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Club One Seven experienced several dramatic police raids during its years of operation. These incidents caused an uproar in the gay community and led to intense online discussion. The silver lining was that the events led to important and progressive legal precedents.

2001Edit

A detailed investigative account and analysis of the first and most significant police raid in which two patrons were arrested for having gay sex was posted by Alex Au on his Yawning Bread website[1]. The intrusion occurred in July 2001, three months after the sauna opened.

On Monday, 23 July 2001, three undercover policemen went into One Seven Gym and Spa by posing as customers and paying for entry. They entered sometime between 7pm and 8pm.

From the management's statements and other details provided by eyewitnesses, the undercover officers changed into towels, sat around and wandered about for quite a while. They flicked their cigarette lighter from time to time when in dim areas. An employee of One Seven noticed them doing this as they entered the steam room and told them not to do so, but of course, he did not realise they were undercover cops.

Sometime after 8pm, the officers watched two men, both in their mid- to late twenties, lock themselves in a private cubicle. The undercover policemen went into an adjacent cubicle and, one climbing onto the other's shoulders, peered into the locked cubicle. The one peeping over flicked his cigarette lighter again to throw some light into the tiny room.

Then they banged on the locked door, identified themselves as the police and demanded that the two men come out immediately. One of the eyewitnesses was at that very moment in another adjacent cubicle, and was extremely disturbed to hear the commotion. After some hesitation, this eyewitness came out of his cubicle with his companion, and was confronted by one of the officers.

"What were you doing inside there?" the officer demanded brusquely.

The eyewitness, making use of the fact that he was holding an empty can of soft drink, said, "Just finishing my drink," and walked off.

The 2 patrons inside the cubicle took a little longer to come out. When they did, one of them made the mistake, according to Sam Scwartz, a business partner of One Seven, of admitting that they were having sex...something that, in fact, should not have mattered whatsoever.

The officers handcuffed the men and called for a police van. (The management's statement reported that handcuffs were not used, but two eyewitnesses said they were. The discrepancy was probably due to a difference in timing.)

Meanwhile, the officers behaved rudely and aggressively to the arrested men and other patrons. Yet another eyewitness recounted that one of them passed crude, homophobic (and possibly misogynist) remarks, something to the effect that "cheebye so good, why you all want to fuck backside?"

There was a wait of about 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Scwartz arrived after his manager called him, and soon after, the police van arrived too. The two arrested men were told to get dressed and were taken to the police station.

Beyond this point in the story, there were no more eyewitnesses. The gay community did not know what happened except that the accused were held overnight without lawyers, made to sign a statement each, and charged the following morning.

Petition and negotiationEdit

Some concerned members of the community organised a meeting to come up with some help for the 2 men. They decided to write a petition letter. The first draft was rather lengthy, touching upon AIDS and the possibility of scaring away foreign talent. When Au's friends showed it to him, he immediately pointed out that the most crucial argument was missing – that no less than the Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew himself has said that the existing law would not be actively applied to consensual homosex. Au believed his comments were relayed to the drafting committee, because in the final version, that became the main thrust of a more concise letter.

Thus far, no one can tell Au whether the petition letter was ever sent. Quite rightly, the committee wanted to consult the 2 defendants and their lawyers. If any one of them objected to the submission of such a petition letter, they would hold back. Perhaps they did.

Meanwhile, separately, one of the defendants reached Au via email in August 2001. He had seen on Yawning Bread Au's article detailing what the Senior Minister had said to reporter Terry Gross of The US' National Public Radio on 24 October 2000 (see also main article: Lee Kuan Yew's views on homosexuality):

Gross:...I want to just get back to something we were talking about earlier, which is certain things that are illegal in Singapore. What are the laws against homosexuality in Singapore?

