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Smiley faces threaten public order, apparently

I thought things were a little bit quiet earlier in the week and then on Thursday and Friday we got some news that bumped their way straight to the top of this newsletter.

For those of you out there who could do with something sweet and nice to watch during this trash-fire of a year, I wrote about my latest TV drama obsession over at my newsletter for whimsy, Samseng Zhabor.

Smiley face also cannot

Jolovan Wham, who has already done two stints in prison this year in lieu of paying fines for contempt of court and organising an indoor forum (deemed illegal because Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong Skyped in, which the authorities say meant that the event needed a permit), now has two more charges to add to his long list.

(I spoke to him about his activism, just before he went to prison for the first time, for a special issue of this newsletter.)

He has been charged for these:

On both these occasions, one in 2018 and the other this year, Jolovan only posed for the photo and left the scene right after. Still, he’s being charged under the Public Order Act because the authorities have deemed these illegal one-man assemblies.

He’ll answer to these charges at the State Courts on 23 November. He told the LA Times that he intends to plead not guilty, because “[it] is the height of ridiculousness if an ordinary person can’t even take a photo in public.”

The latest episode of the Lee family feud

Corporate lawyer Lee Suet Fern, daughter-in-law of the late Lee Kuan Yew and wife of Lee Hsien Yang, has been suspended for 15 months by the Court of Three Judges, the highest disciplinary body dealing with lawyers’ misconduct.

The Court of Three Judges dismissed her appeal against the verdict of a disciplinary tribunal, and found her guilty of misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor, over her role in the handling of Lee Kuan Yew’s last will. They did, however, disagree with the disciplinary tribunal on some points, such as the tribunal’s finding that there had been an implied retainer between Lee and her father-in-law.

Lee Hsien Yang published his wife’s statement to the press on his Facebook page. In it, she said that she disagrees with the decision, and that the case should never have been initiated in the first place. She also highlighted that there had been no complaints before, until the Attorney-General Chambers made a complaint years later:

“No complaint had ever been lodged by my father-in-law, Lee Kuan Yew, nor by any of his beneficiaries or his personal lawyer for his various wills, Kwa Kim Li.  This case arose from a complaint years later by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Lee Hsien Loong made extensive submissions, but did not present himself as a witness and was not subject to cross-examination.

The Court of Three found ‘no solicitor-client relationship existed’ between Lee Kuan Yew and myself.  The Court found there was no dishonesty in my dealings with Lee Kuan Yew and there was no finding that the will was procured by fraud or undue influence. Probate for Lee Kuan Yew’s will had been granted by the courts in 2015.  Probate had been sought on the urging of Lee Hsien Loong and Lucien Wong, before he became Attorney-General.”

Li Shengwu, who was himself caught in a long drawn-out contempt of court case related to the family feud, had this to say about his mother’s suspension: “Lee Hsien Loong has no shame about using state resources to settle grudges against relatives. He should resign now, rather than continuing to undermine the rule of law in Singapore.”

It’s as good a time as any to watch this documentary again:

Lee Hsien Loong’s pitch to tech people raises eyebrows 🤨

Lee Hsien Loong gave the keynote speech at the Singapore Tech Forum, where he expressed a wish that Singapore could “go faster” in embracing technology and changing the way the public sector does things (in relation to the use of technology). He also made a pitch for tech people to come to Singapore, introducing a new visa scheme aimed at attracting “founders, leaders and technical experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies”. This Tech.Pass is pitched high: one of the criteria for eligibility is having a last-drawn fixed monthly salary of at least $20,000 a month in the past year.

Lee even welcomed LGBT people working in tech to Singapore, saying that gay men and lesbians are “valued members of society”, even as he reiterated the government’s position of society not being ready for progress like repealing Section 377A. Excuse me, but WTF, said LGBT Singaporeans.

My chat with Helen Clark

I spoke briefly with Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and current chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, on Thursday about Singapore, drug policy, and the death penalty. I wish we had more time to go into all the issues but it was great to be able to go over the main points! The video is already available on Facebook but will also be made available on YouTube and Instagram, hopefully by next week.

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