In support of Roy Ngerng

Dear all,

Please read the following taken from a Facebook post today by Singaporean campaigner and friend Roy Ngerng:

Roy Ngerng

‘Got home only just. Spent nearly 8 hours being interrogated and held by the police today. Have not had a proper meal yet.

Was at the police station at 10am. Left close to 6pm.

Police took out 14 posts on Facebook and blog to question me.

But there were posts completely unrelated to the election. One was on the funding update for the defamation suit that I faced from the Singapore prime minister. Another was just thoughts about how tax should be calculated in Singapore.

The Election Department reported that I posted articles on the day before election – which to let my foreign friends know, is illegal in Singapore.

But personal views are allowed. Still, I am being investigated for posting my personal views.

The police told me a few times this is an arrestable crime and I could be arrested. I heard they threatened to arrest Soh Lung – the other lady being investigated with me.

When I thought I was done, several police officers surrounded me. I was to be brought home. They were going to “raid” my home, I was told.

My phone was taken away from me.

When I wanted to speak to Jeanette – the lawyer who was representing Soh Lung, they refused to let me. And dragged me away.

I insisted I wanted to know my rights and whether it was legal for them to do what they were doing. They would not let me speak to Jeanette.

My mom was at home when the police came. She was in shock. I have never seen my mom so traumatised before.

I do not remember how long the police were there. Two activist friends came to check on me. The police would not let them into my home.

When the police finished the raid and I had to head back to the police station, the police pulled me away before I could speak to my friends further more.

I was told that after I left, my mom broke down. My sister said my mom could not take it. She did not know how to handle things anymore. Mom has been trying too hard to put up a brave front for these 2 years since the government has been attacking me.

What can I do at that point? For being a useless and unfilial son?

Mom made me some oat to drink before I left again. When the policeman asked me what I ate, I told him it was a mother’s love from her broken heart.

I told him – I stood up for justice and I lost my job. What did you lose?

It is very tiring. You fought so hard for equality. And who cares?

I spent nearly 8 hours with the police. I was not scared. Because my conscience is clear. But I kept thinking – why am I being investigated for a crime that I did not do – that should not even be a crime?

When I got back to the police station, the police told me that they wanted my all my passwords to access my phone, my laptop, and my Facebook and my WordPress accounts.

I asked why. They said it was because they wanted to check the IP address. They wanted to be sure I was the only person operating the account.

Funny, the government does not believe that just with one person, I can write nearly 700 articles on my blog and exposed how the government was taking our CPF pension funds to let GIC without telling Singaporeans?

I must be really honoured.

The police downloaded the archives from my Facebook. I overheard that Facebook taught them how to read the archives.

I asked them what they would do with my phone. They practically have access to my whole phone now and can access everything.

I have no more privacy.

I am angry. But tired. Exhausted. Sad. It is mixed emotions.

When I left the police station, I did not know what to feel.

I was reminded of what a PAP MP shared on his Facebook – democracy is like gang rape in action.

I felt raped. I felt raped when the police surrounded me to raid my home. I felt raped when they did not let me speak to my friends. I felt raped when the police searched all my devices and accounts in front of me. I felt like I was stripped and searched.

I lost my dignity, even as I tried hard to maintain it.

Having said that, most of the officers I met were nice enough. But one was not and was throwing his weight around. But I told the police – I do not hate them. They are doing their job. Singapore needs them for the real crimes. But it is in times like this, that I wonder if the police still remembers why they joined the police force for – to bully and intimidate or to protect people like me?

I have not eaten a proper meal until now. I told the police I wanted to get the interrogation over and done with quickly and did not want to eat. I did not know it would drag on for so long.

One policeman brought me two bars of cake. I thanked him but I did not eat them. He asked me why.

I said I do not trust this place. I do not trust what they would put in the food they give. They gave me two mineral water bottles. I did not dare to drink them. I did not trust the place, I said.

I told them – I have learnt not to trust because of what the PAP has done to me.

