30 Jul 2005

The Pilot n' Jo Show

Been listening to these two guys all morning. Check out their views on the IOC and other recent news events. The language is natural and contains a few swear words. But don't let that put you off clicking on the link.

Great work guys and I hope you don't mind the plug by some damn white guy who doesn't give a...

The Push-Pull
In this episode, we drop our two cents' worth on the recent IOC (which was really one of the biggest embarrassments for S'pore), the London Bomb Blast and the hot, hot news of concerning the NKF CEO who eats up most of the donations that we've so long believed were going into helping those kidney patients. All I can say is DAMN S'pore officials for putting up a lame show, DAMN those fucking terrorists who have nothing better to do and DAMN this corporate so-called non-profit organizations that love to just to suck our taxpayers money through false advertising and giving kidney patients false hope. I hope the NKF CEO can really sleep at night, knowing that he's living, eating and drinking on these ill people's hopes.

And Osama, this NKF scandal has nothing to do with your kidney problems or dialysis shit. I think you just need to smoke some weed, chill out and stop all this Al-Qaeda and JI nonsense.

Singapore may hold early election this year

By Geert De Clercq

SINGAPORE, July 30 (Reuters) - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has been in office nearly 12 months, may call elections later this year, media and analysts said on Saturday.

A parliamentary election does not have to be held until mid-2007. But the city-state's pro-government Straits Times daily quoted several analysts and a member of parliament as saying they expected Lee -- son of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew -- to seek his own mandate as early as the last quarter.

Lee was handed power in August 2004 by Goh Chok Tong, who was prime minister between Lee senior and Lee junior.

"PM Lee has been in office a year and shown he is a capable leader. It would be a good time to get public endorsement of his time in office," the Straits Times quoted veteran member of parliament Mohamad Maidin Packer as saying.

Chen Hwai Liang, press secretary to the prime minister, told Reuters: "The prime minister has said earlier that elections will be held before they are due."

A precedent for early elections was set in 1991, when Goh called an election just nine months after he was handed power.

Analysts say that to secure strong leadership, Lee must at least match his party's tally in the last poll in 2001, when Goh won 75 percent of the vote for the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), which controls all but two seats in parliament.


While there may be uncertainty about the margin, analysts say there is no doubt that the PAP, which has swept every election since independence in 1965, would win a comfortable majority against a fractious and cash-strapped opposition.

"The opposition is too weak and not seen as an alternative to the government," Cherian George, author of "The Air-conditioned Nation", a book on Singapore politics, told Reuters.

The Straits Times quoted political watcher Viswa Sadasivan as saying "the ground is as sweet as it possibly can be" for Lee.

"After the London blast, people are obviously going to be more conservative with their votes and will vote in the stable ruling party," Sadasivan said.

But it quoted other analysts as saying that the Singaporean public may harbour resentment over the Lee government's decision to allow casino gambling, an issue that generated a rare wave of protest in the tightly controlled island state.

In recent weeks the government has also been embarrassed by a scandal surrounding the country's leading charity, the National Kidney Foundation, whose chief executive resigned following uproar about his pay and perks.

Analysts say the Singapore economy's rebound -- it grew an annualised 12.3 percent in the second quarter from the first after contracting in the first quarter -- and a series of measures to boost the real estate market would help the PAP.

"Sentiment 12 months down the road is expected to improve on the back of a stronger feel-good factor on the property market and on the economy front as well. So somewhere towards the year-end and into early 2006, could be the time for elections," Song Seng Wun, senior economist at CIMB-GK, told Reuters. (Additional reporting by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

28 Jul 2005

Singapore's first gay and lesbian PrideMonth

First spotted at Sg Review

28 July 2005

IndigNation: Singapore's first gay and lesbian PrideMonth

This year, there will not be a Nation Party in Singapore. Instead, there will be IndigNation, Singapore's first gay and lesbian Pride Month, August 2005.

Fridae.com was refused a permit to hold Nation Party '05 in Singapore, simply because it was expected to be gay event.

IndigNation is a gay community response to this unreasonable ban, as well as to heavy censorship of publications, such as Manazine, serving this community. Gays and lesbians are indignant over what these say about their equal rights and their place in this nation.

The events in the IndigNation calendar are contributed by various organisers to Singapore's Pride Month.

It opens with an art exhibition by Martin Loh, followed by a series of talks and poetry and closes with a bash organised by the gay and lesbian sports and adventure club, ADLUS.

This collection of separately-organised events under a common umbrella is a demonstration of the initiative and spirit of grass-roots civil society in Singapore – civil society that the authorities say they want to encourage, but then go out of their way to suppress, just because we happen to be gay.

All events are open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation. The talks that are being organised especially welcome heterosexual persons, so that their perspectives are also heard.

The Calendar of events can be seen at www.plu.sg, and at www.yawningbread.info/indignation/intro.htm

For details about any particular event, please email the contact person
listed for that event on the Calendar.

Who do we think we're fooling?

First spotted on Sg Review. A nice article regarding the problem of the development of a national identity in Singapore.

Thursday • July 28, 2005

Liang Dingzi

AS SINGAPORE prepares to celebrate 40 years of nationhood, there's a certain level of disquiet about our national identity.

This is evident in the debates about Singlish, the despair over our lack of social graces and, most recently, the controversy over the sale of Raffles Hotel to non-Singaporeans.

Part of the angst appears to stem from the lack of a visible Singapore icon. New York has its Statue of Liberty, Paris its Eiffel tower, and at Agra, not far away from New Delhi, is the Taj Mahal.

Some are ready to discount Singapore's prime candidate — the Merlion — for most would rather have a beautiful lady with the torch to gaze upon, as they do on Staten Island, than a half-fish, half-lion.

We're not sure if the Durians — sorry, the Esplanade theatres — would be as popular as Sydney's Opera House, either. So, perhaps we need to construct a new icon, we say. Some think the answer is the yet-to-be-built integrated resorts.

We are an impatient people who believe in quick fixes. Encouraged by our successes in constructing the world's No 1 airport and other architectural feats, some think we can dream up and construct, just like that, an icon that will radiate the spirit of Singapore.

But think about it: Why has the Merlion failed to impress?

For most Singaporeans, the Merlion doesn't evoke the sense of endearment associated with a treasured myth or a historical moment. There's little one can tell a visitor about it.

It hasn't earned the pride of a nation. Indeed, "to merlion" has become the local slang for "to vomit" – in reference to its ceaseless water-spouting.

Visitors to Singapore may be more interested in seeing the spot in Raffles Hotel where the last tiger to be killed in Singapore was shot, under a billiards table.

The sale of the hotel to a foreigner has been lamented by some citizens, who have deemed the move a betrayal, akin to selling off a national treasure.

It is an icon that represents part of our island's colonial history; it is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. It has the nostalgic distinction of having hosted famous writers including W Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway.

The Merlion, on the other hand, is little more than a commercial symbol. And it is laughable to think that a playground incorporating roller-coaster rides and a casino could inspire the same kind of awe as a structural icon, say the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Even Changi Airport cannot be held up in the same light. I once asked a much-travelled Frenchman what he thought of the terminal. He said it was modern, functional, very well-organised and efficient ... but it lacked character.

The Singapore Tourism Board makes much of Singapore as "a city that thrives on modernity". There's no denying visitors enjoy convenience and comfort here. But Bangkok, with its slums and smells, has more character than Singapore, with its towering skyscrapers.

Yet do we truly need a physical icon to forge an identity? At 40, Singapore is a young nation. Neither history nor culture can be wrought off a blueprint.

Remember, some years ago, the attempt to design a wearable national costume featuring a Chinese collar, an Indian sash and a Malay sarong? That didn't take off.

Likewise, entertaining friends from abroad with songs about our homeland shouldn't have to mean blurting out songs about nation-building, or about how proud we are to be Singaporeans — songs penned specially for the official national birthday celebrations.

Perhaps we try too hard to develop icons, structural or otherwise. Such artificial results just don't do the trick because they are not about us as a people.

It's quite different when something is constructed purely for the tourist dollar. After all, as far as forgettable icons go, who really remembers that the world's highest man-made waterfall is at Jurong Bird Park?

27 Jul 2005

Singapore and Burma

First seen at Singapore-Windows.

Isolating Myanmar would not be in Southeast Asia's interests because the military regime has its "gates" open to emerging regional giants China and India, Singapore's foreign minister said Tuesday, July 26.
Foreign Minister George Yeo said he did not believe that with ramped up pressure and "the wave of a wand, all the problems (in Myanmar) will be solved and everybody will live happily ever after."

US and EU sanctions on Myanmar's internationally condemned junta have done little to bring real change to the country.

"But Myanmar has the back gate to China wide open. India, in its own geo-strategic calculation, has decided to keep its side gate to Myanmar open," Yeo said at a news conference.

"So it must be in the interest of ASEAN to keep our side gate open whatever happens in Myanmar.

Nonetheless, "Myanmar has decided from very early that it would rather be a part of Southeast Asia than be a part of South Asia and we welcome that," he said.

Yeo was speaking after foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced that Myanmar had taken the unprecedented decision to skip the chairmanship of the grouping next year.

Myanmar said the decision, which came after months of pressure from the United States and European Union, was to enable it to concentrate on its "democratisation process".

Something tells me that keeping the gates open to Myanmar might have something to do with the following considerations.

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.

Whether you refer to 'gates' or 'doors' I think the relationship between Singapore and Burma is not one of mutual movement to Democratisation.

"Singapore is by far the most important 'back door'"(Pilger 1999)for Burma. Pilger also argues that the arms industry is a speciality for Singapore. How far would Singapore go? In 1988, when the majority of the Burmese population were on the streets in a popular protest against SLORC(The junta), the Burmese Army was running out of bullets...

Guess which ASEAN country helped out?

Related Articles:
Burma's PR consultant
Contructive Engagement
Free Aung San Suu Kyi

Singapore TV rapped up for lowbrow humour, poor English

Arguments that mainstream reporters pick up on coming out of Singapore always shine the light of journalistic investigation on the area of Singlish. Below there is a slight twist in the tail. What is never focused on is the lack of air time given to opposition politicians or dissenting views. So back to the same old debate...

"Proper standards of English should be maintained. Singlish should be avoided in broadcast programmes," One very simple question in response to this statement. Why?

Why is the reporter referring to Singlish as a "mutated form of English" and a "mishmashed version of English"? Is the reporter trying to argue that Singlish lacks, semantics? Does the reporter have a background in Linguitics?

And maybe Phua Chu Kang would like to reply to the idea that his humour has to be more 'high' brow. I am sure PCK can get a few episodes out of this often restated demand that Singaporeans 'Speak better English', or is it 'Speak good English'.

Singapore, July. 26 (AP):

Singapore's monopoly broadcaster has been criticised for substandard levels of programming and widespread use of a mutated form of English, known locally as "Singlish."

The Programmes Advisory Committee, or PACE, urged Mediacorp, the country's only free-to-air broadcaster, to improve the quality and content of its programming.

"Proper standards of English should be maintained. Singlish should be avoided in broadcast programmes," PACE said in a statement late yesterday.

The call comes just over two months after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also urged Singaporeans to reduce the use of Singlish, a widely used mishmashed version of English.

PACE also said the standards of local sitcoms such as the hugely popular "Phua Chu Kang" had fallen, with "substandard story lines as well as lowbrow humour."

"Local dramas could take a cue from good foreign dramas and strive for more complex and sophisticated story lines and wittier dialogue rather than straightforward entertainment," the committee said.

Phua Chu Kang first came under attack in 2000, when the administration launched its war on Singlish and blamed the programme's main character for a rise in bad grammar among citizens.

My apologises for any misspellings or grammatical eras.

25 Jul 2005

Skypecast: Andrea Monti of ICTlex

Lawyer Andrea Monti, who blogs in Italian at ICTlex, is winner in the Europe category of this year’s RSF Freedom Blog Awards.

Monti is concerned that people in Western democracies are not sufficiently aware of the extent to which their freedoms of speech are being eroded - and while the erosion starts online in the virtual world it has real physical implications. He argues that people need to stop thinking about online space as something “less real” than physical space, because as far as the law is concerned, rights and freedoms on and offline are the same. The problem is even more extreme, he believes, for people who do not live in democracies. He hopes more people will blog about these issues and raise awareness.

Rebecca MacKinnon spoke to Andrea via Skype, recorded the conversation and uploaded it here as a podcast. Click here to listen (MP3, 13MB).

Rebecca MacKinnon

Government uses fear to stifle freedom of expression

LRWC Press release – July 18, 2005

SINGAPORE: Government uses fear to stifle freedom of _EXPRESSION

Singapore police used plain clothes officers to seize a video screened at the July 9, 2005 launch of the latest book by opposition leader Dr. Chee Soon Juan. Dr. Chee has long been an outspoken critic of the government, and the recent release of his book, The Power of Courage: Effecting Political Change in Singapore through Nonviolence, was no small step toward exercising a meaningful right to freedom of _expression in Singapore. The attendance of the police at the event was a disappointing indication that the Singapore government, while professing to "open up Singapore" and adhere to democratic values, continues to use heavy-handed methods to rein in peaceful political dissent.

