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On the battlefield: A commando, the Infantry and the Armour and the Enemy

The above title describes it all.

The Commando – Yap Keng Ho – fearless as he is, he is not a team player.

The Infantry – SDP and Confederates

The Armour – Approved opposition and mainstream society

The Enemy – The Panzer And Panzer Division

The following are a brief description of the roles at the moment.

The Commando

The commando is not a team player. He perceives himself as the one man army. In as much as every soldier is supposed to be fearless. Fearlessness degenerating into ill-discipline and anarchy would instead jeopardize the operation.

The commando has at times laid explosives which are placed very near the infantry. Given his firepower and courage, he should be charging into the enemy and blowing them apart well placed from his own comrades. Instead, explosives and traps are placed all too often, too close to the infantry.

The commando feels answerable to no one and therefor does not wish to take the commands of the Infantry’s commanding officer. The commando is therefore by his own admissions suited for missions which involve himself only. He therefore should not intervene into operations of the Infantry and yet refuse to obey a co-ordinated attack plan.

The Infantry Battalion

The Infantry is the common foot soldier. Not very heavily armed. Not armoured as well. He only has the bravery of heart to engage in bloody combat and the unified strength of single-minded movements of his battalion on the battlefield as his strength. Indeed no single infantryman can take down an enemy tank but a platoon doing a co-ordinated attack might be able to.

The infantry battalion has suffered casualties. It has scored kills as well. Despite being wounded and maimed, the morale is high.

The Armour Regiment

The Armour regiment suffers from jitters when it comes into entering into battle. It also suffers some cognitive disorder in terms of identifying itself closer to tanks and not so much of the banner under which they belong. The Armour’s gunners seem to see enemy Panzers as friendly and foot soldiers wearing their same insignia as the enemy.

The armour therefore refuses to fire on the Panzers and more often than not fires shots at the infantry. The infantry in fighting the Panzers not only has to avoid the Panzer fire, they have to avoid “friendly” fire from their own Armour.

The Enemy

The Panzer division? Oh it is watching the battlefield and laughing itself silly at the moment.

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August 28, 2008 Posted by | Politics | 1 Comment

TBT Trials – Lawyers coming forward – Thank you

Contrary to what people believed, altruism exists in Singapore.

We have six confirmed lawyers and maybe up to eight lawyers coming forward to assist to defend a number of the 18 protestors.

This morning it is confirmed that Ms Jaslyn Go will be represented by Mr. R. Thrumurgan of Thiru & Co. and Ms Surayah Binte Akbar will be represented by Mr. Amarick Gill from Amarick Gill & Co.

Both of the lawyers will be representing two lady protestors on a special fee arrangement basis.

Mr. R. Thrumurgan and Mr. Amarick Gill, I hereby salute you for coming forward.

August 28, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

The Condescension of a Ruler towards his Peasants

Until the front page news splashed over all papers on 26th August 2008, I never fully understood the meaning of condescension and insult. Indeed, I have never felt so insulted before in my life.

Indeed throughout my 34 years. I have been bullied, punished, criticised, ridiculed, arrested, charged, soon to be jailed, maybe in time to serve extended detention in some alleged conspiracy and maybe to face the gallows for some trumped up charges in time to come. But i have never felt so insulted before.

His Excellency, the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has shown what it is like for him to behave like a ruler.

He has LIBERALISED Singapore allowing outdoor demonstrations at Hong Lim Park.

NOTE: Only at Hong Lim Park.

Prior to that was a flurry of requests from reporters as a prelude to that announcement over the weekend. And what faces me now is a stark contrast of fiction and reality.

Here i am. On on hand, running helter-skelter, left-right-centre defending multiple actions necessitated by the actions of the Singapore Police Force against the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, on the other hand, Lee Hsien Loong cleverly protrays himself as an open, all magnanimous and all progressive leader in throwing the door open for demonstrations and protests in ….. Hong Lim Park.

Little do people know that on one side, we have this facade of openness. On the other side activists are getting charged for doing things which in other democracies would not have even raised an eyebrow. Over here we have almost a picture of an entire machinery galvanised to arrest and charge democracy groups in Court.

To-date, we have a total of more than 22 activists charged for at least 3 separate protest incidents stretching back to September 2006. It is likely that more charges are coming in even at this moment ludicrously. All of which are aimed at the opposition that provides the most sting – the Singapore Democratic Party.

The Prime Minister’s father, his Excellency, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had ruled Singapore by a series of well placed and timed and handled ISD detentions, ColdStore 1, Coldstore 2, detentions in the 70s (someone tell me the codename if any) and Operation Spectrum.

