1 Jun 2007


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31 May 2007

Singapore Activists Face Police Harrassment & Intimidation

Message of defiance from Singapore activists

Resolute in the face of police intimidation
30 May 07

Several activists have been called up for questioning by the police for standing up for their rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly last year.

Fifteen local democracy advocates attended police investigations in the past several weeks to answer questions on their participation in two events: the World Bank-IMF meeting in September and on International Human Rights Day in December.

Despite the harassment, however, these human rights defenders remain defiant. In a signed statement as well as video-taped messages, the advocates reiterated their commitment to establishing their political and civil rights of Singaporeans.

The police have made outrageous allegations that the advocates have committed offences such as "counseling disobedience to the law", "holding an assembly and procession without a permit", and even "incitement to violence".

In Sep 06, seven activists took part in a protest at Hong Lim Park during the World Bank-IMF meeting, calling for freedom of speech in Singapore. They were stopped by the police which turned the event into a 72-hour standoff.

On 10 Dec 06, several advocates conducted a Freedom Walk down Orchard Road to mark International Human Rights Day.

This is the first time that a group of Singaporeans have courageously stood up for their rights and they remain resolute in the face of police intimidation. They responded with dignity by going to the police stations to face the investigators.

They even called on fellow Singaporeans to step forward and join them in their fight against the despotic PAP Government (see video). They also made appeals to the international community to pay attention to the continued repression in Singapore.

The group's action will shine the spotlight on the PAP which is running out of ideas on how to improve Singapore and resorting to desperate measures to silence a population which is becoming more assertive.

The latest police action signals a regime increasingly at odds with the people it rules and it is a clear indication of a Government that is insecure and lacking in confidence.

One of the activists, Mr Jeffrey George, who is a staunch advocate of democratic values and practices, said: "Singaporeans must not be cowed by this bullying. We must show that our right to democracy and freedom is inalienable, it cannot be taken away from us."

Mr John Tan, another democracy advocate, added: "I challenge the Government to live up to the pledge our children recite in school everyday, that is, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality."

Mr Tan questioned how could Singaporeans feel proud when citizens "are hauled up for being patriotic?"

"How can we feel at home when we do not have basic human rights such as the freedom of speech and expression?" he asked. "The freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble are fundamental to the very definition of democracy. They are the elements that either make us a free people or a nation of slaves."

Express your support for these courageous citizens who have found their voice and are standing up to the PAP. Write them a message of solidarity and encouragement (speakup@singaporedemocrat.org).

It is our duty to speak up, 30 May 07

We, the undersigned, are being questioned by the police for taking part in political activities on 16 September 2006 and 10 December 2006.

We are Singaporeans exercising our sacred rights and speaking up for the rights of our fellow citizens.

We object to being harassed by the Singapore Government and reiterated our stand that as citizens its is our duty and responsibility to speak up and hold our Government accountable. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We oppose the repressive measures of the ruling Peoples’ Action Party which continues to use laws to prosecute citizens for exercising our freedoms of speech and assembly.

We call on democracy defenders to denounce the anti-democratic stance of the Singapore Government and to support the cause of democracy in Singapore.


Gandhi Ambalam
Chee Siok Chin (Ms)
Chee Soon Juan
Chong Kaixiong
Jeffrey George
Johnny Hoe
Kirat Kaur (Ms)
Monica Kumar (Ms)
Priveen Suraj
Gerald Sng
John Tan
Charles Tan
Tan Cheng Poh
Teoh Tian Jing
Yap Keng Ho
Francis Yong

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30 May 2007

Singapore - Legal Letter from Grand Seasons International

It appears that Tomorrow.sg has received a Legal Letter from Grand Seasons International Lawyers(referring to this entry?).

October 23, 2006
timeshare scam
Gecko said:

I have removed the original content at the request of Gecko.


Submitted by gecko on October 23//10:46am and published by cowboycaleb, shianux :: add new comment | 3833 reads | trackback

Threats of legal action should never be used to quash legitimate and valid criticism on the internet and as well as that they simply draw attention to an issue that would have drifted off into the ether to have been forgotten about. The first point of contact should not be to threaten legal action.


The letter states....

Our Ref: JSG/1311/07
Date: 23 May 2007

Registrar: Vooju Pte Ltd
Registrant: James Seng

Dear Sir


We act for M/s Grand Seasons International Pte Ltd.