LKY: Well, we are with British 19th centuries law on homosexuality which is on the statute book. But we have not prosecuted anybody for homosexuality for the last 40, 50 years. What is on the statute book, and if you molest somebody and try and make him a homosexual, particularly if he's a minor, then the law will be enforced. It's a question of judgment. Once we conclude that homosexuality is also a DNA problem, then you've got to approach the punishment in a different way. And if you have consenting adults, well, God bless both of them. But let's...

Gross: God bless both of them only if you find DNA evidence, or...

LKY: No, no. Only if they do not inveigle and draw in innocent, young boys who are not with that inclination.

Over the following weeks, Au gave a little help to him by way of providing him with a contact within the US' National Public Radio so that he could get a formal transcript. It would be useful in his lawyer's efforts to get the charges dropped.

Nothing in the local mediaEdit

Meanwhile, everyone in the gay community was keeping his fingers crossed that the case would not appear in the media. Not only would it be devastating to the two defendants, it would completely undermine what little confidence gay Singaporeans might have that things were gradually being liberalised.

A few foreign wire agencies filed reports of the "raid" and arrests immediately after that fateful Monday, 23 July 2001. Within 2 or 3 days, Au's friend Chris had been told by two of his friends, one in Italy, another in Japan, that they had read in their newspapers about the "raid". Foreign news agencies' reports were part of the news feed to Singaporean media newsrooms, so at least some journalists locally would have been aware of the incident.

Yet, nothing appeared in the local press or on TV. One must be careful, though, not to read into this any kind of editorial policy to suppress the news. Unless it was a major bust, e.g. against narcotics or illegal immigrants, the media did not cover police action. Most police forays here and there were not newsworthy enough. The media generally waited till the case came to trial, and only if the story that emerged was salacious or noteworthy would they report it.

As it turned out, when this case was finally heard in court, some three stale months later, the charges had been reduced to relatively minor ones. On first sight, it would look so routine, so one would not be surprised that no court reporter bothered to follow it.

Originally charged under Section 377AEdit

Yet, it was at this point that events got really interesting. The 2 men caught in One Seven were originally charged under Section 377A of the Penal Code:

"Any male person who, in public or private, commits or abets the commission of or procures the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years."

Although Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew's public statement did not specifically refer to Section 377A, given the context and his reference to "British 19th centuries law" (the grammatical error probably arose from transcription of his radio interview), it was quite clear he was referring to it. Hence, pointing out this stated policy to the prosecutors might have been useful.

Charges amended to Section 20Edit

From the outcome of the case, it appeared that defence counsels did. The charges were amended to one under Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Cap 184, 1997 Ed). which states:

"Any person who is found guilty of any riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour in any public road or in any public place or place of public amusement or resort, or in the immediate vicinity of, or in, any court, public office, police station or place of worship, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months."

The 2 men were fined $600 each, which a lawyer friend of Au's said, would be consistent with a first offence.

AnalysisEdit

However unhappy the gay community were that the 2 men were arrested at all, charged and fined, the outcome of this case represented some kind of half-step of progress. A precedent had been set not to use Section 377A of the Penal Code, with its mandatory jail term, for cases of consensual homosex. Future such cases could see defence counsels citing this precedent to get charges reduced.

The outcome seemed to be in keeping with the Senior Minister's assurance, albeit more in a technical sense, rather than in the spirit of his words.

Another implication lay in the fact that Section 20 was specific to a public place. This means that if Section 377A was no longer to be applied to consensual homosex, and Section 20 could not apply to acts in a private place, the effect was therefore that consensual homosex in private no longer came under any actively applied law. Not that the gay community would be satisfied with this "effect". Fair treatment for homosexuals should be enshrined in law, rather than depend on the whim and forbearance of rulers.

This consequently raised the question of what was private space and what was public space.

The other main clause relevant to homosexuality is Section 377 of the Penal Code:

"Whosoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to a fine."

This was generally seen as the sodomy law, though oral sex (even the heterosexual variety) has, through precedents, been cast under this law as well.

