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Thoughts from – Thursday 12th June 2008 – Wild Goose Chase 3

Morning 9am was the scheduled mention of Gopalan Nair’s case.

The mention commenced before Magistrate Shaiffudin Saruwan at about 925am. Due to the fact that a fresh charge was to be tendered the Court had to transfer the case to Court 26 for the mention. The matter was stood down to 11am.

The re-mention came at about 1130hrs, Magistrate Shaiffudin Saruwan ordered the matter to be transferred to Court 26 for the charge to be read. Gopalan was then taken back into custody and transferred to Court 26.

At Court 26, the case was mentioned and Gopalan was then offered bail on the same terms. by the time Gopalan was out i surmise it was probably past noon. I then parted with Gopalan and went about running my errands. So many days of running around had led me to neglecting my errands, my credit card bills unpaid etc. I had also recently very stupidly applied for online statements. Being a half-idiot in internet banking as well as a part workaholic, this was what happened.

I would never set time out for solely internet banking. I would do it in the middle of work, typing letters and answering phone calls in the midst of it. i was many a time not fast enough to key in the relevant code issued to me by sms and by the time it was done I had to restart everything all over again.

Given the goose chase that i knew i was in for on Thursday, i knew i needed help. Managing to leave the car in the trusted hands of a loved one. I made my way into the bank and got into the queue. When it came to be my turn, i said to the cashier “Help me please”  i pleaded woefully. The girl smiled without recoiling from fear. I proceeded to request for a series of multiple transactions sought on the accounts.

The cashier girl was most helpful and patient. And she understood my instructions! 🙂 i managed to get two credit car bills paid, an internal transfer made, and account closed and finally monthly statements printed. All within less than 8 minutes! I guess this proves that humans cannot be replaced by machines and that the girls at the Citibank Branch in town are very very much irreplaceable compared to their internet banking system.

Completing that came the task fo filing Siok Chin’s Notice of Appeal. I went to High Court Registry Level 2 and found that most of them were out for lunch. I managed to get an acknowledgment copy and then proceeded to go for my lunch.

Lunch was not spectacular. The company however saved the day. The food tasted bland and my usual drink tasted awfully dilute. I wondered, was it me? or was it the effect of rushing around that i cannot savour what was going on and happening around me.

By the time i managed to get to Gopalan’s press conference, i was a little ate. After sorting out a few last minute issues with Gopalan, we proceeded to let Gopalan have his say.

During the press conference, listening to his statement i realised that though Gopalan was a little droning as he read out his statement, Gopalan was afterall a person who had harboured deep thoughts every step of the way. I also realised i was somewhat 23 – 24 years younger. And that I had seen this man in the papers when he ran as a candidate in 1988 and 1991 under the Workers’ Party. I realised that this was a man who had afterall that he has said and done which included leaving for a life in USA was very much still a Singaporean.

I had the mistaken impression that Gopalan was someone whom had taken off and left for the US, I realised that his heart had been here all along despite his doing so. [I proceeded to take some time to read his blog today, i then realised that he gave up citizenship because he did not want to have his CPF monies kept away]

I thought that Gopalan had conveyed his thoughts pretty well and that he put his message of his convictions and and beliefs pretty well. I was quite taken aback by the horrible photo that Today Newspaper of 13th June 2008 published of Gopalan Nair and myself – we looked like ghouls from some crypt – its quite apt though being Friday the 13th today. 🙂

I had the opportunity of learning that Mr. Alex Au of Yawning Bread posted his article on the press conference as well. His photograph taken from the smallest of the cameras around were much better looking than the one which the multitude of state of the art cameras produced. I am very much convinced now of the folklore emanating in opposition circles that the mainstream press chooses the worst photographs of members of the opposition and its dissidents to convey the dread and disdain the establishment has towards us.

To put it simply, we both looked like ghouls. For me i have now found the photo for me to turn away unwanted attention. For Gopalan, i will just cut out this report and laminate it and use it to remind him of how ghastly we could look under the glaring eye of press cameras. And that he should obviously and consciously smile more.

Throughout the conference my phone kept ringing. i had to stop the calls as i could not be answering the phone in the midst of the camera rolling. I found out later the number turned out to be the Investigating Officer’s – he was calling me during the press conference – but i could not take his call for obvious reasons.

The session ended with me answering a multitude of phone calls again. Including one from the DPP Francis Ng. Imagine how fast news flows in Singapore. DPP Francis Ng called to ask if Gopalan decided on a position and i confirmed it accordingly to him. The DPP thanked me on that note and we ended again one of our many cordial conversations.

Even as i was even rushing to Queenstown Remand Prison to see Dr. Chee. The IO was asking me to get Gopalan to report to Central Police Station at 5pm. This was like less than 1.5 hours notice. And that they had parted with Gopalan in Court only less than 3.5 hours earlier. As i could not get in touch with Gopalan Nair in the midst of driving i could only promise to do my best to get in touch with him.

Dr. Chee was given a very bad haircut. At least i thought so. He did not seem to be bothered by it – not in the least. I took time to explain the procedure and the form and also what had happened in his absence. I told him of the events in Gopalan’s case and also the number of articles in the press. He did not seem to be very much bothered in his usual cool and collected fashion. Perhaps having been demonised, derided and abused, sued, bankrupted, arrested,  charged and imprisoned on a frequent basis has its advantages after all. Somehow a person having experienced much begins to show the ability to take abuse and to absorb the events happening all around without having to start name calling and verbal abuse unlike some others.

Dr. Chee told me that he would be released on Saturday morning at about 9am. I told him to hold out till then and i believed that there would be a welcome entourage waiting for him.

My interview with Dr. Chee was for 1 hour. The prison guards were nice. They let us have 10 minutes after time for our session to end. I left Dr. Chee at 1656hrs. Before i left, Dr. Chee asked me for the time, i realised that Siok Chin had done the same thing.

And i realised that prisoners did not have a sense of what time it was probably they did not have sight of sunlight and the outside world. I also noticed that they were both glad when they heard that the day was ending.

Prisoners do not have an easy time in the prison. Some people go to jail for nefarious crimes. Some people get away. Some people choose to go to jail for pursuing political change. There has always been this thing about political sacrifices. How does one measure the weight of a leader?

Imagine several years back i recall in or about 2004 PM Lee Hsien Loong claiming on TV that if he had to take a pay cut he would need to reconsider how much pocket money he would have to give his children.

The famous Bargain Hen also claimed that Singaporeans were getting bargain in terms of the quality of ministers they were getting compared to what they were being paid. I recall that his claim was that he could work half as hard and earn five times as much.

Recall Dr. Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin were sued and bankrupted by PAP leaders and the State respectively. They were caught in legal entanglements flowing from their engagements with the PAP and the establishment.

There are people who have so much money coming in from taxpayers’ money each month as their pay and they are unwilling to even consider a pay cut.

There are also people whom can give up everything their material wealth and possessions to speak up for their fellow brethern. Now Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin have further crossed that barrier of giving up personal liberty for standing up against the PAP.

If you think of whether who is the greater leader who has placed the interests of people at heart above self interest, i think the answer would be clear.

If you think of whom has the moral authority to govern Singapore – the answer is also clear.

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June 13, 2008 - Posted by | Life, Politics

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