Our clients instruct that a blog has been published in your Bulletin of Singapore Bloggers at the following url address: http://tomorrow.sg/archives/2006/10/23/grand_seasons_international_ti.html with the heading in bold "Grand Season International-TimeShare Scam Company".

We are instructed that the above words are defamatory of our clients and our client's reputation and goodwill has been disparaged and seriously damage. It is common knowledge that the Internet has millions of users who have free and open access to the words complained of.

In the premises our clients instruct that unless the above offending words are removed from the above url address and from the bulletin board within the next 5 days from the date hereof our clients shall have no alternative but to proceed as they deem fit in the matter.

Our clients also seek your co-operation to disclose the name and address of "GECKO" who has posted comment on 23/10/06 regarding our clients in the captioned matter as our clients intend to pursue their legal rights against the writer.

Yours faithfully,

Jagjit Singh Gill

cc clients

And the offending article which will of course now receive far more attention than it ever would have is available below...


Voices of Freedom

The following article is posted here for my own records as it does refer to an issue that has from time-to-time been mentioned in passing in the Singapore Blogosphere - namely that it tends to be dominated by the usual suspects, middle-class, educated, males and there does seem to be a lot of 'journalists', lawyers, postgraduate students, undergraduate students, and IT experts dominating the sg blogosphere. So where is the marginalised Singaporean?

Blogs and podcasts enable a powerful and authentic voice for marginalised communities sidelined by mainstream media

Nathalie McDermott
Wednesday May 30, 2007
The Guardian

Prisoners cannot podcast because they do not have access to the internet, but if they could the material would be fascinating. It would be authentic, raw and compelling without being sensational. Instead of the stock answers we hear from prisoners in television soundbites, you might hear "Jamie" own up to the fact that he has never told his kids he is inside because he is so ashamed, and that they think he is at work. Or about how "Bruno" only gets a buzz from crime and feels "the butterflies when I'm on a bit of work", and has never held down any other job. You'd hear prisoners talking to each other, intimately and frankly, from a shared position of trust and common knowledge.

I worked in a prison for three years, training offenders to run a talk radio station, and the thing that struck me most was how much better the content was than anything I have ever heard - or produced when I was a journalist - on mainstream media about prison issues.

People would come to visit the station, listen to the programmes and chat to the prisoners. Without fail, whatever their views on the criminal justice system, they would invariably leave with an entirely different perception of serving offenders and how we as a society deal with crime.

Thrilling tool

This is the power of simple conversation. Citizen journalism - real people speaking to real people through podcasts and blogs - means that we can have those conversations online, and this is what makes it such a thrilling tool for positive social change.

There is a lot of debate in the media about the term "citizen journalism". Many conventional journalists prefer "user-generated content" or "social media" to set it apart from what they have been trained for years to do, which is fair enough I suppose, since the two are distinct. Citizen journalism is content - text, photos, audio and video - that is generated by the public and sometimes, but rarely, makes its way into a mainstream newspaper or broadcast bulletin. It is mostly found in blogs or on networking sites such as MySpace. The main difference between the two mediums is that citizen journalism cuts out the middle man, and the story is told from a position of first-hand knowledge and partiality.

The reason that this can be more engaging is that someone at the centre of an issue can get more out of their interviewees because of the trust that comes from shared experience, background or culture. So while there will always be a need for trained journalists to sift through and select information for cogent analysis, when it comes to really getting to the bottom of an issue, it makes sense to go to the source and hear the people who are directly involved - unedited and without time constraints or word limits.

So how can positive social change be achieved through an abundance of disorganised chat on the internet? I run an organisation that trains marginalised groups and voluntary and public sector organisations to podcast, allowing them inexpensively to produce audio or video from their perspective. They can do and say what they like, as long as it is legal. Campaigners and charity workers do not have to wait for the media to take an interest in their issue - they can produce material themselves that will be of interest to their target audience, as opposed to mainstream media, which must appeal to a much wider audience.

However, most of my time has shifted towards working with marginalised groups because there is something that worries me about the digital revolution. When I surf through blogs, podcasts and content sharing sites such as YouTube and MySpace (examples of internet technology known as web 2.0), it is the same familiar demographic that is generating the content. For example, Al Gore's citizen journalism channel, Current TV, launched recently in the UK and Ireland. My concern is that, powerful as some of the content is on Current TV and sites like it, the people producing it are, on the whole, privileged, confident and articulate members of society who already have a voice and are more accurately represented in newspapers and broadcast media to begin with.