A continuing mysteryEdit

The gay community may never know why the police went into One Seven at all. A sauna with gay sex going on was nothing new in Singapore. The venerable Diamond Health Sauna, which had been in existence for perhaps 10 years or more, was a well-known haunt of middle-aged Chinese-speaking men making out in the back rooms. Diamond, however, officially positioned itself as a straight establishment.

Any number of other fitness centres with their steam rooms and whirlpools (including some well-frequented Armed Forces clubs) had "action" going on.

Ever since Spartacus opened in the 1999, Singapore had had exclusively gay saunas, but One Seven's was the first time the police went in to make arrests.

The instinctive reaction of the gay public when news of the arrests flashed through the community like lightning was that this was the start of a major clampdown on gay men and their sex venues. One now had reason to believe it never was.

Factors to consider:

  • There had been no subsequent police visits to any other gay sex venue;
  • No other patrons at One Seven on the night in question were arrested when it would not have been difficult to net in a few more;
  • No charges were ever laid against the owners and managers of One Seven as providers of the venue;
  • The charges on the 2 defendants were reduced, and this appeared to validate (in a narrow technical sense) the Senior Minister's assurance about Section 377A.

No change in policyEdit

In addition, some contacts in the civil service were quick to affirm that there had been no change in policy towards the gay community.

So, again, why did the police conduct the raid and make the arrests? A number of possibilities may be considered:

  • Neighbours of One Seven made a complaint to the police about nude men frolicking in the pool because they were visible from some buildings at the back due to the absence of any canopy to shield the men from view, or about their suspicions about homosexual activities generally. Junior police officers authorised an undercover visit, and the officers then got carried away and made arrests.
  • A new police commander (there had been a reshuffle in senior posts recently) wanted to prove his stripes, unaware of the government's close-one-eye policy.
  • While the gay community was not the target of the action, one or both of the arrestees were. They were being followed, for whatever reason, by the authorities, and when they were seen to be engaging in homosex, it was an irresistible opportunity to snare them. This theory may sound rather paranoid, but there was information to support this!

The owners of One Seven were the target because the authorities felt they were, on another front, pushing gay politics. The "raid" was a subtle way of sending a warning shot across their bow.

However, the real reason may always remain a mystery.

Talk on rights of LGBT people in SingaporeEdit

In the wake of these shocking arrests, stakeholders in the gay community requested lawyer Lim Wee Kuan to deliver a talk on the rights of LGBT Singaporeans to increase their awareness. Lim kindly obliged on 1 October 2002 by giving a seminal, exhaustively researched lecture to the Safehaven ministry at the Free Community Church (see main article: Archive of talk, "Gay Law: Emancipation And Emasculation" by Lim Wee Kuan, 1 October 2002.

During his lecture, Lim reminded the audience of the raid and offered his own analysis of the circumstances - The two arrested men were charged under Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act which referred to "riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour" in a public setting, liable on conviction to fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one month. They were each fined $1000 though he was unable then to verify their sentencing.

Lim said that the audience would be curious as to why the deputy public prosecutor did not charge them under Section 377A for gross indecency or even under the then Section 377, assuming they were caught having oral sex. The prosecutor had a discretion as to the provision under which he wanted to charge the accused, and this decision could not be appealed against. But there were guidelines for the exercise of discretion. For example, the seriousness of the offence, the track-record of the offender i.e. whether or not he had been charged or convicted previously; his educational qualifications and professional position and experience; his capacity to contribute to his Singapore's economy etc.

The perplexing thing about the One Seven incident was that no identity cards were retained. Upon the arrest of the two men, the police told the rest of the patrons there to carry on what they had been doing. Lim noted that it was not a raid. Apparently, the policemen had been trailing one of the men for security clearance purposes. Immediately before and after the One Seven incident, there had been no reported cases of police raids or of the police entering the premises of any other gay sauna.

The authorities must have been aware of the existence of such gay bathhouses and the activities that were going on in them. Yet till that day, there had been no reported arrests of warnings issued to any patron or to the management of any gay sauna or club on the grounds that the laws governing homosexual conduct had been violated.

