Saturday, April 22, 2006

Singapore Elections - Let the lawsuits begin

The Straits Times is reporting this morning that the Lees, father and son, have issued letters of demand against the Singapore Democratic Party's entire 12 man executive, and the printer of their newsletter.

This is a legal move to accuse the SDP of libel. The leaders of Singapore have used libel law frequently, resulting in the bankruptcy of opposition candidates. Once declared bankrupt, a person cannot run for Parliament.

The specifics of the libel suit relate to statements made in the SDP newsletter which claim the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) leaders have known about, and tolerated, corruption in the NKF charity and other government agencies.

There is a certain repetitious quality to the whole "election, libel suit, huge judgment for the plaintiff, bankruptcy of the candidate" cycle. One wonders why opposition candidates bother to run and/or why they are so careless about opening themselves to libel charges.

Granted, anywhere else commonly thought of as a democracy, most of the statements would be protected free speech.

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