31 May 2005

Spore's Nepotism & Legitimised Corruption Defined in Dictionary

Mellanie Hewlitt
Singapore Review
31 May 2005

The next time you have difficulty explaining what "Nepotism" or "FamilyDictatorship" is to someone, try mentioning some familiar names in Singapore's million dollar ministerial cabinet as examples.

Singapore is now so internationally renowned for its special brand of legitimised corruption and nepotism that the dictionary definition of the term "Nepotism" and "Family Dictatorship" includes mention of Singapore's First Familee in the explanation. (See also under Successful Transition of Power where Singapore is included with many modern day dictators and despots).

In many On-line dictionaries and encyclopedias, Nepotism and Corruption are now synonymously linked with Singapore's Ruling Elite and first Familee. The folowing extracts are from Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia.

"Nepotism is a common accusation in politics when the relative of a powerful figure ascends to similar power seemingly without appropriate qualifications. For example, in America, politically powerful families such as the Kennedy family and Bush family in American politics are sometimes accused of nepotism by critics. Recently, U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski, when elected Governor of Alaska, appointed his daughter Representative Lisa Murkowski to fill the remaining two years of his seat and was accused of nepotism. (Murkowski won reelection on her own in 2004.) Families elsewhere have also dominated politics of their homeland, such as Tun Abdul Razak, second Prime Minister of Malaysia and his son, Najib Tun Razak, current Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, or Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (first Prime Minister of Singapore) and his son, Lee Hsien Loong, who recently succeeded Goh Chok Tong as Prime Minister of Singapore."

Family dictatorship
"A family dictatorship is a form of dictatorship that operates much like an absolute monarchy, yet occurs in a nominally republican state and is not part of its laws. When the dictator of a family dictatorship dies, one of his relatives (usually his son) becomes the new ruler of the country. This transition often occurs after years of "grooming" the dictator's successor as heir apparent."

"Successful transitions of power
Nicaragua: Anastasio Somoza García (1937-1947, 1950-1956) succeeded by his son Luis Somoza Debayle (1956-1963). There was also a third Somoza president, Anastasio Somoza Debayle (1967-1972, 1974-1979), though he did not directly succeed the other two.
Haiti: François Duvalier (1957-1971) succeeded by his son Jean-Claude Duvalier (1971-1986)
Republic of China (from 1949 on Taiwan): Chiang Kai-shek (1928-1975)indirectly succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-kuo (1975-1988)
North Korea: Kim Il Sung (1948-1994) succeeded by his son Kim Jong Il (1994- )
Syria: Hafez al-Assad (1971-2000) succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad (2000- )
Congo-Kinshasa: Laurent Kabila (1997-2001), succeeded by his son Joseph Kabila (2001)
Azerbaijan: Heydar Aliyev (1993-2003) succeeded by his son Ilham Aliyev (2003- )
Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew (Prime Minister 1959-1990, Senior Minister 1990-2004, Minister Mentor 2004-), indirectly succeeded by his son Lee Hsien Loong (2004-)"

The strange thing is that while the entire world is aware of this glaring injustice and abuse of power, Singapore's local government owned media are trying hard to avoid acknowledging and discussing this troublesome and embarassing interpretation.

Fraud in Singapore?

The views expressed, [plus the grammar and spelling] below are those of Jorge Alvear, not me. So please send all replies to Jorge Alvear. Email address is provided at the end of the letter. In partiular Jorge would be very grateful if someone could provide some legal advice regarding how to proceed with this matter.

Hi Steven,

Thank you for your reply. Look, my company is a an small company in Quito, Ecuador, South America. I'm the owner and we don't have a web site because in Ecuador that is not usefull to develop business, just works when your company is really big.

However, I can send you all the information about this case. We are trying to get some results with the Singapore´s police. What do you think about it? do you believe that can I get positive results with them?

In the same way, do you think could be better if I get an advocate and if I start a legal proceedment?

I will appreciate any suggestions from you.


Jorge Alvear

Dear Sirs,

This e-mail is to make a fraud complaint from one of the companies that many web sites promote and recommend to the purchasers from Asia, Singapore exactly..

I have payed $ 32550 USD for a automatic Cd screen printing equipment model SP5-MKV to the [name removed], this are them facts:

[name removed],
BLK 1 [name removed],
06-07 [name removed],
Phone: (65)
Fax: (65)
Contact Person: [name removed],

But after receive the payment, they doesn't answer my e-mails either my phone calls from one month ago. Then I started to ask about this company, and then I knew that the same company, represented by [name removed], en Singapore have swindled another ecuadorian company on october 2003! foraround $ 40000 USD in a purchase of a similar machine.

In order to get up the reliable image of the Asian Companies in America, please do something about this company, make you to a complaint to them.

[name removed], uses the same address on this three years, and keep makind frauds in a country with less than 700 square kms. and with just 4.5 million people.

On 2003, Mrs. Armijos de Vizcaino, consul of Ecuador in Singapore, got a personal meeting with the Director of the Police of Singapore, who knew about this situation. The answer from him was "we can do nothing, return to your country". Apparently the owner of [name removed], belongs to a family very good related with the political goverment in Singapore, and this let her to swindle to anyone without any sanction.

I don´t know if this kind of e-mails can help in some way, but let me tell you that my country have a very deep corruption problem, you can find it every day in your life. However, is pathetic to learn every day how to face this problem and do not be so much affected; but, at the moment to make business with one of the most free corruption countries, I loose all the savings from many years of work

Of course I got all the documents to support my accusation, and the consul of my country in Singapore is informed about this situation and we are making a formal complaint from the ecuadorian goverment to the Foreign Affairs Minister of Singapore.

I hope to receive your support.

Jorge Alvear
Galavis # 106 y Valladolid
Quito - Ecuador
Fono: 593-2-2542395
Fax: 593-2-3227129
Cel: 593-9-600-5347

30 May 2005

And the Winner Is...

Seems pretty conclusive, [after 100 votes] that Singaporean bloggers feel that Philip Yeo has put the bloody into Singabloodypore for the month of May 2005.

And before everyone starts reminding me of the limitations of the method, its just for fun not part of a social science research project. Call it 'infantile' if you like.

28 May 2005

Singapore says no climate of fear in city-state


Singapore, May 27, 2005

Singapore defended its media laws on Friday and balked at the suggestion that its citizens live in a climate of fear.

Singapore's home affairs minister Wong Kan Seng said in a newspaper interview that citizens in the city-state have spoken up at public forums without reprisals and commentaries critical of government policies have also appeared in newspapers.

"What is the consequence of saying something that is challenged? Is the consequence being locked up in jail, disappearing in the middle of the night and you don't come back?" Wong was quoted as saying in Singapore's Straits Times.

Detention without trial

In September, the government released two detainees held without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and placed them under orders restricting freedom of movement. It also extended for a further two years the detention orders of 17 other men. In total, 36 men accused of plotting to carry out bomb attacks continued to be held without charge or trial under the ISA. The authorities said that many of the men, who were arrested in 2001, 2002 and 2004, were members or supporters of an Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiyah. The ISA violates the right to a fair and public trial and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
Amnesty International Report 2004

"Get real. Come on, we live in the real world in Singapore."

In an annual report released on Wednesday, rights group Amnesty International slammed Singapore's human rights record, saying that control on political expression in the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state remained tight despite Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's repeated calls for more openness.

The US State Department, in its 2004 report on Singapore, sharply criticised the country for using libel suits to intimidate opposition politicians, saying the threat of libel has stifled political opinion and disadvantaged opposition.

Early this month, a 23-year-old Singapore student in the United States shut down his personal Web site after a government agency threatened a libel suit for comments he made on the blog.

Wong, who will assume the post of deputy prime minister later this year, also defended a law which bans political videos, saying that the law is applied in an even-handed manner and not designed to stifle political debate.

"Political videos, by their very nature, will be political, will be biased and, therefore, will not be able to allow the listener or the viewer to see a whole range of arguments," Wong said, adding that proposals for films about the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) were also shot down.

Under provisions introduced to the Films Act in 1998, anyone involved in the production or distribution of "party political films" - defined as films containing partisan references or commentaries on government policies - can be punished with fines of up to S$100,000 ($60,860) or a maximum jail term of 2 years.

The law came under fire this month after local filmmaker Martyn See was summoned for police questioning over a documentary he made featuring prominent opposition leader Chee Soon Juan.

Wong was also asked about whether the law applied to TV stations airing programmes about PAP ministers, following a recent series of one-hour programmes on state broadcaster Channel NewsAsia that featured government ministers.

