Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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I think I am Perverted! :) or am I ?

Was at the Queenstown Remand Prison today morning. To visit a client to prepare him for the guilty plea and mitigation to be taken before the Court tomorrow morning.

I walked past the guardhouse through the various gated passageways and to the inner guardhouse. I recalled many a time, upon appointment as Defence Counsel, i would have to make a trip to the Prison to take instructions.

I must have passed through those passageways umpteenth times – as a lawyer.

I also recall seeing the Queenstown Remand Prison in a different light when I participated in a candlelight vigil for the jailed Dr. Chee Soon Juan in September 2007 or thereabouts.

It was then dark and late night. Cold breeze and wet grounds due to the earlier shower. Melted and dripping candles lining the kerb facing the prison.

The Prison then looked to me to be an instrument of oppression.

Not entirely perhaps. For many that belonged in there deserved to be in there for the crimes that they committed. However, some people who are inside are not deserving to be imprisoned. Or should i say imprisoned for acts which are far less nefarious than felonies. Why should then the State choose to persecute the offenders with incarceration?

I fully understand that Dr. Chee chose to be jailed many a time: For protesting, under protest, for civil disobedience. I also understand that choosing to go to prison was in many ways an act of protest which manifested as not wanting to enrich an organ or an institution when it is persecuting political opponents in unfair ways.

Within the walls of the prison. Each time i entered it. I was addressed as “Sir”. Being an officer of the Court, a member of the bar, there was always a little more decorum and modicum of respect that Police Officers, Court Staff and members of the public will accord me with. However, how much of it is real?

By and large, being according some respect and addressed as “Sir” is all fine with me. But what am I without these? and What will i be without all these?

If i were to then walk through the passageways as a prisoner, what sort of decorum / respect will i get?

I was at the locker room emptying my pockets. A detail of prisoners with cleaning utensils and buckets and detergent were assembled in front of the inner Guardroom. Through the glass door, I noticed the prison officer order the cleaning detail to move faster and clean the areas directed. Two prisoners entered the locker room, they bowed their heads at me and smiled in acknowledgement.

I thought to myself. Was i accorded that because of what i am? A visiting Defence Counsel? The Officer -in-charge of the prisoners ordered them to clean the corners. The two prisoners tried as they were ordered but they were clearly inconvenienced by my presence in the room.

I was right smack in the locker room, at the lockers, emptying my pockets. They could not ask me to leave, it was not in their position to do so. They were trying to mop the areas which were away from me. It was clear that i was getting into their way. I quickly emptied my pockets and grabbed my file. Not forgetting my pass and pen, i grabbed them and lept out of the locker room.

The Officer smiled at me. So did the prisoners. They then began their vigorous cleaning of the tiled floor.  A nice scent wafted through the air. The smell of Jif.

I was led through the passageways. The prison officer who followed me to unlock the door before me and lock the door after me nodded in acknowledgement. “Good Morning Sir”.

I wondered. Was it my position then that elicited the politeness as well?

I saw my client in a cubicle. My client was a drug offender. He had one hand handcuffed to the wall. A board-like table separated us.

His face lit up when he saw me. He broke into a wide grin.

After i explained the steps i have taken for his case and also the fact that AG-C was not going to accede to representations, I told him of the minimum sentence he would expect. 5 years, 5 strokes minimum. 20 years 20 years 15 strokes maximum.

Given the lighthearted communication that existed all along between the 2 of us over the past few meetings. I shook my head at him and smiled. We both broke into a laughter. I lectured him a little after that. Scolding him for wasting a minimum of 5 years at the age of 27. By the time he would be out, he would be 31 years old. I told him “You better run your life properly after you come out. Don’t get involved with such things ever again. Its not worth it.” He promised me with a smile that he would not do drugs again. I told him “Good.”

Rising to take my leave, i told him i would see him tomorrow. He raised his hand to shake mine and I took it. I waved goodbye to him and left the cubicle.

The Officer brought me back through the gates again. This time round he was a little bolder to strike up a chat. He asked me “Sir, you are the lawyer right?”

I realised that i was dressed in a polo t-shirt, Jeans and track shoes. Not the usual dressing for a lawyer visiting the prison. I wondered what he would be guessing i was if I was not the lawyer. Plain-clothes Police Officer? Probably since police officers also routinely enter the prison to interview inmates for ongoing cases.

