Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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Oh where does the time go? Does anyone know?

These days, in the midst of scrambling left right centre, all over the place, a tune keeps playing in my head, Julia Fordham’s “Where does the time go? Does anyone know?” drones on and on and on.

I cannot help it if that particular verse in the chorus keeps calling out to me, especially so when I have been wondering, i am busy all the time, but i cant seem to be getting peak productivity. This is even so after frivolous activities of leisure have been cut down to the bone.

I sleep early at night. Wake up early in the morning to lengthen the day but somehow, it still does not make it. I try to make a rather naughty blog post and end up editing its direction a couple of times and then i realise. Its fatigue!

The fatigue from running the court cases flowing from involvement with Gopalan Nair, Dr. Chee Soon Juan and other protestors are taking a toll. Especially for Gopalan’s mentions, all of which seem to involve so much time including the stand downs which makes things so much more draggy.

The mention for Gopalan Nair in court 26 on Monday 14th July 2008 was an example. Prosecution appeared in Court dealing with all 4 charges. I was only instructed on 2 and i have not had time to consider whether or not to take up the other 2. I needed just a little time to speak to Nair. The Court wanted to stand the matter down by 1.5 hours to 11am. Luckily i had the mind to insist that i needed just a moment and a stand down to 11 am was not required. I spent 10 minutes with Gopalan Nair and then i was ready to address the Court. Not wanting to wait for a PTC on 24th July 2008, we ended up with another PTC on 16th July 2008.

This meant that my entire week had been fixed with one court appearance for either Dr. Chee, Nair or myself every single day.

So much so that it seems that i have fallen a little behind on my professional obligations. On Wednesday itself after obtaining Mr. Nair’s trial dates (24th July Full day , 28th July AM, 29th July PM, 30th July PM, 31st July Full day, 6th August Full day) which were fixed in the midst of my having to appear in other courts for other matters, I having received news that a District Judge had been chasing me for my long overdue submissions for another matter and i realised what i had to do. 

I realised that i had also opted to write this blogpost because i wanted to avoid that mental grind needed to get the original post publishable. As of now, i might have spent a total of 2-3 solid weeks of running around those cases which naturally meant 2 – 3 weeks of time less from my professional obligations over the last 1.5 months. No wonder i am feeling the strain.

I have been fortunate as Dr. Chee is very much willing to handle his trial in the Subordinate Courts himself. Dr. Chee’s trial was supposed to start from 14th July 2008 till 8th August 2008.

And since that i have now also found out that Mr. Gopalan Nair is willing as well, I will have my little breather to find that point of balance again.

I guess i should be much more effective in a couple of weeks when my professional obligations are fully discharged. This might also leave me with a little time for some music.

Now where did that Julia Fordham compact disc disappear to?


July 17, 2008 Posted by | Life, Politics | 1 Comment

Letter to Law Society of Singapore

The 19 Accused

C/o 24 Peck Seah Street

#05-09/11 Nehsons Building

Singapore 079314

16th July 2008

Mr. Michael Hwang

President, Law Society of Singapore

Dear Sir,


We are the 19 Singaporeans charged for allegedly participating in an assembly and procession without permit near Parliament House on 15th March 2008.

We had as citizens claimed our right to peaceful assembly and presented ourselves before Parliament House to speak out against the multitude of ill-timed price hikes initiated by the Government, which have exacerbated the inflationary situation and cost of living for Singaporeans.

On 11th July 2008, we were all charged each with one count of assembly without a permit and one count of procession without a permit.

In light of the price hikes further initiated from the 15th March 2008 till today, it is clear that this Government remains unwilling to take active steps to make life less unbearable for all Singaporeans.

In the light of the decision to charge us for speaking up as citizens, it is clear that this Government will not hesitate to silence citizens by discouraging citizens from exercising the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Any stifling of civil and political expression by citizens is unhealthy for Singapore and it breeds contempt of the citizenry by the Executive which in turn leads to brazen disregard of citizens’ welfare in the policies practiced.

A government must be subservient to the People. This government cannot act unchallenged when it tries to restrict the fundamental liberties of Singaporeans.

The Laws of a country should be enacted to further the interests of the People and cannot be used to throttle civil and political expression.

