Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Singapore's legal and justice system really fair?

I can't believe I am asking this about Singapore's legal and justice system.
One that I had absolute faith and trust... But after reading an article and remembering certain incidents.. 
I begin to wonder: "Is it really fair and just?".
Other than the legal system, this blog entry involves religion as well..

Law and Religion!


*Gasp*

I know I blogged previously about 

Latest Updates on City Harvest and Pastor Kong Hee?

and I mentioned I should really zip it in 

Any updates on City Harvest, Pastor Kong Hee or Sun Ho?


But I can't help but blog about this as I read an article in The Straits Times - 7 Aug 2010. 



This entry to me is NOT about religion, it is just about being FAIR to everybody. I don't even know the religion of the person reported in the article.

A man was jailed for two weeks under the Penal Code for "injuring the religious feelings of another person".

His offence?
Printing envelop-sized cards to place on cars belonging to Muslims. The cards asked questions about their religious faith which the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) deemed "provocative and insensitive".

The DPP "asked for jail time, saying it was a serious matter to make offensive remarks about another person's race or religion in Singapore's multi-racial and multi-religious society".

The DPP added, at age 44, the man "should have been more aware of the sensitivities of race and religion".

The judge in passing sentence said that "the court had to send a strong reminder that such offences would be dealt with seriously".




****Really?!?****



The grand total of the "injurious materials" that were printed by the man? Sixteen. 
Out of which Eight were distributed and the rest thrown away.
And this.. warranted a 2-week jail term.

Remember these two names of recent times?
  1. Pastor Rony Tan
  2. Pastor Mark Ng
Both Pastor Rony Tan and Pastor Mark Ng became infamous as video and audio clips of them talking (TOO polite a word actually) about other religious faiths gained attention. These are pastors preaching(?) in front of their congregations(?)! (?: as I'm not a Christian, in case I use the wrong terms, feel free to highlight to me.)
You can still search and find these quite easily online.

Shouldn't their age (though Mark Ng looks much younger) and them being pastors made them even more so... as quoted in the article..
 "should have been more aware of the sensitivities of race and religion"

As the questions that were printed on the cards and asked by the man who was jailed was not revealed in the article, we can't judge for ourselves whether we feel the questions were indeed "provocative and insensitive".
I have viewed and listened to the video/audio of the pastors and it DEFINITELY was provocative and insensitive. 
They were, in my opinion, belittling and making fun of other religions.
Though I consider myself pretty much a freethinker... I found it plain offensive for a Pastor to be saying that about another religion..

A quick check on Youtube shows that Pastor Rony Tan's 4-part video totaling about 28 minutes garnered in total 148,896 views. Assuming the same people watched the 4 parts, it is still 50,766 views (the highest views on part 1).
Didn't bother to check for Pasor Mark Ng's figures.
Granted those you find online now are likely not posted by them or the church, it was initially posted officially by them!

Very likely... a lot more people.... in a lot more countries (it's online afterall) got their feelings "injured" a lot more than 8 cards distributed.

I don't remember reading law-enforcers "asked for jail time, saying it was a serious matter to make offensive remarks about another person's race or religion in Singapore's multi-racial and multi-religious society".

I don't remember any judge saying "the court had to send a strong reminder that such offences would be dealt with seriously".

I don't think there was even a court case!
All I could find about the outcome (I searched VERY briefly) was


A brief statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs last night reads:
“The Internal Security Department (ISD) has called up Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism (LE) today in connection with his comments and insinuations about Buddhism and Taoism at LE sessions. These sessions were video-recorded and made available on LE’s website; video clips of these sessions subsequently became available on YouTube and other websites.
Pastor Tan’s comments were highly inappropriate and unacceptable as they trivialised and insulted the beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists. They can also give rise to tension and conflict between the Buddhist/Taoist and Christian communities. The ISD told Pastor Tan that in preaching or proselytising his faith, he must not run down other religions, and must be mindful of the sensitivities of other religions.”
Still, many netizens felt that Pastor Tan was let off lightly with only a slap on the wrist when three teenagers were arrested a week ago for making “racist” remarks about Indians on Facebook.

All I could remember was basically what I call the "Kiss and make-up", a photo of the Pastor and the Monk shaking hands or hugging in the papers..
Statements of apologies, unintended.. blah blah blah...
Really? Don't they prepare what they have to say? And for people to be on-stage to give the testimonies.. don't they have to prepare in advance? It is not a spur-of-the-moment and slip-of-tongue kind of thing.. which would have been a lot more forgivable...

In case you missed the point I made earlier on.. I want to put on record again..
This to me is NOT about religion.... It is about being fair...
Seems to me that layman like us is made to face the law while some people are not?.. 
Who decides?
If there are any reasons why legal action is not taken against some people, maybe it should be made open and explained to all?!

So.... can anybody help me come to a conclusion?...
Is the legal system in Singapore fair for all?
What happened to based on justice and equality?

--Ginseng Tonic Maker-- Too idealistic for my own good...

2 comments:

aaronie said...

did the guy appeal?

B.Ang said...

Have not read about him appealing...

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