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29 May 2007

Singapore - Straits Times Decreasing Traffic

Found On Singapore Election
When The Straits Times started charging for access all those years ago it was the wrong move. Why pay to access the reporting of a mass media outlet that is ranked either 147th or 154th in the world depending on your ranking source. The paper is losing revenue as are so many other newspapers around the world. The 20 - 30 generation are going online to get news that matters to them. Not news filtered by a process of 'self-censorship' or by a regime that demands control over all that is written.

Simply no longer charging visitors to view your advertisements and state-controlled press releases is not going to turn the fortunes of the ST around over night. Trying to isolate yourself from the global market of media and cultural production by charging your readers and hoping that they show loyalty to you was mis-guided. But until the Straits Times journalists are able to compete on the global playing-field without the dead-weight of self-censorship and state control - all the technology in the world will not alter the image of the Straits Times as a state owned and controlled propaganda outlet.

FROM Tuesday, visitors to The Straits Times' (ST) website will not have to pay to read the latest breaking news from Singapore and the world.

They can also post their views - in real time - on the reports they read.

One other major change: The site will drop its 12-year-old name, The Straits Times Interactive, or STI, and go with the cleaner 'straitstimes.com'.

Since becoming a subscription site in 2005, it has been offering only a small buffet of material for free:

1. ST's online forum letters;
2. Multimedia features, such as video news reports and podcasts;
3. A restricted selection of 20 reports from the print edition.

All other content, including breaking news and material picked up from the print edition of the newspaper itself, has been available only to subscribers in the past two years.

Explaining the move to open up more free-access content, ST editor Han Fook Kwang said: 'There's a great deal more we can do in the website to leverage on the award-winning talent in The Straits Times newsroom of writers, photographers, artists and designers. I think we've a good product and we want to make it available to more people in cyberspace, and to use the technology available on the web to make it an even better product.'
Here is the real reason ....


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28 May 2007

Singapore - Capitalism without democracy is exploitation

Capitalism without democracy is exploitation – excerpts from A Nation Cheated
28 May 07

THE only difference between communism and capitalism, it has been said, is that the communists have admitted that they were wrong.

Such an observation, undoubtedly made with tongue firmly in cheek, is nevertheless a serious indictment of the economic system that has enveloped this planet.

The widening disparity between the world's rich and poor continues to ask questions about the way humanity conducts itself. Poverty brutalises and dehumanises the victims it claims. It is an evil that tears at the very heart of civilisation.

Giving succour to us is the knowledge that people are not defenceless when it comes to combating poverty. The weapon of choice is, of course, democracy. For without it, capitalism becomes nothing more than exploitation in disguise.

And yet, in Singapore the situation is such that while the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) remains alive to the capitalist world, it ensures that democracy is kept dead and buried. Such an arrangement renders the working poor voiceless and powerless, opening them up to abuse and exploitation.

A Nation Cheated addresses the fallacy that Singapore has a well-run, free-market economy system put in place by the PAP that continues to benefit the island’s inhabitants.

In fact, this report clearly demonstrates that there is nothing free or market-oriented about Singapore’s economy. Worse, developmental trends over the last 10 years show how Singaporeans have been economically displaced and socially dislocated as a result of PAP policies.

It documents the subjugation of the labour movement by the Singapore Government during the nation's formative years which has continued into the present. The official argument is that strong trade unions are inimical to foreign investment.

After nearly half-a-century of uninterrupted authoritarian rule, however, the results are abysmal. Singapore's economy seems unable to graduate into something more than a service station for multinational companies. The resultant effect has been the emergence of a significant layer of underclass.

The report also demonstrates that this system is actively maintained by an autocratic government whose political philosophy and practice is predicated on Lee Kuan Yew's idea that state resources should be concentrated on the top 5 percent of the pop-ulation "who are more than ordinarily endowed physically and mentally."

Most importantly, this essay presents a clear alternative to the course taken by the PAP who has bludgeoned into the minds of the populace that there isn't, and can never be, one.

It was first published in 2002 under the title First World...For Whom? Much has happened since and this updated version will bring readers up to speed about Singapore's political-economy, poverty, and labour.

