Saturday, June 03, 2006

Two laws, one country | James gomez revisited

JBJ was sued for waving a piece of paper (a police report about the PAP) to the election crowd.Technically, the legal decision IS actually correct. Gomez was warned by the police for committing the offence of criminal intimidation.Technically, he DID commit the offence.Mr Wang now says: "[forum poster], I want to slap your face for being stupid."There. Mr Wang is also technically guilty of an offence of criminal intimidation.

The point is - you will not be able to get Mr Wang in trouble for that. The human elements throughout the legal system will obstruct you. For example, if you print out this page and you go to the police station to make a police report against Mr Wang, the police officer will laugh at you and say, "Go away, lah, I'm very busy, don't waste my time with these stupid things."But the police officer won't be able to say: ""Go away, lah, I'm very busy, don't waste my time with these stupid things", if the person making the police report is a PAP minister.

There is a lot of human common sense in social systems to sort things out. But when too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, those individuals will be able to override the common sense in the social system.--- Incidentally, yes, many negative statements that teachers make about their students would probably be defamatory in nature. For that matter, many negative statements that bosses make about their employeers would also be defamatory in nature.The reason why defamation suits don't occur out of those kinds of incidents is that neither the student nor the employee has sufficient incentive to do so. But if an Opposition candidate or a persistent blogger keeps on making negative statements about a public figure such as a PAP minister, you can see why there would be incentive to do so. Don't you?

...Of course you wouldn't. And I hope by now, you understand that it's not quite so easy to comment seriously about politics in Singapore and yet be sure that you haven't broken some law somewhere.In fact, you remind me of a previous discussion somewhere on this blog where I pointed out that technically, most of us have committed many crimes even if we have never been prosecuted. After all, all of these are crimes:drove above the speed limit / drank a little alcohol, then drove / smacked your dog for being naughty / smacked your child for being
naughty / littered / took a little "free" office stationery home / didn't declare bank interest in your income tax form / jaywalked / downloaded porn / owned a pirated VCD / downloaded illegal music / used illegal software / cut & pasted Mr Wang's posts into your blog without asking for permission etc etc.

Taken with permission from Mr Wang
Posting this because I'm a teacher at heart (ie. bombastic blowhard), and like to remember a good usable punchy turn of phrase when I see one.
Actually it reminds me of a Terry Pratchett quote: Everyone's guilty of something. The only difference is if someone tried to do something about it.
It also reminds me of the etymology of privilege: from the Latin privilegium, an amalgamation of privus, single/alone, and leg, law. Privilege = private law.
Well, that's Singapore - sorry, that's life. It's not a Uniquely Singapore kind of thing - Bill Clinton's feelings about that would also be relevant - but it's life. Not condoning, just .. being aware of the Singapore permutation, I suppose.


At 8:44 pm, Blogger ORD NSman said...

It is our uniquely Singapore NS experience that teaches us, "Do anything, but don't get caught!"

It is not what you say but who you are! E.g. Officer's words vs. enlisted men or NCOs, which weighs more?

At 4:57 pm, Blogger Mezzo said...

Well, that depends - which one is related to a Minister?

don't forget the other NS axiom: "Easier to ask for forgivess than permission."

Amazing what you learn from NS, really.


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