After receiving a harsh rebut from Law Minister K Shanmugam, the associate dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) wrote an apology email begging for forgiveness. The right-wing academic has earlier criticised the Law Minister on Facebook over the latter’s interview saying that public opinions should reflect punishments.
“If criminal punishments are to reflect only public opinion, why bother having judges do sentencing? Just run an opinion poll each time someone has been convicted.”
The Facebook post incurred the wrath of the Law Minister who scolded his critic as insensible:
“These comments have seriously misconstrued what I actually said… Academics, like Donald, have every right to criticise statements made by others, in particular on issues of public importance. But to be meaningful, and sensible, it will be first useful to read and understand what has been said, before jumping in to criticise. Otherwise the commentator does no credit to himself or his institution. Particularly an institution which carries Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s name.”
Yesterday (Apr 28), the associate dean of LKYSPP then scrambled to write an apology email to the Law Minister. Donald Low also republished his email in a Facebook post:
“Dear Minister, I agree with your FB post and I apologize if I have caused you any trouble or offence…I had read the piece in full, but didn’t give your comments sufficient attention in my post. I apologise for that. My post wasn’t aimed at you or your comments in the article; it was my take on what was wrong with a criminal justice system based on public opinion. But I accept that my post, in the context of the Today article carrying your comments, might be viewed as a criticism of you or your comments. That wasn’t my intention at all. Once again, I apologize if I have caused you trouble or offence.”
Donald Low would likely be fired if he had not apologised to the Law Minister because the government does not tolerate any of its civil servant to voice dissenting opinions.
Law Minister K Shanmugam is one of the few second-in-commands and a powerful politician below dictator Lee Hsien Loong. When critics do not apologise, they will be threatened with civil defamation lawsuits, or worse, the police will arrest the critic for sedition. Criticising the ruling party government is an offence in Singapore, the unspoken rule falls under a clause under the all-encompassing Sedition Law:
“3.— (1) A seditious tendency is a tendency —
- (a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government”