There was a strange incongruence between, on the one hand, laws that criminalised homosexual conduct (whether enforced or not) and general societal disapproval of homosexuality and, on the other hand, the flourishing and, one could even say, lawful, gay spas.

Lim posited a twofold explanation: (1) a shift in government policy, and (2) a change in the deployment of police resources.

Shift in government policyEdit

Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in a 1998 CNN interview that "what we are doing as a government is to leave people to live their own lives so long as they don't impinge on other people. I mean, we don't harass anybody." His answer was in response to a gay man's question on what the future for gays in Singapore would be (see main article: Lee Kuan Yew's views on homosexuality). But Lee qualified his response by saying that "it's a question of what a society considers acceptable. And as you know, Singaporeans are by and large a very conservative, orthodox society, a very, I would say, completely different from, say, the United States and I don't think an aggressive gay rights movement would help."

Lee's words could have signalled a departure from the undercover police operations to weed out homosexuals that were prevalent from the early to the mid-1990s. But it was terribly unclear as to what Lee meant by 'impinge'. If two men held hands along Orchard Road and could be clearly seen by straight people, did that amount to an impingement? If a member of public complained about this example of social impropriety to the press or police, could and would the police or government take action?

The other question was how long this lax attitude of the Government would last. To answer this question, one needed to understand the basis of Lee's statements. It was certainly not based on protecting the rights of privacy or equality of the gays in Singapore. The reason was most probably a pragmatic and economically driven one. If Singapore was known to oppress gays or have a sexually oppressive atmosphere, she was unlikely to attract top foreign talent which was predominantly from Western liberal democracies. At the very least, Singapore had to maintain an appearance of tolerance.

Change in deployment of police resourcesEdit

In the light of the threat to Singapore's security posed by terrorism and other forms of geopolitical instability, the police may have decided to deploy the limited resources they had to combat such security threats rather than to squander them on frivolous undercover police stings to flush out gays.

Did that means gays should rest on their laurels? Unenforced unnatural sex laws could and would still inflict considerable damage on homosexuals.

2006Edit

In June 2006, One Seven was raided by the Central Narcotics Bureau and the police.

SamSchwartz001


The following notice was posted on the One Seven notice board by proprietor Sam Schwartz in June 2006:

"On Friday 9 June at 3:00pm, we were inspected by about 15-20 persons from Health, Narcotics and Police.

They were not allowed in until their identities were verified by a uniformed police officer at about 4:00pm even though they said they were going to jump over the counter and have me arrested.

Neither action was done.

All our working lights were turned on upstairs & downstairs. No one was questioned, no on was delayed from leaving and no IC number were asked for.

Why did they come?

It is clear that they were ONLY interested in looking for drugs.

Even tho they said they had a complaint but would not give me the card number of that person. I let them in, because we have no hidden drugs.

What we are doing here is not the area they were checking.

The only thing that they found was some of my personal Cialis.

They left at about 5:00pm.

Sam"

2008Edit

In April 2008, a group of plainclothes policemen entered One Seven by the back door and arrested Sam Schwartz, the managing director. He was wrestled to the ground, arrested and later charged with the possession of obscene DVDs.

Notice from Club One SevenEdit

The Club put up the following notice after the incident:

Dear members,

Our water supply was turned off at 10pm on the 25th of April 2008, Saturday.

When we opened the back door to investigate and turn it back on, a few plain-clothes officers from the CID rushed in. Sam immediately tried to stop them and demanded to know what was going on. They told him that they were conducting a "spot-check". When asked what they were checking for, they simply repeated "spot-check". The officers refused to specify what they were checking for despite repeated demands. Sam also asked if they had a warrant to check the premises. They refused to reply.

At this point in time, we turned on all the lights upstairs and downstairs to alert the members that a check was going on. None of the members were stopped from dressing or leaving, nor were they searched or any particulars taken.

When a female officer tried to enter, Sam repeatedly shouted that she was not allowed to enter as we are a private men's club and insisted that she leave.