"That is not a political video. That's a broadcaster and a content provider doing a job. It is done in other places. The minister is explaining himself, his policies and how he wants Singapore to move ahead," Wong said.

International free-press advocates have repeatedly criticised Singapore for its tight media control.

The government bans non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes, and publications need permits to circulate. Films and TV shows are routinely censored for sex and violence.

The government says a high degree of control over public debate and the media is needed to maintain law and order.

"Someone once said, 'My right to swing my arm must end where your nose begins'. That is the limit of free action; that is the boundary," Wong said.

Singapore has been ruled by the People's Action Party since independence in 1965. Its 84-member Parliament has only two opposition members.

The evidence is that Singapore is a city of fear.

ST censors Anthony Yeo's defence of M.Ravi

First spotted atsammyboy's forum. Apparently the Straits Jacket refused to print the letter, I am sure it was due to editorial constraints such as space. What other possible reason could there be?

Anthony Yeo
Clinical Director
Counselling and Care Centre

Straits Times Forum

Dear Sir,

I am surprised that the efforts of lawyer M. Ravi in getting the death sentence lifted for drug trafficker Shanmugam Murugesu have come underfire by his legal colleagues (ST, May 15).

It would appear from the reaction of the various legal colleagues that M Ravi was seeking publicity for personal gains in his attempts to be part of a concerted effort to appeal for clemency from the President.

My observations informed me otherwise.

The efforts of M. Ravi has been aimed at helping the two sons and other of Shanmugam Murugesu to garner support for a last ditch attempt at having the death sentence be reduced to life imprisonment.

This laudable involvement of M. Ravi should be applauded as he like many of us are aware that the manadtory death sentence has long been accepted as an inevitable punishment for durg trafficking.

In the process Singapore has earned the distinction of being one of the few nations in the world that has a high rate of death sentences imposed.

The recent article "Death sentence? Let judges decide" (ST, May 9)containing views by two legal authorities, K.S. Rajah and Associate Professor Michael Hor had highlighted the need to review our practice of imposing the death sentence.

What I believe M. Ravi had done is simply to be part of a this voice from concerned people appealing that the government review the practice of mandatory death sentence.

In this instance, the appeal for clemency for Shanmugam Murugesu provides a platform for giving weight to this voice.

It has also been said that getting the sons and mother involved in the process could be damaging to them as M. Ravi would be giving them false hopes as claimed by the various lawyers.

This is a rather unfair criticism as M. Ravi did not act alone although he had invested much time for this cause at his personal expense.

As a mental health professional it is my belief that no one should be denied the opportunity to have hope of any kind. By involving the sons in the appeals they were given the opportunity to do whatever they could to fight for their father's life.

This can only help with their grief as the death sentence of their father can only become a life sentence for them as they will have to live with the stigma of being sons of a condemned man for the rest of their lives.

At least now the sons can release their father without any need to suffer the guilt of having done nothing for him in a situation they have absolutely no control over.

It must also be acknowledged that a death sentence may put away one life that is supposedly a danger to sociiety, but has disturbing long term consequences for next-of-kin as well.

In light of what has happened including the discussion calling for a review of the death penalty, I would join in appealing that we stop further sentencing and execution where death penalty is mandatory and consider the views expressed.

There is no need to impute motives, political or otherwise to those who are calling for a review of the death penalty, even if the recent forum on death penalty had opposition party members involved.

As a member of the forum speaker to offer a mental health perspective to the issue, I was reasonably surprised at the capacity crowd that turned up at the forum, including folks involved in civil society movement.

It would seem that they were concerned enough to be present to render support to the sons and mother of Shanmugam Murugesu.

I was hopeful that the forum could be the beginning of more public discussion on this matter and urge the legal profession to take initiative in bringing about change to mandatory death sentence instead of being critical of the efforts of their colleague M Ravi.

Anthony Yeo
Clinical Director
Counselling and Care Centre

Related Article:
Character Assassination of Mr.M.Ravi

26 May 2005

Amnesty Human Rights Report 2005: Singapore

Amnesty International
Republic of Singapore
Head of state: S.R. Nathan
Head of government: Lee Hsien Loong (replaced Goh Chok Tong in August)
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not signed
UN Women’s Convention: ratified with reservations
Optional Protocol to UN Women’s Convention: not signed

Covering events from January - December 2004

Six people were executed between January and September, according to government figures. Freedom of expression continued to be curbed by restrictive legislation and the threat of civil defamation suits against political opponents. Seventeen men held without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act since 2002 had their detention extended for a further two years. Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to be imprisoned for their conscientious objection to military service.


In August there were indications of a possible relaxation of tight political and social controls as new Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for an “open” and “inclusive” society. However, a broad array of restrictive laws remained in place, curtailing the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Death penalty

In October, the government reported that six people had been executed since January and that 19 people had been executed in 2003. Despite an apparent decrease in the number of executions, Singapore continued to have the highest rate of execution per capita in the world. The death penalty remained mandatory for drug trafficking, murder, treason and certain firearms offences.

Curbs on freedom of expression and assembly

Although some restrictions on indoor political meetings were lifted, strict government controls on civil society organizations and the press continued to curb freedom of expression and were an obstacle to the independent monitoring of human rights.

The threat of potentially ruinous civil defamation suits against opponents of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) continued to inhibit political life and engendered a climate of self-censorship.

In September, a court awarded damages of 500,000 Singapore dollars (about US$305,000) against Chee Soon Juan, leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, in a defamation suit originally lodged in 2001 by two leaders of the PAP. If Chee Soon Juan were unable to pay the sum he would be declared bankrupt, thus depriving him of his right to stand for election.

In April, the former leader of the opposition Workers’ Party, J.B. Jeyaretnam, who was declared bankrupt and expelled from parliament in 2001 following a series of defamation suits, applied unsuccessfully for discharge from bankruptcy. In November the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal.

Detention without trial

In September, the government released two detainees held without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and placed them under orders restricting freedom of movement. It also extended for a further two years the detention orders of 17 other men. In total, 36 men accused of plotting to carry out bomb attacks continued to be held without charge or trial under the ISA. The authorities said that many of the men, who were arrested in 2001, 2002 and 2004, were members or supporters of an Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiyah. The ISA violates the right to a fair and public trial and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.

Conscientious objectors

At least four conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned in 2004, and 20 others continued to serve prison sentences. All were members of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group. There is no alternative civilian service in practice for conscientious objectors to military service in Singapore.

Making a Bad Situation Worse

From Sg Review

One of the reasons for escalating health care costs in Singapore is a severe myopia on the part of singapore's million dollar policy planners (and million dollar ministers) who have not been able to address a severe shortage of doctors that has progressively accumulated over the decades.

All the tell tale signs were there form decades. Are Singaporeans paying million dollar ministerial salaries but getting peanut performance?

Peering deeper, it appears that it was the very policies of this bunch of myopic status oriented elitist misfits which attributed to the current shortage in doctors.

"For decades it was common knowledge that there was a severe shortage in supply of doctors in Singapore. This had contributed to escalating health care costs to the extent that the paternalistic government found it necessary to increase medi-save contributions in CPF accounts. One would have expected the Medical Faculty to increase student intake and also increase employment of foreign doctors to alleviate the dismal situation. But they had steadfastly refused to do either, allowing the situation to go from bad to worse. What compounded the situation was the archaic admissions criteria in the medical faculty which placed a strict quota on female graduates who would otherwise be admissible.

The rationale behind this policy can best be described as medieval, resting perhaps on the argument that female doctors will ultimately marry and abandon their medical professions in pursuit of domestic life. This archaic medieval policy was only lifted last year, after being in effect for decades."

To make matters worst, the government here practises a brand of academic elitism that is unique only to Singapore;

"Does the current system work, or is it making an already bad unemployment situation, even worse? Only in Singapore do we have a government that is so engrossed with the accumulation of paper qualifications, that they have long since forgotten the original objective behind the education system, and have instead identified the means as an end to itself. In their blind pursuit of their version of a utopian society, educational elitetism takes center stage above all else, eclipsing the actual needs of the labour market itself."

It is no surprise that Mr Philip Yeo (the man who once stated publicly "Got a Basic Degree? Wash Test-tubes") is one of the major proponents of this brand of flawed logic, which is also endorsed by singapore's million dollar ministerial cabinet.

25 May 2005

Leong Ching Misses The Point About Party Political Films.

The birth of a relatively new blog. And don't let that cute picture fool you. This is a 'mature' blog.

To her credit, Leong Ching does make one salient observation about permissible local films. On the makers of Tak Giu and I Not Stupid, Leong Ching notes:
"Like Mr Neo, Mr Tan also uses humour to make his points.

