Friday, March 17, 2006

23 AUG 1997 - A date to remember in Singapore's Judical History

A Chilling Reminder of Our Judical System... (Unfortunately)

A "FUNDAMENTAL error" had been made in the Tang Liang Hong defamation case earlier this year QC George Carmen told the Singapore High Court, Aug 21. Mr Carmen said this during his submission in the defamation suit by prime minister Goh Chok Tong against Workers' Party leader J. B. Jeyeratnam.

The judge in the Tang case, Justice Chao Hick Tin, had laboured under the impression that it was Mr Jeyaretnam who released the police reports to the press, Mr Carman said.

However, while under oath, on the second day of the trial, Mr Goh told the High Court that it was he who authorised senior minister Lee Kuan Yew to release Mr Tang's police reports.

Mr Carman said the prime minister and Mr Lee, his predecessor, "shot themselves in the foot" by releasing the report over which they are now seeking legal damages.

Mr Carman also accused Mr Goh and his predecessor for ''orchestrating a damage claim when there really hasn't been any damage by (Mr Jeyeratnam). The real loss has been self-inflicted and engineered. This really is standing justice on its head.'' In his written judgment, May 29, Justice Chao said: "The police report was released to the media through the Secretary-General of the WP at a rally that evening..."

Mr Carman said: "That is totally and completely untrue." He demanded that the lawyers for the PAP men explain to the court how the judge had been so "seriously misled".

He added that nowhere in any of their court documents did the plaintiffs mention that it was Mr Goh and Mr Lee who released the police reports, as the Prime Minister had testified on Tuesday. Instead, the documents were drafted carefully to suggest that it was the press which procured the release of the reports.

From the witness box, Mr Goh said that he first read about Mr Tang's plan to file a police report from an interview in The Straits Times. In it, Mr Tang had said that not only was he going to sue Mr Goh and the PAP men, but he would also file police reports against them for defaming him by calling him an anti-Christian Chinese chauvinist.

Mr Goh went on to describe how he had asked Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng to inform him if Mr Tang did file a police report, as he said he would.

On the evening of Jan 1, while attending a PAP rally in Potong Pasir, the report was presented to him about two hours after Mr Tang filed it. A copy was also sent to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was attending another PAP rally in Hougang.

At about 9.15 pm, Mr Goh proceeded to the Hougang rally, where he met Mr Lee and exchanged a few words with him about the reports.

"We had to decide what to do with it," he said, noting that at that point of time, Mr Tang had not made public his police reports.

Mr Goh said he saw no need to go public with the reports to benefit Mr Tang's chances at the polls since the WP man would have been seen to have kept his word.

But, he added, after WP chief J. B. Jeyaretnam had made known Mr Tang's lodging of the reports at its party's final election rally that night, he had no choice but to bring the reports out into the open, especially when newspaper journalists began asking for copies of the reports. "If I had not, I would have come across as trying to hide something."

The decision, he said, was made the next day, which was Polling Day. Mr Lee had contacted him to discuss the reports. They spoke for five to 10 minutes, and he authorised Mr Lee to release the reports.

To that, Mr Carman asked: "Did Mr Lee ask 'may I release it? Or 'shall I release it?"' Mr Goh: "No, he said 'should we release it?' I said yes."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Position Paper for World mUN 2006

I will be representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the UN Commission of Human Rights at World mUN 2006. World mUN 2006 is co-organised by Harvard University and Beijing University. It is held at Beijing, China this year. This is the 15th consercutive year it has taken place. Below is my position paper for the agenda on the right to development.

Topic: The Right to Development
Country: The Federal Republic of Nigeria
Delegate: Donaldson Tan, Imperial College London

1. Recognising the human person is the central subject of the development process
2. Reaffirming the role of indigenous people in sustainable development
3. Agreeing the private sector has a duty to contribute of equitable and sustainable communities and societies

May 1999 is a significant date in the history of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It not only marked the end of the 16 consecutive years of military dictatorship in Nigeria, but also the establishment of the Obasanjo Administration. President Obasanjo has initiated many political and economic reforms in view to improve the human rights situation and to meet international standards. This reflects the commitment of the Nigerian government towards nation building and building an international reputation of abiding to human rights. The Federal Republic of Nigeria would like to take this opportunity to re-affirm our commitment to human rights.

