Comment: For many people this article from the Singapore Straits Times may seem reasonable enough - the leader of Singapore saying how the rule of law is essential to Singapore's success. We would all like to live in a nice law-abiding society, right? BUT the society that Mr Lee has created is highly ponerised and his words are those of a typical psychopath in power.

Look deeper and take a moment to think. MM Lee is the unelected leader of Singapore; the rule of law he speaks of is the rule of Corporate Law not that of individual freedom (try demonstrating against Mr Lee on the streets of Singapore and see how quickly you end up in police cell - a former President has spoken out on the issue of dissent); the original Chinese minority have usurped the country from the original Malay majority and through deliberate policies now outnumber the Malays; the independence of the Courts is a proven lie.

Singapore may be small but it may also represent a microcosm of where we are headed on a global scale - a world in which the elite are above the law and live in splendor; where a middle class competes feverishly to serve their lords and master better so as to attain/retain material comfort and where the rest of us are dispensable slaves kept sufficiently fit to labour but with no rights or freedoms. In fact, that scenario is not where we are headed, it is where we are NOW, and things can only get worse.

A SOUND legal system and a clean government have been key factors to Singapore's stability and economic growth, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.

Indeed, the rule of law has given Singapore the advantage in the centre of South-east Asia as he knew, even as he took office in 1959, that the country had to distinguish itself and provide an environment its neighbours did not.

Mr Lee said: 'Had we not differentiated ourselves in this way, it would have languished and perished as an ever-shrinking trade centre instead of becoming the thriving business, banking, shipping and aviation hub it is today.'

The Cambridge-trained barrister, who practised law for a decade before becoming prime minister in 1959, was speaking at the opening of the annual International Bar Association conference last night.

Billed as the most prestigious event on the international legal calendar, it has some 4,000 legal practitioners from 120 countries gather for a week to discuss issues ranging from human rights law to criminal laws that cover terrorism.

Comment: Perhaps they were discussing the extension of human rights laws and the rolling back of the draconian laws associated with the "War OF Terror"; but it is much more likely that they were discussing the dismantling of human rights and the extension of criminal law to cover any form of dissent against repressive government and rapacious corporate greed.

In remarks that anticipated the diversity of views to come, Singapore Law Society president Philip Jeyaretnam, speaking ahead of Mr Lee, said to smiles from the audience: 'There are a few things done differently (here) from what you might be used to - some better, some worse.'

Comment: THE ULTIMATE GOAL according to Mr Lee : 'We need to maintain Singapore's position as a city par excellence, with an environment that is clean, safe and vibrant to work in and live in.' - MINISTER MENTOR LEE KUAN YEW

Translation : We will continue to make Singapore as corporation and predator-friendly as possible while ensuring that we rule with a (mostly) hidden but iron fist. We will ensure a safe home for highly paid executives, bankers and lawyers while they go about their business of pillaging the globe and amassing ever increasing fortunes for themselves and their corporations at the expense of the ordinary citizens of planet earth.

Indeed, in a 30-minute question-and-answer session after Mr Lee's speech, delegates questioned him on issues ranging from Singapore as a 'not so democratic' country to economic competitiveness.

The latter was a subject Mr Lee addressed in a 20-minute speech as he took delegates back to the early days of Singapore's independence, when it had to find a way to survive.

Comment: Note how the journalist skips over the 'not so democratic'. Not surprising - she wants to keep her job at the government controlled newspaper.

It did so by striving to be a place that was different from the neighbourhood - providing 'first-world standards of reliability and predictability'.

'Important for investors and economic growth is the rule of law, implemented through an independent judiciary, an honest and efficient police force and effective law enforcement agencies,' he said.

He noted that surveys of countries' economic competitiveness always included the legal framework and administration of justice as key criteria.

Mr Lee enumerated the ways in which the sound legal system inherited from the British had benefited Singapore.

First, clear laws, easy access to justice and an efficient legal system allowed citizens to compete equally in the market and to grow the economy.

Comment: Since when was "easy access to justice and an efficient legal system" a means to "compete equally in the market"? Apart from the fact that in many areas of the law there is no possibility of easy access to justice - there is minimal protection of workers rights in Singapore, no security of tenure of any sort, and a presumption of the Courts that corporations must be right and individuals at fault.

Second, a stable and predictable legal environment enabled the enforcement of contractual and property rights.

Comment: And just who benefits from the "enforcement of contractual and property rights" - the ruling elite and their corporations of course.

Third, the common law heritage helped attract investors. Singapore's laws on financial services, for instance, are similar to those of leading financial centres such as London and New York.

Comment: ...and we know who's benefits they serve.

English was the working language, and at the same time, Singapore amended its laws to fit its needs and circumstances, said Mr Lee.

The Constitution protected the independence of the courts by preventing the removal of judges from office by the Executive. In place of the Privy Council in London, Singapore established its own final Court of Appeal as this would be more familiar with local legislation, conditions and culture.

And as 'race, language and religion have to be handled sensitively, especially during elections', there was the need for a Religious Harmony Act and institutions such as the Presidential Council for Minority Rights and the Group Representation Constituencies to ensure minority representation in Parliament.

Also crucial to Singapore's success were a transparent administration of justice, emphasis on meritocracy, a clean government and the development of a system that did not tolerate corruption, which has plagued Asia.

Yet despite its achievements, Singapore cannot be complacent, said Mr Lee.

'We have to respond to new challenges that technology and globalisation have brought upon us,' he said.

With crime becoming multi-faceted and multi-jurisdictional, many legal issues today require international cooperation, he said. Lawyers must meet the needs of their multi-national clientele.

Ultimately, concluded Mr Lee, 'we need to maintain Singapore's position as a city par excellence, with an environment that is clean, safe and vibrant to work in and live in'.