These two films show that savvy film-makers know how to work around the Films Act to make their point."
I feel that this is a pertinent observation. And I also feel that it is a very sad point. Leong Ching suggests that as long as your film stays comedic, cute and funny, you'll probably be permitted to comment on politics. However, the moment you try to make a serious film about politics - you've drastically increased your chances of being thrown into jail.

And that is sad. Even if Leong Ching can't understand it.

The entire post can be accessed here...

Putting the bloody into Singabloodypore

Launching a new poll to see who, what group, organisation or law has upset Singaporean bloggers this month, May 2005. Each month I hope to update the poll with suggestions from fellow bloggers and readers.

This month seems to have been a very exciting month for bloggers, with A*Star and Singapore Rebel making it into the main stream media. What I want to know is who has earned the title, "Putting the bloody into Singabloodypore".

This months nominees are:

Philip Yeo and A*Star with their threats of defamation.

Home Affairs Ministry refusing entry of Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, the Southeast Asian coordinator for the group Nonviolence International

President S.R. Nathan refusing clemency of Shanmugam Murugesu

Under Singaporean law, local films that "contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter" are banned.

24 May 2005

Abortion Instead Of Using Contraceptives

SINGAPORE, May 23 (Xinhuanet) -- More women in Singapore choose abortion instead of using contraceptives in dealing with unexpected pregnancy, according to Channel NewsAsia report on Monday.

The report quoted the country's Obstetrics and Gynecology Society as saying that over 1,000 tertiary-educated married women went for abortions in 2004, tripling the number of 300 in 1988, while those who are not enough educated tend to use contraceptives.

A study conducted by Singapore National University Hospital showed that about 14,000 pregnancies are terminated every year, accounting for one-fourth of the total.

The report pointed out that a variety of contraceptive options are available in Singapore with easy access, including condoms, pills and intra-uterine devices.

Among them, an implant contraceptive called Implanon is gettingpopular among Singapore women since it came into the local market two years ago.

The report said that fewer than 4,000 women have used Implanon,a plastic device inserted under the skin which can steadily release the hormone etonogestrel into the blood stream to offer three years of pregnancy prevention.

Singapore PM stresses traditional role of family

www.chinaview.cn 2005-02-08 12:34:36

SINGAPORE, Feb. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday underscored in his Chinese New Year message the important role the traditional extended family has been playing in Singaporeans' lives.

"To be a resilient society, we need strong and close families. Ultimately, helping out relatives who are in need, and bringing upchildren into upright, productive adults, are acts motivated by kinship bonds and emotional ties," Lee said.

He encouraged young couples to have more children as birth figures in the city state have been declining since 1990, which threatens the country's population replacement.

He noted that to keep up with changing circumstances such as the prevailing nuclear families and globalization, the government is taking pro-family measures and strengthening social safety netsto make Singapore a great place for families.

Satisfied with the country's economic performance in the past year, Lee wished all Singaporeans a prosperous Year of the Roosterahead.

Smash Patriarchy

Patriarchy isn't working, there is a silent revolution against patriarchy, and the men in white refuse to accept the idea that their daugthers and wives are saying "no".!

21 May 2005

Constructive Engagement?

The policy of 'constructive engagement' is a smoke screen for taking money from a morally repugnant regime.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore firm has won a $10.6 million deal to expand the Yangon International Airport in Myanmar.

Singapore information technology company CNA Group said in a statement that under the deal, the firm will design and install engineering systems at Yangon airport.

Myanmar said in January that with $1.57 billion for 72 projects, Singapore tops the list of the 25 foreign investor countries in Myanmar. According to official data from Myanmar, Singapore is the largest exporter to Myanmar, and its second-largest trading partner after Thailand.

"If we don't take their money someone else will."

I searched for a balanced and independent report on Myanmar/Burma and this is the best I could find. Now remember this is trying to be 'objective' and it reads like a full on attack of the regime in Burma:

Prominent pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has had various restrictions placed on her activities since the late 1980s. In 1990 her party won a landslide victory in Burma's first multi-party elections for 30 years, but has never been allowed to govern.

Military-run enterprises control key industries, and corruption and severe mismanagement are the hallmarks of a black-market-riven economy.

The armed forces - and former rebels co-opted by the government - have been accused of large-scale trafficking in heroin, of which Burma is a major exporter. Prostitution and Aids are major problems.

The largest group is the Burman people, who are ethnically related to the Tibetans and the Chinese. Burman dominance over Karen, Shan, Rakhine, Mon, Chin, Kachin and other minorities has been the source of considerable ethnic tension, fuelling intermittent separatist rebellions.

Burma is the world's largest exporter of teak and is a principal source of jade, pearls, rubies and sapphires. It is endowed with extremely fertile soil and has important offshore oil and gas deposits. However, its people remain very poor and are getting poorer.

The above is quoted from the BBC.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of the assassinated independence leader Aung San, spent 6 years under house arrest [actually she is again under house arrest]. In 1990, her party, the National League for Democracy, won 82 percent of the parliamentary seats. The generals, shocked by an election result they never expected, threw 200 of the newly-elected MPs into prison. Suu Kyi's party has never been allowed to take elected office.

She warns that, far from liberalizing life in Burma, foreign investment and tourism can further entrench the military regime.


Related Articles:
Singapore's Blood Money
Horrific account of Burma's suppression

ST refuses to publish letter by nonviolence trainer

ST refuses to publish letter by nonviolence trainer
20 May 2005
Letter by Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan

On Friday evening the 13th of May, I flew into Singapore Changi airport, as I have many times in the past. Upon presenting my passport to an Immigration official, I was asked to accompany another officer who handed me a piece of paper which informed me that I was not to be allowed to enter Singapore. On the form there was a check in box no. 4 that I was being refused entry for: 'ineligible to receive a pass under current immigration rules'.

I must admit I was a bit confused by that, and asked the officer what this meant. In reply, he simply indicated the form. His hands were shaking, and at this point a more senior official, Mr. Loh who was the Deputy Commander of Immigration, got up from a chair and asked me to follow him to an office, where he said he would explain to me the reason that I was not to be allowed to enter Singapore. He read from the sheet 'ineligible to receive a pass under current immigration rules.' This was clearly a statement of action, not a reason.

I told him I understood that I was not being allowed in, but was confused as to why, since I had visited Singapore many times before, had never had any trouble there, and had friends waiting to receive me. He repeated that I was ineligible to enter to every request I made for a reason. He seemed upset by my inability to understand an action as a reason.

In the end I learned nothing and was ordered to be taken away by two police officers, who eventually put me on a flight out of Singapore. Despite continued requests by myself, and friends who spoke with Immigration at the airport, I never discovered any reason for my deportation while at the airport.

The following Monday morning I read confirmation of my deportation, within the Singapore Straits Times under the title `Foreign activist barred from S'pore'. Many things are said about me in the article, some true, some construed. Although I have read the article thoroughly, I still have no idea if I have broken any law which would require my deportation. Many statements, cited by the spokesman for the Home Affairs Ministry, give opinions about my activities, but give no legal reason for my deportation.

All stories have different sides to them depending on the standpoint of the person, and I would like to tell this story from my side.

While the article gives my name and nationality, it does not state some things it may be interesting for the ordinary person to know about the deportee: I am an ASEAN resident (lived in Thailand for 15 years); I teach Peace & Conflict at the Masters level at Mahidol University in Bangkok; I am the author of an annual report on Singapore for the Nobel Prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In the later activity, I have visited Singapore many times, including to interview the Director of Policy at the Ministry of Defence, and other governmental representatives at international governmental meetings. Nonviolence International, an organization with which I am associated, is a non-governmental organization with United Nations consultative status.

The spokesman states that I conducted a workshop in January, which implies that I was active in bringing this about. In January some Singapore citizens decided to organize a private event. I was asked by the organizers if I would attend as a resource person. I accepted the invitation.

Nonviolence International is a network, made up of offices in Moscow, Jerusalem, Bangkok and also in Washington DC with several projects. One is a cooperative program with the Ministry of Education in Indonesia, funded by UNICEF, to conduct a Peace Education Program in more than 200 schools in the Aceh province of the country. This program was launched a few years ago, and is continuing despite setbacks from Tsunami devastation, as part of a long term solution to resolve the difficulties which have beset the province.

The spokesman goes on to make comments about my character, stating that I have deluded myself. I am unsure why this person, whom I have never met, makes such comments about my personal character. His read of a telephone interview with me which was then published on the internet is certainly quoted selectively. I did speak about the general steps groups take to pursue social change by a rational campaign. No rational person would suggest using violence to achieve social change in Singapore. It is completely unnecessary, not to mention unethical.