As i was changing my pass. The cleaning detail were ordered to sit down in a group on the floor. They did so. I did not see any unhappiness. I did not see any resentment. They seemed contented and happy as they were.

As I walked out of the prison gates and towards my vehicle. I realised the morning’s events were pointing me in a certain direction. What would it be like for me to walk those steps as a prisoner? How different will it be if i am not what i am now? What sort of treatment will i get? What sort of inner-realisation would i achieve? Who am i? Is it all worth it?

What was perceived? and what was real? Status and Respect. Does going to prison make a man? Is avoiding jail that important? Do we lose our freedom if we are jailed? Likewise will we lose respect if we are jailed? Or will we gain freedom by going to jail? 🙂

These questions and this article are going to rile many people. Critics and family and friends. 🙂

Relax. Not talking about such thoughts does not mean that they are not there in my head. 🙂

I reached office and after a while. Word has come from the police. It seems that after 3 letters to the police and others to the Court and my opponents plus a week of chasing, i finally managed to get the police to bring forward my 2nd attendance at the Central Police Division, Police Cantonment complex till tomorrow the 27th March 2008.

The attendance was originally slotted for 28th March 2008, but having a scheduled Court hearing for the entire day of 28th March 2008, there was really no way i could be at two places at one time. Hence i sought to reschedule.

I will be the first of the remaining 11 activists which have yet to be charged to be attending at the police again.

Will i be charged? And will i go to jail? 🙂

I think i am perverted. Or am I? 🙂

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March 26, 2008 - Posted by | Life, Politics

3 Comments »

  1. Dear Ti Lik, I hope you understand that only people who stand with the PAP will enjoy “Sir” status. Remember Francis Seow, Tang Liang Hong, Dr Chee, Ong Teng Cheong, these were capable people by any stretch of the imagination. Before Ong Teng Cheong started giving trouble by asking the govt the details of the reserves, he was so respected. After he ask too many questions, even a state funeral was deprieved with little explaination. Our nation has too few people who are nurtured with a democratic ideology. My parents most of the time dont even know why they think a certain way and most of the old folks who love the PAP are still living in history, recounting world war 2 and the riots of 1960s up till today to justify their love of the PAP. As much as I hate to say this, you will always be only just a troublemaker in this ideological matrix known as Singapore.

    Comment by mic1838 | March 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. So you have your fun, do you think you have done anything for anyone?
    Brown kena-ed when he complained about the cost as well.
    I am not here to berate you… But you should have realised that it is more useful to preserve a useful self than to go on useless protest. Now when there is any genuine issue, they will link you to trouble-makers n you expect them to even consider???
    I also find cost an issue… But I kept a copy to PMO, since I know some ‘people’ might shoot me in cross fire… Hahahahaha…
    Reason I stayed anonymous as far as possible is pretty simple: It’s the issue, not the glamour.
    Ti Lik, Singapore politics is a ‘brain game’. Blows and punch… all are civil workings lah…
    If you never declare… I no believe u were even YP b4.
    Raise issue sure will offend people… but must at least offend with a possibility of someone will move.
    If MM takes you as politically motivated… you expect him to do anything else lest urgency reckons solutions?
    He might even resist…! Then how? Other people’s efforts in putting (eg) cost issues up may kena cold shoulder…

    Comment by elfredinario | March 27, 2008 | Reply

  3. I am American living in Singapore. Ti Lik is a very admirable man for having the courage to stand up for what he believes but courage is not everything. A wider vision is what is needed here…..

    Singapore is quite arguably the greatst country in the world, this belief coming from an American who has seen these kind of protests all his life. These have not brought our country incredible rewards over the past several decades. We protested the Vietnam war but and may have likely ended it but abuses under Communism were vast and the ideology evenually fell anyway…justifying America’s initial involvement to begin with. Governments have a very difficult job, especially in such a dangerous region as Southeast Asia. Upon first glance, countries like the Philippines may look like a relaxed paradise where the pressure of government restriction is virtually non-existant and anyone can go there and live “freely”. A second glance, however, will reveal that Singaporeans, all be it reduced to “digits” on many occasions, live with priveleges and advantages which far outweigh the priveleges of the Flipino people who are extremely emotional yet steeped in a morass of povery and disease. Ti Lik should be proud to be a lawyer and not let his emotions destroy what has, thus far been an admirable career for him. This idea is something which can make him truly great someday and help Singapore to endure in what is now a very confusing era of global advancement.

    Comment by paulambrose | April 8, 2008 | Reply


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