David William Graaskov: A Hero?

Please refer to the Straits Times article, “Teen is first among five in Toa Payoh graffiti case to plead guilty to theft, criminal trespass”http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/teen-first-among-five-toa-payoh-graffiti-case-plead-guilty-theft-c

David William Graaskov, 18, is no ordinary Singapore young man. He is one of the few young men and women, far too few unfortunately in that island, who has the character and courage to stand on principle. No one can say that he does not have courage, character or integrity, qualities that most young men and women who have grown up under Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean dictator and his son, the Prime Minister, utterly lack.

Any father or mother should be proud to have a boy like him. And in his journey in life ahead of him, one can see the making of a leader unlike the vast majority of others in that island who can only live their lives in fear and obedience.

Singapore is a repressive island, devoid of basic human rights such as freedom of speech, assembly, association and anyone engaging in any such activity is liable to be arrested and imprisoned, loss of job and career and victimized the rest of his life by a government determined to keep their citizens under control.

Since the consequences of any attempt to assert their citizens rights under the Constitution will result in harsh and serious consequences to their life and liberty, most Singaporeans do not dare to criticize the government openly or demand their rights for fear of certain retribution, as is the case in Communist China.

This courageous young man David William Graaskov is not among the general cowardly population that you find in in the island of Singapore. On May 07, 2014, he and 4 other young men of his age, climbed atop a HDB Government Housing Residential Block and wrote slogans such as “Freedom” protesting the lack of basic human rights of the citizens. Since as mentioned Singapore laws makes it illegal to protest, he and the others were charged for vandalism which under Singapore law not only results in imprisonment but also caning (whipping) a very brutal and inhuman form of punishment which leaves the victim suffering permanent injury and scarred for life.

Yesterday, December 22, 2014, young Graaskov pleaded guilty to theft and criminal trespass in Lee Kuan Yew’s sons Courts in Singapore. He will be sentenced at a subsequent date.

Graskov is clearly a hero. He need not have bothered to do this. He has nothing to gain from doing this. Like the other cowardly young men and women who are satisfied to live in bondage, he could have done nothing and merely went on with his life. But not Graaskov. He felt that this is wrong. And when something is wrong, it is courageous who stand up to it. It is honorable act. It shows character and leadership.

In fact he has much more integrity and leadership than even his ethnic Chinese lawyer walking next to him, a member of a legal profession that has shown it has no intention to do any real lawyering. Very probably his lawyer , undoubtedly a very timid fellow would have advised him to plead guilty and not antagonize the judge. To show how timid these Singapore lawyers are, you might want to know that opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, when sued for defamation of character some years ago, by Lee Kuan Yew and his son, was unable to find a single lawyer to represent him in that entire island! That explains volumes of the lawyering capacity of these Singaporean lawyers.

If I was Graaskov’s lawyer, I would have advised him to fight the charges. Of course I realize that there is the possibility of caning, but this government today is so maligned and has lost so much respectability that it is most unlikely that they would cane 18 year old Graaskov.

Of course it is certain that he would lose at any trial but the publicity that he generates by mounting a Constitutional right of free speech and expression , would result in Lee’s son, the Prime Minister who controls everything including the courts,  suffering much more loss to his reputation, while Graaskov would come out the hero, a David who stood up to the one eyed Goliath.

We all come to the cross roads in life’s journey. At that point those with courage and leadership take the right path, even though it is hard. Others take the easy path although they know it is wrong. Here we have Graaskov, standing up to what is right regardless of the consequence, while other lesser mortals remain quiet and submit.

If I had to follow a leader, I can say without hesitation that it will be Graaskov, not the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who are incapable of doing anything but going back from school to their TV sets as if nothing is happening around them.

Making a prediction, I say, 18 year old Graaskov, would one day be a leader of men.

I would also suggest that Graasskov’s parents should try to send him to the West for his higher education. He is surrounded by an entire island of submissive and cowed population and this is not good for his upbringing or his education. His Singapore teachers themselves terrified of the government would be telling him to be like the others and submit in silence. His parents, if they are Singaporeans would probably be telling him the same thing. And the Singaporean mindset is itself bad because it considers submission and obedience as virtues while challenging authority is a crime.

Graaskov has shown extraordinary courage even while living under such suppressive and repressive climate as Singapore island. Imagine how much more he will progress if allowed to live among people who have their heads screwed on right and know that it is heroic and honorable to stand up to an unjust regime, and submission to injustice is cowardly.

Well done Graaskov. You have guts.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: www.facebook.com/singapore.dissident

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