LKY’s style was that of a heavy hand, an iron fist which often left his opponents, or should i say perceived opponents, with a broken ribcage, coughing out blood, passing out and never really returning for a fight in a second round.

His Excellency, the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong has now done the honours in escalating the humiliation. Lee Hsien Loong has carried the superiority of his position and that of his minions and his establishment to an even higher level.

In a rare master stroke of ingenuity, he has sidestepped true obligations of a leader who has promised political openness, yet strengthened his position protraying himself as an open minded leader who understood the changing times and need for progress to demonstrated political correctness and wit in allowing demonstrations and delegating the control of Hong Lim Park from the Singapore Police Force to the National Parks Board.

The National Parks Board deals with plants and shrubs. And only mindless vegetation should be on the radar scope of the National Parks Board. As such, i have little wonder what our Prime Minister is actually trying to say.

As an activist, ex-politician and soon to be jailed lawyer involved in so many dissident actions, the press naturally hounded me for my opinion on what those concessions meant to me. As there were so many queries, i could not answer them all given the number of court actions i need to give my attention to.

I do recall now forgetting to answer the email request from Imelda Saad, i hereby apologise for that. I also recall stating quite abit of my unrestrained opinion to a reporter from FM95.8 a Ms Fengqin, Ms Esther Ng from Today, Ms Sue-Ann Chia from Straits Times just to name a few.

As far as I am aware, Today carried my comments. I had stated to Esther “this is an attempt to retain control over what the government is unable to control.” but i was quoted as saying that ‘this is an attempt to “return” control…’ which essentially does not make sense.

I also made it clear that such pseudo-openness does not measure up to the openness of true democracies in developed countries.

I also stated that “it is akin to someone taking away all of your money and throwing 10 dollars back onto your face and expecting you to express gratitude for the return of the 10 dollars.”

My most stinging statements never made it to print. Faced with such media blitz glorifying the establishment on their move for openness, this is what i have to say with regards to the FACADE, HYPOCRISY, and CONDESCENSION of the administration (PAP, AG-C, SPF, and NPB included) involved.

Alex Au described it too meekly as he not wanting to dignify “tokenism”

I say this move is nothing more than an insult to activists’ and citizens’ intelligence.

Here we are getting charged left right centre by one arm of the government, yet the other arm of government has to cheek to seek self-glorification and praise for returning a mere pittance of what was robbed from a people in the first place.

Here we are expected to be immensely grateful to the Ruling party for its little scraps thrown at us with little dignity and in the midst of it having to face the iron fist of the machinery. Is that possible? 🙂

Imagine a rebellious peasant, one leg broken by the soldiers standing nearby, and forced into a kneeling position before the King. He would have expected the executioner’s sabre to cut his head off with a swift stroke. But that did not happen.

Instead, the ruler rises from his throne and approaches the kneeling peasant. Slaps the peasant with a swift and deft stroke by the back of his palm, followed by a spitting onto his face. To top it all, the orders the grimacing peasant to salute the king, praise his greatness and express his gratitude.

The ruler expects the peasant to be contented henceforth.

The peasant instead views the episode as an insult both to dignity and intelligence – a fate worse than death.

The peasant will remember this episode and he promises himself that the ruler and his soldiers will pay for this in time to come.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Life, Politics | Leave a comment

The sudden bursting of the dam – Inspiration!

Hey hey

Labouring with multiple actions arrayed against the famed legal fighters of the Attorney-General’s Chambers is no easy task. So much so that i have neglected my blog. Even worse was this fatigue which set in and affected the inspiration needed fr articles.

Then this morning, the damn burst. I have in line 4 articles. Waiting to be completed and to be published.

I hope my readers will put up with my erratic blogging. This is somewhat uncontrollable. The last time i tried to space out a sudden gush of inspiration, the inspiration died out and i cancelled all six articles – all of which were not the lesser than that which i have published but they were in a sense out of time of the moment.

Therefore, all of you should bear with me and at least relish in the deluge of writing inspiration that has been missing for months!

cheers.

Ti Lik

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

A bit of grousing – cheap Starhub and Associates

It has come to the end of my patience. These days many things test my patience.

I do not normally wish to embarass anyone in my blog but since it is commonplace that blogs are used for venting frustrations and I do not think i have any other alternative.

My mobile service provider is starhub. Upon renewing my contract several months ago, i discovered that i am being billed for items which i do not recall using.

Despite my first discovery of the same and calling up both Starhub and the SMS company to cancel it. Months have passed and if not for the fact that i chose to open my starhub bill this morning instead of chucking it into the bin, i would not have discovered that Starhub is still allowing a billing of an addtional S$16 to my phone bill at $4 per SMS.

As to how many months this has been going on – God knows.

