Time to stop cheering and step up to assist M Ravi
“Further, we also find that there is an arguable case on the constitutionality of s377A that ought to be heard in the High Court. We emphasise that our finding of the existence of a real controversy to be determined in this case arises from a combination of two factors. Firstly, Tan was at the outset arrested, investigated, detained and charged exclusively under s377A. This squarely raises the issue as to whether Tan’s initial detention and prosecution were “in accordance with law” within the meaning of Art 9(1) as s377A was the only provision relied on by the investigators and the Prosection at all material times prior to the substitution of the s377A charge with the s294(a) charge. The subsequent substitution of the s377A charge only after the Application was filed could not excise any earlier “wrong” which might have been committeed vis-a-vis Tan.
“Secondly, there is a real and credible threat of prosecution under s377A. Our finding that there is a real controversy to be adjudicated in this case removes the anomaly referred to at  above as now, Tan, an applicant who has locus standi based on a finding of an arguable violation of his constitutional rights, will be allowed to vindicate his rights before the courts.
“The principle of access to justice calls for nothing less.”
– Court of Appeal, 21 August 2012.
The judgement by the Court of Appeal is a significant one, in case you’re wondering. I am sure many will be writing about it. In fact, some already have. (See here and here.) So, I will not go into that. Suffice it to say that I hope whoever the High Court judge is who will be hearing the case will have the courage to do what is right. This article, instead, will make a plea – a plea for a friend. He is the man who has been fighting for Singaporeans’ rights for 10 years now. He is the lawyer behind the recent by-election case, the mandatory death penalty case, and the same lawyer behind this s377A one as well.
While we cheer such court decisions, and cross our fingers that the courts will uphold our rights, please do remember that all these do not come about from thin air. They come about because there are some people fighting for them – and M Ravi, the lawyer, has been fighting for changes to the mandatory death penalty (which the govt partially acceded to), for our rights to be represented in Parliament, and now for the rights of gay people to be free from prosecution just for being who they are. M Ravi, of course, takes on more than these cases.
But behind the news stories which you hear is a man who fights a lone battle, many-a-time under very close (and unfair) scrutiny from the state-controlled media, and not helped by fellow lawyers or the Law Society even.
Ravi nonetheless soldiers on because he has deep conviction and love for his fellow men, not just for Singaporeans, but all of humanity. As I said earlier, to understand M Ravi you have to understand the spiritual person that he is. And from that spiritual depth which is inside of him, he sees wrongs and tries his best to make them right.
Over the last few years, especially, it is a little known fact that he has struggled much to take up the cases which he did, many times having to pay for them himself, out of his own pocket. But that – money – is the least of it. There are much more that he goes through, perhaps more than many other lawyers, because of who M Ravi is.
I am not trying to paint Ravi as a saint. I am just stating what should be common sense facts. Ask any lawyer about the amount of work which goes into each case – work which we on the outside do not see.
So, if you cheer the decision by the Court of Appeal on this s377A case, or Vellama Marie Muthu’s by-election case, or the changes brought to the mandatory death penalty, or if you believe that you as a citizen should have your rights protected, then give some thought to how you can help M Ravi do all these on your behalf.
If you are a lawyer, it is time to stand up and not be cowed. Ravi could truly use your help.
If you are a law student, he too could use your help.
If you’re not trained in law, a simple email or letter, or a pat on his back when you see him, will lift his spirit.
If you are so inclined and are able to, why not donate to his cause?
We should not stand by and watch while one lone man tries and do his best for what affects all of us.
Indeed, it is time to stop cheering M Ravi from the sidelines and step up and lend a hand. Fighting for our rights is not one man’s job alone.
*If you wanna lend a hand to M Ravi, you can contact the following:
Sharlene Asha Naomi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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