Many have bought the e-copy of A Nation Cheated written by Dr Chee Soon Juan. If you haven't done so, order a copy today and support the democracy campaign in Singapore!

Option1: You can place your order through Paypal, either through your own Paypal account or directly with your credit card if you don't have a Paypal account. Click on the 'Buy Now' button below.

Option 2: If you don't want to use either of the above options, please write to speakup@singaporedemocrat.org.

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Singapore - Avoidance of Double Taxation

for Myanmar Citizens living and working in Singapore

To remove unfair and unjust double taxation practice that Myanmar citizens living and working in Singapore are facing despite the fact that there is a Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) signed between Singapore and Myanmar.

Naing Moe Aung
Mobile: (+65) 9871 0563
Fax: (+65) 6491 5522
Email: naing {at} projectdecision.com

Please download the template, print it out and start collecting the signatures from those around you and return it to the address below by 01 July 2007.
Naing Moe Aung
Block 74, Bedok North Road
Singapore 460074

Ka Daung Nyin Thar wants the Myanmarese workers in Singapore to be united and participate in the campaign which would compel Singapore PM to discuss with Myanmar government to respect the agreement.

First spotted on Global Voices Online
Further details are available here.

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24 May 2007

REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE - Amnesty International Annual Report 2007

Amnesty International Report 2007 Overview Video

Annual Report 2007


Head of state: S R Nathan
Head of government: Lee Hsien Loong
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not ratified

Freedom of expression and assembly came under increasingly close controls. Men arrested in previous years were held without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act amid fears that they were at risk of ill-treatment. Death sentences were imposed and at least five people were executed. Criminal offenders were sentenced to caning.

The People's Action Party (PAP), which has dominated political life and wider society for nearly half a century, was re-elected for a five-year term in May. The party's stated commitment to building a more open society did not materialize.

Restrictions on free expression and assembly
Civil defamation suits and criminal charges were used or threatened against government critics, human rights activists, Falun Gong practitioners and foreign news media. Tighter restrictions on several major foreign publications were announced in August, enabling the authorities to take punitive measures more easily.

• Dr Chee Soon Juan, leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, was declared bankrupt in February when he was unable to pay damages of 500,000 Singapore dollars (approximately US$306,000) to two PAP leaders when a 2001 defamation suit ended. As a bankrupt, he was barred from seeking election. He was imprisoned for eight days in March for contempt of court after saying publicly that the judiciary lacked independence. In November he was sentenced to a prison term of five weeks for speaking in public without a permit. On his release he faced further criminal charges for speaking in public without a permit and attempting to leave the country without permission. In August the publisher and the editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review were sued for defamation in connection with a favourable article about him.

• J B Jeyaretnam, former leader of the opposition Workers' Party, unsuccessfully appealed against the bankruptcy imposed on him in 2001 after a series of politically motivated defamation suits. He remained unable to stand for re-election.

• Writer Lee Kin Mun was suspended by the state-owned newspaper Today following publication of a critical article on Singapore's living costs.

• Two Falun Gong practitioners were convicted of holding an illegal protest outside the Chinese Embassy and sentenced in November to prison terms of 15 days and 10 days respectively. Nine practitioners were charged with illegally assembling to distribute leaflets. Jaya Gibson, a British journalist and Falun Gong practitioner, was denied entry to Singapore.

• The government restricted both domestic and foreign activism relating to a meeting in Singapore of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in September, provoking worldwide criticism, including from both institutions.

Detention without charge or trial
At least 34 men remained in detention without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act. The authorities claimed the men were involved in militant Islamist groups and posed a security threat to Singapore. Seven detainees were reportedly released after co-operating with the authorities and responding well to "rehabilitation". In February, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was reported as saying that the treatment of such detainees was not a "tea party" but denied they had been tortured.

Conscientious objectors
At least eight conscientious objectors were imprisoned, and 12 others continued to serve their sentences during 2006. All were members of the banned Jehovah's Witnesses religious group. There were no moves towards offering an alternative to military service.

Death penalty and corporal punishment
At least five people were executed, two in June following conviction for drug trafficking, the others in November after being convicted of murder. Death sentences were handed down to at least five people.

The presence of foreign prisoners on death row raised the international profile of Singapore's high rate of executions. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions expressed concern about executions in Singapore and called for an end to death sentences for drug-related offences, arguing that the mandatory death sentence is a violation of international legal standards. In January the Singapore Law Society said it intended to carry out "an open-minded review of the legal issues" related to the death penalty.