Thereupon, the supervising officer threw Sam to the ground and twisted his arms behind his back to handcuff him. Because of this, Sam sustained cuts to his wrist and bruises on his left rib, for which he was later brought to the Singapore General Hospital for treatment.

The officers only removed several DVDs and Sam was arrested and spent the night in jail. He has been charged with assaulting (pushing) the officer that handcuffed him despite never having laid hands upon him. Sam is 74 years old.

The officer was about 40.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused and will give a free return visit to anyone who was here when the incident occurred ; just tell the front desk.

We are open for business as usual for our 8TH YEAR from 11:30am to 11:30 pm on weekdays and from 11:30 am till 7am the following day on Fridays and Saturdays.

Club One Seven

Report by Alex AuEdit

This detailed account and legal analysis were posted by Alex Au on Yawning Bread[2],[3]:

At about 10pm on Friday, 25 April 2008, a rather busy night for One Seven, a member inside the club told the staff that water pressure in the showers had petered out. Sam Schwartz, the director on duty, was informed. He promptly made his way through the premises to the back door, unlocked it and went out into the back alley to look at the master valve. Indeed, the water supply had been shut off by someone.

SamSchwartz002

In that brief moment that he was in the back alley, a posse of plainclothes police officers rushed in through the unlocked back door. It took Schwartz a little while to realise what was happening; it didn't fully register until he himself had gotten back into the club, made it past the pool and saw pandemonium in the cafe area.

Upset, he demanded an explanation from the officers why they were rushing in. None was given. Instead, they shouted at him: "Shut up, shut up," but Schwartz would not, continuing to protest and demand an explanation, as he made his way past the lockers in the changing room towards his office.

When he reached a constriction in the passageway where the locker room and office met (and where there was a small stone fountain) he found himself confronting a female officer, making her way in from the no-opened front door. Concerned for his male patrons who were desperately trying to dress up, he told her, perhaps in full volume, that she should respect the privacy of the men and not step into the men's changing room.

The next moment, he found himself on the floor, having been knocked down by another officer (or two) in a tackle, with his arms held in a lock behind his back. He was soon handcuffed and remained pinned down for several minutes, unable to see what else was going on.

He was later taken to a police station, where other officers noticed he was bleeding. They sent him to the Singapore General Hospital for examination (x-rays were taken) before taking him back to the police lock-up at about 4 o'clock in the morning.

After spending what was left of the night in the police lock-up, Schwartz was released on bail bond at 10am Saturday morning. No interview took place in the time he was there, although he was told he would be charged with assaulting a police officer.

Three chargesEdit

Subsequently, he was called down to the Police Complex to be interrogated - twice, he recalled. The outcome was that he was charged with:

  • possessing 121 uncensored DVDs.
  • possessing 25 obscene DVDs.
  • the use of force in attempting to bite a person.

The police had apparently found DVDs within the premises of One Seven. Who these belonged to would later be disputed, but it is not the main point of this story. The third charge is the most interesting of all.

Schwartz thought it was ludicrous. He was (in 2008) 74 years old. He would not and did not physically tussle with officers half his age. It was later revealed that the (male) officer who had brought him down in a blow was 40 years old. Did Schwartz attempt to bite him?

When Schwartz and his lawyers asked the prosecution for disclosure of evidence, they were permitted to view (in a room in a court building) a video that the police had made on the night in question. It turned out that the police had a video camera recording the entire raid. What did Schwartz and his lawyer see in that video recording? The camera mostly followed an agitated Schwartz as he slowly made his way from the cafe through the locker room. Just as Schwartz was seen reaching the corner with the stone fountain, the video cut to scenes of empty rooms. The critical moment when Schwartz confronted the female officer and then got floored by another officer from behind was not on the recording. At least, not on the version shown to them and intended as prosecution evidence.