The book launch was held indoors at Singapore's Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel and attracted about 50 people. Plainclothes officers videotaped the proceedings, which included various speeches and a question and answer session. As the event drew to a close and Dr. Chee was signing copies of his book, a 2003 video clip of Hong Kong residents protesting peaceably against a proposed anti-subversion law was projected on to the wall behind him.

At that point, the police demanded to know whether the organizers had a permit for the video clip. They questioned Dr. Chee, then seized the CD and said that it would be used for further investigation. Police spokesperson ASP Victor Keong asserted that the CD was seized under the Films Act for investigation because it did not possess a certificate for public exhibition. Licensing rules were eased last year with respect to indoor public talks, but restrictions remain for public assemblies.

The officers also demanded identifying information from two activists who had spoken before Dr. Chee's presentation. Charles Tan and Jonathan Siow, both in their twenties, had said that they found non-violent action to be an effective tool in helping to empower Singaporeans.

Dr. Chee is Secretary General of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). The Singapore government is led by the People's Action Party (PAP), which has held power, uninterrupted, for the last half-century. The PAP has repeatedly targeted Dr. Chee throughout his public career. In 1992, three months after he joined the SDP, he was forced out of his university teaching position and faced charges of defamation when he attempted to dispute his dismissal. He was forced to sell his home to pay legal costs. In 1999, he served jail time on two charges of violating the Public Entertainments Act, which required police permits for public events involving more than five people. Dr. Chee had made public addresses, without a license, protesting the lack of freedom of speech in Singapore. In 2001, he faced a second lawsuit by government officials for allegedly defaming them during an election campaign, and subsequently signed an apology in order to avoid becoming ineligible to run in the election. for more information from Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada regarding those incidents, please see http://www.lrwc.org/pub2.php?sid=45 In The Matter Of An Addendum To The Report To Lawyers' Rights Watch On The Trial Of B. J. Jeyeretnam As A Result Of Observations On The Trial Of Chee Soon Juan; and, http://www.lrwc.org/pub2.php?sid=21 Newsletter VII, item I.3

The Singapore Constitution guarantees every citizen of Singapore the right to freedom of speech and _expression, the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to association. The PAP, however, has a history of using fear to stifle those very rights that the Constitution guarantees.

For example, in May the government refused entry into Singapore to international non-violence expert Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan to prevent his interfering in Singapore's domestic politics. On another occasion, the police disrupted a forum on the death penalty by demanding the particulars of the moderator, Salbiah Ahmad, a lawyer from Singapore. On that occasion, uniformed officers were summoned in an apparent attempt to cause alarm to those present. The authorities also barred an Amnesty International spokesperson from speaking at the forum.

In the past, Singapore has also silenced dissent by using its draconian Internal Security Act - ISA, which allows for detention without trial. In 1966, opposition politician Chia Thye Poh accused the PAP of harassing opposition leaders, and staged a boycott of Parliament. Soon afterwards, he was arrested and detained under the ISA. He was never charged and never received a public hearing, but nevertheless remained in detention for 23 years. Selective application of an array of criminal laws against government critics is a display of force by the state that serves to intimidate anyone who wishes to publicly express a dissenting political opinion. By doing so, the Singapore government strips meaning from its citizens' fundamental human rights and demonstrates its lack of commitment to a free and democratic society.



Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada

Gail Davidson
Tel: +1 604 738-0338; toll free Canada/U.S. 1 877 662 7344

Fax: +1 604 736-1175

Email: lrwc@lrwc.org


Kelley Bryan

Email: K_j_bryan@yahoo.ca

Website: www.lrwc.org

Gail Davidson
Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada
3220 West 13th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
Fax: 1-604 736-1175
Tel: 1-604 738-0338
Website: www.lrwc.org

V6K 2V5
Tel: +1 604 738-0338
Fax: +1 604 736-1175
Email: lrwc@portal.ca

24 Jul 2005

The unOfficial Yeo Cheow Tong Website

All I am doing is providing a link to this site. I did not create nor do I know who created it. Made me laugh, then I was concerned that maybe there is a law that bans everyone from laughing at the leaders of the Singaporean government. I wonder if it is considered worthy of a defamation case or if it is crossing an Out of Bounds marker?

1.Goh Chok Tong's wife has destroyed his chances to become President, thanks to her hunk, Durai, and the NKF scandal.
2.That means Tony Tan will become President and will give up his position as Deputy Prime Minister (DPM).
3.Yeo will be picked over Wong Kan Seng for DPM as Yeo is even less competent than Wong.

23 Jul 2005

S$400,000 spent to rename Marina Bay... Marina Bay

This would be hilarious if it wasn't taxpayers money.

It has to be one the best cons I have ever heard of. Good to see that there are stringent controls on how they spend the money. They must have so much of it, they just throw it around.

After spending S$400,000 ($240,964) to come up with a suitable new name for the revamped downtown Marina Bay, Singapore has decided to stick to, well, Marina Bay, media reports said Friday.

The city-state’s urban development authorities and global branding company Interbrand spent months deliberating over 400 potential names before settling on the original moniker, according to the Today newspaper. The $400,000 financed a massive branding exercise that involved market tests, focus group discussions and consultations with developers and the general public, Today said.

Finding the right name for the city-state’s revised downtown, which will include the much-debated resort casino, a new business district and swanky retail outlets, was a process akin to parents deciding on a name for their child, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan. afp

Anyone fancy sending me $400,000 so I can name their child? I might actually set up a paypal account to do it. Of course the name will be carefully considered after extensive market tests, focus groups and consultations while standing laughing in the queue to the bank.

In fact I won't charge you $400,000, just 10 pounds stirling.

21 Jul 2005

Weblog Ethics Survey Results

What this study is all about

This study seeks to explore ethical principles in blogging through a quantitative survey of bloggers from around the world. It is our honors thesis as undergraduates at the School of Communication and Information , Nanyang Technological University (SCI/NTU).

Why is there such a long delay from the initial results release date in May?

We needed time to properly analyse all the findings. The response was more overwhelming than we expected, with over a thousand bloggers completing our survey. We thank everyone who had did the survey, and apologise for the delay.

Who are we?

We are three undergraduates from SCI/NTU. Ordinary undergraduates who found the issue on blogging ethics interesting, and decided to do a thesis on it.

Dr. Benjamin H. Detenber and Dr. Mark Cenite are our thesis supervisors.

Why are we publishing our results here on blogspot?

Beyond just a final year thesis, we hope that our study can contribute to the blogging community amidst the debate on ethics and ethical codes in blogging. Feel free to post comment on this blog or email <"mailto:S8033419B@ntu.edu.sg"> us feedback. us feedback. If you are a blogger, you can also provide a link this blog to share this URL with your friends.

20 Jul 2005


Found the following at the ThinkCentre

Antara 9 July 2005

Dozens of migrant workers grouped in the Working Forum on Justice for Migrant Domestic Helpers staged a protest outside the Singaporean Embassy in Jakarta Friday demanding the abolishment of the death penalty for domestic helpers and other migrant workers in the city state.

"We have also launched worldwide actions to take our protest to the International Labor Organizations (ILO)," an activist of Migrant Care who coordinate the action, Anis Hidayah said.

The protesters also demanded that Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia ratify the international law to protect migrant workers as more workers were facing distressing situations and many others were facing the death penalty.

"After Sundarti Supriyanto, Purwanti Parji, and Sumiyati, now Juminem and Siti Aminah are waiting for the death sentence in Singapore which is scheduled to be announced on July 11," Anis said.

According to Migrant Care sata, some other Indonesian migrant workers were serving their jail sentences and some were facing the death sentence.

Among these workers are Hasanudin, Sintring, Lili Ardi Sinaga, Nur Laela, and Suhaidi bin Asnawi.

The demonstrators also demanded the eradication of any form of violation, physically, mentally or sexually against domestic helpers and migrant workers.

"The crimes committed by migrant workers were a reaction to the accumulation of resentment against unjust treatment by their employers. This fact must be used as a point of consideration," Yanti Muchtar of non governmental organization Kapal Perempuan said.

Earlier, last week, the NGO organized a similar action in front of the embassy but they were only received by the embassy`s first secretary.

"Because the ambassador is on leave, we hope that we can meet with the political attache," Anis said.

During last week`s meeting, the embassy official said they could not do anything to stop the death penalty as it was the authority of Singapore`s courts.

"But we will continue to pursue efforts to have the death penalty scrapped," Yanti said.

The demonstrators wearing black plastic sacks on their heads as a symbol of people waiting for execution.

They also spread black banners saying "free our foreign exchange earning heroes", "stop women and children trafficking", "SBY do not only send SMS".

Anis said, they would move their protest to the Malaysian embassy for the same demand.

Responding to the demand, the Singaporean Embassy said it would convey the workers` demand to its government.(*)

Singapore to monitor its citizens Pak madarassas visits

I am fully aware of the current 'terrorist' threat but surely this is an infringement of civil liberties. Is Tony Tan saying that they are monitoring where you go on holiday? The article says, 'begun' but the statement from Tan implies that it has been monitoring for sometime.

Singapore: Following media reports suggesting that at least three of the four 7/7 London bombers received training from Islamic radicals at Pakistani madarassas, the Singapore government has begun monitoring the movements of its citizens visiting Pakistan, particularly the madarassas there.

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan confirmed this while speaking in the country’s parliament.

He, however, said that the government could not control every movement of its people.

Yes, we do keep track. We try to keep track of who goes there, but we are a free society so we cannot be sure of everybody. We do know that there are Singaporeans who have gone to some madarassas in a neighbouring country and from there went on to Pakistan,” The News quoted Tan as saying.

18 Jul 2005

The Singapore Rebel

Singapore Rebel appears to be back online and available here. As usual I would like to state that I am not responsible for uploading the documentary. All I am doing is placing a hyper link to the site that contains the download file.

I am currently having problems downloading the avi file but will keep trying.

Singapore Rebel - Documentary on an opposition politician in 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.

Singapore Rebel Cinepack (105 MB)

"An empty language for empty heads"

From Sg Review

by John Kay (Visiting Professor, London School of Economics)

Financial Times 11 July 2005

When George Orwell wrote his magisterial essay, Politics And The English Language, in 1946, bullshit was political bullshit.

There is still a lot of that about. Election campaigns in Britain, constitutional arguments in Europe and global summits in Scotland have produced political bullshit in quantity.

But the worst abuses of the language now come from business people and management gurus.

Lies and spin communicate, but what they communicate is false. The defining characteristic of bullshit is that it does not attempt to communicate at all. Bullshit has the vocabulary and syntax of ordinary language but not the meaning.

And, in fact, the metaphor is not apt. What we describe as bullshit is more like candy floss --- when you bite into it, there is nothing there.

The symptoms of bullshit are familiar. Stock phrases are parroted without thought --- change drivers, organisational transformation.

Words are given meanings different from their ordinary sense --- government spending is called investment.

Bullshit creates new words --- empowerment, creovation --- but these do not define original ideas. They describe concepts too nebulous to be expressed by terms with known meaning.

Bullshit is characterised by prolixity --- "serving customers better" becomes "striving for continuous improvement in the customer relationship management space".

Why do people talk or write when they have nothing to say?

Sometimes there are good reasons. When the Queen pays a royal visit, her remarks tell people nothing other than that she is present. But that purpose is important. Some of what senior executives do has this symbolic role. Such speeches are properly short and banalities suffice.

So most bullshit is simply to fill space. Sometimes, people do not want to speak but are required to. The growing culture of audit and accountability has stimulated such obligatory communication --- read any corporate risk assessment or statement of auditors' responsibilities. Written by word processor, read by nobody, this material is generally innocuous.

But the purpose of bullshit is often deceptive. The squirming politician, forbidden to lie but unable to tell the truth, must bullshit.

[see "Lifting The Veil On Singapore Politics";

But not all the audience had noticed that the words they heard meant nothing. If you are asked to report on implementation milestones towards Key Performance Indicators, you are obliged to reply in the same language. Before long, you speak this way yourself.

Proper academic training, which emphasises substance over form, is an antidote, and many universities still provide it. Business schools, where both the faculty and students must disguise how little they know, sometimes do the opposite.

The most powerful enemy of bullshit is ridicule, and the most powerful ally of bullshit is the corporate conformity* that makes such ridicule impossible.

The more authoritarian* the culture, the more bullshit.

If bullshit tells you nothing else, it tells you something about the organisation* that excretes it.

