Nov 2010

Earlier this week, British author Alan Shadrake stated in court documents that he wanted to spend Christmas with his family in London.

On Friday – the same day he filed the notice of appeal against his conviction for contempt of court – Shadrake said he also wanted to get fitted with a pacemaker and undergo a double angioplasty. He wishes to leave no later than Dec 6 and return before April 1 – an application the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) promptly opposed because of the duration.

It capped a day in which the AGC and Shadrake’s lawyer, Mr M Ravi, spent objecting to each other’s applications.

The AGC had wanted the High Court to state that the 76-year-old journalist should not leave Singapore without the court’s approval, pending his appeal against a six-week jail term and a $20,000 fine for contempt of court.

Mr Ravi said on Friday this was “not fair” and that it was already standard procedure for those who are facing jail term to seek the court’s approval if they wished to leave the country before their appeals are heard.

The court ruled earlier this month that Shadrake had impugned the impartiality, integrity and independence of the courts in 11 passages in his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock.

Even though his passport has been impounded by the police since his arrest – as investigations continue on criminal defamation charges – the AGC said Shadrake was “not under any legal obligation” to get the court’s go-ahead before he leaves Singapore “unless a condition to that effect is imposed on him”.

Justice Quentin Loh retained the condition and asked Shadrake to file his itinerary in his application to leave Singapore.

Shadrake said the medical procedures he wanted to get done were recommended by his cardiologist.

Responding to the AGC’s objections, Mr Ravi said: “This isn’t a devious plan that he’s having now. He wants to go back to London to see his family, so he might as well sort out his pacemaker.”

To which Justice Loh said: “I don’t think anybody is saying there’s a devious plan.”

The case is adjourned to Thursday.



One thought on “Attorney-General’s Chambers opposes Alan Shadrake’s application to leave Singapore

  1. This is turning into more of a dog’s dinner at every new twist in the protracted Alan Shadrake saga! The Singaporean authorities appear to be in some confusion: on the one hand it is undeniable that the AG Chambers were opening up a route by which Alan Shadrake could leave Singapore in effectively reminding him that he could apply to the courts to leave Singapore’s jurisdiction – but on the other hand the AGC is both denying that this amounts to an invitation and also opposing it! It is inconsistent and does nothing to inspire any greater confidence in the Spore Justice system.
    I think the problem for them is that they wish – understandably – to save face in maintaining that they were correct and the judgement against Alan was sound; but they also wish to see the ongoing problem of Alan’s “challenge” to the regime removed from Singapore. It is also understandable that they would wish to deny that this was an invitation to leave Singapore as it undermines any credibility (they perceive as) existing in their handling of this matter: but the opposition to his application to leave is cack-handed. One can only wonder at the kinds of debates going on between the legal and government officials behind closed doors that they have arrived at such an impasse – the actions have all the hallmarks of a confluence of different opinions – legal and political, with different arguments prevailing at different times. It has all the hallmarks of a decision by committee. The easiest solution for the Singaporean authorities – if they had the wit and singleness of purpose to employ it – (and I do not recommend it by any means) would be for them to deport Mr Shadrake. That way (I speak from their point of view) they would be able to maintain that they were right and yet remove the “problem” of Alan Shadrake. The conflicting and sometimes incoherent decisions by committee are making the authorities look foolish: after all, as someone once said: the camel is a horse designed by a committee! So far, it seems to me, the Singaporean authorities have produced a rather inferior camel!

    Posted by MJ Maguire | November 27, 2010, 18:37

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