Sunday, May 07, 2006

WP's James Gomez arrested

Our sources tell us that James Gomez of the Workers' Party has been detained by the police at Changi Airport on charges of criminal intimidation.

We will update this site with more information when we have it.


Update:

May 7, 8:35 AM EDT

Singapore opposition politician arrested for allegedly threatening election officials

By EN-LAI YEOH
Associated Press Writer

SINGAPORE (AP) -- A Singapore opposition politician was arrested Sunday for allegedly threatening the country's election officials, a day after he failed to win a seat in national elections, an aide said.

Workers' Party candidate James Gomez was arrested Sunday for alleged "criminal intimidation," his aide Jacob George said. Gomez was attempting to leave the country but was stopped by immigration officials, who turned him over to the police.

"We don't know the specifics, but it could be due to the minority certificate," said George, referring to an incident when Gomez initially accused officials of misplacing his election papers more than a week before Saturday's election.

He subsequently apologized after security camera footage showed he put the form into his bag. The academic claimed he was distracted.

Gomez was part of a five-member Workers' Party team that contested a multimember ward against the ruling People's Action Party, where a minority candidate is compulsory.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's PAP won 82 of 84 seats in Singapore's 10th general elections since independence in 1965.

"Police received a complaint against James Gomez from the Elections Department, and police are investigating," said police spokeswoman Siow Cheng Cheng. She did not elaborate.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy, said Gomez has not been charged. If found guilty for criminal intimidation, Gomez could be jailed for up to seven years.

It is not immediately clear why the elections department waited till after the polls to file the complaint.

The incident was played up by ruling party politicians and local media, which rarely deviate from the government line.

Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, called Gomez, 40, "a liar" and a "bad egg."

"He's not a fool ... He's saying he's got brains," elder statesman Lee was quoted on state-broadcaster Channel NewsAsia's Web site as saying. "Well, what do you use those brains for?"

Lee is the father of the current prime minister and wields considerable influence as "Minister Mentor" in his son's cabinet.

The PAP said they targeted Gomez, a researcher with a Stockholm-based institute, as it was an issue of credibility.