I would assume all right thinking people would wish to see problems addressed through nonviolent means and dialogue. In structuring a campaign, I have stressed that the first step is education, in order to have a clear understanding of any problem, and the a proposal of a solution. Further steps would only be contemplated if the other side does not show any responses to different attempts at suggestions of a solution, and after serious reflection by people seeking a solution. That such a campaign might lead to civil disobedience is dependent on circumstances.

Since the meeting of Singapore citizens I attended in January was made up almost exclusively of middle aged men, I encouraged them strongly to have youth and women in their group to expand their thinking about problems.

The spokesman voiced his opinion that this was interference in Singapore. I am sure there are private meetings in the back rooms of foreign businesses with operations in Singapore b which discuss how to maximize their own profits at the detriment to Singapore, who are not subject to the same type of scrutiny I am now receiving. While the spokesman is entitled to his opinion about me and our activities, he has given no legal reason for my expulsion.

I was invited by Singaporean citizens for educational purposes. I did not, independently, decide to come to Singapore to 'instegate and agitate' as the spokesman put it, nor to convert them to any cause.

Ironically, during my unscheduled return flight to Bangkok, I read Friday's Editorial Opinion in the Straits Times, which encouraged Singaporean's to Act for political change, not just talk about the need for it. Yet by my experience, when a group of Singaporean's responsibly undertook to educate themselves how to do this, the State has sent them chilling counter-message.

This letter was sent to Mr Cheong Yip Seng, Editor-in-Chief, Straits Times but was not published.

Related article: Forbes

19 May 2005

Character Assassination of Mr.M.Ravi

"Straits Times starts to character assassinate Mr.M.Ravi instead of a pat on the back, he gets a knock on the head. Shame on Straits Times, it sounds more like a propaganda machine in trying to belittle Ravi. Its hard to find a lawyer like Ravi working for the rights of those facing the death penalty." Sinapan Samydorai and I second that... Think Centre.

NEWS Photo's Shanmugam's funeral

There's a report in today's Sunday Times [15 May 2005], "Lawyer's publicity stunts under fire".

It's about M. Ravi, a lawyer who tried his best to keep his client Shanmugam Murugesu from the hangman's noose.

It was reported that "Senior lawyers have distanced themselves from what some called publicity stunts by counsel M. Ravi, in his bid to get the death sentence lifted for drug trafficker Shanmugam Murugesu."The report quoted some of M. Ravi's peers. I felt like throwing-up when I read their comments.

One by Mr Lim Kia Tong, "a criminal lawyer for 25 years" was quoted as saying "The President's right to grant or not to grant clemency cannot be challenged...so Mr Ravi's tactics are quite senseless." Senseless? M. Ravi along with many others did their best to save Shanmugam. While trying to do that, they raised the awareness in Singapore of the death penalty issue. I find Mr Lim's comments senseless.

To read the entire article click here.

18 May 2005

Asean's Press Freedom

By way of introducing the following article I thought it best to simply show you the emails I have received in the last two days. Hopefully then you will realise why I am more than happy to post the article below. It is also a very alarming situation. So I would like to introduce Irwan Shah Bin Abdullah @ Wolfgang Holzem, Jakarta.

Hi Steven,
I am a reader of your blog and was until this morning the editor of www.AseanNewsNetwork.com - our website was hacked this morning 5:45am (AST)
but I am sure it was related to my weekly colomn on Press freedom within ASEAN.


I would be interesting to post my weekly articles on your blog if you would permit.

Thanks for your time.

Irwan Shah Bin Abdullah @ Wolfgang Holzem

Good morning Steven,
Enclosed please find one of those articles. If you feel it is appropriate, you can post the article.

I hope we will be relaunching the other articles as soon we can on www.AseanNewsNetwork.com

Thanks for your support.

Irwan Shah


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Asean's Press Freedom

In 1989, the ASEAN countries came together, in Jakarta, Indonesia and created an agreement or a pact, called the “Programme For the Enhancement of Press Cooperation Among ASEAN Countries” to address issues relating to the cooperation amongst the various ASEAN press networks.
by Irwan Shah Bin Abdullah @ Wolfgang Holzem, Jakarta

It is often said, that the “Pen is mightier than the sword”. While this may be true in many countries due to press freedom and laws that allow freedom of speech, in some countries within ASEAN the “Sword” still rules the “Pen”.

While freedom of the press is one of the main pillars of many developed countries—such as Hong Kong, the US, Germany, UK or even Australia, the same thing cannot be said about some of the member nations of the Assocation of Southeast Asian Nations.

In 1989, ASEAN countries created a “Programme For the Enhancement of Press Cooperation Among ASEAN Countries” to address issues relating to the cooperation amongst the various ASEAN press and news networks. It was believed that General Suharto of Indonesia, Mr. Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia called for the Programme.

The ASEAN countries unanimously agreed on several issues that were put forward in that program.

Amongst other things, there was the issue of foreign media. It was agreed that ASEAN countries would:

a.) “seek ways to ensure that press reports on ASEAN countries in the foreign media are more balanced and objective” and

b.) “that the foreign media take into consideration the values and sensitivities of ASEAN peoples before writing reports on ASEAN members countries.”

These two clauses perhaps were the final death knells for the freedom of press in ASEAN because they gave authority to the governments of ASEAN countries the green light to manipulate the local and foreign media (or more specifically, Western media) that are impartial in their reporting compared to the local media.

The pact would have given the governments of the ASEAN members nations the right to “edit”, “delete”, “manipulate” news that they feel are inappropriate to their regime.

Freedom of the press is not a favorable phrase with some ASEAN countries and this pact, instead of encouraging press freedom ended up supporting censorship of the press!

A few ASEAN countries, even though are part of this program, are however, more open to the idea of press freedom. The Philippines (111), Thailand (59) and Indonesia (117) practice a high degree of press freedom and are on the right track.

However, the other ASEAN member countries such as Singapore (147), Malaysia (122), Vietnam (161), Myanmar (165) and Laos (153), press freedom is non-existent.

Reporters without Borders reports that out of 167 countries, Laos ranks 153 while Singapore ranks 147 in it's "Freedom of Press Ranking Report 2004".

While it may not sound to be shocking in the case of communist Laos and Vietnam, but it surely would shock any one to know that Singapore’s ranking is so low, considering it is a developed and industrialized nation.

I understand that Singapore is a small country but Hong Kong too is a small country and ranked 34 in the annual index.

For some reason or the other, we tend to associate the freedom of press with the economic status of a country such as Hong Kong. Singapore’s situation proves us how wrong we can be with our thinking at times.

But what could be the reason for such a poor ranking for Singapore? The governments of Indonesia or Philippines surely monitor their local media and also the foreign media. Then how come they are ahead of Singapore when it comes to press freedom?

The reason is that Singapore’s media are directly run by the government’s intelligence services, better known within Singapore as the "ISD" and those editor's are not journalists by any stretch of imagination but purely function for making sure what get's published in the country and what not.

They may be good in their respective fields but they surely lack the skills and competence of real journalism.

Considering the status of the Straits Times and its seniority as a newspaper within ASEAN, it is quite surprising that intelligence officers from Singapore's ISD, calling the shots from the editor desk's of this modern city state.

From a journalist’s point of view or even from those who appreciate press freedom such practices do a lot of harm to Singapore’s image and ranks Singapore on level with North Korea, Iran, Syria, China and of course Laos and Vietnam, but Singapore doesn’t seem to care and has shown no signs to liberalize its press.

So does this mean that the “Programme for the Enhancement of Press Cooperation among ASEAN Countries” failed to achieve what it had set to do? With due respect to the member countries of ASEAN, the answer is yes. It is now outdated and needs serious changes or should be cancelled.

If that is not feasible, then a new agreement should be made by ASEAN countries, headed by countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand which represent around 60% of the current population of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that value press freedom.

Why should those democracies be left behind at the expense of communist regimes in Vietnam and Laos, a military regime in Myanmar and an authoritarian regime in Singapore, that still behaves as if the Cold War hasn't ended yet in Southeast Asia.

If Singapore prefers to be ranked on par with countries such as Myanmar, Laos or Vietnam, then the Republic should sign close cooperation agreements with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam and let the other ASEAN member countries go ahead and further develop fair journalism and press freedom within Southeast Asia.

Freedom of press is essential for any democratic and vibrant society and possible within ASEAN, even if governments in Myanmar, Singapore, Laos and Vietnam disagree.