Neither Schwartz nor his lawyer could believe that the police stopped filming at that point. They must have carried on, since it was clear that the cameraman intended to follow him about. Why, then, was this portion excised from the video? Why wasn't the prosecution planning to submit the entire video as evidence?

The most obvious conclusion was that the video would prove him innocent. Schwartz knew he did not assault any officer. Most certainly, biting is not his style. He was prepared to go to trial. His lawyer would demand the full video and they were sure that it would exonerate him.

(It might also show the police using excessive force.)

Why the police turned off the waterEdit

The police knew they would not be able to rush in from the front. As a private club, One Seven has an electronically-controlled door just after the reception lobby. Thus a ruse was needed to get Schwartz to open the back door.

The raiding party comprised about 25 officers. This is excessive by any standard, especially when there was no demonstrable reason to believe that any serious crime was taking place within the premises, like harbouring illegal migrants, printing counterfeit money or making narcotic drugs.

It is absurd for the police to go about raiding places, e.g. your home or office, in the mere hope of finding crime. There must be plausible reason to believe that a major crime is in progress before doing so.

The prosecution did not know the chargeEdit

In the months while waiting for the trial date, Schwartz needed to go abroad to attend to business, for which he had to apply to the court for permission. In a hearing in the judge's chambers, the prosecution objected to the application, but this was overruled by the judge. The prosecution then asked that the bail amount be doubled, because, they argued, the charge of biting a police officer was a serious one.

Schwartz's lawyer immediately interjected, pointing out that the charge was not one of attempting to bite a police officer, but attempting to bite a person.

The judge noted that the defence attorney was correct, it wasn't as serious as the prosecutors claimed the case to be, and granted Schwartz leave to travel without increasing his bail amount.

First plea bargain offer rejectedEdit

Meanwhile the prosecution offered a plea bargain: If Schwartz would plead guilty to the second and third charges (obscene DVDs and biting), the prosecution would drop the uncensored DVDs charge. The sentence would also be based only on the obscene DVDs charge.

Schwartz turned down the offer. It was a matter of principle that he was not guilty of any attempt to assault or bite anyone. He was confident that the prosecution's video would prove his version of events. As he wrote to his club members, "The police should not be allowed to use a trumped-up charge."

He was also ready to contest the possession-of-DVDs charges. His lawyer too felt he had a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.

There was one more reason why Scwartz wanted his day in court: He was keen to make the point that "the whole illegal method of entering should be open to strong cross examination...since they did not have any evidence, of any kind, that criminal activity had been going on in Club One Seven." He was still enraged by the police's storm trooper tactics.

20 April 2009 was the trial date. With Schwartz kept waiting outside, the lawyers huddled in the judge's chambers discussing procedural issues. Schwartz's lawyer reiterated that they were prepared, even eager, to have the charges tried. After some to-ing and fro-ing, the prosecution finally backed down, admitting they had a weak hand and agreeing to withdraw the biting charge. Following that, according to Schwartz, the judge offered "that he would ignore the [121 uncensored DVDs] charge if [Schwartz] would plead guilty to the [25 obscene DVDs]."

Schwartz agreed to this new bargain. "I was fined the minimum 500 dollars for each of the obscene DVDs." Total fine: S$12,500.

"The case was a victory, of sorts," Schwartz told his club members in a newsletter. "The police realise - now - that they cannot accuse an innocent person of a crime and expect not to be challenged."

When one pulls oneself back and looks at the totality of the story, one should ask: Were the police acting with justification at various points? Was a raid with massive manpower justifiable without any reasonable suspicion of a major crime? Was knocking down Schwartz justifiable under the circumstances?

One would notice that the police began by suggesting a charge of assault, then filing a charge of biting, when their own video most likely showed otherwise. When that tack failed and they were forced to withdraw the biting charge, the police began to insist that he had committed the offence of running a massage parlour. Anybody who had visited One Seven, and tens of thousands had, would know massage was not available there. Was throwing charge after groundless charge against him a form of harassment?