Does Starhub consciously choose to make money unscrupulously in conjunction with Third Parties in this manner?

Starhub, i have already called customer service to and whatever number you have referred to do all i can to cancel this service which i had never asked for. Now that i have come to the end of my patience. I hope this little bad publicity can wake up your company a bit.

i don’t know what works on you if this does not. Good luck to your company
If this carries on. When the contract ends. Goodbye to you.

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

The Reflection of the Moon

When i was young, i had a number of recurring dreams.

Many of the dreams did not make much sense, probably a mixture of fact and fiction enmeshed together by a subconscious imagination and left to play when the psychological conditions permit.

As i grew older these dreams disappeared. Probably hidden by being thrust into adulthood. Little time left to think and maybe to sleep. These dreams disappeared. These days sleep is a rare commodity.

I never thought i would be reminded of one of those dreams until last night when I had a “development” of that same dream. Not so much of a sequel to the dream but to borrow a term from the creators of Star Wars – a Prequel.

My recurring dream is of me being the subject of a picturesque scene – an old man on a little boat out in the middle of the lake. In the darkness of the night. There were no stars in the sky. With only a beautiful, full and round moon and its reflection on the lake.

There was a stillness. As if the old man was unwilling to row his boat. Afraid to disturb the tranquility of the lake. Content just to drift. Just to be still. Just to float there. I also recall that the old man was looking at the lake intently. Admiring the beauty of the moon.

I had always wondered what all that meant to me. I was always struck by that scene. I had been wondering whether or not that was a premonition of my retirement days. Of being in the wilderness with nature. Nothing to rush about for. Just content to be with nature.

I came to have a different interpretation last night.

After a long 34 years, i was blessed with the Prequel of that dream.

I realised that i had been admiring the moon for a long time from the edge of the lake. I had my tripod. i had my telescope. Looking through the telescope, i sought the closeness with the beauty of the moon.

Now the moon had by its reflection presented itself to be closer to me than the object far up in the sky. It beckoned me to approach. Not content to be admiring it through the telescope, i decided to take my chances of getting closer to the reflection by leaving the bank.

I found a boat by the edge. It was a filmsy one. There was no oar.

Dismantling the tripod, i left my telescope and my gear on the bank. Removing my heavy jacket and boots to lessen the weight. i stepped into the waters’ edge to push the boat forward. I used the tripod as an oar.

When i reached the middle of the lake. The reflection of the moon was still there. There were however a few things that became different.

Coming up close, i realised the reflection was often disturbed by the ripples of each paddle stroke. The shimmering of the surface disturbed the reflection. I then decided to stop rowing. Crouching by the edge of the boat, face close to the water just being with the moon’s reflection.

This inaction in the middle of the lake was what had been recurring in my dreams from my young age.

Looking at the reflection, i began to realise that things are not so much within my control. The tranquility of the lake and its surroundings could only do so far as to preserve the reflection of the moon. Despite my not rowing, my controlled breathing. my determination to remain still on the boat so as not to create any ripples, things were still not going my way.

Under the surface were fishes which created ripples from their swimming. Tiny as they were, they still caused ripples. And the moon’s reflection shimmered as if with disapproval.

I prayed for the fishes to go. At times they did. At times they were naughty, they did not.

Then came the wind. The wind blew across the lake. The fetch they call it. The entire surface was disturbed. The entire surface shimmered with ripples and little waves. No long was it the calm and undisturbed and beautiful moon which i saw when i was on the bank.

I could restrain myself from moving. I could stop rowing. I could also control my breathing. BUT there was little i could do about the wind. AND yet the moon’s reflection showed its disapproval. This went on for a prolonged period of time.

It went on and on. The reflection did not seem to have the same willingness to understand. As each gust blew. The reflection was disturbed. There was nothing that i could do to prevent it.

Then came a realisation. Perhaps i was wrong. The moon’s reflection wasn’t really beckoning to me. It was merely open there for all to admire. BUT NOT TO APPROACH.

As the shimmering of the reflection on the fetch when the wind blew would not have been visible to a man standing on the edge, that was a meeting of each other’s expectations. I could have been safe and warm on the bank. Feet dry and with my gear with me. With all the prospect of being able to turn around and head back for home at my fancy.

BUT now when the level of committment has been escalated, the distance of the gap reduced, the adulation increased, the reflection instead seems to waver. AND waver at every gust of the wind.

I realised then that i was caught in the cold. In the middle of the lake. Without my jacket. Without my boots. my feet were muddied and wet. The boat was flimsy. I did not have a proper oar.

And there i was all alone in the middle of the deep deep lake. Cold and handicapped. Was the moon to blame? Why did she beckon me? But the moon had always been there. It would have been free for me to admire from the distance. Take gazes at the moon from the telescope in the safety of being on the bank.

