Singapore: Court of Appeals Evades Crucial Point and Rejects Falun Gong Appeal
(Clearwisdom.net) The case of two Falun Gong practitioners' protest in front of the Chinese Consulate was in process in the Court of Appeals of the Supreme Court on the morning of October 18, and in the Subordinate Court on the afternoon of the same day. Attorney Ravi continued to represent Falun Gong practitioners. After two hours of intensive argument in the Court of Appeals, the judges rejected the appeal based on a procedure issue. In the afternoon, a pre-trial meeting in the Subordinate Court decided the trial would resume from November 27 to December 1.
This is the third hearing of this case. The first hearing was held on August 28-31. Because a witness of the complainants refused to acknowledge that the Chinese Communist Party has been persecuting Falun Gong and the prosecutor and the judge of the Subordinate Court refused to accept the "2004 United Nations Investigation Report," which includes an extensive list of persecution cases, as evidence, the defendants raised a motion to the High Court. In a hearing held on August 31, the High Court rejected the defendants' request. The defendants then appealed to the Court of Appeals, which scheduled a hearing in the morning of September 25. Because of illness of the defendants' attorney, the hearing was rescheduled for the morning of October 18. The trial at the Subordinate Court was scheduled to resume in the afternoon of September 25 but adjourned on September 27 for the same reason.
Judges Reject Appeal Based on Procedural Issue
The judges on October 18 were Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong , Justice Kan Ting Chiu and Justice Tay Yong Kwang, with Justice Phang as presiding judge. At the beginning of the hearing, Attorney Ravi submitted the UN Investigation Report to the three judges and started his argument based on the report.
However, he was soon interrupted by the three judges who argued with Ravi on legal procedures. Justice Phang said the provision of Ravi's appeal granted the High Court the authority over the Subordinate Court. The provision did not apply to the Court of Appeals. According to Justice Phang, the Court of Appeals only had authority to monitor and review cases of the High Court but no authority over the Subordinate Court, where the case was filed, unless Ravi could use other provisions.
Ravi argued that since the Court of Appeals was under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, this provision applied to the Court of Appeals, i.e. the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction over the Subordinate Court. He quoted previous cases to support his argument. The Court of Appeals previously had divisions--the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of the Civil Appeals. They had been combined now as the Court of Appeals. With the moving of the High Court, the Court of Appeals had taken its place. Organizational change might make the original names in legal provisions lose correspondence. Judges should make adjustment according the essence of the law instead of insisting on matching the names.
The reporter asked several local attorneys regarding the argument. The attorneys were disappointed with the judges' explanation. They thought the judges should have given more reasonable and more convincing explanations.
At the end of the hearing, Justice Phang told Ravi, " You have misconceived the whole thing. I dismiss your application. The trial in the subordinate court will resume." Ravi then asked Andrew Phang to give a judgement. He said he will consider it.
Attorney Ravi had attempted to direct the argument to whether the Subordinate Court should accept the UN report by asking the judge which is more crucial, the procedure or the nature of the issue. The judges didn't reply but changed topic. He asked Ravi why he hadn't taken advantage of the time between August 31 and now to ask the author of the UN report to come testify as witness. Ravi said Singapore was a member of the United Nations. It would have been shameful for Singapore to ask the author of a UN report to show up in person to prove the truthfulness of his report. He thought it would be inappropriate. However, if the Court of Appeals insisted on the appearance of the author, his client would make the arrangements.
The reporter interviewed a few Falun Gong practitioners after the hearing. They all said evading the essence of the issue was what the Singapore government had been doing from the very beginning, not just the judges. They gave many examples. One of them dated backed to 2004, when the Police Department charged Falun Gong practitioners for distributing VCDs without permission. Before the charge was filed, Falun Gong practitioners had sent the VCD to the police for review, but they all refused it. They only care if the VCD had been approved. In reality, unapproved VCDs are found everywhere in Singapore.
Judge Express Unwillingness to See More Appeal
Justice Phang said Ravi should have waited for the Subordinate Court decision before appealing. He said, "Appeals could have been applied one time. But now it would be three times."
No matter if the judge is willing to see it or not, the defendants had to visit the High Court often since the beginning of the charges on July 10.
Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Wang Yuyi's appeal to the High Court regarding her request to summon Lee Kuan Yew is in progress. The Singapore Police charged six practitioners who distributed Falun Gong truth-clarifying materials last year in downtown Singapore for "Assembly without Permission." On August 7, Wang Yuyi submitted her request for the Subordinate Courts to summon six witnesses, including Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Minister for Home Affairs, Wong Kan Seng to testify. On August 16, after the request was declined by the Subordinate Courts, they appealed to the High Court and their Notice of Appeal has been received by the court. The document exchange has been done. Falun Gong practitioners are waiting for the schedule of hearing.
Wang said she hoped the it would not take too long. Otherwise there wouldn't be enough time for other procedures. She said, "I am looking forward to the questioning of the six witnesses. I am innocent. All Falun Gong practitioners involved are innocent. I can prove it during the trial. These key witnesses must be present. Ultimately the person behind all these cases is Lee Kuan Yew. Their testimony about the record of their communication will show how the command was passed on level by level. The six witnesses are representatives or those in charge of different levels."