Does the reader get a sense that the police may be either on a moralistic campaign against a gay business, or a vendetta against Schwartz personally? Is that what we pay our police force for?

The police raided the sauna on 25 April 2008, following which Schwartz was charged for three offences: possession of uncensored DVDs, possession of obscene DVDs and biting somebody. The paragraphs below will relate what happened with those charges (particularly the "biting" charge). At no time during that saga, which he thought ended with an aborted trial on 20 April 2009 (a year after the raid), did "massage" enter into the story.

Yet, two and a half weeks after the aborted trial, Schwartz received the first of what would be a series of letters. This is the first of the last two letters that came out of the blue:

SamSchwartz003


This discussion focuses on the alleged Massage Establishment offence, which is truly curious. There were forty thousand members of One Seven, mostly Singaporeans, who knew and can attest to the fact that the club did not provide massage services. It had never done so, in its eight years of operation.

In response to this letter, Schwarz's lawyer wrote to the police asking them to show what evidence they had. The police's reply did not address the question in any substantial way. Instead, it made reference to a statement that Schwartz allegedly gave a year earlier. But one must bear in mind firstly that that long-ago interview was in connection with another matter, and secondly, it was inconceivable that Schwartz would have admitted to providing massage in One Seven when there had never been massage services there, and thirdly, that the police procedure was that the police would not provide suspects or their lawyer with a copy of any statement they take from them.

Naturally, the lawyer was dissatisfied with a non-reply, and so it went back and forth...

In September 2009, the police wrote to Schwartz again, saying virtually the same thing as the very first letter...but there were slight differences (underlined in red), which makes one wonder how rigorously thought out the original letter was.

SamSchwartz004a

Notice this change from the first letter. Now Schwartz was being accused of assisting and abetting another party (a company) in these offences, whereas in the first letter, he was accused directly of them. It is worth noting also, that One Seven, the company, did not receive similar letters and was not accused of the alleged offences. Did this late variation suggest that the original case/letter was not well thought through?


Again the lawyer wrote back, pointing out that the "clarification" that Schwartz allegedly assisted and abetted was meaningless as an answer to earlier questions, and that the police were still not providing any facts. Here is the relevant passage of the letter to the police by Schwartz's lawyer:

SamSchwartz005


For good measure, the lawyer made it clear that One Seven had at no time provided public entertainment or massage:

SamSchwartz006


Replying to the lawyer, the police wrote:

SamSchwartz007a

The police resisted disclosing what the statement said, merely insinuating that it contained sufficient evidence to prove that he had committed the alleged offences.


Note the last sentence about going ahead unilaterally to update records. The police also said they would record that Schwartz would not accept the warning. But that was not the same as recording his innocence. A record made in such a form imputes that the police hde sufficient evidence against him, but Schwartz was simply being stubborn. It impugned his character.

The Government likes to boast Singapore has the rule of law. Is this true? Looking at this example, were the police behaving lawfully or unlawfully?

It is a natural progression, or perhaps regression, in all authoritarian states for government bodies invested with power to gradually abuse that power. When a populace has been cowed by strong politicians and have lost the stomach for speaking up and defending themselves, lesser figures associated with the government start to throw their weight around. They do not care anymore whether their demands or claims are just, logical or evidence-based; they just want to take advantage of the timidity they see around them.

It behooves Singaporeans to do their part to stop the abuse. There are few better ways to demonstrate one's loyalty. Whenever one see cases like this, and there are probably many examples out there, they should be documented and publicised. Otherwise they will never be rectified and the rot will spread.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • Alex Au, "The arrests at One Seven and Section 20", Yawning Bread, November 2001[4].
  • Alex Au, "Raiding our minds", Yawning Bread, July 2002[5].
  • Alex Au, "Sam Schwartz and the police, part 2", Yawning Bread, 15 October 2009[6].
  • Alex Au, "Sam Schwartz and the police, part 1", Yawning Bread, 15 October 2009[7].

AcknowledgementsEdit

This article was compiled by Roy Tan.