The police said – but we are nonpartisan.

Yeah, but the PAP makes use of you sometimes, I said. (PAP is the ruling party in government for the past 60 or so in Singapore, for those of you who do not know).

When I needed to go to the toilet about 5 or 6 times throughout the day, the police would stand watch over me like I am hardened criminal. They did this even when they raided my home. Imagine this – being guarded in your own home.

I stood my ground today but I did not know my rights, I did not know if what the police did was right or legal. I was pushed and pulled around.

I understand Soh Lung did not want to give her phone and laptop and asked for a search warrant. But the police threatened to arrest her.

Is this the kind of state we are in now – where we have to fear the very law and people who are supposed to protect us?

I am finally going to eat my first proper meal now. I am tired.

I wonder why I am doing all this. I am fighting for justice but it is tiring carrying the burden on my shoulders, alone.

When I stood my ground and faced the fire, I realise only I was there.

We want justice and equality for this country but we let just one person fight for it.

I asked the police – is your conscience pricked?

Is it?

I am sorry, mom and dad. I have let you down. I tried to be brave but what have I done to you? Have I done my duty to you as a son?

But it is not over yet. Tomorrow, I have to pay the prime minister the next installment for the defamation suit. I have to pay him S$180,000. And I still do not know if I will be charged for this “crime”.

I told an activist who met me when I came out of the police station, that finally today has ended. He joked in a half-serious manner and said it has only just begun.

Perhaps, it has, the rot to our nation.’

When I lived in Singapore in 2014, I started researching the political-economic situation out there for some blogs I was writing. I soon discovered the blog of Roy Ngerng who was using the official data of national and international agencies to reveal just how extreme inequality and how high poverty rates were in Singapore.

We got to know each other and then the you-know-what really hit the fan for Roy. Roy was investigating the ‘Central Provident Fund’ – the national pension fund into which Singaporeans are compelled by law to pay over 1/3 of their monthly income. Roy wanted to understand why Singaporeans were paying more than the citizens of any other nation-state, but were receiving one of the lowest returns. In posts like this and many others, He found out that most of the money pooled by the Singaporean government was being invested into Singapore’s two sovereign wealth funds, GIC and Temasek Holdings. He found that, while GIC and Temasek were delivering returns of over 9% per annum, the CPF pays only 3.5% returns. The government claims that there is a complete separation between itself and the sovereign wealth funds, but the boards of the wealth funds are led by the leaders of the government.

In one post, Roy’s passion pushed him just that bit too far and he made allegations of corruption on the part of the Prime Minister. While in the earlier years of the Republic, dissenters were imprisoned or exiled, the preferred method of repression today is rendering troublemakers bankrupt by legal means. This allegation was enough for the PM Lee Hsien Loong to use the preferred option and Lee (the son of Singapore’s found father Lee Kuan Yew!) duly sued Roy for defamation of character. The judge duly found in Lee’s favour and Roy was ordered to pay $150,000 SGD (£75,000) to an already very rich man. Roy was also ordered to leave his job by Tan Tock Seng Hospital where he worked on programmes aimed at supporting HIV/AIDS patients. He was given an hour to clear out his things and leave. This was in 2014. He hasn’t been able to find another job since.

Many Singaporeans have contributed to Roy’s support fund. As well as covering the legal costs of, I believe, around $100,000, ordinary people have now donated over $30,000 to Roy’s fund. International statements of solidarity and support for Roy have come from many places including the International Court of Justice which criticised the Singaporean state’s use of civic defamation suits to silence opposition figures.

Roy is now being harassed and interrogated by the police for allegedly breaking an obscure election-related law. It sounds as if his poor mother is being interrogated too. Please read this Facebook post.

You can see more about Roy in his own words and donate to Roy’s cause at https://thehearttruths.com.

You can watch an interview I conducted with Roy in 2014 here.

Please forward this and let people know the repressive reality of life in Singapore.

Thanks

Joel

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