[* hallmarks of the PAP political organisation]

17 Jul 2005

Legitimized Corruption Understood

From: Carl Kapeland
To: Mellanie Hewlitt
16 July 2005
Singapore Review
Legitimized Corruption Understood

Dear Mellanie

In the latest developments the entire NKF Board and its CEO have taken the easy route out and resigned. That's leadership for you, when things get messy, just get up and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

But I don't think the new CEO or Board will do much cleaning up. Looks like they are replacing one bunch of rotten apples with another bunch of potentially more rotten apples. It does not address the real problem.


There are several recurrent issues here. Singapore is in this current mess because Lee's PAP Government has forgotten that not everything can be reduced to money. You cannot throw money at all your problems and expect it to magically disappear.

The material base that motivates Singapore's "leaders" is only too evident when the NKF's transit CEO (Gerald Ee) hinted that "SGD600,000/- may not be sufficient for the new replacement to take office"!!! Money is the only motivating factor and if they have elected a leader and a board who is motivated only by money, its only a natural and unavoidable result that they will end up with an organization which has forgotten its once noble purpose and replaced it with more materialistic pursuits.

Have they (Singapore) appointed a Wolf in sheep's clothing to guard their precious flock? For positions like these in charity organizations, THE CHIEF MOTIVATING FACTOR CANNOT BE MONEY! as they are not running an investment bank. The same applies senior public service positions and for ministerial positions. NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE REDUCED TO MONEY. But Lee's PAP Ministers have used this holistic approach to address any and all issues under the sun.

Lee and his ministers simply CANNOT RUN A COUNTRY THE SAME WAY THEY RUN A COMPANY. Why? Because a country comprises of flesh and blood and spirit. A company is merely a corporate vehicle that is often set-up for the sole purpose of reaping a monetary profit.

SINGAPORE AS A COUNTRY, IS NOT SINGAPORE INC!!!! And even if it is, its directors (and that means Lee and his million dollar cabinet) have to remain accountable to the shareholders (Singapore citizens). Singapore MINISTERS have to be transparent, and they are not especially as regards their salaries and the management of the country's reserves.

Consider this, the NKF was originally set up as a supposedly charitable organization. In form and function it appeared above board and reputable. But in actual practice it had a hidden agenda to siphon wealth from the public into state coffers. And what happens to all this money (all SGD200 million of it?) No body knows.

These same similarities in the NKF saga are reproduced on a grander scale in overall state administration in Singapore. Whether its the CPF, LTA, GLCs, Temasek etc they all relate to the the same basic issue. It goes back to the same bunch of corrupt leaders paying themselves and their cronies humongous rediculous salaries, approved and legitimized under a set of bogus laws that they legislated in the first place.

But even before this NKF scam, transparency issues have dogged Singapore's state administration for decades and repeated requests by the World Bank, IMF, FTA and other NGOs for greater accountability and transparency havebasically fallen on deaf ears.

These are basic transparency issues which plaque management of public moneys by all state entities (whether its the CPF Board, GLCs, Temasek, LTA etc). There is massive deception on a grand scale and I suspect the latest NKF debacle only surfaced due to internal friction within Singapore's "inner-circle of elite politicians." Perhaps someone amongst Singapore's Ruling Elite wanted a bigger portion of the loot.

Think about it. Durai commenced his latest law suite on the confident assumption that it would be a "no contest" walk-over like his two previous suites. But whilst the Singapore sham courts had no problems finding
in his favor in the 2 previous suites (which were taken against private individuals and a volunteer who correctly questioned his lavish spending), the latest suite was against another state bureaucracy. And it was inevitable that the sham court found in favor of the bigger devil. So even amongst the thieves there is a power struggle over who gets a bigger piece of the loot.

So this then is justice ala Singapore styled. Who you are and who you are connected with ultimately decides the outcome of the law suite. The material facts of the case (and legal premise) have little relevance in the kangaroo's court final assessment.

But by far the most troubling problem is that of Legitimized Corruption. You (Mellanie) have used the term "Legitimized Corruption" very accurately, but failed to elaborate on its true meaning and implications.

Legitimized Corruption means essentially that the corrupt act itself is made perfectly legal. That is why there is a possibility that the external audit on NKF may turn out nothing because Durai and his actions may have been all perfectly legitimate and authorized according to the internal constitution of the Board.

In a normal organization with bona fide controls in place, the Board would not have approved and allowed such unreasonable and lavish expenditures. However, in Singapore's setting where "anything goes" it is possible that the board were within their discretionary powers to authorize such lavish expenditures. Mind you these are expenditures which (by any ordinary definition) would have amounted to an immoral mis-management of public moneys for unauthorized applications. But if the internal rules of conduct of NKF allowed the Board to act in this manner, it would then be an authorized and legitimate act.

So even after the process of audit has concluded it is perfectly possible for the auditors to conclude that the use of donor funds for;
a) Durai's pay of SGD600,000 and his salary of SGD1.8 million;
b) All expenses and application of donor funds used for purchase of SGD990/- gold taps;
c) All expenses for first class air travel;
d) The levying of a 30% Admin Fee;
e) The hiring of personal drivers and limos.
All of the above are authorized and legitimate.

Anyway we all know that the so called "audit" of the NKF accounts is merely a publicity stunt to show case to the world that the current government and the new board is taking steps to remain accountable.

But does this make the above acts any more acceptable and morally correct. NO! Of cause not. An atrocity is still an atrocity even though it is legitimized. One clear example is prostitution in Singapore. It is legal and the fact that it is legal does not detract one iota from the fact that it is still immoral, depraved and inhuman.

Of cause there are critics who will argue that moral values are to subjective concepts and we cannot always use these imprecise measures to define what is right or wrong. And I concede that there is some truth in this as we live in a world coloured in grey.

However, there will always remain some acts which are so blatantly wrong that they remain morally objectionable and immoral by any standard and yardstick. And the NKF scam (as well as Singapore ministerial salaries) fall within this category. It is morally wrong by any measure and this is not a grey area at all.

This same logic applies on a larger scale as regards ministerial salaries and the process that is orchestrated to "approve" such unreasonable and lavish salaries (amounting to millions of dollars per minister).

Legitimized Corruption works much like Money Laundering, but is worse. In essence Legitimized Corruption is corruption which is made legal. These perpetrators attempt to do what drug cartels and money launderers do;- basically "launder" the money (or the dishonest act) and make the final product appear nice and clean.

But senior politicians differ from your average drug lord or mafia boss in one important respect;- these ministers are much more sophisticated. They know the system (and probably designed it) and know how to manupulate and tweak the system so that they can have access to the ill-gotten gains without getting their hands dirty. Next to them, Gordon Gecko and the God-Father look like novices and vestal virgins.

However make no mistake the underlying act itself remains wrong, dishonest and morally objectionable but is hidden under a cloak of legitimacy. Drug money (and money from dishonest trades) is still ill-gotten loot. Behind this elaborate sham are a host of corporate and state entities (GLCs, state owned entities and yes, charitable organisations) which are set-up to place a corporate veil between the real perpetrators and the morally objectionable and dishonest transaction.

The fact that it is perfectly legitimate does not itself make it MORALLY CORRECT. This is especially the case when you have a legislature that is totally removed (and remains out of touch) with the moral values and aspirations of the people it is supposed to serve and protect.

In fact, this kind of legitimized corruption is the worst possible kind as it means the corruption has infiltrated the most senior ranks of management (and the political leaders). Compared to this elaborate deceit, the more obvious corruption in Indonesia are crude by comparison and far easier to identify and correct as it is acknowledged that such objectionable acts itself are WRONG and are not endorsed by the country's laws.

How do you ask a cop to catch a thief when the cop himself is a thief?

Legitimized Corruption by its very nature is more sinister and difficult to identify. For instance, a government official who accepts bribes worth $1.6 million a year is guilty of corruption. But what happens if this same official or minister receives this money as part of his "LEGITIMATE" salary. In both cases the act itself is the same unconscionable and immoral act. But in the later case, there is no need for the official to hide his ill-gotten gains as it is formally endorsed by an equally corrupt legislature/parliament who has a hand in the ill gotten gains.

The definition of a Parasitic Leech is as follows: "leech: a follower who hangs around a host (without benefit to the host) in hope of gain or advantage"
The kind of legitimized corruption already endorsed and prevalent in Singapore's state machinery is far worse. It is a cancerous malice which is more surreptitious and insidious. The festering rot is not immediately apparent to an external casual observer but is eating away the core of the its host. Left unchecked, such parasites will consume a once healthy body before discarding the empty shell and relocating to another unwary host.

Legitimized Corruption is also like cancer. It is a chronic ailment which rooted itself very deeply within the host (and the state machinery). Such a chronic ailment did not occur over night but took place over decades of accumulated unchecked accesses. Durai himself was in the NKF for over 30 years and it is no mere coincidence that Singapore has been under the same government (and people and family) for over 30 years.

This is precisely the reason why in the US and other bona fide democracies there is a mandatory change in administration every 4-8 years. A new administration brings forth a completely new government which will was away unchecked accesses and commence things tabula rasa.

But somehow in Singapore it appears that only families starting with the Lee surname or who are closely affiliated with this first family are the only candidates who qualify for election. What a quaint and family friendly arrangement! Its just too bad that the average Singaporean is excluded from this elitist inner-circle.

However, Singapore's Ruling Elite also have to be wary of the accompanying dangers of in-breeding which can occur from a small and exclusive gene pool. Cancerous deformaities can result after generations of in-breeding.

And the Cancer has many signs and symptoms. There have already been many evident tell tale signs of the internal rot and its accompanying putrid stench. However, Singaporeans in their numbed state of awareness may be mistaking the over-powering stench of decay for sweet perfume. The entire state machinery is orchestrated to maintain this state of illusion and deception.

In the normal mechanics of an open and transparent state legislature and government, the moral values of the mans on the street is reflected (although not perfectly) in the policy formulation process. This is not the case in Singapore and your "leaders" know it. Just challenge them to run a referendum regarding their salaries and it will be evident that 90% of the population are totally disgusted by such blatant acts of greed. Of cause the local state owned media will somehow always paint the picture of an adoring and obedient public as part of an elaborate charade. So the truth never ever gets out.

Corruption of this scale starts form the top and slowly works its way down the ranks to pollute every senior arm of the state machinery from the Judiciary to Legislature to the Executive and especially to a docile and compliant state managed local press. It cannot be stopped easily without external intervention.

Slowly but surely what started off as a morally unacceptable issue becomes part and parcel of "accepted norm" which is disguised behind a pile of state endorsed laws and bills. Even the once sacred document, the Constitution, is not spared and is re-written to the whims and fancies of those they serve. How many Singaporeans are aware of the fact that the country's Constituion has been amended to allow state owned entities and GLCs easier access directly to the country's reserves? And it also does not take a genius to work out that it is the close affiliates of the Ruling Elite who sit on the management boards of these state owned entities and GLCs.

The following is a fascinating observation. The exact size of Singapore's foreign exchange reserves and the management of thses funds is designated as a STATE SECURITY FOR INTERNAL SECURITY REASONS. Is it mere co-incidence that the conservative ball park estimate of the net worth of the Lee family is roughly equivalent to your country's reserves? (USD130-140 billion?)

What you have in Singapore are a bunch of hired mercenaries who are ripping off the very people they are supposed to look after.

Singaporeans. This is your country and your life. If you continue in this state of drugged apathy, you will cease to have any control over your own faith and destiny.

Do you really want to hand over your life to the devil?

Do you want to have a Singapore with No Singaporeans?

Its time to wake up from your state of denial and confront the harsh reality before your very eyes.

Yours faithfully

Karl Capeland
Ohio State

For more details on the above, see "Lifting The Veil On Singapore
Politics"; http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/1755

Does splashing white paint on a black car make the black car white? You decide.

Public welcome Gerard Ee as NKF's interim chairman

According to Lawrence Tan, the 20-year-old full-time national serviceman who started the petition which gathered 40,000 signatures in three days, "Singaporeans signed something which not only called for the NKF board to step down, but for them to show greater accountability and transparency."

Suddenly the requests for transparency and accountability are ignored. As if by magic the problem has dissappeared and no one will ever again refer to the two nouns for fear having their own organisation become the unmentionables. And "the public", all of them, are happy again in lala-land according to Channel News Asia after having done a highly rigourous, indepth, and representative survey with a sample of 2 respondents.
Charity groups and public welcome Gerard Ee as NKF's interim chairman

The public also expressed support for NKF with Mr Ee at the helm.

"He will bring more confidence," said one member of the public.

"I hope the new chairman will restore their confidence, the people's confidence and continue to raise funds," said another.

"The general consensus among members of the public and the various charity organisations is that with a new leadership in place at the NKF, it is time to move on and concentrate on the future to rebuild public confidence and continue to lend a helping hand to kidney patients."

To read the article click here.

