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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 6 April 10, 1975

Galbally Seeks Help for Gaoled Student

Galbally Seeks Help for Gaoled Student

Melbourne barrister Mr Frank Galbally has launched a personal campaign to save a Singaporean student leader from one year's gaol.

Tan Wah Piow, 23, the president of the University of Singapore Students' Union, was sentenced to one year's gaol on Saturday after being found guilty of rioting charges.

But Mr Galbally is hoping to arouse enough support from the international and Australian human rights and legal organisations to guarantee a successful High Court challenge to the sentence.

Mr Galbally flew to Singapore in December to observe a week of Tan's 45 day trial.

Yesterday he described the trial as 'political persecution initiated by a reactionary and extremely totalitarian regime.'

Mr Galbally has sent a report of the trial and the plight of Singaporean lawyers to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Will-see).

He has also sent the report to the Law Institute of Victoria, the law Council of Australia, Melbourne and London branches of the international human rights organisation Amnesty International and the Hong Kong branch of the International Commission of Jurists.

Mr Galbally has asked Senator Willasee and each organisation to investigate his report and then protest to the Singapore government.

He said lawyers he spoke to in Singapore agreed that Tan's trial has been a 'political frame-up.'

'Tan was never given a fair trial.' Mr Galbally said, 'He was rail-roaded into the trial before he had obtained legal representation and any reasonable chance of conferring with his witnesses.

'It was not until he was half way through his own evidence in his defence that two of his vital witnesses were brought back from Malaysia to where they had been deported just before the trial began.

'This was a blatant denial of the accused's right to free access to his witnesses.'

'He was also constantly brow-beaten by the judge and was subjected to unreasonable cross-examination.

'He was not allowed to ask ordinary reasonable questions to the prosection witnesses.

For instance, he asked one of the key prosecution witnesses - a Member of Parliament called Phey - if he had a criminal record, This question was disallowed as irrelevant.'

Mr Galbally said that Tan later tried to argue that if Phey had a criminal record his credibility was questionable. He said he agreed with Tan that the question, was 'highly relevant.'

Mr Galbally said he had asked Senator Willasee and the organisations to which he had sent his report 'to investigate the atmosphere of fear and of political action against them under which Singaporean lawyers have to work.'

According to a joint statement released yesterday by Mr Galbally and the president of the Association of Young Lawyers (Mr Francis Gurry) Singaporean lawyers 'are striving to do their duty to the community under threatening clouds of political interference and persecution.'

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