By Teo Soh Lung
The first time I heard of the term “State Reprisal” was about three weeks ago. I was informed that a Swiss lawyer had used the term during a discussion on Singapore’s human rights record in Geneva. The seizure of my computers and mobile phone was brought up then as it was a current topic.
On 24 June 2016, Singapore rejected more than half of the recommendations made by its peers during the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. The government rejected the setting up of a national human rights institution, claiming rather embarrassingly, that its “Meet the People sessions” are sufficient to remedy citizens’ grievances against the state. I definitely have a grievance against our police force but I am no fool to visit the prime minister at his “Meet the People session” when it is his Elections Department that lodged the complaint against me.
I am angry that I have no recourse. If I lodge a complaint with the Commissioner of Police, will I get a fair and thorough investigation when the very people who I complain against are his subordinates? And will the result of his investigation be made public?
In 1988, a complaint was lodged against the Internal Security Department (ISD) for ill treatment I suffered in 1987. A gentle retired senior police officer investigated the complaint. He recorded two statements from me. He told me that he had found a few culprits who hit me. I never receive any official letter informing me of the outcome of his investigation. The senior police officer is dead now. Only a change of government may one day make public his report.
The seizure of my computers and mobile phone have enabled the police to mine my work and data collected over decades, including the drafts of my book, Beyond the Blue Gate, Recollections of a Political Prisoner. I am angry? The police said they will return my properties after investigation. It is now more than a month and they have not returned my properties.
Why State Reprisal?
There is no reason for the Elections Department to lodge a frivolous complaint against me and for the police to seize my properties after taking a full statement from me. The only reason for their actions is State Reprisal. The Swiss lawyer has put my case in a nutshell.
The police are acting together with the ISD. I am sure the ISD is involved. You can view this video where two officers on official duty have no name tags. https://www.facebook.com/sohlung.teo/posts/10208857776415545
Let me elaborate on why I agree with the Swiss lawyer who said that I am bearing the full brunt of State Reprisal.
In 2011, Singapore underwent its first review of its human rights record at the UPR in Geneva. Function 8, the organisation of which I am a founding member, submitted a report on indefinite detention without trial. It was a brief report because we did not have much information on the issue and on the Internal Security Act (ISA) then. Seehttp://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/_layouts/…/WopiFrame.aspx…
In 2015, at the 2nd UPR session, Function 8 submitted a more detailed report on indefinite imprisonment without trial. We also attached an updated list of more than a thousand names of political prisoners, several of whom have been imprisoned for more than ten years. The report is athttp://www.upr-info.org/…/se…/function8_upr24_sgp_e_main.pdf and http://www.upr-info.org/…/session_24_-_january_2016/functio…
In January 2016, I attended the UPR session when Singapore made a statement of its human rights record and listened to more than one hundred state representatives gave their recommendations as to how Singapore’s human rights record could be improved. I made contact with several international non-governmental organisations. I was interviewed by the International Service for Human Rights and they accorded me the status of Human Rights Defender. I also gave an interview to a Swiss radio station. I spoke about the purpose of my being in Geneva for the UPR session.
I am sure the Singapore government is aware of what I did in Geneva and they are not happy. I am sure it is also aware about what Function 8 has done since its incorporation in 2010. It has published several books, including the latest publication, “Living in a Time of Deception” by Poh Soo Kai who was imprisoned for a total of 17 years without trial. His book tells the history of Singapore unknown till now. Function 8 and I have “damaged” the good name of Singapore.
I have always been an outspoken Singaporean. It is true that I regularly write about politics in Singapore as well as anywhere in the world. I express my thoughts freely on my facebook. I criticise the PAP and the opposition parties. I am not a member of any political party and I am not restricted in my views in any way. I oppose the death penalty and strongly condemned the manner in which Kho Jabing, a Sarawakian Iban was executed. I am critical of the Attorney General’s Chambers and the judiciary. I am critical of our judicial system and our laws.
For all I did, the Singapore government deemed it fit to take revenge on me, just as the late prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew took revenge on me when he failed to humiliate me at the select committee hearing on the Amendment to the Legal Profession Act in 1986. See https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/…/r…/pdf/1986/19861016_BIL_FULL.pdf. The following year, he ordered the ISD to imprison me under the ISA. I spent more than two and a half years in prison without trial.
It is clear to me that State Reprisal is the only reason why I am in “trouble” today. But if the government thinks that it can shut me up by sending 8 police officers to my house and robbing me of my computers and $800 mobile phone, let me tell them that it will not succeed.