Surely claiming 'General consensus' after interviewing an anonymous 2 people in a population of approximately 4 million is a joke. I wonder if the 'journalist', and I use that term loosely, actually interviewed 2 people, or simply copied what they were told to write contained in the memo from upon high.

16 Jul 2005

NKF petition’s aim only half achieved

THE creator of an online petition that garnered almost 40,000 responses from Singaporeans calling for the resignations of National Kidney Foundation chief T.T. Durai and the NKF board said that he had only achieved half his aim.

Lawrence Tan, a 20-year-old full-time national serviceman, said: "Singaporeans signed something which not only called for the NKF board to step down, but for them to show greater accountability and transparency."

He launched his petition on Tuesday night, claiming that Durai had "breached the trust of the people of Singapore and all others who donated to him."

Tan’s views clearly struck a chord with the public, who had expressed their frustration over Durai’s pay package and perks, which came to light during a defamation suit taken out by NKF against Singapore Press Holdings.

While most were relieved to hear about the resignations of Durai and the NKF board on Thursday, they were still hesitant to renew their contributions.

Also pleased to hear about the resignations were two men who had been sued separately in 1998 by Durai. Both had to pay damages and apologise.

"I’m over the moon," said Archie Ong, 56, who was a volunteer when he was sued for remarking to another volunteer that the NKF squandered money and that Durai flew first-class.

Businessman Piragasam Singaravelu, 45, who was sued for libel for saying he had seen Durai flying first-class on Singapore Airlines, said that this was the "best news Singaporeans, especially those who donated to the NKF, can hear"

– The Straits Times/ANN

15 Jul 2005

Singapore Kidney Charity Chief Quits Amid Controversy

July 14 (Bloomberg) --

The head of Singapore's National Kidney Foundation T.T. Durai resigned after newspaper reports about his salary and perks prompted a public outcry and calls for him to step down.

Durai, the charity's 56-year-old chief executive, offered his resignation two days after scrapping a defamation suit against Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., owner of the Business Times and Straits Times newspapers.

"The NKF board and the CEO sought the minister's intervention and offered to resign," Singapore's Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said today in a statement, noting the government will name an interim chief to run the charity and will reconstitute the foundation's board. "Shattered public confidence must be restored."

The National Kidney Foundation's offices were this week vandalized and more than 34,800 people signed an online petition calling for Durai's ouster, after the Business Times reported that he was paid S$1.8 million ($1.06 million) over the past three years and sometimes traveled first-class. The newspaper cited disclosures made in a court hearing Monday.

The controversy led more than 3,800 donors to cancel their monthly contributions to the charity as of 5:30 p.m. yesterday, according to foundation spokeswoman Juliana Khoo.

The charity will suspend fund-raising activities until the new board completes a review of its operations, the Ministry of Health said in a separate statement today.

Balaji Sadasivan, senior minister of state for health, today urged that the controversy shouldn't disrupt the care of kidney dialysis patients.

"Looking at the events in the past 24 hours, it appears this trust that the public had in the NKF has suffered," Channel News Asia quoted Sadasivan as saying. "It is very important that NKF rebuild the trust of the public by being transparent."

Police concerned over public reactions to NKF issue

The picture was found at Commentary Singapore and Mr Wang would like to explain that the Chinese characters spray-painted on the wall mean FRAUDSTER.

And just on the off chance any Singaporeans have forgotten - I found this rather short and to the point 'article' at Channel News Asia. It is copied exactly as it appears on the site. It hardly amounts to an article. It could be viewed as a blog or simply a message from your local friendly neighbourhood cop.

SINGAPORE : The Singapore police has expressed concern over public reactions to the National Kidney Foundation issue.

It said police officers were called in following vandalism at the NKF compound.

They were also alerted about an intention to organise a group demonstration.

Police urged the public not to take the law into their own hands.

It reminded them that it is an offence to organise a public assembly or procession with five or more people.

14 Jul 2005

Public anger over charity chief’s salary

By John Burton in Singapore
Published: July 14 2005 01:33 | Last updated: July 14 2005 01:33

An unprecedented wave of public anger has swept Singapore after the head of its largest charity disclosed this week that he was paid up to S$600,000 ($350,000, €290,000, £200,000) annually and took first-class flights.

The headquarters of the National Kidney Foundation was covered with protest graffiti, in a rare act of vandalism for the normally placid city-state, and the topic has dominated internet chatrooms.

The issue could prove embarrassing for the government since the chief patron of the NKF is the wife of Goh Chok Tong, Singapore's senior minister and former prime minister.

The public outrage also reflects complaints that Singapore's elite appears to be enjoying a lavish lifestyle when the income gap between the rich and poor is widening.

NKF, which helps to finance dialysis treatment for kidney patients, has been one of Singapore's most popular charities.

But it also has been criticised for a lack of transparency, including refusing to reveal the salary of its chief executive, T. T. Durai.

The controversy surrounding NKF was triggered after Mr Durai filed a defamation lawsuit against the Straits Times, Singapore's leading newspaper, over an article that said he had installed gold-plated taps in his office bathroom.

Mr Durai said the article suggested he was misusing the charity's funds.

But potentially damaging information concerning NKF was revealed when the defamation trial began this week.

In addition to his high salary and first-class flights, Mr Durai and other staff had access to eight company cars and drivers.

Davinder Singh, the lawyer acting for the Straits Times, alleged that the NKF was misleading the public since it claimed it was treating more patients than it had, while its reserves of S$220m were adequate to help kidney patients for decades, instead of three years as NKF claimed.

Mr Durai was also alleged to have a “commercial relationship” with an NKF board member who had interests in a call centre that NKF was using.

After two days of tough questioning, Mr Durai decided to drop his defamation suit. Mr Durai is under public pressure to resign, with an online petition urging his dismissal having gathered 7,500 signatures in the past day.

NKF also reported that 2,700 people had cancelled donation pledges.

Public attention has also focused on Mrs Goh, the senior minister's wife, after she defended Mr Durai's salary.

“For a person who runs a million-dollar charitable organisation, S$600,000 is peanuts as [NKF] has a few hundred millions in reserves,” she said.

The controversy has led to calls that disclosure guidelines for charities should be tightened, including revealing the salaries of top executives.

Related Links:
Singapore Windows - Charity Chief Reveals $600,000 salary
NewSintercom - STi July 12, 2005
Sg Review - The Board Behind The NKF Scam
Sg Review - The Petition
PAP Endorses NKF Deception - Birds of the Same Feather
Rampant Legitimised Corruption in Senior Govt Positions

Holly Q

Found some thought provoking material at Holly Q...

As usual, though, one must turn one's attention back home, as far as it can be described as "home" anymore. At least half our population has been drilled, for anywhere between 24 to 28 months of their lives, in the values of the military. These are values that don't sit well with the values needed for a democracy. It breeds an unhealthy obedience to authority, and a most unsavoury misogyny. It increases the palatability of violence.

AcidFlask Interview

I received the notification of the following via email and thought others might be interested in listening to the interview. I have yet to give feedback regarding the podcast but will do so as soon as time permits.Kevin Lim interviews Elia Diodati (a.k.a. AcidFlask)...

From our point of view, we speak constructively about where we see Singapore on a global scale, and what we could possibly do to improve Singapore's outlook. An emergent theme was for individuals to think for themselves and not to rely on existing local norms for socio-economic cues. Adding to this, I share my views on why I think it is important for Singaporeans to see and experience cultural differences (e.g. by travelling), while Elia Diodata elaborates on this by saying how we need to see the box in order to be able to step out of it (or realizing we can't step out of it at all). I hope for this podcast to serve as an 'idea springboard' on how we can jumpstart Singapore's future.

11 Jul 2005

Police harassment at non-violence book launch

From singapore democtrat.org
11 Jul 05

Police seized a CD and demanded the particulars of two young activists who spoke at Dr Chee Soon Juan's launching of his latest book The Power of Courage: Effecting Political Change in Singapore through Nonviolence.

Several police officers in plainclothes had attended the event and filmed the proceedings (see photos). At the end of the presentation, they demanded to know whether the organizers had a permit for a video clip that had run. They then seized a CD and said that it would be used for further investigation.

There was one officer in particular who seemed intent on offending as many people as he could. Incredibly at one point, after rudely demanding to see the CD, he wanted to borrow Dr Chee's laptop computer to view the CD he had seized whereupon Dr Chee replied: "The next thing you'll want is to borrow some money from me to take a taxi back to the police station."

Another police officer then filled out a form and wanted Dr Chee to sign it to acknowledge that they were seizing the CD. At this point lawyer Mr M Ravi who was also present took a look at the form and said that it was ridiculous for the police to seize someone's property and then ask that person acknowledge it. Dr Chee then said to the officers: "If you want to take it, take it. Do whatever you want to do with it but return it when you're finished with it."

Upon hearing this, the rude officer barged in and threatened, "So I take it that you are refusing to sign the acknowledgment?"

"It doesn't make sense for the police to seize something and then ask its owner to acknowledge that the property was taken as if the item was gladly handed over," Mr Ravi chipped in. "I'm trying to explain that..."

"No point wasting time, let's go! We have more important things to do!" the officer yelled to his colleagues.

Earlier, some of the officers had demanded to see the Identity Cards of Mr Charles Tan and Mr Jonathan Siow, both in their twenties. The officers took down the particulars of the two young activists who had spoken before Dr Chee's presentation and they said that they found non-violent action to be meaningful and an effective tool in helping to empower Singaporeans. Messrs Tan and Siow had attended workshops on non-violence in recent months.

The Singapore Government had earlier refused Nonviolence International trainer, Mr Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, entry when he at the Singapore Airport and deported him. The non-violence expert was invited to conduct a workshop for Singaporeans activists.

On a previous occasion, the police also disrupted a forum on the death penalty by demanding the particulars of the moderator, Ms Salbiah Ahmad, a lawyer from Singapore. On that occasion uniformed officers were summoned in an apparent attempt to cause alarm to those present. The authorities had earlier banned Amnesty International spokesman from speaking at the forum.


Singapore News // Monday, July 11, 2005

Police seize video at Chee's book launch

THE police made a late guest appearance at Saturday's launch of the latest book by opposition leader Chee Soon Juan. Held at the Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel, the indoor public talk, attended by about 50 people, had ended, and the few who remained were having refreshments when the police arrived — after receiving word that video images had been screened.
The 2003 footage of Hong Kong residents protesting peaceably against a proposed anti-subversion law had been projected onto a screen as Dr Chee autographed copies of his book, The Power of Courage, after a Q&A session.
Police spokesperson ASP Victor Keong told Today: "During the event, a video disc was screened to the public. As the disc did not possess a certificate for public exhibition, it was seized under the Films Act for investigation."
The police questioned Dr Chee and will take statements later for their investigation.
During his presentation, Dr Chee cited the "unjust" introduction of laws, as well as their selective application and interpretation, as reasons to effect political change in Singapore through non-violent campaigns.
In his book, he cited the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act as "perhaps the most damaging to the development of democracy in Singapore".
Although licensing rules for indoor public talks were eased last year when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his National Day Rally, encouraged greater freedom of expression, restrictions remain for public assemblies.
Asked why he chose the topic of non-violent civil disobedience for his sixth book, Dr Chee said there needed to be a rethink of strategy because, after 40 years, "it real1y didn't matter what civil society or political society did, because nothing changes".
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief referred to electoral reform in particular, likening the Opposition's predicament to that of a high-jumper training to clear a certain height for a competition, only to have officials raise the bar just before he is about to jump.
The SDP has helped organise two workshops this year to train people on the principles of non-violent campaigns, with a third coming up this month. — Derrick A Paulo

10 Jul 2005

Freedom of the Press 2005

Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 23
Political Environment: 24
Economic Environment: 19
Total Score: 66

Media freedom in Singapore is constrained to such a degree that the vast majority of journalists practice self-censorship rather than risk being charged with defamation or breaking the country’s criminal laws on permissible speech. The constitution provides the right to freedom of speech and expression in Article 14 but permits restrictions on these rights. Legal constraints include strict censorship laws; the Newspaper and PrintingPresses Act, which allows authorities to restrict the circulation of any foreign periodical for publishing news that interferes in domestic politics; and the Internal Security Act (ISA). Although not implemented in recent years, the ISA gives government powers to restrict publications that incite violence, arouse racial or religious tension, or threaten national interest, national security, or public order. Given the government’s record of successfully suing critics under harsh criminal defamation laws, journalists most often refrain from publishing critical stories about corruption or nepotism. The Economist agreed to pay a fine of more than US $200,000 in September in order to avoid a lawsuit over an article it had published that charged a government-linked investment company with lacking transparency.