It was the moon’s reflection that beckoned me. Or did i misread her? Maybe she did not want me to approach, maybe she preferred the distance to remain.

But it might not have been due to her alone. There were these naughty fishes in the water. There was also this cold and horrible wind. But all these affected the reflection. And that reflection’s disturbance affected me.

There was this feeling that i had been had. That it was all only a game. That one needed to be non-committed and to have a certain level of nonchalance to remain in a position of strength to stay in the game.

Now i really had no one to blame except myself. i had in the naivety of the moment chosen to abandon the known for an unknown, I was the one who abandoned my gear. my telescope, my jacket and boots what kept me from the cold. And i denigrated my own tripod to that of a makeshift oar.

No one else was really responsible for this plight. 🙂 I looked into the darkness and realised that it would be impossible to return to the edge and to be able to find my gear in the darkness in the tall grass.

The situation then opens up the prospect of the choice of sticking by the whimsical shimmering surface or leaving the dream and making a painful return back to shore, cold and wet.

Till a greater clarity dawns upon myself and a revelation of sorts is achieved, there is only one way to ensure that one does not jump from the frying pan and into the fire – that is to stay on the boat and hope for moments of tranquility what i had bargained for to come more often.

That is, only for as long as the boat does not start to take in water and i have not yet reached the end of my tether.

In the distance, the shore beckons.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

Hi all! I am back! :)

Juggling law, politics, activism, human rights is never easy. At least that is what i found out.

I was facing from 02 June 08 onwards an almost daily appearance in Court for a number of matters involving Dr. Chee Soon Juan and Gopalan Nair. The cases had peppered my entire court schedule and ate into my free time, rest time and professional time.

I was so tired out by the number of relentless court appearances – which took up an inordinately large amount of my time. On one of the weeks i was in court perpetually the entire week. Even innocuous matters took up half a morning just by their very nature. This does not take into account the time spent on discussion and preparation.

Eventuallym when a family court judge got her PA to breathe down my neck for my long overdue submissions, i knew something had to go. So out went my retainer for Gopalan (for the time being).

For Gopalan’s trial for disorderly behaviour, i was scheduled hearings in full days and 1/2 days imagine appearing in one court for one matter in a morning and returning to another court for a trial hearing in the afternoon. Vice versa. There was simply no let up.

In fact, the District Judge who gave me the dates was most helpful, he gave me such dates as early as possible (not as comfortable as possible) so much so that i had to tell Gopalan to try to represent himself.True as an advocate as he was, Gopalan rose to the occasion and took the trials himself. I discharged myself in the process and got down to clearing my backlog.

A similar thing happened for my retainer for Dr. Chee’s trial of the 3rd and 4th charges for making an address without a permit more than 2 years after they occurred. They occurred before the 2006 General Elections anyway. These were only the 3rd and 4th charges, there are at least 4 more to go.

Upon settling myself down to normal paid work. I found myself a new client who instructed me on 2 appeals to go before the High Court. Having had only less than 8 days to get both Petitions of Appeal ready, I kissed my audio system and my remaining dog goodbye on 23rd July 2008 and never looked back since.

Completing the two Petitions of Appeal on time was a feather in the cap. I never knew i could still worked like that. I had thought that i had grown old and that my stamina and concentration had deteriorated. Preparing for the two appeals stretched my limits. Not to mention i had another Appeal hearing before a High Court Judge in Chambers in the midst of it all. All these added together only proved one thing, that i had gotten a little soft over the past years. 🙂

The appeal preparations difficult as they were, were indeed tests of my ability to sit through with discipline when i am on the point of fatigue. I did not find them easy. Accordingly, i did feel a sense of relief and accomplishment when they were submitted on time.

Preparing for the hearing was also an eye opener. Imagine completing the draft of one appeal and opening the file of another to begin preparations for written submissions for the next day’s hearing of another matter. That was not easy. I remember being incoherent on the phone when a friend called me a little late the night before. Positive Exhaustion does wonders to your ability to sleep with your eyes open and holding a phone with one hand and standing up.

The appeal hearing was (i felt) naughtily fixed by the registry before Justice Lai Siu Chiu. Yes the one that Gopalan Nair had criticised 🙂 I had a little surprise when i saw the hearing lists in court. What a coincidence! Anyway i had a fair hearing before Justice Lai and there is nothing better than to test your ability to detach yourself from the cases that you advocate and argue. This again was a test of my professionalism.

In any event, the appeals are now down for now. Till the next step that is required of me under the rules of procedure – hi all boys and girls, readers of this blog. I am back! 🙂

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Life | 3 Comments