Citizens have rights only slaves have no rights. Singapore Citizens are entitled by citizenship to fundamental liberties guaranteed by our constitution.

In view of the above, the Law Society of Singapore, being the body that represents our defenders of justice must assist citizens who are prosecuted by the State for exercising their fundamental liberties and cannot just stand idly by and be content to do nothing.

We hereby urge the Law Society of Singapore to step forth to arrange for legal representation for the 19 of us.

Yours faithfully

Chia Ti Lik

For and on behalf of the 19 Accused:

Chee Soon Juan

Chee Siok Chin

John Tan Liang Joo

Ghandhi s/o Karrupiah Ambalam

Jeffery George Seelan s/o Palay

Muhammad Jufri Bin Mohd Salim

Lim Teck Hee Sylvester

Chong Kai Xiong

Surayah Binte Akbar

Lang Chin Kah Carl Coca

Ng E-Jay

Francis Yong Chu Leong

Chia Ti Lik

Go Hui Leng

Mohamed Jufrie Bin Mahmood

Govinda Rajan s/o Surian

Yap Keng Ho

Muhammad Shafi’ie Syahmi Bin Sariman

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Politics | 1 Comment

Press Statement from the 19 charged in Court today

JOINT PRESS STATEMENT from the 19 Accused:


Chee Soon Juan                           Chee Siok Chin                   John Tan Liang Joo

Ghandhi s/o Karrupiah Ambalam       Jeffery George                   Seelan s/o Palay

Muhammad Jufri Bin Mohd Salim      Lim Teck Hee Sylvester       Chong Kai Xiong       

Surayah Binte Akbar                     Lang Chin Kah Carl Coca      Ng E-Jay

Francis Yong Chu Leong                Chia Ti Lik                         Go Hui Leng

Mohamed Jufrie Bin Mahmood         Govinda Rajan s/o Surian     Yap Keng Ho

Muhammad Shafi’ie Syahmi Bin Sariman                                  




THE PROTEST ON 15th March 2008 World Consumers’ Rights’ Day

Before Parliament House Singapore


We are the 19 Singaporeans summoned to Court for allegedly participating in an assembly and procession without permit near Parliament House on 15th March 2008 – this event is also known as the Tak Boleh Tahan Protest.


The term “Tak Boleh Tahan” is colloquial Malay for “We can’t take it anymore”.

The Tak Boleh Tahan Protest was meant to speak out against the multitude of ill-timed price hikes initiated by the Government, directly and indirectly in areas ranging from GST, public transport to education and healthcare, which have exacerbated the inflationary situation and made it much harder for Singaporeans to cope with the increased cost of living.


Despite rumblings from the ground, the Government had been unwilling to take real steps to reduce the cost of living for the majority of Singaporeans and the poor and lower income groups have been the hardest hit. When we presented ourselves in front of Parliament House on 15th March 2008, we did so because we felt that the protest would send a strong message on behalf of our countrymen to the Government not to make life any more difficult for Singaporeans.

15th March 2008, 12 of us were arrested on the spot. Subsequently, another 7 were called up and questioned. By this morning, all 19 of us have been formally charged in Court 23, each with one count of assembly without a permit and one count of procession without a permit.

In light of the price hikes further initiated from
the 15th March 2008 till today, it is clear that the Government remains unwilling to take active steps to make life less unbearable for all Singaporeans. We are now all the more convinced that the protest was needed and justified and simply had to be done. We are further convinced that our claim as citizens to the right of assembly and freedom of expression was timely and proper. Therefore, we would wish to claim trial to the charges brought against us.

I am the only lawyer in the entire group. But since I am now also a co-accused, I am unable to act as legal counsel for the group. Therefore the group at present is in need of legal representation. We make an appeal for Singaporean lawyers to come forward to represent us in these proceedings.



Chia Ti Lik

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Politics | 3 Comments

The Act of Wrongful Accusation

Being in the heat of the action brings up issues. The stress and pressure to keep to timelines, address questions from the people around you, the constant thinking and strategizing required of the mind, the need to measure up and perform and yet be up to date and aware of the events surrounding you throws up past issues and matters into the present day limelight.

I remember someone close had once described this to me as pottery being thrown into the oven or furnace to be fired. The heat of the fire not only burns and consumes. It also changes our constitution – in this case it changes the state of our psychology and mind.