The government has mastered the art of “calibrated coercion,” in the words of a veteran Singapore journalist. The vast majority of print and broadcast media outlets, as well as Internet service providers and cable television services, are either owned or controlled by the state or by companies with close ties to the ruling party. Moreover, annual licensing requirements cause media outlets to limit or moderate their criticism of the government. The primary development on the media scene in 2004 was the mega merger between two giants—Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes 14 paid newspapers and one free paper in four official languages, including the flagship Straits Times, and Media Corp TV Holdings, which operates five television stations, one free newspaper, and Media Corp Studios. The merger was agreed upon to stop four years of cutthroat competition, ending any semblance of competition and diversity in the Singapore mass media, which virtually without exception supports the government line. International newspapers and magazines are available, although authorities have at times banned or censored foreign publications that carry articles the government found offensive. The circulations of some Western-owned publications are “gazetted,” or limited.

The entire pdf file is available here.

The criteria: This study is based on universal criteria. The starting point is the smallest, most universal unit of concern: the individual. We recognize cultural differences, diverse national interests, and varying levels of economic development. Yet the Universal Declaration of Human Rights instructs: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers (Article 19). The operative word for this survey is everyone. All states, from the most democratic to the most authoritarian, are committed to this doctrine through the United Nations system. To deny that doctrine is to deny the universality of information freedom—a basic human right. We recognize that cultural distinctions or economic underdevelopment may limit the volume of news flows within a country, but these and other arguments are not acceptable explanations for outright centralized control of the content of news and information. Some poor countries allow for the exchange of diverse views, while some developed countries restrict content diversity. We seek to recognize press freedom wherever it exists, in poor and rich countries, as well as in countries of various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

This survey does not assess the degree to which the press in any country serves responsibly, reflecting a high ethical standard. The issue of “press responsibility” is often raised to defend governmental control of the press. Indeed, a truly irresponsible press does a disserviceto its public and diminishes its own credibility. A governmental effort to rein in the press on the pretext of making the press “responsible” has far worse results, in most cases. This issue is reflected in the degree of freedom in the flow of information as assessed in the survey.

Our sources: Our data come from correspondents overseas, staff travel, international visitors, the findings of human rights and press freedom organizations, specialists in geographic and geopolitical areas, the reports of governments and multilateral bodies, and a variety of domestic and international news media.

Full article on Methodology available here.

Freedom in the World 2005

Freedom in the World 2005
Table of Independent Countries
Comparative Measures of Freedom

Since 1978, Freedom House has published Freedom in the World, an annual comparative assessment of the state of political rights and civil liberties in 192 countries and 14 related and disputed territories. Widely used by policy-makers, journalists, and scholars, the 600-page survey is the definitive report on freedom around the globe.

Freedom in the World is the Michelin Guide to democracy's development.

—The Wall Street Journal

While there are many sources of economic data, good political data is hard to find. Freedom House's survey is an exception. For anyone concerned with the state of freedom, or simply with the state of the world, Freedom in the World is an indispensible guide.

—Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek

Seychelles 3 3 Partly Free
Sierra Leon 4 3 Partly Free
Singapore 5 4 Partly Free
Slovakia 1 15 Free
Slovenia 1 1 Free
Solomon Islands 3 3 Partly Free
Somalia 6 7 Not Free
South Africa 1 2 Free
South Korea 15 2 Free

The complete pdf file is available here.

Freedom House does not maintain a culture-bound view of freedom. The methodology of the survey established basic standards that are derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.

The survey includes both analytical reports and numerical ratings for 192 countries and 18 select territories. Each country and territory is assigned a numerical rating, which is calculated based on the methodology described below, on a scale of 1 to 7. A rating of 1 indicates the highest degree of freedom and 7 the least amount of freedom.

The survey findings are reached after a multi-layered process of analysis and evaluation by a team of regional experts and scholars. Although there is an element of subjectivity inherent in the survey findings, the ratings process emphasizes intellectual rigor and balanced and unbiased judgments.

The survey does not rate governments or government performance per se, but rather the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals. Freedoms can be affected by state actions, as well as by non-state actors, including terrorists and other armed groups. Thus, the survey ratings generally reflect the interplay of a variety of actors, both governmental and nongovernmental.

Survey Methodology is available here.

War on Popular Culture

Singapore Rebel is currently having a retrospective look at the relationship between the powers that be and popular culture. Well worth a read...
As part of my own commemoration of Singapore's upcoming 40th birthday, here is a series of historical snapshots from the Straits Times and The Singapore Standard.

Before independence in 1965, Singapore had been granted self-governance by the British.

On June 9, 1959, barely 10 days after being voted into public office, the new PAP administration initiated a clampdown on rock music, jukeboxes, publications, strip tease shows (yes, we used to have that!), films and all popular entertainment that were deemed as "yellow culture" contributing to "the decline in the moral standards of society."

8 Jul 2005

Edinburgh 50,000 The Final Push

Yes I know there has been a series of bombs in London. Of course my thoughts are with those how are sufferng or grieving for their loved ones. Many here feel that the bombing was planned to coincide with the G8 summit in Gleneagles. The bombing has disrupted the meeting, Tony Blair returned briefly to London to show his concern and ensure that the correct proceedures are in place.

It was an attempt to get the worlds attention shifted to that of fear. A fear that has spread via the mass media to many parts of the global including Singapore. Singapore has long believed that they are a target. Contingency plans are, I am sure, in place and dummy runs have been made.

One thing that is difficult to prepare for is the panic that will grip the population. In London and the UK in general, the population is behaving normally. Everyone is going to work, kids are playing in the streets and the postman still delivers his mail.

A bomb going off in any area is a shocking event. Fear and terror is the immediate response. But the strength of an individuals character is measured in how quickly he or she gets up and moves on in life. Learning from the past but never dwelling on it long enough to distort today or tomorrow. The day before the bombs, we had plans and dreams. Our desire to 'Make Poverty History' was and is a noble endeavour. Allow those who need to grieve the space to do so. The rest of us will pick ourselves up and move on. We will not be distracted from our aim.

This is the final moment; this is the eve of the biggest meeting ever in the fight against poverty.

As the leaders fly into Gleneagles on the evening of Wednesday 6th July, a very special event at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium will signal the end of the Long Walk To Justice and the beginning of the G8 Summit.

Hosted by Lenny Henry and Peter Kay, the event will include some of music’s biggest names such as Annie Lennox, Snow Patrol, Travis, The Sugababes, Ronan Keating, Beverly Knight, The Corrs, Natasha Bedingfield, Proclaimers, Texas, Youssou N’Dour, McFly, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and African artists from Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD plus a line up of very special speakers.

And below is a link to a short video I made of the event in Edinburgh. Only a few of the acts above appear.


64Kb MPEG4 (6.7 MB)
256Kb MPEG4 (15 MB)
MPEG1 (50 MB)

7 Jul 2005

The Truth About The CPF System

Financial analyst
Dan Fineman


When the PAP became the government in 1959, it increased the CPF contributions through the years, raising them to as much as 50 percent in 1984 and 1985 before the 1985 recession forced the government to bring the rates back down.

The original intent of the CPF was to help workers save for their old age and for them to be less dependent on the state when they are no longer economically productive. Few quarrelled with this notion. Since then, however, the system has allowed members to use their savings to finance their homes, pay medical bills, service insurance policies and even punt on the stock market.

The use of the CPF for extraneous purposes triggers the question of whether the savings are being diluted. In 1997, the mean balance was less than $30,000. As this is only the average, it does not take into account the many who have savings well below the $30,000 mark. Economist Mukul Asher at the NUS was already warning that because of the way the CPF system is run, "many currently near retirement and with low balances may not find it possible to make individual or family provision for social security needs." The subject was also one of the central issues on which the SDP campaigned during the 1997 general elections. It wasn't until 1999, however, that an inter-ministerial committee set up by the government finally admitted that many Singaporeans "assume that their CPF savings are enough for retirement" when in fact they are not.

The question that is screaming to be asked is: What has happened to all the CPF money then? The simple answer is that most people have used their savings to finance their houses. Financial analyst Dan Fineman observes: "CPF financing has contributed to high land prices, the government gains from home purchases, while pension balances dwindle...CPF will prove grossly inadequate for meeting individual retirement needs."

The way CPF balances are being invested by the government has also been called into question. In fact, Asher calculates that returns to CPF members between 1987-1998 was zero percent, with five of the 11 years actually registering negative returns.

Even the World Bank commented on this outrageous situation. In 1999, it noted that on average CPF's interest rate was in fact lower by 0.4 percent than those of the four Singapore banks to which it was pegged. India, Malaysia, and the United States on the other hand have done much better for their people. This finding was reinforced by an economist at SG Securities who noted that the average real return on Singapore's financial reserves is one of the lowest in Asia. "We have a problem in Singapore," he cited. NUS business school professor Koh Seng Kee pointed out that "Should there be a financial or political crisis, the wealth of Singaporeans will dissipate quickly."

5 Jul 2005

Why not start a weblog?

Lee Kuan Yew,Why not start a weblog?
He has a lot of wisdom; best way to pass it to youths is in the blogophere. By Seah Chiang Nee
Jun 6, 2005

I'm like to suggest that the Minister Mentor start his own personal website, although admittedly the prospect of it is rather slim. No harm in trying because I think it's a good idea.

Reason? At 81, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew still possesses one of the sharpest minds around and his knowledge about issues involving Singapore and the world, new and old, would be a tremendous boon to youths everywhere.

The weblog could be small and simple, to reflect his personal views and thoughts.

Just one thing I would like to mention about this article. Doesn't the Minister Mentor already have an online 'site', The Straits Jacket.

3 Jul 2005

Francis Seow writes foreword for CSJ's book

First spotted at The Optical.

1 Jul 05

Foreword for The Power of Courage

Packed within this slim volume are thoughtful sayings of several notable persons, who had preached over the years the wisdom—and the practice—of non-violence against tyrannical governments and their self-serving laws. Dr. Chee Soon Juan, a bright and intelligent Singaporean patriot, has argued with compelling logic the necessity of resorting to non-violence as a means of bringing an arrogant and insensitive government to its senses.

He has touched —and quite correctly so in my view—on the sorry psyche of the average Singaporean around whom he has woven the wisdom of those notable personages into this most readable book: the sum total of unjust laws can be brought to nought without resorting to violence.

Dr. Chee Soon Juan, whom I have the privilege to know, is not only a kind but also temperate professional. He speaks of the political goings-on in Singapore with avalanchine logic and disappointment. Not only is he politically courageous, which he has demonstrated many a time—even to the extent of going to jail for it, but he also possesses great political timbre that he has been perceived as a dangerous political antagonist, who has to be destroyed by any means possible, be it fair or foul.

This book contains well reasoned arguments why Singaporeans should not tolerate unjust and unreasonable laws and regulations perpetuated by an insensible government whose historical leader publicly brags of thuggish conduct and who takes sadistic pleasure in threatening perceived foes to meet him in dark alleys armed with knuckle-dusters and even stilettos. Dr. Chee Soon Juan is no thug or gangster but a gentle professional who believes rather in the power of persuasion by words and conduct.

Francis T. Seow
9th June, 2005
Boston, Massachusetts

The other foreword is written by Robert L. Helvey, President of the Albert Einstein Insitute and author of On Strategic Non-Violent Struggle: Thinking About the Fundamentals.

The Power of Courage will be on sale for $10 at the public launch on 9 July 2005, Saturday. Make a date to learn more about empowering yourselves as citizens of this country and how we can bring about political change instead of just talking about it!

Defamation in Singapore:

First spotted at SgReview.

Copied and pasted, from Lawyers Rights Watch Cananda, here for my own use.
Defamation in Singapore: Report to LRWC in the Matter of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam and Two appeal in the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Singapore.
Davidson, Gail and Rubin, Howard


The Political Context of the Defamation Case
International Freedom of Expression Rights and Standards
Qualified Privilege
Absence of Jury Trials
Independence of the Judiciary
Background of Mr. Jeyaretnam
The Start of the Defamation Law Suits
The Criminal Charges
The Current Appeals
The Lee Kuan Yew Case
The Krishnan Case
The Court of Appeal Judgements
The Krishnan Case
The Lee Kuan Yew Case

Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam’s 20 year career as Member of Parliament in Singapore and his 42 year career as a lawyer ended on July 23, 2001, when the Singapore Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed his bankruptcy appeal. The following day, Tan Soo Khoon, Speaker of Parliament, announced, “I have to inform honourable members the seat of Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam, as a non-constituency Member of Parliament, has become vacant.” This observer attended two appeals as discussed below which represent the final chapter in the legal and parliamentary career of Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam.