News is our window to the world and it would be a pity if governments force us to shut those windows with their power and let us live back in the "Dark Ages of ASEAN's founding fathers such as General Suharto of Indonesia, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Mr. Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and General Thanom of Thailand" when cold war tactics were used to silence political oppositions.

End of article

Another Great Singapore Purge Now On!

The following is from a very well written and interesting article on the blog illusio.
(And I will personally kick the heel of the next person who speaks of it as the "Singapore blogosphere". That's more of the bad grammar that begat such atrocities like "Uniquely Singapore" and "Singapore Idol". The adjectival form of "Singapore" is "Singaporean".)

Bantustan, or the Singaporean blogosphere

The Straits Times devotes one page a week to showcase examples great blogs, mostly written by Singaporeans, Singaporeans abroad, and the occasional expat or ex-expat.

Safe, "interesting" reads, nothing offensive. Whimsical, lightweight, entertaining. Ergo, a good way to show the world that Singapore is a hip and modern city. Ergo, an exhortation for would-be bloggers to focus on these responsible issues.

At the same time, there has a recruitment of bloggers by the republic's newspapers - all operated by just 2 publishing companies, both owned by the State. The papers elevate and confer veteran status on these bloggers, who were previously merely popular in certain parts of the blogosphere.

Continue reading here.

17 May 2005

Singapore Rebel is a party political film?

ASP Chan : "I'm informing you that the MDA (Media Development Authority) has on April 11 lodged a police report alleging that Singapore Rebel is a party political film. Do you have anyhing to say to that?"

At the end of the interview, I asked what is going to happen from here on. He replied that investigations will continue and that I may be asked to go for another interview. When asked if the police would raid my house to confiscate my tapes, he said investigations will go on.

Continue reading the unfolding events at singaporerebel.blogspot.com

Showing Support: Mojtaba Saminejad

Posted in support of Mojtaba Saminejad.


Imprisoned blogger goes on hunger-strike

Reporters Without Borders today called on bloggers throughout the world to post messages in support of Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad, who has been in prison since 12 February and who began a hunger-strike on 14 May.

"The life of this young blogger is in danger as he is being held in a prison where several detainees have died or have been injured in violence between inmates," the press freedom organization said.

"You must talk about him on the Web and in the media in order to put pressure on the Iranian authorities," the organization said, adding, "all bloggers must feel concerned about his fate and that of his two colleagues who are also imprisoned."

According to his family, Mojtaba initially tried to file a complaint about mistreatment but his interrogators replied they were going to put him in a detention centre where he would "regret having complained." He is currently held in Gohar Dashat prison (in a Tehran suburb), which has a reputation for mistreatment of detainees. He shares his cell with non-political prisoners.

Mojtaba's father, Sfar Saminejad, told the student news agency ISNA, "I wrote several letters to the authorities to complain about the unacceptable conditions in which my son is being detained, but no one replied."

Mojtaba's hands and feet were in chains when he appeared in court on 11 May.

A few days ago, Iranian bloggers launched a petition calling on the head of the judicial system, Ayatollah Sharoudi, to grant Mojtaba a pardon and unconditional release
(http://alpr.30morgh.org/guest/archives/002216.php). An earlier petition was initiated shortly after his arrest (http://www.petitiononline.com/mojsn/petition.html).

Two other bloggers and cyber-journalists have been detained since February. They are Mohamad Reza Nasab Abdolahi and Mojtaba Lotfi.

16 May 2005

Global Voices on Radio Open Source

Radio Open Source, a new public radio show hosted from Cambridge, Massachusetts by Chris Lydon, devoted its second pilot show on Friday entirely to Global Voices.

The show featured conversations on the phone with bloggers Hossein Derakhshan (Hoder), Ndesanjo Macha, Dina Mehta,Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman, and Rebecca MacKinnon with Steven McDermott in Edinburgh. Click here and have a listen (mp3).

Singapore bans US activist for political interference

05.16.2005, 02:54 AM

SINGAPORE (AFX) - A US democracy activist has been banned from entering Singapore indefinitely for interfering in the nation's domestic politics, the government said.

Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, the Southeast Asian coordinator for the group Nonviolence International, was turned away from Changi Airport and sent back to Thailand when he tried to enter Singapore on Friday.

Opposition politician and Singapore Democratic Party secretary general Chee Soon Juan told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Moser-Puangsuwan had been invited to Singapore to give a lecture at a weekend training workshop on non-violent political action.

The Home Affairs Ministry said in an e-mailed statement sent to AFP: 'Foreigners like Yeshua with no stake in the future of Singapore and of Singaporeans will not be allowed to interfere in Singapore's domestic politics, much less to instigate, agitate and promote civil disobedience among targeted segments of society, against the laws of the country.'

The statement concluded: 'The government has therefore decided to bar Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan from entering Singapore indefinitely.'

The Nonviolence International website says Moser-Puangsuwan, a US citizen, is the organization's 'main facilitator of training programs in movement strategy and political struggle' in Southeast Asia.

Bittorrent is NOT safe

More mail from readers...

Dear Steve,

I have been following your blog for some time[...]

Today, I notice that you've put up a bittorrent link for Singapore Rebel. Ordinarily I would comment publicly on your blog, but this is not a topic meant for the readers that the government have assigned to monitor your blog.

Bittorrent is NOT safe. All the police need to do is to download the same bittorrent file, and they can view the IP addresses of everyone else downloading the movie. They might, if their masters give the go-ahead for a Great Singapore Purge, decide to trace and prosecute any Singaporean whose IP shows up. (typically, all Singaporean IPs start with either 220.x.x.x or 69.x.x.x

Note that Chapter 23 of the Film Act allows the police to prosecute anyone else who distributes the movie (i.e., using p2p and bittorrent). You will be safe. Overseas users will be safe. Any Singaporean downloading this file through bittorrent is not safe.

I appreciate what you're doing on your blog, and I hope you find a safer way to do this. Some readers may not be that tech-savvy, but the eyes of the state are.


The Singapore Rebel bittorent is available here.

Alternatively try using the following to get around Singapore Internet Censorship.

Or try the following link @nonymouse.com


Dear friends, supporters, registered users of the erstwhile
'caustic.soda', and/or Singapore bloggers:

This will be my last email to you on this matter. I apologize to those of you who had written to me but have yet to receive a reply; I will try to get back to you soon.

AcidFlask has decided not to renew his existence in the blogosphere, deciding instead to let entropy expire him. But before departing that world forever, he has decided to pass the baton (or keyboard, as it were) to one Elia Diodati, whose email (eliadiodati@gmail.com) is in the reply-to: field of this email.

Elia would like to announce that his blog, "e pur si muove", will work toward becoming Chapter Two of "caustic.soda" and would greatly appreciate your continued support on the new blog which is located at:


Elia encourages registration on the blog. Although not required to leave, registration may or may not give you useful features, such as customized alerts, the ability to contribute posts, faster approval of comments, and access to non-public entries.

Rome has spoken, the case is closed.

Thank you.


Revolt Revisited

An email from a reader which I think deserves attention. Names and any references to others have been removed to protect the guilty.

I refer to your post titled "A 21st century revolt". While what you say is true with regards to the Orange revolution in the Ukraine, i think what happened there cannot be duplicated in Singapore at the current time.

Firstly, political awareness in Singapore is only starting to spread through cyberspace. Yes, we do see more and more youths engaging in debate in cyberspace whereby the illusionary facade of anonymity serves as a spur.

We see blogs such as yours- which i must say is a fabulous piece of work and i do hope that you continue penning your thoughts for a while yet to come, flourishing in cyberspace and attracting youths and workers alike to vent their frustrations and speak of their dreams and hopes.

Whilst this is all good, the number of people engaging is a minority, the majority of the country still believes in the trade off of "rights for economic security".

Secondly, i believe that a prerequisite for any revolution at all is economic disparity. It's a theory i have that in every revolution that has happened, be it in the Ukraine or Georgia, economics will play an important part in things.

As of now, although the average worker is feeling the pinch and some undergraduates are ripping the wool over their eyes with regards to the employment situation, it has not yet reached a critical mass. A slowly boiling pot with a tight lid if you will.

As of right now, the majority of workers are content with the situation and still believe that the government is the best party to lead them and that the government knows better than they do. Here inherently is the basis for the support of the government.

Thirdly, the Orange revolution used largely American funds. Suffice to say it's quite prudent to assume that the US has interests in the Ukraine. Why else would they support it with funds? Compare the Ukraine with Singapore. We cannot hope for American funds because we're a valued ally of the US, the government is a staunch supporter and political stability here is a big issue for American corporations. Thus we can remove any delusions of getting American funds.

