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M Ravi

Doctor’s letter “ridiculous”, says M Ravi

By Andrew Loh / Richard Wan On Monday morning at the High Court, a representative from the Law Society of Singapore attempted to have lawyer Mr M Ravi disallowed from carrying out his legal duties in Court, Mr Ravi told publichouse.sg and TR Emeritus in an exclusive interview in the same afternoon. Mr Ravi was acting on behalf of Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu in her case to request the Court to declare that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion in deciding when to call by-elections. Before the proceedings began in the morning, the representative from the Law Society, Mr Wong Siew Hong, had approached both senior counsel Mr David Chong, acting on behalf of the Attorney General, and Mr Ravi, outside the Court room. Apparently, Mr Wong had a copy of a letter from Mr Ravi’s psychiatrist, Dr Calvin Fones, which Dr Fones had earlier sent to the Law Society. The letter was shown to both Mr Chong and Mr Ravi. In his letter, Dr Fones said: “I reviewed Mr Ravi on Saturday 14 May in my clinic following concerns expressed by his friends about his recent moods and behaviours.” Mr Ravi has confirmed that the date –…

Making justice count

“MOM’s Labour Court recovers S$1.5 million for 1,500 Singapore workers in 2009.” (MOM press release, 8 February 2010) “MOM’s Labour Court helped more than 700 workers recover about S$750,000 in first half of 2010.” (MOM press release, 28 September 2010) The above headlines refer to local, or Singaporean, workers. The situation for foreign workers, however, remains unclear. According to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which are involved in providing aid to migrant workers, many of these workers face salary disputes with their employers. And seeking recourse through the Ministry for Manpower (MOM) Labour Court is not always a fruitful exercise. The case of Nepalese worker Rana Kumar Rai, highlighted here, is a case in point. Basically, he was made to jump through the hoops, from the MOM to the Labour Court, but to no avail in seeking to retrieve the money owed to him by his employer. Rana had had a Labour Court judgement handed down in his favour but he soon realised that enforcing such a judgement was another matter altogether. In brief, he would have to enforce it through his own means. And this is where the system of justice breaks down completely for workers like him in such situations.…
workers

How the system failed this worker

By Andrew Loh For most of us, obtaining a court order in our favour would be the final vindication of our case. We would also expect that the judgement order be adhered to or be enforced. Otherwise, the court’s decision would be the result of nothing more than a worthless and meaningless legal process. Unfortunately for Nepalese Rana Kumar Rai, the Labour Court’s decision in his favour – over a salary dispute with his employer – is precisely that, a seemingly worthless paper judgement in his favour. This is his story and how the system here in Singapore has failed him. Rana, who hails from eastern Nepal, first came to Singapore in September 2009. With a wife, a 4-year old son, elderly parents (father, 65; mother, 63), and 2 younger siblings to care for, he looked for better prospects to help lift his family out of the poverty they were in. Borrowing from relatives and loansharks, he cobbled together some S$8,000 to pay an agent in Nepal to bring him to Singapore for work. Rana was told that he would be working 10 hours a day, and be paid a salary of S$1,000 per month. The contract he signed, however,…
M Ravi

M Ravi invited to consultation with UN

By Andrew Loh Singapore lawyer, Mr M Ravi, has been invited by the United Nations to attend its consultation with experts on the various issues relating to the imposition and implementation of the death penalty. The 2-day session, to be held at Harvard Law School, United States, on the 25 and 26 of June, will place particular emphasis on the notion of the “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty continues to be imposed. The invitation to Mr Ravi is from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr Christof Heyns; and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr Juan Méndez. Others who have also been invited to the consultation include representatives from Amnesty International, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda), the International Harm Reduction Association, the International Commission against the Death Penalty, and the Center for International Human Rights, among others. Three key issues will dominate the discussions: The notion of the “most serious crimes”. The session will discuss the ways in which it has been applied by domestic legislators and courts, and the remaining challenges. Complicity: Under this item, experts will focus…

Withdrawn edition of Catholic News on “Marxist conspiracy”

On 14 June 1987, the Catholic Church had printed copies of its June 14 edition of the Catholic News with a statement from the Church to its faithful. However, for reasons unknown, the then Archbishop, Gregory Yong, decided to withdraw that edition of the Catholic News. We reproduce it here, with the statement from the Church to its followers, explaining the Church’s position on the arrest of 22 Singaporeans, including church workers, by the Government on 21 May 1987. The arrests were known as “Operation Spectrum“. The Catholic Church’s statement as on 14 June 1987 in the withdrawn edition of the Catholic News: MY DEAR People of God and well-wishing friends, The peace of the risen Christ be with you always. We have been going through a very difficult time, full of anxiety and anguish, not knowing what is happening in our Church and to our Church. I thank you for all your prayers and the assurance that you are supporting me and the Church with your prayers, fasting and sacrifices. You have not prayed, fasted and sacrificed in vain. I thank especially all those who went to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church to participate in the…

The ghosts of Whitley Road

An essay by Dr Vincent Wijeysingha – to mark the 25th anniversary of Operation SpectrumIn 1987, I was at junior college. Just across the road, twenty-two other Singaporeans were at Whitley Road Detention Centre. They were locked up under the Internal Security Act, a sinister law designed to silence critics, first of the colonial government and later of the People’s Action Party who had promised to bring freedom to the people of our island. Speaking to the press in 1995, after a whole generation had been effectively silenced, then Senior Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, told The Straits Times: “As Prime Minister, I reserved executive powers in the Internal Security Act and the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, both inherited from British times, which I did not repeal in order to be able to act against subversives or criminals like drug traffickers against whom there is insufficient evidence for a court of law, without having recourse to the courts. In other words, I was my own carrier of a hatchet. I needed no hatchet man. All those who have been dealt with by me know that I have never flinched from going into a dark street on a dark night…

“I have always loved the Catholic Church”

As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of Operation Spectrum, former priest Edgar D’Souza gives a detailed and frank account of his experience of that harrowing time. By Elaine Ee When Edgar D’Souza decided in the early 1960s, at the tender age of 16, that he wanted to become a Catholic priest, little did he foresee that some 20-odd years later he would get caught up in a web of arrests that resulted in some of his most respected colleagues being detained without trial and he being suspended from the Church he so dearly loved. For this Selangor-born gentleman, who had come to Singapore in the early 1950s as a child, the Church has always been a source of inspiration. “I was brought up in a devoted Catholic family by my widowed mother and maternal grandparents,” D’Souza recalls. “From primary school days at St Michael’s, I was an altar boy and saw priests as leaders of a worshipping community. A number of them were also family friends. “I came to admire priests, the way they guided people in their lives, particularly by assisting the poor and needy through organisations like the St Vincent de Paul society. When I was in secondary…