The two appeals involving J.B. Jeyaretnam were heard by the Singapore Court of Appeal on July 23rd and July 25th, 2001:

The Lee Kuan Yew case civil appeal number 600023 of 2001 between Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, the appellant, and Lee Kuan Yew, the respondent and former prime minister, presently senior minister of the Government of Singapore, heard July 25, 2001, judgement reserved and given on August 22, 2001
The Krishnan case (the bankruptcy appeal) civil appeal number 600011 of 2001 between Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, the appellant, and Indra Krishnan, heard July 23, 2001 and dismissed, and reasons for judgement given August 7, 2001.
These two appeals were the culmination of 26 years of defamation litigation against Mr. Jeyaretnam begun in 1976 by Lee Kuan Yew, Senior Minister and former Prime Minister of Singapore, and ending with the proceeding before the Court of Appeal on July 25 2001, in which Lee Kuan Yew was also the plaintiff. To date, Mr. Jeyaretnam has paid in excess of 1 million Singapore dollars to satisfy defamation awards against him and the defamation judgement debts outstanding exceeds a further $1/2 million. There is a concern that defamation proceedings against Mr. Jeyaretnam and other government critics have impaired the right of Singaporeans to fully engage in professions that carry with them the duty or responsibility to, when necessary, be critical of government. This affects lawyers, parliamentarians, journalists, human rights defenders and all who depend on their services. There is also concern with effective violation of international standards governing freedom of expression and the right and duty of parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists and others to report on and advocate against human rights violations by the state. These standards are embodied in numerous instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Harare Commonwealth Declaration and Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

While the appeals are merely the culmination of a long process, the appeal process adds to the concerns. The Court of Appeal failed to adequately consider the issue of abuse of process in the Krishnan appeal. The dominant purpose of the Krishnan case appeared to be to prevent Mr. Jeyaretnam from further criticising the government of Singapore and to remove him from public office by disqualifying him from continuing to sit as a Member of Parliament and by barring him from membership in the Law Society of Singapore. This collateral purpose arguably should have lead to a dismissal of the petition in bankruptcy. The Court of Appeal was asked to consider this error, but nowhere in the reasons for judgement do they address this issue of collateral purpose and abuse of process.

The Krishnan appeal ended the parliamentary career of Mr. Jeyaretnam, because he was now a bankrupt. It also ended his legal career. The finding of the Court of Appeal was that Mr. Jeyaretnam had to be judged bankrupt as he did not have the resources or assets to pay the judgement. Two days later the Court of Appeal heard Mr. Jeyaretnam’s appeal involving a defamation suit brought by Lee Kuan Yew. This defamation lawsuit went back to the 1997 election and the details are set out more fully in this report. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew (formerly Prime Minister of Singapore) and other government members had filed lawsuits against Jeyaretnam alleging that he had defamed them at an election rally. The words complained of were the same in each lawsuit and they were all intended to have been heard in 1998. For the reason set out later in this report, the lawsuit of Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proceeded, but the lawsuit of Lee Kuan Yew did not proceed. It is the duty of the plaintiff Lee Kuan Yew to take his case to trial. It was intended that it would have gone to trial in 1997, however it did not. The issue in this appeal was whether on application of Jeyaretnam, the appeal should have been dismissed for want of prosecution. The reasoning of the Court of Appeal in dismissing Jeyaretnam’s appeal in respect of Lee Kuan Yew is further discussed in this report.

These two Jeyaretnam appeals have highlighted a number of legal and human rights concerns in Singapore, namely:

The apparent influence of PAP members on the excessive damage awards against government critics;
The questions that the size of damage and cost awards against government critics raise about the independence of the Singapore judiciary;
The palpably repressive effect of the awards on all aspects of freedom of expression in relation to criticism of government; and
The absence of a right-to-jury trial in Singapore.


2. The Political Context of the Defamation Case

It is impossible to consider the fairness of the results; the nature of the hearing accorded to Mr. Jeyaretnam; and the implications of these proceedings, without considering the long history of the multiple defamation actions brought against Mr. Jeyaretnam in the context of being a candidate for public office. All of the different lawsuits leading up to these last two lawsuits against Mr. Jeyaretnam, and inclusive of them, involve public discussions by Mr. Jeyaretnam as a candidate for Parliament. The defamation damage awards against Mr. Jeyaretnam have been excessive and punitive. They resulted ultimately in the bankruptcy proceedings in the Krishnan case, and lead to his disqualification, on the hearing of that appeal, from sitting in parliament and from practising as a lawyer, on the grounds of his having been declared a bankrupt. It is the view of this observer that there has to be some leeway granted in law to political candidates in elections. The trend in most common law jurisdictions is to allow a defence of qualified privilege so as to permit a political candidates to raise issues of concern to the public. To raise such issues is a basic responsibility of candidates for public office and there seems to be no other way that opposition candidates can call to task members of the government.

In each and every common law country except for Singapore there is a defence of qualified privilege. The trend in common law jurisdictions of allowing some room for opposition candidates to call into question concerns in an election have received the strongest support in the United States. In other words, in a political debate context, an opposition member is entitled to say that he has some information that is of concern and there needs to be some response from the members of government. Under Singapore law there appears to be no such defence. The court will presume that the speaker intended to assert the truth of the matter being raised. This creates a chill and leads to, as set out below, a concern with respect to freedom of expression.


3. International Freedom of Expression Rights and Standards
Freedom of expression is a universal human right and is one of the primary freedom, an essential precondition to the exercise of other freedoms. It is the foundation upon which other rights and freedoms arise.[2] Freedom of expression is an essential component of a democratic society.[3]

The right to freedom of expression is found in numerous international documents, including: Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); Article 19, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);[4] and Article 10, paragraph 1 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (The European Convention on Human Rights).[5] Article 19 of the UDHR reads as follows:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The African Charter contains two relevant provisions on freedom of expression and freedom to participate in government.[6] The American Convention article 13.1 guarantees that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through other medium of one’s choice.”

Freedom to engage in political debate and criticism of government is an aspect of freedom of expression without which there is no democracy. In modern democracies it is not only a citizen’s privilege to criticize his/her government it is a citizen’s duty.[7] Criticizing the official conduct of those who wield governmental power is an integral part of a free and democratic society. (Political expression)

“History as repeatedly demonstrated that the first step taken by totalitarian regimes is to muzzle the media of views and opinions that may be contrary to those of the government. The vital importance of freedom of expression cannot be overemphasized.”[8]

For this reasons, courts have consistently held that restrictions on freedom of expressions must not hamper the right to participate non-violently in political discourse and to advocate for unpopular causes. The European Court of Human Rights in the Handyside case affirmed the principle of proportionality:

The Court’s supervisory function obliges it to pay the utmost attention to the principles characterising a “democratic society”. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of such a society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man¼This means amongst other things, that every ‘formality’, condition’, ‘restriction’ or ‘penalty’ imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. [9]

In balancing the right to freedom of expression with the right to protect reputation, freedom of expression (in the absence of proven malice) must always prevail where the right to criticise and question government is being exercised. Where the impugned expression is broadly within the context of matters of public interest, including the reputation of a person holding or seeking public office, freedom of expression is protected.

With respect to the broad interpretation of freedom of expression to criticise government or those holding public office, The European Court of Human Rights in Castels v. Spain made the following comments:

“…the limits of permissible criticism are wider with regard to the Government than in relation to a private citizen, or even a politician. In a democratic system, the actions or omissions of the Government must be subject to the close scrutiny not only of the legislative and judicial authorities, but also of the press and public opinion.”[10]

Further, it is a common principle of international law that restrictions or limitations to “a human right [freedom of expression] based upon the reputation of others shall not be used to protect the state and its officials from public opinion or criticism.”

The UDHR also contains a provision regarding protection of reputation.[11] It is, however, a common principle of international law that restrictions or limitations to “a human right based upon the reputation of others shall not be used to protect the state and its officials from public opinion or criticism.”[12]

This principle is implicit in most declarations and covenants enshrining freedom of speech. Article 8.2 of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders imposes upon states the duty to provide legal guarantees for,

“the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organisations concerned with public affairs, criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work which may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”[13](underlining added)


4. Qualified Privilege

In most common law democracies qualified privilege protects criticism of government political debate from libel actions. The degree of protection provided to political expression varies.

In the United States following the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in New York Time v. Sullivan[14] and Garrison v. Lousiana[15], a political plaintiff can only establish liability for such statements if theplaintiff can prove that the words complained of were untrue and the defendant either knew the words were false or was reckless as to their falsity.[16]

Therefore in the United States, a government official or public figure cannot succeed in a defamation suit based on a statement regarding an issue of public interest even though that statement damages the plaintiff’s reputation unless malice can be proven. Even if the defendant’s assertion is proven to be untrue and defamatory the plaintiff, to succeed, has to prove that the defendant knew the impugned statement was untrue or showed reckless disregard.[17]

In New Zealand and Australia courts have recognised a more limited defence of qualified privilege in defamation arising from political discussions. England has recognised a more general qualified privilege for discussions of matters of public concern. [18]

Australian courts have extended the defence of qualified privilege to “disseminating and receiving information, opinions and arguments concerning government and political matters that affect the people of Australia” provided that the publication is ‘reasonable’.

The New Zealand Court in Lange v. Atkinson[19], found that the public has an interest in information about the government and concluded that a defence of qualified privilege is available for words published to the public. Justice Elias of the New Zealand Supreme Court has explained that it is an essential to the democratic political process that issues can be put forward for political debate without the risk of defamation suits. Elias J. held:

“Comment on the official conduct and suitability for office of those exercising the powers of government is essential to the proper operation of a representative democracy. Political discussion in a democracy will inevitably on occasion entail the making of statements that are likely to injure the reputation of others. Qualified privilege in my view attaches to statements made to the general public about matters of government. It is necessary for the public to be informed about these matters for a representative government to function.”[20]

The New Zealand Law Commission issued a preliminary paper criticising the decision and recommending that the defence of qualified privilege for discussion of political matters published to the general public should be available to a defendant only if the publication of the defamatory material was reasonable, i.e. if the defendant had reasonable grounds for believing the defamatory words were true and gave the plaintiff a chance to respond.[21]

The Latimer House Guidelines for the Commonwealth while affirming that freedom is expression is the foundation upon which other freedoms depend, specifically rejects the American approach and recommends that defamation law “continue to strike an appropriate balance between the protection of reputation and freedom of expression.”[22] The Guidelines explicitly provide for restrictions that are required to “respect other social interest which are of pressing and substantial significance”.

Clearly the pressing and substantial need is to protect the citizen’s right to participate in political debate during elections and not the protection of reputation.

Singapore’s Constitution provides for a freedom of expression subject to restrictions, including the restriction of defamation:

Article 14

(1)Subject to clauses (2) and (3)

(a)every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression;

(2)Parliament may by law impose

(a)on the rights conferred by clause (1)(a), such restrictions as it considers necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of Singapore or any part thereof, friendly relations with other countries, public order or morality and restrictions designed to protect the privileges of Parliament or to provide against contempt of court, defamation or incitement to any offence:

The Defamation Act of Singapore, Section 14 is clearly designed to severely restrict the freedom of to discuss ‘questions in issue’ in an election (by or on behalf of a candidate) by precluding qualified privilege as a defence. Singapore’s Defamation Act is designed to preclude candidates from using this defense.

14.A defamatory statement published by or on behalf of a candidate in any election of the President or other elected or partially elected body shall not be deemed to be published on a privileged occasion on the grounds that it is material to a question in issue in the election, whether or not the person by whom it is published qualified to vote at the election.
Given the definition of defamatory words as ones that “tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally”[23] this section seeks to remove the protection of qualified privilege from the political discussion and debate upon which an election depends. Candidates or those campaigning for them engage in political expression at the risk of defamation suits against them.

There is no question that this restriction goes beyond a restriction that is appropriate in a democratic society. Section 14 of the Defamation Act is also inconsistent with the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, 1971 (The Singapore Declaration) which affirms citizens’ “inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which they live.”[24]

Singapore is in breach of its obligations as a member of the Commonwealth to guarantee a degree of freedom of expression appropriate to democracy.

All of the defamation judgements against Mr. Jeyaretnam, from the first suit launched in l976 by Lee Kuan Yew, appear to have been based on statements that would have been protected by qualified privilege in democratic common law jurisdictions.

Mr. Jeyaretnam is reported to have paid over $1,500,000.00 Singapore dollars in damages and costs awarded in these defamation cases.


5. Absence of Jury Trials
The absence of a jury system for defamation cases raises a concern. A jury system ensures the independence of the judicial system by standing between the executive and the courts in cases of political rhetoric. It is of concern to this observer that Mr. Jeyaretnam was precluded from having a civil jury trial in his defamation law suits, because in a politically charged defamation lawsuit there has to be a wall of separation between the executive and the courts. Juries have historically fulfilled that function.