Fourthly, in all these revolutions there is a strong undercurrent of youth activism and movements such as Otpor (Serbia), Kmara (Georgia) and Pora! (Ukraine) played an extremely important part in the events that followed. In all the cases these movements coordinated protests, arranged for deliveries of food and stroked up the heat.

As we can see, no such movement exists here.

Until such a time when all these conditions are met, there will be no revolution like the Orange revolution.

P.S I don't think it'd be shown on BBC world but we all know how to get a hold of the documentary if we want to don't we?

15 May 2005

Speak out loud!

Emboldened by the fledgling support, the campaigners hope to further galvanise public opinion at a time when the government is opening up and allowing the public to speak out more on controversial issues.

A candlelit vigil for Murugesu held at a local hotel this month attracted about 100 people -- activists and opposition politicians as well as ordinary citizens, many of whom bought and wore t-shirts opposing the death penalty.

The participants listened to speeches, poems and music such as Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walking”, which was the soundtrack of a 1996 movie about efforts to save a death row convict in the United States.

“I feel that tonight’s event is a display of courage. I think we need the courage of a lot of people for things to change,” said Iris Koh, a music teacher who volunteered to sing at the evening vigil.

“I feel that courage is the only thing that can overcome death. I was quite scared (at first). However I’m a teacher so I also feel that the best example I can give is not through words but through deeds,” she told AFP.

Murugesu’s lawyer, M. Ravi, said fear in this famously tightly controlled city-state remained a concern preventing more people from openly supporting the campaign.

In an example of the extent authorities still monitor dissenters, an “open mike session” at the vigil in which the audience was invited to speak was abruptly ended just after the first speaker began to talk.

Entire article.

Singapore's arts ambitions caught up in rights debate

So great I feel like posting the entire article. Even the World Bank is listening and the diplomat states it loud and clear.

By John Burton

Published: May 14 2005 03:00

The hanging yesterday of a former Singaporechampion athlete for smuggling cannabis has sparked a rare activist protest against the city- state's draconian anti-drug laws and has helped fuel a debate about civil liberties.

The issue of human rights in Singapore has received increased attention in recent weeks after the government appeared to be curbing free speech on the internet, while a local film-maker could face imprisonment for making a documentary about a leading opposition leader.

The issue of civil liberties is becoming more important in Singapore as it seeks to create a vibrant culture to attract tourists and permanent residents from aboard, while trying to stem a brain drain of local talent.

A study released this week by the World Bank on global political governance said that Singapore's otherwise excellent record on administrative efficiency, control of corruption and the rule of law was marred by its attitude to civil liberties, which was below average for Asia.

The World Bank suggested there had been a deterioration in civil liberties in the last two years. "There is a sense things are going backwards when it comes to human rights," said a foreign diplomat in Singapore.

The hanging of Shanmugan Murugesu for smuggling 1.03kg of cannabis has led to calls that mandatory death sentences for drug trafficking should be abolished in Singapore. There are no official figures on how many people are currently on death row. But since 1991, about 400 people have been hanged in Singapore, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the island of 4.2m people possibly the highest execution rate in the world on a per capita basis, according to Amnesty International in its 2004 report.

The government has refused to change its sentencing policy, saying the death penalty deters the widespread use of drugs.

The government is also facing criticism for its tight media control. Martyn See, a local filmmaker, is scheduled to be questioned by police on Monday about his documentary on opposition leader, Chee Soon Juan, which may have violated a local law that prohibits the making or distribution of any "party political film".

The case has attracted attention because of Singapore's desire to become a regional centre for the arts, including film production, to promote services to counter Chinese and Indian manufacturing competition.

Mr See was forced to withdraw the film from this year's Singapore International Film Festival after authorities warned that he could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$100,000 (US$60,000) if it was screened.

Mr See said his film was meant to present a portrait of a local figure who was willing to challenge the Singapore establishment, but he claimed he was not making a political endorsement of Dr Chee, head of the Singapore Democratic party.

"It appears there is a ban on work in which we intend to state or imply a stand on current government policy, regardless of what that stand is," said a protest letter by a group of film-makers to the pro-government Straits Times newspaper.

The controversy over the film follows a similar one over freedom of expression on the internet raised when a government agency threatened to sue a blogger for al-legedly defamatory remarks.

A*Star, the science and technology agency, withdrew a threat of libel after the blogger, a Singapore graduate student in the US, apologised, but the incident is seen as an effort to stifle dissent on the internet.

"Younger Singaporeans are distrustful of the pro-government media and they have gone to the internet to exchange information and challenge the government. [The libel lawsuit threat] looks like a shot across the bow to warn them to be careful," said a veteran Singapore journalist.

The government has said that strict libel laws are necessary to protect the reputation of officials, while limits on debate are needed to preserve harmony in Singapore's multi-ethnic society.

But newspapers, such as the Straits Times, are giving more access to critical views, including publishing a leng-thy essay this week by Catherine Lim, a prominent Singapore novelist, who warned that the government's overprotective attitude threatens to damage Singapore's ability to compete.

Singaporeans "can be compared to artificially nurtured hothouse plants, unable to survive if thrown among the sturdy plants in the wild" when "circumstances change and they have to fend for themselves", she wrote.

The essay underscored the challenge faced by the government of Lee Hsien Loong, the son of modern Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, in trying to respond to demands from a more sophisticated population that feels frustrated about influencing policy.

Although Mr Lee has relaxed some rules on free speech since he took power in August, many are unwilling to test the limits on what can be discussed.

"I feel that an underlying culture of fear persists in the political attitude of Singaporeans," said one letter writer to the Straits Times.


14 May 2005

Singapore Rebel

The documentary, "Singapore Rebel" appears to have been removed from archive.org.

Trailers of the film are available here...

For those of you without broadband...here

For those of you with broadband...here

And then it appears somewhere else. Once the cat is out of the bag...
Someone [not me I might add]has seeded using bittorrent ..


Anyone who wants a copy can try using bittorrent to download. Which is not anonymous as you are NEVER anonymous on the internet. So download with caution or get the following...
Defeating Singapore Internet Censorship

Bhavani said:politically motivated movies 'undesirable'

Singapore says politically motivated movies 'undesirable'

SINGAPORE (AP) - The Singapore government said Saturday politically motivated films were "an undesirable medium'' to debate issues, as a documentary filmmaker faces possible charges over a movie about an opposition politician.

Martyn See is under investigation for "Singapore Rebel,''
[Click the image to view Singapore Rebel. The movie appears to have been taken off.]

a 26-minute movie about Chee Soon Juan, a frequent critic of the government. Police said See may have violated the Films Act for knowingly distributing or exhibiting a "party political film.''

He could be fined up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (US$60,606; euro46,200) or imprisoned as long as two years if he's tried and convicted.

"Party political films are disallowed because they are an undesirable medium for political debate in Singapore,'' the Ministry of Information's communications director K. Bhavani said in an open letter published in the local Straits Times newspaper Saturday.

"They can present political issues in a sensational manner, evoking emotional rather than rational reactions,'' Bhavani said. [Singaporeans are denied emotions?] "There remains ample opportunity for political parties and their supporters to express their opinions.'' [Where?]

Bhavani's letter was an apparent reaction to See's yet-unscreened movie, and a letter from a group of Singapore filmmakers who castigated the country's laws, which appear to ban any movie criticizing government policy.

See made his maiden film independently and said he wanted to "chronicle the civil disobedience acts of Chee Soon Juan.''

Chee currently faces bankruptcy after he was ordered to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (US$303,000; euro236,275) to Singapore's former prime ministers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, for defaming them during an election campaign in 2001.

"Singapore Rebel" was earlier yanked from the Singapore International Film Festival _ one of the country's showcase events to promote itself as an arts hub.

But See said his movie will be screened at other venues later this month _ the New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival and the Amnesty International Film Festival in Hollywood.

Singapore, a wealthy Southeast Asian city-state, is widely criticized for its tight controls on political activity and the media.-AP

Undesireable unless the Peoples Action Party desires it.

Read on:

Section 40 of the Films Act says:

"This Act shall not apply to any film sponsored by the Government."

That is, any film sponsored by the Singapore government is perfectly fine, even if it contains obscene material or explicit political content. And as if that wasn't enough, they also put this in the Act:

"The Minister may, subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, exempt any person or class of persons or any film or class of films from all or any of the provisions of this Act."

So any film can be exempted if the Minister likes the film. In other words, even if a film is bursting with political messages, the Minister can still allow the film to be imported, sold, distributed and exhibited - no problems whatsoever - as long as the Minister likes those political messages.