The route to the realisation of the right to development in Nigeria is not trouble-free. Rampant communal violence has not only disrupted the lives of many Nigerians, but also hamper the facilitation by the government to realise the right to development among Nigerians. The Federal Republic of Nigeria would like to take this opportunity to thank the Paris Club for writing off partially the Nigerian debt. However, the written-off sum is not sufficient, but it frees up some financial resources to invest into the local infrastructure and economy. What Nigeria needs is sustainable development fueled by local entrepreneurship. The local entrepreneurship initiative in Nigeria is hampered by marginalisation of minorities and lacks sufficient funding. The Federal Republic of Nigeria welcomes any international financial and expertise aid. This is in view of our committment to nation building and human rights in Nigeria.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a developing country. Rapid petrochemical industrialisation has proven to be beneficial to the Nigerian economy, but majority of the population still lives below the poverty line. Chemical pollution, noise pollution and destruction of the landscape has affected the livelihood of many Nigerians, especially indigenous people. It is crucial to protect their right to development. The Declaration on the Right to development states that it is the duty of states, individually and collectively, to formulate development policies to facilitate the realisation of the right to development (Ref: Article 4). The right to development implores that these people are entitled to compensation, so as to restore their livelihood as soon as possible. The petrochemical plants in Nigeria are foreign-owned. Private International Law requires the plaintiffs to engage in expensive and often speculative exercises in “Forum Shopping” and give the defendants ample opportunities to engage in delaying tactics. For example, the leak of MIC gas from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, on 3 DEC 1984, was one of the worst industrial accidents in history. The case for compensation for this incident was initially contested in US Courts to decide if the compensation case should be carried out in India or the United States. It took the US Supreme Court 4 years to arrive at this decision. Consequently, the Indians in Bhopal never received their entitled compensation in time, and their livelihood not restored. Nigeria calls for reformation for International Private Law to be in alignment with the Declaration on the Right to Development. A new system of dealing with major industrial accident compensation in developing countries should display the following characteristics:

(a) it must be supranational in nature, so as to avoid national conflicts between home and host countries' laws and interests, and to allow for international co-operation in the compensation process.

(b) It must make the compensation of the victims the first priority. The applicable principles must reflect this. A “no-fault” liability system would be appropriate as it avoids the need to establish breach of a duty of care, requiring only that a casual connection exists between the harm suffered and the failure of the technology. It should also avoid the problem of the limited liability of the foreign parent company by providing compensation regardless of where, within the structure of the MNC, the ultimate cause of the accident can be seen to rest.

(c) It needs to provide a readily available source of funds from which compensation can be paid as soon as possible after the incident. Thus an international fund from which compensation can be paid seems desirable.

Hence, the Federal Republic of Nigeria calls for the set up of an International Indemnity Fund within the UN to aid such victims. The use of an international compensation fund is not unprecedented. The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC Fund) was set up to help compensate victims of oil pollution at sea. This fund came into force by the Merchant Shipping Act 1971 of the English Law. The IOPC Fund will serve as a template for the new International Indemnity Fund. However, this proposed fund should not operate as a “last stop” system, but rather a “first stop” approach whereby the proposed fund acts as the initial source of compensation.





Committee: Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR)
Topic: Woman during War-time
Country: The Federal Republic of Nigeria
Delegate: Donaldson Tan, University of London

Observing the grave offences of numerous human rights violators in the time of war, and the inhumane treatment of both civilians and military personnel in this context, the Federal Republic of Nigeria urges this Commission to seriously address the weighty issue of rights in wartime, specifically for the women of the world. Having ratified CEDAW and its optional protocol in 1992, the Federal Republic of Nigeria will take this opportunity to re-affirm its commitment to the establishment of woman's right as an inalienable human rights.

Strongly adhering to the belief that all humanity is equal, Nigeria particularly condemns the use of abuse tactics in the systematic destruction of a group or culture. The Federal Republic of Nigeria prohibits racist or discriminatory organizations within our borders, and promotes the elimination of such violations of human rights throughout the international community. Nigeria joins the Commission in the condemnation of this violent and shocking infringement of international standards of humanity, and looks forward to a maturity of policy and advancement in protection in this crucial area of human rights.

Nigeria believes that nations must work together to empower women politically and economically, and all other aspects of society, through education and economic opportunity. Only through such action, then the status of woman will be elevated in the eyes of men in general, and therefore act as a stopper that every man is entitled to violate every woman.

Nigeria also calls for increased UN intervention into armed conflicts in Africa, through the African Union. In this way, the African Union can respond fast to an armed conflict situation fast, where the rights of women are being violated. In particular, the current legislature is limited in the sense the the War Tribunal is only held at the end of the armed conflict and not ongoing. By the time the armed conflict is over, most of the victims have been killed, and there will not be any witness left alive to engage in legal debate and to address one's grieves. Nigeria acknowledges that this primary legal mechanistic factor serves to belittle the addressing the rights of woman during war-time at the War Tribunal, and therefore urges for various nations to work together to raise the profile of woman both politically and economically, such that the violation of woman's right in war-time will be minimised.

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News Junkie, Irreverent Blogger, Anarcho-Capitalist, Technologist