In Canada a defendant in defamation case has an absolute right to a civil jury. In most other civil actions where the litigants are entitled to a jury, either party can apply to strike a jury notice on the basis that the case is too complicated to be heard by a jury, but the plaintiff cannot prevent a jury trial in defamation law suits.[25]

Juries have never been available for civil trials in Singapore. The original provision for jury trials in criminal cases in Singapore was restricted in 1960 to capital offences, and then, in 1970, over the objections of bar, the jury system was abolished altogether. Lee Kuan Yew was instrumental in the eventual abolition of juries. The bill to abolish juries was referred in 1969 to a select committee. Lee Kuan Yew sat on the committee and delivered the keynote speech in the political debate over the abolishment of jury trials.[26]

The University of Singapore Law Society and the Council of Singapore Advocates and Solicitors’ Society both presented written submissions to the government that vigorously opposed the abolishment of the jury system based in part on submissions that abolition would lead to a lack of independence in the judiciary or minimally the appearance of lack of impartiality.

The University of Singapore Law Society submitted:

“...the abolition of jury trials affects all capital offences; not only murder and kidnapping, but treason as well. As treason is inevitably a political act, it is not inconceivable that some government in the future would assert pressure on High Court judges to come to a `correct’ decision. If, however, that fact finding function remains as it is with the jury, it is much less likely that such pressure can be applied to seven persons whose means of livelihood may not be so dependent on the pleasure of the government.”[27]

Election speeches are equally political and Mr. Jeyaretnam should have been entitled to a jury. The Council of Singapore Advocates and Solicitors’ Society raised the same concern:

“The historical reason for the jury in criminal trials and its major attraction in democratic countries is that it interposes a group of anonymous persons between the government and the citizens in the administration of criminal justice. Because of its very anonymity, the jury sieves out personal whims and animosities of the government and provides the best system of impartial justice known. That is why no jury system survives in a totalitarian state.”[28] (Underlining added)

In response to the Council of the Singapore Advocates and Solicitors’ Society, Lee Kuan Yew is reported to have replied that the judicial system in any country is essentially a part of the administration of the country. Ominously, the failure of the Prime Minister to see the need for a separation between the courts and the administration of the country eroded confidence in his judicial appointments.

It is of concern that Mr. Jeyaretnam could not have a jury trial in what have been essentially political trials involving freedom of political expression.

6. Independence of the Judiciary The sheer size of the awards and the repeated instances where the courts have rejected compelling defence arguments raise concerns about the extent to which the courts hearing these cases are independent from the executive.
Lee Kuan Yew has said that in appointing judges, he has sought to appoint the builders of Singapore. That may have been the motivation behind the appointment of the Chief Justice, Yong Pung How who, prior to being appointed to the bench, had not practised law for 20 years and whose qualifications to be Chief Justice appear largely to flow from his administering some of the largest Singapore companies, including Sing Tel and Singapore Airlines. Yong Pung How C.J. does not have a lifetime appointment. Being over the age of 65 he is subject to renewable appointments by the government. Lack of security of tenure is a concern in all common law countries with respect to the independence of the judiciary. A Chief Justice in Singapore is paid 100,000 Singapore dollars a month, and bonuses and the other benefits that go with being the Chief Justice. The lack of security of tenure, financial security for the future and institutional independence create the potential for an appearance of lacking independence and being subject to improper influence.

Members of the bar interviewed by this observer have expressed a serious concern about the independence of judicial system in Singapore. When it comes to politically charged cases, the bar does not see the court as independent of the government. But, when it comes to ordinary commercial or other civil litigation, the bar views the court as eminently qualified, fair and impartial.


7. Background of Mr. Jeyaretnam

Mr. Jeyaretnam was a thorn in the side of the government. He was educated as a barrister in London and was admitted to practise law in 1951, shortly returning to Singapore and entering immediately into the public service. He served briefly as a prosecutor and then in the administrative courts at the lower level, rising by the mid-1960's to be a Senior District Judge. About that time, the government of Singapore had split from Malaysia, and sought to create a favourable entrepreneurial business climate by passing new labour legislation. As the Senior District Judge, Mr. Jeyaretnam came to learn that the police were taking prosecutions of labour leaders, under the new labour legislation, directly to particular judges. Mr. Jeyaretnam issued a memorandum requiring all such cases to be funnelled through his office, and then sat on a labour prosecution where he acquitted the accused on the basis that their picketing was merely an exercise in freedom of expression and had no criminal intent. Subsequently, Mr. Jeyaretnam resigned from the judicial system, having concerns at the direction the court system was heading and returned to private practice.


8. The Start of the Defamation Law Suits

In 1971, Mr. Jeyaretnam was elected as Secretary General of the Workers' Party. In 1981, he won a by-election becoming the first opposition member in over fifteen years to sit in parliament with PAP parliamentarians.

In 1976 Mr. Jeyaretnam made a political speech in which he said,

“I am not very good in the management of my own personal fortune, but Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has managed his personal fortune very well. He is the Prime Minister of Singapore. His wife is the senior partner of Lee and Lee, and his brother is the director of several companies, including Tat Lee Bank in Market Street; the bank which was given a permit with alacrity, banking permit license when other banks were having difficulties getting their license.... if I became Prime Minister there will be no firm of Jeyaretnam and Company in Singapore because I wouldn’t know how to manage my own fortune.”

The then Prime Minister successfully sued Mr. Jeyaretnam for defamation based on these statements, submitting that these words were understood to mean that he had procured preferential treatment for his brother and wife and an advantage to them and, thus, abused the office of the prime minister, and was awarded 130,000 Singapore dollars in damages.

Statements like those made by Mr. Jeyaretnam seem a necessary part of the political debate which occurs frequently and openly in Canada, such as when politicians call on the Prime Minister of Canada for an explanation of his personal investments.

The issue raised is whether the public is entitled to know of these types of investments, and whether an opposition candidate is entitled to call on the Prime Minister for an explanation, no more or less than that.

In the United States this type of political rhetoric could not be the subject of a defamation action, absent proof of malice, because when a politician chooses to become a candidate, he submits for public evaluation his honesty, integrity and fitness for the office. In the other common law countries this question put by Mr. Jeyaretnam would be subject to a defence of qualified privilege.

Again in 1988, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew sued Mr. Jeyaretnam for defamation arising from a political speech and was awarded damages of $260,000.00 Singapore dollars. The defamation suit filed in l997 will now go forward, because the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr. Jeyaretnam’s appeal.


9. The Criminal Charges
The government of Singapore attempted to rid itself of Mr. Jeyaretnam by having him charged with offences, which the Privy Counsel ultimately deemed to be an injustice. The Privy Council cleared Mr. Jeyaretnam’s reputation, and restored him to the rolls in order to be able to practice law. The government refused to acknowledge the deep disquiet expressed by the privy counsel and subsequently changed the law so that there would no longer be appeals to the Privy Counsel.

Following his re-election in 1984, Mr. Jeyaretnam was charged with alleged financial impropriety related to the collection of party funds. In 1986, he was acquitted by a District Court of all charges save one. The prosecution appealed the acquittal and the then Chief Justice allowed the appeal, with the direction that a re-trial be heard by a District Court. At re-trial, Mr. Jeyaretnam was found guilty and sentenced to three months in jail, which was reduced by the High Court but with the addition of a S$5,000 fine. The imposition of a fine of over S$2,000 resulted in the automatic disqualification of Mr. Jeyaretnam as a Member of Parliament and the conviction also triggered a Law Society hearing that resulted in him being disbarred.

Mr. Jeyaretnam's earlier application for the re-trial to be heard before the High Court rather than a District Court, which would have allowed any subsequent appeal to be pursued up to Singapore's then highest court, the Privy Council located in London, had been refused.

Although his appeal to the Privy Council was limited to the issue of his disbarment the Privy Council Lords examined the fairness of the criminal trial and concluded that Jeyaretnam and co-accused Wong were not guilty of the offences for which they had been convicted, imprisoned and punished. The Lordships concluded that Jeyaretnam and Wong were innocent.

‘Their Lordships have to record their deep disquiet that by a series of misjudgements the appellant and his co-accused Wong have suffered a grievous injustice. They have been fined, imprisoned and publicly disgraced for offences of which they were not guilty. The appellant, in addition, has been deprived of his seat in Parliament and disqualified for a year from practising his profession. Their Lordships order restores him to the roll of advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Singapore, but, because of the course taken by the criminal proceedings, their Lordships have no power to right the other wrongs which the appellant and Wong have suffered. Their only prospect of redress, their Lordships understand, will be by way of petition for pardon to the President of the Republic of Singapore.”

The government refused to heed the Privy Council's advice to facilitate a pardon for Mr. Jeyaretnam on the grounds that the criminal convictions had not been the subject of the Privy Council appeal. Mr. Jeyaretnam was subsequently re-instated as a lawyer, but prevented from standing again for election until 1997, when he ran and was returned as a non-constituency member of parliament.


10. The Current Appeals

These appeals appear to be the culmination of a long effort to restrict Mr. Jeyaretnam as a political opponent. The concerns of this observer as to the matters overlooked by the Court of Appeal in these two appeals standing by themselves would be meaningless. It is important to view the decision of the Court of Appeal in the larger context of what appears to be a campaign by the government, using the courts, to rid itself of a parliamentarian and a lawyer who represented difficult political and other cases of concern to the government.


· The Lee Kuan Yew Case
Shortly after the 1997 election Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and other senior PAP members filed suits against J.B. Jeyaretnam alleging that he had defamed them at an election rally by saying the words, "And finally, Mr. Tang Liang Hong has just placed before me two reports he has made to the police against, you know, Mr. Goh Chok Tong and his people".

Tang Liang Hong, a Workers' Party parliamentary candidate, had filed a police report alleging that the PAP leadership had defamed him during the campaign by publicly labelling him an "anti-Christian, Chinese chauvinist". The PAP leaders listed in the police reports, alleged that they had been defamed by Tang Liang Hong through the reports, sued and were awarded damages of S$8.08 million (US$5.6 million) reduced on appeal to S$4.53 million (US$ 2.3 million). Tang Liang Hong was subsequently declared bankrupt.

In his suit against Mr. Jeyaretnam, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was awarded S$20,000 increased on his appeal to S$100,000 plus full costs. Amnesty International representatives observed both trial and appeal and expressed concerns that the suits against Mr. Jeyaretnam were politically motivated. In 1998, Goh Chok Tong began bankruptcy proceedings against Mr. Jeyaretnam but later agreed to accept payment of the damages awarded to him in instalments. Bankruptcy proceedings resumed when Mr. Jeyaretnam failed to meet an instalment, but the Prime Minister discontinued them with S$31,000 remaining unpaid. In December 2000, Goh Chok Tong's co-plaintiffs, including Lee Kuan Yew and other PAP members, took steps to revive their 1997 suits, which had not yet come before the courts. It is the dismissal of Mr. Jeyaretnam's application to dismiss these libel actions for failure to proceed for a period of over three years that was the subject of one of the appeals before the Court of Appeal in July 2001.


· The Krishnan Case
A 1995 article in the Workers' Party newspaper alleged that an event called the “Tamil Language Week”' was an ineffective means of advancing the Tamil language and that a number of those involved were political opportunists beholden to the government. The article resulted in two parallel libel suits against the author of the article, J.B. Jeyaretnam as editor and members of the Workers' Party’s central committee. The article was in Tamil, Mr. Jeyaretnam’s native tongue from childhood, but by 1995 he was no longer fluent in that language.

In the first suit, involving Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Jayakumar and four other PAP parliamentarians, the defendants agreed to apologise publicly and to pay S$200,000 in damages. In February 1998, after paying S$100,000 in three instalments, the defendants were unable to make further payments and the plaintiffs did not pursue the matter at that time.

The second suit was lodged by Indra Krishnan and nine other members of the 'Tamil Language Week' organising committee, one of whom is now a PAP Member of Parliament. Although the author admitted that he was wholly responsible for the article, the High Court awarded the ten plaintiffs S$265,000 damages and S$250,000 costs jointly against all the defendants. Two of the plaintiffs subsequently began bankruptcy proceedings against Mr. Jeyaretnam alone, but were paid off in instalments. Subsequently, the other eight plaintiffs also began bankruptcy proceedings against Mr. Jeyaretnam, and one day after Mr. Jeyaretnam failed to pay an agreed instalment in January 2001, he was declared bankrupt. On 16 July 2001, Mr. Jeyaretnam offered to pay off the remaining damages in three further instalments. Mr. Jeyaretnam's final appeal against this bankruptcy order was heard before the Court of Appeal July 23, 2001. Because Mr. Jeyaretnam was confirmed bankrupt, he was automatically removed from parliament.

A contributory factor in Mr. Jeyaretnam's failure to pay the agreed instalment to Indra Krishnan and her fellow plaintiffs by one day in January 2001 was the unexpected petition by Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Jayakumar and the four other PAP plaintiffs. After making no demands since receiving a third instalment towards their S$200,000 award in 1998, these plaintiffs applied successfully to the courts in December 2000 to seize a sum of S$66,600 awarded to J.B. Jeyaretnam that month against a lawyer who owed him costs. Mr. Jeyaretnam intended to use that money to meet his agreed January repayment. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and his fellow plaintiffs pursued the balance of payments of their damage award against Mr. Jeyaretnam alone and not against the other Workers' Party defendants.


