31 Aug 2005

BlogDay 2005

BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.

Here are my five recommendations;

C**S**F From Democracy to Deleuze, India and Bombay.

Dan Gillmor Running an appeal for cash and I imagine prayers for those caught up in Katrina's rage. A promoter of Citizen journalism in the USA.

Here is the truth about Zimbabwe Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Glutter Her somewhat popular blog that is banned in China for its support of the democratic movement in Hong Kong.

Burma Underground The goal is that 'Ethnic Voices' will serve as a valuable resource providing news and commentary on issues relating to Burma, particularly the ethnic resistance movement.

Radio Rendezvous with Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan,

Radio Rendezvous with Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan,

Nonviolence International

For those of you who are unaware, Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan was denied entry into Singapore in May 2005. Below is an article that appeared on Forbes. Click here to hear the mp3 file.

Singapore bans US activist for political interference

05.16.2005, 02:54 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worrying Development - Can Someone Confirm This?

The following has yet to be confirmed... I had been reading the exchanges online at the Pilot n Jo site. I however did not realise that Dr Lim might actually be Dr Lim.

Bloggers Niraj and Johal of http://pjshow.blogspot.com/ were warned by a person posting in their comments column of their blog that they may have violated the law because their podcast of an interview with oppoistion leader Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party may be deemed to carry political content.

A certain 'Dr Richard Lim' had posted the following comments on


Dear Pilot n' Jo Show,

I refer you to Section (c) of MDA regulations on "Registration of Internet Class Licensees" - "Content providers who engage in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore on World Wide Web through the Internet are required to be registered with MDA. The objective of registering political websites is to ensure that those who run sites engaging in the discussion of domestic politics are accountable and take responsibility for the content of their sites."

As a concerned citizen, I advise you to (1) register your website as a political website, (2) cease and desist distribution of all abovementioned and upcoming multimedia content, and (3) delete all unsanctioned comments and follow-ups by the public.

Without prejudice,
Dr. Richard Lim


Free Speech Singapore has yet unable to determine if 'Dr Richard Lim' is the same person who heads Majulah Connection, described on its website as an organisation that connect "Singaporeans and Friends of Singapore (collectively called the Singapore Alumni) with Singapore, and provide platforms that offer business and personal opportunities to this community."


Board of Directors and Management
Board of Directors

Dr. Richard Lim

Richard started Majulah Connection in November 2002 and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is based in San Francisco, California.

Richard spent over 16 years in the US where he attended business school and founded several technology companies funded by top US venture firms. He was Chairman and CEO of iMarket, a software company funded by Sierra Ventures, Oak Technology Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures. iMarket was later acquired by Dun and Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB). Richard was also Chairman and CEO of Co-nect, an education technology company that was supported by GE Capital, ICG, and David Mixer, a founder of Columbia Capital. He seed-funded and served as a director of Quickdot Corporation, an internet startup that was financed by Charles River Ventures. Prior to starting his companies, Richard was an executive at Lotus Development Corporation in Boston. He was also a key member of the founding management team for National University Hospital in Singapore before he went to the US in 1986.

As Chairman of the Singapore Overseas Network (SON) (US), he was actively involved in the Economic Review Committee (ERC). He received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was designated as an Arjay Miller Scholar (top 10% of graduating class) and acquired an MBBS from the National University of Singapore on a PSC scholarship.



Who Needs to Register:
(a) Internet Access Service Providers, Localised and Non-localised Internet Service Resellers providing computer online service;
(b) Political parties registered in Singapore, providing any content on the World Wide Web through the Internet;
(c) Individuals, groups, organisations and corporations engaged in providing any programme for the propagation, promotion or discussion of political or religious issues relating to Singapore on the World Wide Web through the Internet; and
(d) Internet Content Providers who are in the business of providing through the Internet an online newspaper for a subscription fee, or other consideration.

In 2001, political chatsite Sintertcom was forced to shut down following governmental pressure to regsiter as a political website. Its owner Dr Tan Chong Kee told Straits Times that SBA (predecessor of MDA) gave him 14 days to provide details such as his salary, employer's name and particulars. And sign an undertaking that he would be fully responsible for all Sintercom content. "It gave them a contractual right to sue me. That's very serious," he said.



30 Aug 2005

Six Recommendations to Ensure Freedom of Expression on the Internet

Something I should have posted a long time ago.

Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE make six recommendations to ensure freedom of expression on the Internet.

This declaration by Reporters Without Borders and the representative of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) on Freedom of the Media aims to deal with the main issues facing countries seeking to regulate online activity. Should the Web be filtered ? Can online publications be forced to register with the authorities ? What should the responsibility of service providers (ISPs) be ? How far does a national jurisdiction extend ?

Reporters Without Borders thinks the six recommendations go beyond Europe and concern every country. It hopes they will provoke discussion in the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Full text of the Declaration :

1. Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the right to freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. In a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what they wish to access and view on the Internet. Filtering or rating of online content by governments is unacceptable. Filters should only be installed by Internet users themselves. Any policy of filtering, be it at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of information.

3. Any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is not acceptable. Unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not justify official assignment of licenses. On the contrary, mandatory registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on the Internet.

4. A technical service provider must not be held responsible for the mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses to obey a court ruling. A decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. Such proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.

5. All Internet content should be subject to the legislation of the country of its origin ("upload rule") and not to the legislation of the country where it is downloaded.

6. The Internet combines various types of media, and new publishing tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy and protection of sources.

