Seattle officials have long had a love affair with Singapore, that efficient, prosperous, and oppressive Pacific Rim city-state where spitting and gum chewing are illegal and officials wield the cane. After a famous (and notorious) junket there in 1998, local politicians and business leaders returned raving at the way the place was run and saw it as a model for Seattle and metro Puget Sound. Some of those junketeers might be thrilled to learn that Singapore is now cracking down on bloggers who insult public officials.
That is what an American blogger, Gopalan Nair, has been charged with. Nair is a former Singapore lawyer, a U.S. citizen, and has been covering a defamation trial of charges filed by the prime minister against a local political party. Nair thinks the trial is a farce, said so on his blog, and accused the trial judge of "prostituting herself."
Mild stuff by American blogosphere standards, but Singapore has laws against such insults. Nair, staying at a Singapore hotel, essentially dared authorities to come and get him in a post over the weekend. Authorities obliged, charging him with “threatening, abusing, and insulting” a judge. According to AFP, the charges carry with them a maximum fine of $3,660 or one year in prison.
Such news must give Singapore buffs like Seattle Port Commissioner Pat Davis goosebumps with the possibilities.