28 Dec 2004

Downgraded to non-invitee for democracy summit

24 December 2004

In June 2000 a group comprising of over 100 governments from democratic countries were invited to Warsaw, Poland to pledge their commitment to democratic principles and to build a Community of Democracies (CD) so as to strengthen democratic values and institutions at home and abroad. The Singapore Government was not invited.

The CD decided to convene biennial ministerial meetings. Parallel to the CD meetings, a nongovernmental (NGO) meeting of leading democracy activists and thinkers from around the world was organized. The second ministerial meeting was organized in Seoul, Korea in November 2002 along with the forum of civil society leaders. Dr Chee Soon Juan was invited to attend the NGO meeting in Seoul but he could not be present because he was in jail for attempting to hold a workers’ rally on May Day of 2002.

For the Seoul meeting Singapore was invited as an Observer (there are three categories: invitee, observer, and non-invitee). The third meeting will take place in February 2005 in Santiago, Chile. The recommendation for this round for Singapore is that it should be downgraded into the non-invitee category again because of the PAP Government’s lack of progress in establishing democracy in the country. Below is the report on Singapore. (For the full report, go to http://www.demcoalition.org/html/home.html)


Singapore was upgraded from a Non-invitee at the Warsaw Ministerial Meeting to an Observer at the Seoul Ministerial Meeting.

In the intervening period, since the Seoul Ministerial Meeting, there have been no parliamentary or presidential elections in Singapore. Parliamentary elections were held 4 November 2001, in which the governing People’s Action Party (PAP) secured an overwhelming majority with 90% of the vote.(194) There is no independent elections commission and campaigning is restricted to nine days.

Parliamentary elections are not scheduled to be held again until next year; nonetheless, on 12 August 2004 a transfer of power took place when Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who ruled the island nation from 1965 to 1990, was sworn in as Singapore’s new prime minister, replacing Goh Chok Tong.(195)

Presently the PAP holds 82 of the 84 elected single-seat constituencies. Much of the success of the PAP can be attributed to the fact that 55 of the 84 seats were uncontested,(196) thereby automatically giving the PAP the majority in parliament.

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Agagooga said...

Are there 100 countries more democratic than us? I find that hard to believe.

soci said...

Well you could always claim that its all relative anyway, and then you sound like the PAP using a postmodernist argument. Allowing North Korea to argue that "Democracy" is simply Western Imperialism by another name.

Anonymous said...

What BS, Singapore has developed from a country with nothing to a country which has somehow put itself on the map and other countries are scornful of it. Mc Dermott, if S'pore really is that stifling as the rankings would have you believe then there's no reason why you would be here than in any of the 100 countries invited to this talk. Look at the corruption and sufferign in some of these 100 countries and tell me whether S'pore is as horrible as they say.

soci said...

All the are saying is that Singapore is 'undemocratic', they never mentioned all the other social ills that effect many countries. Singapore is not a democracy!

Anonymous said...

Peel the onion... delve beneath the surface of things. What are the underlying principles of democracy? To ensure fairness and that no group is above the rest. By and large all Singaporeans are taken care of, and people rise through the ranks by meritocracy, which is more than can be said of some of these countries. FYI, CSJ joined politics AFTER he was discovered by someone for using university funds for his personal use. His intentions are not lofty, but base.

soci said...

And the Lee family are altruistic, with nepotism missing and Singapore is meritocratic....

soci said...

I have always thought that democracy meant choice of politics... and that if necessary the Party in power can be removed through the democratic process if desired. In Singapore there is one dominating party the PAP, which controls the media and crushes the small opposition parties that dare to speak out.

I am not judging the Singaporean democratic process, it was the other countries on the list who made the call because the Singaporean Government, (PAP) have not introduced the changes they, (PAP) said they would.

So maybe you need to look at Singaporean 'democratic processes', 'the election process' from a more objective and independent perspective as well as a subjective up-close perspective.

Or failing that you could set up and ideal type... and analyse it from that perspective and I think nearly all so-called democracies will fall short but 100 actual democraces will do better than the Singaporean actuality.

For me the central question regarding democracy is can the people remove those in power through non-violent means?