More details regarding the Films Act.

Wynn slams Singapore's casinos

The Associated Press/SINGAPORE

MAY. 14 1:10 A.M. ET
Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn said the Singapore government's direct involvement in designing the city-state's first two casinos was "unsophisticated" and could compromise the outcome, a newspaper reported Saturday.

"It's control and direction by people who've never done this before," the Business Times newspaper quoted Wynn as saying. "There's an awful lot of control and direction in the documents we've received which, frankly speaking, is unsophisticated."

Wynn's projects include the Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and The Mirage in Nevada.

Wonder if he can be sued for such a statement.

13 May 2005

Singlish Under Attack Again

Controlling what you say and how you say it.

As for the argument that visitors will not be able to understand Singlish. It is actually possible to talk to a non-Singaporean in English and then turn around to your Singaporean friend and speak Singlish.

Singlish can lah. While in Singapore Phua Chu Kang was the best Singaporean character on any of the television channels. I watched every episode I could, assuming I wasn't being worked like a dog by my employer.

Sometimes I think certain leaders have some sort of inferiority complex or are they ashamed of their own people?

The following is from Weird News. Perfectly normal is Singapore though.

SINGAPORE (AP) - Singapore's prime minister launched the country's latest behaviour modification campaign on Friday, urging teachers to use hip-hop and rap music to teach proper English and warning that continued use of the mutated local form of the language could make Singaporeans unintelligible.

"Speak in a normal Singapore tone, which is neutral and intelligible," Lee Hsien Loong said. "But speak in full sentences, with proper sentence structure and cutting out all the 'lahs' and 'lors' at the end of each sentence."

Lee was referring to two words commonly added to the end of sentences in "Singlish" - a mishmash of English and local dialects.

"Can or not? I think can," he said, using another commonly used phrase in Singlish.

The city-state is well known for its numerous social engineering campaigns, most of which are government-backed. Singapore in the past has urged its citizens to wave at fellow motorists, flush public toilets, be more romantic and arrive at wedding receptions on time.

Lee urged teachers to use "pop songs, hip-hop and rap as mediums for teaching good English."

"If our English becomes too mutated, then we become unintelligible to others," he said. "If we speak in a dialect which only some Singaporeans can understand, then we are handicapping ourselves and cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world."

The administration began waging war on Singlish in 2000 and attacked the country's most popular TV character, Phua Chu Kang, blaming his use of Singlish for a rise in bad grammar among citizens.

Critics have denounced the numerous behavioural campaigns as Orwellian and condescending.

Reminds me of a funny story I heard.

Two ang moh entered a 7/11 and asked for a can of coke. The shopkeeper replied, to the German couple, "Can can not, bottle can".

Films Act Related Email

Doing the following after reading MrBrown's and Mr Miyagi's situation with regards reporters.
Hi Steven

Hope this email finds you well.
I spoke to you last year regarding a story on political blogs in Singapore.

This time round, I would like to ask you:
1. Your blog has posted the Singapore Rebel documentary online for download. You said you did not put it up, then how did it get on your site?

2. Have you considered taking it down, given that the film might have violated the Films Act, and your blog might be dragged into it for distributing/showing the film?

I will be grateful if you could respond to my email very soon, by today (May13), as I am writing a feature on the Films Act which will be published tomorrow. I apologise for the rush. Do let me know if you can respond.

Name Removed
The Straits Times
Tel: 6319-6319
Did: : 6319-5839
Fax: 6732-0131

And my response was...

Hi Name-Removed

with regards to question 1. 'who' posted it.

I am not responsible for uploading the film to the internet, I have merely linked to it from my site. The url is widely available. It is not actually on my site nor on a server that I host. All I have done is hyper-linked to the documentary.

question 2.

And as I did not upload the film, I am unable to remove the film.

I would be more than willing to answer any further questions regarding this issue.

Steven McDermott

And here is the offending url...


A 21st century revolt

What lessons can the PAP and opposition learn from the following article? Discuss.

The Guardian 13th May 2005
The world saw it as a spontaneous drive for democracy, but Ukraine's 'orange revolution' was in fact an operation years in the making. Daniel Wolf reports on how meticulous planning, 10,000 video cameras and tonnes of porridge brought about a peaceful coup

The success of the orange revolution has promoted a kind of democratic inebriation, in which random demonstrations around the world are each sold as a new dawn of freedom in the Ukrainian tradition. Yet what Yushchenko's team achieved requires more than a sense of grievance and the hope of change. It needs large sums of cash (in this case, much of it American - the US state department has said that it spent£35m in Ukraine over the past two years; it is estimated that the Russians, by the by, contributed up to £160m to the other side).

Along with the money, a democratic revolution on the orange model demands long-term planning, superb organisation and charismatic leadership. It also, of course, has to be addressed to a people who are ready to understand and support it. In the words of Bessmertny: "The people were so sick of the authorities, they were ready to give everything, ready to give their last things so that people would carry on standing there, on the square. Because everyone understood that, if the people dispersed nothing would ever happen."

Daniel Wolf directed Inside the Orange Revolution, to be shown on BBC4 on Sunday at 10pm. I wonder if it is to be shown on BBC World? Then everyone in Singapore could watch it.

Singapore hangs drug trafficker

Fri May 13, 2005 12:30 AM ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singaporean drug trafficker was hanged on Friday after his teenaged sons failed in a last-ditch bid to stop the execution, his lawyer said.
Shanmugam Murugesu, 38, was put to death by hanging at 0600 (2200 GMT) in Changi prison.

"The casket company is already at the prison preparing to take his body home for the funeral," his lawyer M. Ravi told Reuters.

Shanmugam was arrested at the Malaysian border in August 2003 with 1.03 kg (2.27 lb) of cannabis and lost an appeal against a conviction for drug trafficking. His clemency bid was rejected by Singapore's President S.R. Nathan last month.

The case has stoked controversy and put the spotlight on the high execution rate in Singapore, which enforces some of the world's toughest drug laws.

Anyone aged 18 or over convicted of carrying more than 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of cannabis faces mandatory execution by hanging.

In the past weeks, local groups had campaigned for Shanmugam, organising performances, forums and vigils in a rare display of activism for Singapore.

His twin 14-year-old sons, Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, had handed out hundreds of flyers in shopping districts to seek public support to stop Friday's execution.

In its 2004 report, rights group Amnesty International said about 400 people had been hanged in Singapore since 1991, mostly for drug trafficking, giving the wealthy city-state of 4.2 million people possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population.

Amnesty said only six people sentenced to death in Singapore had been spared execution.

Singapore has defended its use of the death penalty and maintained that capital punishment has deterred major drug syndicates from establishing themselves in Singapore.

500 grams of cannabis = A human life. "Making Singapore Unique?"

Shanmugam Murugesu

It is dawn in Singapore at just before 7am [midnight GMT], have they killed Shanmugam Murugesu?

12 May 2005

Singapore's president rejects bid to stop execution

From Reuters
Thu May 12, 2005 01:51 AM ET

By Fayen Wong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's president has rejected a last-ditch bid to stop the execution of a drug trafficker in a case that has generated unprecedented debate on the death penalty in Singapore.

Shanmugam Murugesu, 38, arrested at the Malaysian border with 1.03 kg (2.27 lb) of cannabis, lost an appeal against a conviction of drug trafficking and had his clemency bid rejected by Singapore's President S.R. Nathan last month.

His twin 14-year old sons, Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, have handed out hundreds of flyers in shopping districts to seek public support to stop Friday's execution.

Shanmugam's lawyer M. Ravi on Tuesday called for the president to convene a constitutional court to review Shanmugam's case.

The lawyer argued that Shanmugam's trial had been treated differently from six similar recent cases, where traffickers arrested with more than 700 grams of cannabis had seen their charges reduced to below 500 grams -- the limit above which the death sentence is mandatory.

To continue reading...

And I found via a google news search an example of someone getting it all wrong,
Singapore is planning to hang a man convicted of smuggling one kilogramme of heroin [cannabis not heroin]tomorrow, Friday the 13th, a civil rights group announced today.

Unless the article is referring to someone else on death row?

11 May 2005

"Law Not Intended For The Safety And Well-Being of Its People"

The Epoch Times

Since the current Singaporean government was established, nobody has ever heard of anyone winning a lawsuit against the government.

Likewise, we might question whether the government is looking out for its people by mandating that all materials distributed in public be pre-approved by the News Publication Bureau. In Singapore's subway stations, people frequently distribute various advertisements and fliers. People receive advertisements and promotions in their mailboxes every day. Not all these fliers are approved. Does the News Publication Bureau really intend to check every single handout?