People continued to be sentenced to caning throughout the year, including a 16-year-old boy convicted of theft and judged unsuitable for reformative training.

Asia Video
Watch Amnesty International's Secretary General talk about the positives and negatives in Asia over the past year and give her message to the region.

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Yet Another Hanging - Singapore to hang ‘One Eyed Dragon’ for nightclub murder

The Death Penalty in action again. Can't imagine this case resulting in mass protest against it.

End the Death Penalty Now!

Web posted at: 5/23/2007 8:30:19
Source ::: AFP

Tan Chor Jin, nicknamed “One Eyed Dragon”, arriving at the magistrate’s court in Singapore for his trial last February. He was sentenced to death, yesterday, for killing a nightclub owner in a rare gangland-style shooting in Singapore. (AFP)

SINGAPORE • A man nicknamed “One Eyed Dragon” was sentenced yesterday to hang for killing a nightclub owner in a rare Singapore shooting which the judge likened to an assassination.

Tan Chor Jin, 39, appeared calm and smiled occasionally while the verdict was read.

He was convicted for the murder in February last year of Lim Hock Soon in a case that shocked Singapore, one of Asia’s safest cities.

High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang said the killing had “the hallmarks of an assured and accomplished assassin.”

Court documents showed Tan, who earned his nickname for being blind in one eye, entered Lim’s flat on February 15 last year.

He tied up Lim’s wife, 13-year-old daughter and domestic helper, looted the family’s valuables and then fired a series of shots into the victim’s face and body.

He fled to Malaysia but was arrested and extradited 10 days later.

Tan represented himself without a lawyer at the trial. After the sentence was handed down, Tan’s only response was to ask the judge for permission to smoke in prison while awaiting his fate.

“They don’t understand what are human rights in the prison, nor allow us to smoke,” Tan said.


University of New South Wales (Asia) in Singapore shuts down

There is an issue circulating in the forums that the initial report from Channel News Asia has been altered and the time of release manipulated in the second report of the pull out of UNSW. Copied below is allegedly the first report and highlights the fact that a "quarter of a billion dollars" has already been spent - spent by whom?

The Economic Development Board?

But according to current reports [By Derrick A Paulo, TODAY | Posted: 24 May 2007 1005 hrs]"EDB assistant managing director Aw Kah Peng called the UNSW’s decision a “setback” and said: “In the end, decisions have to be made on what we both feel are our long-term interests.” She did not want to reveal how much EDB had invested so far in the project. "

When you google the story we get two links - one from Pearl Forss and one from Ashraf Safdar, but both link to articles written by Pearl Forss.

Students shocked by UNSW Singapore campus closure
Channel News Asia, Singapore - 18 hours ago
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 23 May 2007 2311 hrs.SINGAPORE: The decision to shut down the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Singapore ...

University of New South Wales (Asia) in Singapore shuts down
Channel News Asia, Singapore - 23 May 2007
By Ashraf Safdar, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 23 May 2007 1715 hrs. But less than six months since classes started, the University of New South Wales (Asia) ...

However there are earlier versions.

medium_changicampus.jpg UNSW (Asia) Changi campus

So the story copied here is allegedly the first reaction that CNA had on the issue. Whether or not Ashraf Safdar reported the figure of 'a quarter of a billion' in error is one possible reason for the story being pulled or possibly they are trying to suppress the fact that 'a quarter of a billion' was spent by the EDB.

SINGAPORE: It was supposed to be Singapore's first comprehensive foreign university.

But less than six months since classes started, the University of New South Wales (Asia) in Singapore has decided to shut its doors.

According to preliminary reports, this is because of low student enrolment.

The university had projected to get 800 students by August but it is not clear how many there are to date.

The closure comes despite the fact that an estimated quarter of a billion dollars had been spent on the school's new campus in Changi.

To ease the transition, students who are currently enrolled at UNSW Asia will be offered a place in an equivalent programme at UNSW Sydney. - CNA/ir

Related Links:
The university said this was a 'reputational issue' for Singapore and A*Star.
Singapore learns hard lesson
University plays down fears about Singapore offshoot
UK university drops Singapore plan on freedom fears
Warwick lecturers vote against Singapore campus

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