Lee's law : how Singapore crushes dissent

  “For almost half a century Jeyeretnam stood for universal values of decency, fairness, and transparency against the so-called ‘Asian values’ of hierarchical order, submissiveness, and censorship imposed by Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP machine.”'
                                                                —Geoffrey Robertson
  March 3, 2003

Lee's law : how Singapore crushes dissent
Chris Lydgate
ISBN: 0 908011 89 X
336 pp + 8pp pics
Order: http://www.scribepub.com.au/

FROM the haughty smoked-glass office towers of its financial district to the spotless order of its crowded streets, the city-state of Singapore represents an unprecedented feat of physical, social, and political engineering, orchestrated over five decades by Lee Kuan Yew and the ruling People’s Action Party. But Singapore’s prosperity has been purchased at a steep price: the erosion of human rights, the rise of the ‘nanny state,’ and the creation of a political system in which individual freedoms are subordinated to the greater good — as defined by the government.

Lee’s Law is a case study of the perils of dissent in Sinagapore, as it traces what befell the country’s most prominent opposition politician, JB Jeyaretnam. The book follows Jeyaretnam’s stellar career as an ambitious young lawyer, prosecutor, and judge, and shows how he became disenchanted with the system that promoted him. It recounts his stunning political breakthrough at Anson in 1981, and chronicles the devastating consequences of his questioning — let alone, opposing — Lee Kuan Yew and his government.

After resisting for decades, Jeyaretnam was crushed by defamation suits, then bankrupted and expelled from parliament, and denied the right to practise law. His story provides a chilling insight into Singapore’s politics, and raises disturbing questions about its unique brand of ‘Asian democracy.’ It is also a poignant story of a courageous individual who never swerved from his ideals — no matter what the cost.

Chris Lydgate was born in London, and educated at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, USA. He spent eighteen months in Singapore as a freelance reporter in 1997 and 1998, during which time he covered the Jeyaretnam saga for several publications. He has written about Singapore for the Times of London, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Economist, Newsweek, and Asiaweek. He is currently a staff writer with Willamette Week in Portland. This is his first book.