11. The Court of Appeal Judgements
· The Krishnan Case

The court dismissed Mr. Jeyaretnam’s appeal from the bench and reasons for judgment were delivered August 7, 2001. These reasons are unsatisfactory, in that they do not address the most important argument advanced by Mr. Jeyaretnam, that of abuse of process.

Mr. Jeyaretnam, in his submission to the Court of Appeal, argued that to put him into bankruptcy would only ensure no further payments, and that the only purpose of the Krishnan bankruptcy proceedings was to remove him from public office by disqualifying him from continuing as a Member of Parliament. The point being made was that so long as Mr. Jeyaretnam was allowed to make payments on these defamation awards, he could continue to raise funds and make payments. He argued that the bankruptcy order would serve no useful purpose, because he did not have sufficient assets to pay off the judgements. It was not as if there were any assets that could be called in by a receiver, in order to pay off this judgement.

English and Canadian courts have the discretion to dismiss a petition if it is brought for some collateral or improper purpose. Canadian courts will not permit bankruptcy legislation to be used for an improper collateral purpose. An improper collateral purpose is one that is contrary or collateral to the purpose for which the legislation was enacted by Parliament. Where a party is found to be using the bankruptcy legislation for an improper collateral purpose the bankruptcy petition will be dismissed as an abuse of process. Mr. Jeyaretnam had argued that the only purpose of the bankruptcy petition had to be the political objective of removing him from Parliament.

The issue of collateral purpose or abuse of process was considered in Canada by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in Re Laser Works Computer Services Inc., (1998) 37 B.L.R. (2d) 226. The Registrar who first heard the matter made this finding of fact:

“I can only conclude that the purpose of Datarite was to effect the bankruptcy of LaserWorks. It is a reasonable supposition that the purpose was to remove a competitor from the marketplace. I find that it was the intention of Datarite to put LaserWorks in bankruptcy. I further find that the motive was to lessen competition.”[29]

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal agreed with the result on the basis that the purpose of the competitor’s actions was to eliminate the bankrupt as a business competitor.

In Re Shepard (1996), 40 C.B.R. (3d) 145 (Man. Q.B.) Registrar Harrison dismissed a petition making the following findings:

“The dominant purpose of this litigation is not to accomplish the aims and purposes of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, but rather to obtain a very important business advantage. It is not appropriate or indeed, correct in law, to have the courts facilitate such an objective.”

To initiate bankruptcy proceedings for the purpose of removing a political opponent from public office is clearly more egregious.

The same principle of law would apply to Mr. Jeyaretnam, because if the real purpose of the bankruptcy application was to remove Mr. Jeyaretnam from Parliament, then the motivation of seeking the bankruptcy would not be the collection of debt. It would be a collateral purpose. The Court of Appeal didn’t consider the importance of this collateral purpose.

In Canada, proceeding with a bankruptcy for the collateral purpose of having a person removed from a political office would be an abuse of process. The Court of Appeal ought to have considered that legal argument advanced by Mr. Jeyaretnam.


· The Lee Kuan Yew Case

The Court of Appeal found that the delay in proceeding with the defamation suit of two years and four months was both unexplained and inordinate. The Court of Appeal then had to decide if the delay had caused prejudice that would prevent Mr. Jeyaretnam from having a fair trial. Aside from the many causes of prejudice that flow from lengthy delay, such as, memory problems, availability of witnesses and the prejudice of having the suit hang over his head, there was the additional problem of having brought lawyers from England for the first trial. Mr. Jeyaretnam had been represented in that first trial in 1998 by two of the most distinguished lawyers in the field, George Carman, Q.C. and Charles Gray. Mr. Jeyaretnam argued in the Court of Appeal that Mr. Carman had died and Mr. Gray had been appointed to the bench in England and, in the result, neither was available to assist him in defending the case brought by Lee Kuan Yew, which would now be heard some four years later.

The Court of Appeal dismissed this argument of prejudice on the basis that there was no evidence that Mr. Jeyaretnam could not simply get another lawyer brought from England to assist him. This aspect of the judgment ignored the fact that two days before the Lee Kuan Yew appeal was argued, the Court of Appeal has declared Mr. Jeyaretnam to be bankrupt. To suggest that he could now bring two lawyers from London ignored the fact that as a result of all that went on in the past four years, and of the bankruptcy petitions brought against him, he would no longer be able to fund bringing lawyers from England. Having been declared a bankrupt, Mr. Jeyaretnam would have no income from being a Member of Parliament and he would no longer be able to practice law as a bankrupt, so he would have no income from that.

The argument accepted in the Court of Appeal earlier that week in the bankruptcy appeal was that Mr. Jeyaretnam had no assets with which to satisfy these judgements. How then could he bring any lawyers from London at this late date? In oral argument, Mr. Davinder Singh, counsel for Lee Kuan Yew, had tried to justify the delay by asserting, “Mr. Jeyaretnam already had judgements against him [in 1998] which he could not pay. Why bring on the action [in 1998] and increase the costs.” But, by the time of this appeal Mr. Jeyaretnam not only had judgements, but was declared a bankrupt, and the only reason for Lee Kuan Yew’s renewed interest in old litigation seemed to be the impending election in 2002.

The Court of Appeal also ignored the fact that Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray had prepared the defence of this case. Even if Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray had been available four years after the fact to present the defence for Mr. Jeyaretnam, there would be start up costs in the lawyers having to get back into the case. It is unlikely that even two eminent lawyers such as Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray would remember every detail of the defence four years after the fact.

Had the case proceeded in 1998 as it was supposed to, and given that the words said to be defamatory are the same in both the action by Prime Minister Goh and in the action by Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, there would be savings involved in having Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray present the defence. Even if new lawyers could have been brought from London in order to present the defence, they would have lost any of the knowledge and work that Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray had undertaken in preparing in 1998. They would have to start from scratch and this would add to the cost. Returning to the bankruptcy, all of the evidence before the Court of Appeal pointed to the fact that Mr. Jeyaretnam would be financially unable to bring lawyers from London. He would be dependent on finding lawyers who would come pro bono and without payment of disbursements.

Had Lee Kuan Yew proceeded with his defamation case immediately following the defamation judgement in the case of Prime Minister Goh, Mr. Jeyaretnam would have been defended by Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray.

It is important to put all of this in a context of why Mr. Jeyaretnam brought Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray from London in order to defend the series of defamation proceedings that had been brought as a result of the Goh/Lee Kuan Yew law suits. There is fear in the bar in Singapore that makes it extremely difficult for Mr. Jeyaretnam to retain counsel in Singapore.

As a result of the long history of government members suing in defamation, and the government use of the Internal Security Act in the 1970's and 1980's to arrest amongst other citizens, various members of the bar who would speak out, it may not be possible for Mr. Jeyaretnam to find counsel in Singapore to properly defend him against the Senior Minister and former Prime Minister of the country. The case brought against Mr. Jeyaretnam is politically charged and that is why it was important for him to have Mr. Carman and Mr. Gray available to assist him in defence of the defamation action brought by the former prime minister of the country.

Perhaps one of the reasons Lee Kuan Yew did not proceed in 1998, is that Justice Ravrindra had only awarded Prime Minister Goh, S $20,000.00, a sum so low that it would possibly embarrass other plaintiffs. Perhaps the most serious prejudice to Mr. Jeyaretnam was the loss of Justice Ravrindra, as a trial judge.


12. Conclusions
There is an expression in law, res ipsa loquitur-the matter speaks for itself. A course of civil and criminal legal proceedings resulting in a member of the opposition being fined, jailed, forced into bankruptcy and disqualified from being a Member of Parliament and a lawyer for raising, in public, matters that are or should be of public concern demonstrates a failure of the rule of law and of democracy.

The decisions in these two appeals heightens concern that libel laws are being used in Singapore in a manner that amounts to a violation of the international fundamental rights to freely hold and peacefully express one's opinions. Such use of the libel laws and the awarding of damages, which are not clearly in proportion to the harm suffered by the victim, run the risk of having a serious chilling effect on freedom of expression in Singapore. To many Singaporeans the libel suits against Mr. Jeyaretnam and other government critics may act as a powerful deterrent to exercising their right to peaceful freedom of expression.

The use of defamation suits in Singapore to prevent political expression belies any notion that Singapore is a democracy. Democracy is the right to participate in one’s governance and to receive, distribute and debate information regarding issues of public concern and the performance of public officials without the risk of civil or criminal penalties. Singapore has failed to protect these rights. Singapore has also failed to honour its obligation [30] to promote and protect the rule of law (a state of affairs in which there are legal barriers to government arbitrariness and legal safeguard for the protection of individuals). In Singapore there are insufficient legal safeguards to maintain the balance between the rights of the individual and the powers of the state creating a situation in which those in power are not accountable.

Section 14 of the Defamation Act creates a restriction that violates the rule of law and with the minimum freedom of expression upon which democracy depends.

[1] Prepared by Howard Rubin and Gail Davidson of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada. Mr. Rubin and Ms Davidson are members of the Law Society of British Columbia, Canada.

[2] [A Draft] Statement on Freedom of Expression Annexed to The Latimer House Guidelines for the Commonwealth adopted 19 June 1998 by A Joint Colloquium on “Parliamentary Supremacy and Judicial Independence…towards a Commonwealth Model” held at Latimer House in the United Kingdom 15-19 June 1998. Over 60 participants attended representing 20 Commonwealth countries and 3 overseas territories.

[3] Joint Declaration of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression (London, under the auspices of Article 19, 26 November 1999).

[4] “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

[5] “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

[6] African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted June 27, 1981, OAU Doc. CSB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982) entered into force Oct. 21, 1986. Article 9.2 “Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law. Article 13.1 “Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provision of the law.”

[7] Callum Kelly “Let the Chilling Winds Blow: The Canadian Position on Defamation and Criminal Libel in Relation to Public Figures.” p. 5.

[8] Cory J.A. of the Ontario Court of Appeal R. v. Koptyo (1988) 47 D.L.R. (4th ) 213 at 227 as quoted in Callum Kelly, “Let the Chilling Winds Blow: The Canadian Position on Defamation and Criminal Libel in Relation to Public Figures” p.1.

[9] Handyside v. United Kingdom (1979-80) 1I.H.R.R. 737 (Eur. Ct. H.R.) December 7, 1976, SeriesA No. 24, At para 49.

[10] Castells v. Spain, April 23, 1992, Series A, No. 236 (Eur. Ct. H.R.).

[11] Article 12. “No one shall be subjected to…attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

[12] The Siracusa Principles on the Limitations and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights Principle 37. (1984)” (1985), 7 H.R.Q. 3. The Siracusa Principles were adopted in May 1984 by a group of international human rights experts convened by the International Commission of Jurists, the International Association of Penal Law, the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists, the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences in Siracusa, Italy to consider the limitation and restriction provisions of the ICCPR.

[13] Declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders) adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly December 1998.

[14] 376 U. S.254, 11L ed. 2nd 686 (1964) [all subsequent cites to L ed}

[15] 379 US 64, 13L. ed 2d 125 (1964)

[16] Callum Kelly at page 7.

[17] Raymond *l Brown, The Law of Defamation in Canada, 2 Ed. Vol. 2, p. 13-183 to 13-191 (Carswell)

[19] Lange v. Atkinson [1998] 3 NZLR 424 (C.A.)

[20] Lange v. Atkinson [1997] 2 N.Z.L.R. 22 at 46.

[21] Callum Kelly at p. 15.

[22] Article 7.a Private Rights/Civil Defamation from [A Draft] Statement on Freedom of Expression Annexed to The Latimer House Guidelines for the Commonwealth adopted 19 June 1998 by A Joint Colloquium on “Parliamentary Supremacy and Judicial Independence…towards a Commonwealth Model” held at Latimer House in the United Kingdom 15-19 June 1998. Over 60 participants attended representing 20 Commonwealth countries and 3 overseas territories.

[23] “Duncan and Neill on Defamation”, 2nd ed. (London: Butterworths, 1983), at 21.

[24] Issued by consensus at the Heads of Government Meeting at Singapore.

[25] Under the British Columbia Rules of Court, Rule 39(27) a party who has been served with a jury notice can apply to set aside the jury notice in all causes of action except for defamation, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

[26] Chan Wing Cheon and Andrew Phang, The Development of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice in Singapore, Singapore Journal of Legal Studies.

[27] Report of the select committee on the criminal procedure code (Amendment Bill, A7.)

[28] Supra at A 30.

[29] Re Laserworks Computer Services Inc. (1998) 37 B.L.R. (2d) 226 at 241.

[30] The Harare Declaration pledged Commonwealth members countries, including Singapore to work with renewed vigour for: “the protection and promotion of the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth: democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government”