Our Limited Justice

[Reflections on Shane Todd, George Zimmerman, and the Kingdom of God]

Have you seen a court case or some social injustice, and feel indignant?  Perhaps this is less so in Singapore because the media carefully aligns itself to the official position. So most of us in Singapore will only read what we ought to read, and hear the objections we ought to hear, and come to the conclusion with the official position because others manage our information — less so now with the internet.

Despite how our media manage our information, there is a group of Singaporeans who distrust everything found in the official position, and find a conspiracy under every stone.  They will oppose the ruling party because they are ruling.  If another party is ruling, they will oppose that party.  They are just the perpetual opposition, perpetual objectors; they make cynicism their badge of pride.

Let me point to these two events so we can go through our emotional indignation together.

Not too long ago, Shane Todd, an American scientist who worked in Singapore was found dead, hanging in his bathroom.  The Financial Times began to speculate that he was murdered but it was made to look like suicide, and the Singapore investigators were either incompetent, or worse. The conspiracy theory is that Shane’s work is connected to Huawei, the China company, and this work led to his murder. Shane’s family took up the issue and eventually the US government got involved.  The FBI and other American personnel were given full access to the Singapore investigation.  My initial assessment was that the case of conspiracy was weak.  At the same time the Singapore side was saying that they cannot discuss an ongoing case.  I didn’t have much to go on, but the prima facie case is that it was suicide and not murder, but there is a possibility that the Singapore investigators who have less experience with murder and staged suicide may have missed out something.  So I was pleased to learn the US government is 100% satisfied with their access to information, etc.

The case was reexamined, and the conclusion is that Shane’s death was suicide and the US government is satisfied.  The only dissatisfied parties are Shane’s family and Financial Times. In this case, I believe truth prevails and justice has not suffered any miscarriage — in the legal sense.  But it is unfortunate that FT remains obtuse and insist they have done no wrong.  This only discredits the FT in the long term. I am pleased that the Singapore government did not respond to the FT with defamation suits because if they had done so, it would suggest Singapore has something to hide.  Instead, they allowed any lingering doubt to surface and their position challenged in public.  Truth is not afraid of investigation. In this instance, the Singapore government and the investigators emerge fully exonerated. It is not just the Singapore court decision that upheld suicide but the US government satisfaction that Shane was not murdered and this must persuade even skeptics.

It grieves me to see the netizens condemn Singapore’s handling of the case, which I believe was completely clear headed, as was the US government’s.  The only befuddled people are FT, the two demagogic senators from Shane’s state, and Singapore’s own netizens who adopt a “blame Singapore first” attitude. My indignation was not towards the Singapore system.  In this case, it is admiration.  My indignation is towards FT and certain netizens.  The foolishness of Shane’s family can be ameliorated by their grief. But what excuse can Singapore netizens have to condemn ourselves when we are right?

I think most Singaporeans do not follow the trial of George Zimmerman now approaching its close in a live televised court in Florida.  So please be patient as I outline it for you.  Last year, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. There is no debate on that.  The question was whether it was self-defense or some level of culpable homicide. Race should not come into play when we are concerned with justice, but it does.  And the sooner we acknowledge it, the better off we will be.  George Zimmerman is hispanic and Trayvon Martin is black.

On the night of the event, Zimmerman, a member of the neighborhood watch noticed a suspicious character, a tall black man in a hoodie in his neighborhood where there had been many break-ins. He called 911 and wanted to follow the man.  They eventually encountered each other and it led to a fist fight.  Martin (black), got the better of Zimmerman (hispanic), smashed his head to the ground, broke his nose, and was sitting on top of Zimmerman pulmetting him with blows.  Zimmerman was armed, and reached for his gun and shot Martin who died in a very short time as the bullet went through his heart.

Zimmerman’s testimony, his call for help, his head injuries, his broken nose, all point to a prima facie case that he was indeed acting in self-defense. The police did not arrest him or charge him.  The state prosecutor also saw self-defense and did not prosecute Zimmerman.  But Obama and the black activists, including those who call themselves Christians, pressed for charges to be brought against Zimmerman.  The police chief who did not press charges was fired. The state attorney who did not press charges against Zimmerman was pressured to remove himself. Another prosecutor was appointed who would charge Zimmerman.  It is clear that there did not appear to be a real case against Zimmerman. People were losing their jobs in the name of justice for a stranger they did not know!  But, we must not be hasty.  There may be things that will come out in court that we the public does not know.

All the evidence has been presented in court and the prosecution and defense are now presenting closing arguments. All the commentators and what I can follow on the case indicate that the charge of second degree homicide will not be able to stand. Knowing this, the prosecution wanted the jury to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter — the judge allowed it.  The prosecutor also wanted to include the charge of third degree homicide based on child abuse (because Martin is 17 years old) — the judge disallowed it.

I have not speculated on Zimmerman’s motive for following Martin, and I have not speculated on Martin’s actions that dark night.  But the evidence is clear.  The grass stains were on Zimmerman’s back and Martin’s knees, Zimmerman had head injuries and a broken nose.  Eyewitness called by the prosecution confirmed Martin was on top beating Zimmerman, after which the shot went off.  There is not even enough evidence for the police to book him or the prosecutor to proceed.  This prosecution was created by the political pressure from black activist groups and Obama himself.  If Zimmerman were to be convicted for anything, it would be a grave injustice and Obama would have been a significant contributor to this injustice.

I am not white, not hispanic, not black, and I don’t have a dog in this fight.  My only interest is for justice.  Even if Zimmerman is acquitted, is justice served? He would remain a free man, but he has legal bills he will never be able to pay off (I am guessing).  When justice is done there is still injustice in the process. And these government servants who perpetrate injustice are not accountable while those who chose to do right were fired or had to step aside.  Would this be justice?

True justice comes when Jesus rules. In the great prophecy about the Messiah to come, Isaiah said, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:7).

When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven” we are praying and exercising our hearts to long for the day when justice will prevail on earth.  We are praying for true justice.  We are praying that God in Christ will return to rule the earth and doing so as the all knowing judge, justice will prevail.

There is an imperfect justice even in the best of courts. This is because our laws are imperfect, our knowledge is imperfect, and our motives to pursue a case are often wrong. In the case of Shane Todd, Singapore has to be humble and in the process of time vindicated herself.  In the case of Trayvon Martin, the first victims of wrong prosecution are already fixed: the police chief who refused to book Zimmerman and the original state attorney who refused to prosecute. Obama abused his power with comments unbecoming of a president, and the black activists are the chief proponents of injustice in this case. But these people will never be held accountable.

Lord Jesus, raised up a people in America who can discern right from wrong.  Let them choose their next leaders based on sound ethical principles.  Quash the evil tide of injustice, special interest groups, and those who call ‘good’ ‘evil’ and who call ‘evil’ ‘good.’

Lord God, expand the minds of your people in Singapore who still think that we can isolate ourselves from the shifting tides of this world.  Cause us to pray for our leaders and the leaders of the world, that your kingdom will come to earth, and your will be done here on earth as in heaven. Cause us to reject any delusion that Singapore is heaven on earth, and let us turn our trust to you and not to man.

Peter Eng (11 July 2013)

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