A few years ago when conducting an investigation of Falun Gong at subway stations, my bag was searched by police. In my bag, they found a single CD that contained facts about the practice and its unjust persecution and accused me of owning a CD not approved by the News Publication Bureau. Actually, pornography and pirate CDs are everywhere in Singapore, including some stores. But has any store been closed down? The police have not investigated stores for this purpose. Does it seem reasonable, then, to pinpoint a single free CD downloaded from the Internet? This is absurd. Because of this CD, I received warning from the Police Department and Immigration Department. They threatened to cancel my student visa. I still have the warning letter.

Singapore's law is apparently not intended for the safety and well-being of its people. Unlike in democratic countries, where laws serve the people, the laws issued by a dictatorial government intend to maintain its dictatorship. Over time, such irresponsible treatment can ruin a country and its people.

A quote from the following article...

Singaporean Filmmakers Question OB Markers

Copied and pasted from Sign On Sandiego.

SINGAPORE – Singapore came under pressure from filmmakers on Wednesday to clarify laws on political films after police called in for questioning the director of a film on an opposition leader.

In a letter published in Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, filmmaker Tan Pin Pin, on behalf of 10 colleagues, sought clarification on the Films Act, which says it is an offence to produce, distribute or exhibit 'party political films'.

'We ask because, as filmmakers, we feel that almost anything could be construed as a comment on a political matter,' Tan's letter said.

Under provisions introduced to the Films Act in 1998, anyone involved in producing or distributing 'party political films' – including those containing commentaries on government policies – can be fined up to S$100,000 ($60,860) or jailed up to two years.

'How do we assess whether something is a political matter?' Tan added.

'Any subject, no matter how innocuous, could become a political matter depending on the circumstances, and we could easily find ourselves contravening the Act inadvertently.'

The letter was published after Martyn See, a 36-year-old Singapore filmmaker, was asked by police this week to come in for questioning on May 16 regarding his film 'Singapore Rebel' on prominent opposition leader Chee Soon Juan.

[Click the image to view Singapore Rebel.]

See withdrew the documentary from the city-state's annual film festival in March under pressure from government censors, who told festival organisers the work violated the Films Act.

In 2002, a documentary about veteran opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam was pulled out from the film festival after its filmmakers were told it breached the act.

Opposition politicians have said the Films Act stifles political debate in the city-state, which has been ruled by the People's Action Party since independence in 1965. Its 84-member Parliament has only two opposition members.

International free-press advocates have repeatedly criticised Singapore for its tight media control.

The government bans non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes. Films and TV shows are routinely censored for sex and violence.

The government says a high degree of control over public debate and the media is needed to maintain law and order.

The film at the heart of the controversy focuses on the life of Chee Soon Juan, who lost in January a three-year legal battle against defamation charges brought by Singapore's founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and his successor.

The U.S. State Department, in its February annual report, sharply criticised Singapore for using libel suits to intimidate the opposition, saying the threat inhibits opposition politics and has led to a culture of self-censorship in the media.

9 May 2005

Singapore Blogger 'Apologised Unreservedly' To A*Star

By Jackson Sawatan of Bernama.com

SINGAPORE, May 9 (Bernama) -- A Singapore student has "unreservedly apologised" to the Agency for Science, Technology and Research of Singapore (A*Star) for a number of statements he posted on his blog against the agency.

The 23-year-old Chen Jiahao, currently studying in the United States, said he admitted and acknowledged "that these statements are false and completely without any foundation".

The apology came after A*Star demanded that he apologised unreservedly for publishing in his "Caustic Soda" blog what the agency said as defamatory accusations.

A check on the blog today showed that what remained on his blog was his apology to the agency.

It says: "I recognize and accept that a number of statements that I made on my on-line journal "Caustic Soda", in particular the blog post of 3 March 2005, were defamatory of A*STAR, its Chairman, Philip Yeo and its executive officers".

"I admit and acknowledge that these statements are false and completely without any foundation. I unreservedly apologize to A*STAR, its Chairman Mr. Philip Yeo, and its executive officers for the distress and embarrassment caused to them by these statements," he wrote.

Chen had taken the blog off-line on April 26 and published an apology but A*Star said it wanted the student to apologise unreservedly, retract what he had previously said in his blogs and promise not to do it again.

A*Star had given Chen until yesterday to apologise for what the agency said as defamatory accusations against it.

A blog, short for web log, is an online journal where a blogger published his thoughts on a periodical basis.

Such websites, which would typically be accessible to any Internet user, have become popular for the internet community to express their thoughts online.


And a rather interesting follow up from Reuters...By Geert De Clercq.

On Sunday he posted the new apology on his "Caustic Soda" blog, saying "I unreservedly apologise to A*STAR, its Chairman Mr. Philip Yeo, and its executive officers for the distress and embarrassment caused to them."

"They sent me an e-mail with these words," Chen told Reuters on Monday by telephone from the United States, where he studies chemical physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A*STAR's Yeo said in a statement on Monday he accepted Chen's apology and considered the matter closed. "We wish him well. My invitation to Mr. Chen to meet for tea in the fall still remains," Yeo said.

Paris-based Reporters without Borders said the case highlighted the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in the organisation's worldwide press freedom index.

"Chen criticised some of A*Star's policies but there was nothing defamatory in what he wrote," Julien Pain, head of Reporters without Borders' Internet freedom desk, told Reuters.

Entire Reuters article available here.

Singapore Rebel

View the complete documentary "Singapore Rebel" by Martyn See by clicking on the image below. The full documentary has a running time of 29 minutes. And before you ask I did not place it online and have no idea who did.

The above WMV file has been removed, but you can hopefully download it here.

From the Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday March 22, 2005

A film-maker has withdrawn his documentary about Singapore's leading opposition figure from the city-state's annual film festival, after the government warned him its political content could land him in jail.

Martyn See's short film focuses on Chee Soon Juan, a frequent government critic who was ordered to pay S$500,000 (£160,875) to Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and former leader Goh Chok Tong for defamation during the 2001 elections.

See decided to pull his movie from the Singapore international film festival after the country's censorship board warned him he could be jailed for up to two years or fined if his 26-minute film was screened.

Singapore's the Straits Times reports that the board had also advised festival organisers to remove See's documentary because it was a "party political film." Under Singaporean law, local films that "contain wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter" are banned, the paper added.

Despite its strictly controlled media, Singapore has been seeking to promote itself as a centre of Asian arts, with the international film festival one of its cultural highlights. Still, Singapore regularly bans movies, on the grounds that it needs to maintain ethnic and religious harmony in the south-east Asian country of four million.

Well there goes the promotion of Singapore as a centre of Asian arts. And all despite the recent call for a Singaporean Michael Moore by youth and media conference .

"In attendance was Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam some speakers referred "to how wacky political websites and show business figures such as film-maker Michael Moore led the way in encouraging turnout among young voters during last year's US presidential elections."

Singapore Rebel to premiere at two human rights film fests

'Singapore Rebel' has been selected to premiere in two human rights film festivals this month. The inaugural New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival and the Amnesty International Film Festival (USA) will host a series of screenings in Auckland, Wellington and West Hollywood.

Film-maker Martyn See will not attend the festivals. He is now under investigation by the Singapore police for "the making" of 'Singapore Rebel'.

Below is taken from the website of the New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival.


Singapore Rebel
26 minutes, Singapore

This is the film Singapore’s censorship board doesn’t want people to see. It’s the story of opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, who has been imprisoned twice for championing democratic change in the city state. The censors declared it a “party political film” and it was pulled from last month’s Singapore International Film Festival line-up after the director was warned he could face two years in jail if the screening went ahead. Directed by Martyn See.

Screening times: Auckland Wellington


And this is taken from the website of the Amnesty International Film Festival (USA).

Singapore Rebel (World Premiere) Director: Martyn See Tong Ming
Documentary. 2005. Singapore. 26 min. English.

The film has just been withdrawn from the Singapore International Film Festival because of government censorship. We are proud to host the World Premiere and to support freedom of expression for artists worldwide.

Often cited as the economic miracle of the Far East, Singapore looks every bit like the paragon of the rich Asian nation. Beneath its gleaming façade, however, lies a citizenry that has been governed by the same political party for 46 years.

No act inspires more fear and foreboding in Singaporean society than an open confrontation with its government. Yet, one citizen has taken it upon himself to do just that. Singapore Rebel chronicles the tribulations of opposition activist Dr. Chee Soon Juan from his initial overcoming of fear to his acts of civil disobedience.

Screening times: West Hollywood