I also remembered a time when i was younger but noticeably aware of what was happening around. It should be my teenager years, i was be able to tolerate anything, be it sarcasm, snide remarks, mild bullying, ostracisation etc etc. All those were unimportant in the big scheme of things. The only one sore issue that struck me was my response to an unjustified accusation. It was nothing short of extreme. As if everything in life depended on it.

Tracing back the source of such an extreme reaction, I remembered an incident which left a clear mark on my memory.

I remembered that it was something that happened when i was a child. And the accusation came from a loved one. And it was about something I never did or something which I never intended to do. I also remembered that it was in such circumstances that an accusation became especially hurting.

I remember it occurred when i was young, barely 4 i guess. I was accused of theft. The situation as it were did not allow me to explain myself. The deed was already done. Time had passed. The money was in my pocket and had been taken out of it. It had already be spent, converted and the supposed money was now in the form of a tasty packet of rojak which which i had happily bought and brought home.

I remembered being accused without being afforded a real opportunity to explain.

I remember that feeling of being cornered, stripped bare and helpless, condemned.

I remember the feeling of being singled out for punishment for something which i did not intentionally do.

I remembered nothing was done to prevent siblings from taking my treat literally from under my nose as it was being interrogated.

I remembered tearing as i realised that i could not explain myself.

I was too afraid to even try to explain.

Perhaps it was my lesson in life at an early age, that there were already things in life which would be as they were, unexplainable. This was a lesson delivered in hallmark fashion in a situation where time had passed and many things had occurred in that span of time, things and facts which were in the process would not come across as clear as the results / facts that were present before everyone’s eyes. The process of how it was done was not explainable or even if explained did not sound as convincing.

Perhaps that was also why it is a rule of natural justice that offences needed to be dealt with as and when they occurred. In fact a rule of natural justice requires a charge to be made and prosecuted as soon as it may be feasible and not many years after the alleged offence is committed.

It does not help justice or help to elicit facts of truth when a police officer watching a crime being committed chooses to do nothing. Only to turn around several days later to make an accusation that a crime has been committed.

It does not help the Court or the administration of justice that if and when the Court perceives contempt of its proceedings, chooses to keep quiet, then after a day or two cite Accused persons of having been in contempt of the Court and expect the Accused to so explain.

It naturally flows that it certainly does not help if someone was felt to be sending a message or doing an act, the recipient of the message feeling aggrieved chooses not to bring the matter up or bother to clarify but waits till time and event has passed before springing a surprise with the full weight of the accusation and extra interpretations made without bothering to clarify in the first place.

Likewise, it does not make sense for a mother to watch a child walk towards the precipice yet to choose to keep quiet and raise cain only when the child approaches the dangerous edge or to cry and mourn when the child has met his end of the cliff.

It certainly does not also follow that upon spotting an error, a person allows the errant party to continue a certain course of action, then bring up the error of the first wrong step after things have taken shape in a certain direction.

The only time when such manner of keeping quiet and allowing the mistake to be continued to be made. Of watching the dangerous steps to be taken in the wrong direction while the conscious party awaits and observes happens in military operations when an enemy is knowling lured into a trap – in simple terms, in a maneuvre called an ambush.

I remember that feeling of humiliation and helplessness

I don’t think that in my introverted and shy stage of life that i really managed to explain myself – AND I don’t think i ever forgave my accuser of that wrong at all.

It might have been that experience that made me pursue a path and end up a lawyer. Presumably to defend helpless others against false accusations. It may also be that because i deep down, i variably identified myself with people whom were accused of charges and whom were put in a situation which they could do little or nothing to defend themselves.

Somehow, the presence of such an deep-seated issue clouds things. There is a positive edge to it but there is also a negative serrated side of the phenomena. There is an advantage that comes with it and yet it comes with a corresponding debilitating characteristic.

That the severity of the act does not figure at all in the minds of other people. Yet it provokes a reaction deep within. Something instinctive, something within, something primal.

It does little to hope that others will understand the little hiccups and quirks of life we each have. We just have to indentify the source and look beyond it. Perhaps its a sign of a life path, perhaps it is a little sticker reminder from God of the mission that i am supposed to undertake.

Perhaps it is all just an issue which had taken more than its due time to be addressed.

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Life | 1 Comment