27 Aug 2005

Singapore police asks filmmaker to turn in camera

From Reuters
SINGAPORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Singapore police have asked a filmmaker to surrender a video camera and tapes he used to make a documentary on opposition figure Chee Soon Juan as part of its investigation for possible breach of film laws.
Martyn See, a 36-year-old Singapore filmmaker, told Reuters the demand was made after he had been questioned for three hours at a police station on Thursday in connection with his film "Singapore Rebel".

See said on Friday it was the second time Singapore authorities interviewed him about the 26-minute documentary he withdrew from the city-state's annual film festival in March under pressure from government censors, who told festival organisers the work violated the Films Act.

"The questions were more political than last time and I think they were intended to find out about my political affiliation," he said, adding that while the talk took place in a relaxed atmosphere he would object to the request to hand in his camera.

"I don't mind them inspecting the camera but I need it back to do my work," he said.

See said the police officer had offered no explanation as to why they wanted the video camera.

A police spokesman declined to comment.

Under provisions introduced to the Films Act in 1998, anyone involved in producing or distributing "party political films" -- including those containing commentaries on government policies -- can be fined up to S$100,000 ($59,840) or jailed up to two years.

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

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

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

Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, took over as the island republic's third prime minister last year, promising greater openness and saying Singaporeans "should feel free to express diverse views...or simply be different".

International free-press advocates have repeatedly criticised Singapore for its tight media controls, such as a government ban of non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes. Films and TV shows are routinely censored for sex and violence.

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

The U.S. State Department, in its February annual report, sharply criticised Singapore for using libel suits to intimidate the opposition, saying the threat inhibits opposition politics and has led to a culture of self-censorship in the media. ($1 = 1.671 Singapore dollar)

Update from Martyn See:
My tapes and camera were handed over to the police at the Police Cantonment Complex at about 6.45 pm this evening. When asked if I can get my camera back soonest, ASP Chan said "No promise."

26 Aug 2005

Police to confiscate camera and tapes relating to 'Singapore Rebel'

From SingaporeRebel. The links will take you to the documentary in question.
This evening, I was again interviewed by the police regarding the making of my short video Singapore Rebel. The interview lasted about 3 hours and was conducted at the Cantonment Police Complex. The officer interviewing me was Assistant Superintendent Chan Peng Khuang. Again, the mood was relaxed until near the end of the interview when I felt many questions were totally irrelevant to the making of Singapore Rebel and I threatened to walk out. ASP Chan told me it is alright to refuse to answer questions which I deemed to be irrelevant. At the end of the interview came the cruncher that I was to surrender all tapes, courier invoices and even the video camera that were used for the filming of Singapore Rebel. I agreed to surrender them to him on Monday 29 August 2005.

Before the interview began, I asked ASP Chan : So I am here to answer further questions about the making of Singapore Rebel. Right?

ASP Chan : Yes

Here are a sample of some of the questions which totalled about 60.

When asked what inspired you to make this film, you claimed that political opposition in Singapore is marginalised. What do you mean by "marginalised?"

What in your opinion should the media do?

So you mean that the Singapore media is being unfair to political opposition?

You claimed that you took two and a half years to make the film. So is it normal for filmmakers to take such such a period to make a 26 minute film?

What sort of activities of Chee Soon Juan were you waiting that you think was worth shooting?

You mentioned that a friend of yours named Peter did the voiceover for the film? Is he contactable?

You mentioned that you edited the film on a friend's Macintosh laptop. Is he contactable?

How was the item (laptop) passed to you and how was it returned to him?

Did you save any of the footages in his computer?

Do you own a computer now?

There were some newspaper articles on your blog? How did you secure those articles?

In your film, there were footages of Chee Soon Juan making speeches at a election rally. Where did you secure the footage?

Did you duplicate the video before returning?

Why was the election rally audio muted?

When did you know that Singapore Rebel was classified a party political film?

I am informing you that Lesley Ho's (of Singapore International Film Festival) email dated March 2005 had mentioned that Philip (co-director of SIFF) was told that Singapore Rebel was objectionable pertaining to party political films. You were told that if you did not withdraw the film, the "full extent of the law" will apply. What do you have to say to that?

So you agree that at this stage when you read Lesley's email, you knew that Singapore Rebel was classified as a party political film?

Since you knew that the film "may have been" a party political film at that stage, why would you want to circulate the film to overseas film festivals?

Can you recall participating in any activities organised by any political party in Singapore?

(Somewhere at this point of the interview, I told ASP Chan that I would walk out if questions continue along this line).

Did Chee Soon Juan direct you to do the filming on May Day (arrests of 2002)?

On 19th July, 2005, Chee Soon Juan and some members was speaking at Speakers Corner? Were you there to film the event? Who directed you to film the event?

On August 11, 2005, were you present in front of CPF Building when Chee Soon Juan and other SDP members gathered for a protest?

Did you contact Chee Soon Juan after the video interview on Singapore Rebel?

Are you still in contact with Chee Soon Juan now?

I do not want to go to your house. Are you able to produce to the police the following items?

1) Two remaining copies of Singapore Rebel
2) Receipts from courier services of you mailing the film to New Zealand and USA (as mentioned in your earlier statement)
3) The Samsung mini-DV camera you used to make Singapore Rebel, and
4) Any raw footages of Singapore Rebel before the editing.

I ask : When are you going to return them to me?

ASP Chan : On completion of the case. Won't be too long.

24 Aug 2005

Female prisoners work in call center behind bars in Singapore

Working a twelve hour shift is bad enough, but are these people being paid? "Chan also declined to say whether the prisoners are paid for their work, or to give any other details about the program’s finances." Working without monetary remuneration is slavery.

Simply because someone has commited a criminal offence does not mean the state has the right to deny the individual of their human rights.

The fact that the "clients did not want to be named due to concerns that links with a prison could hurt their business," is indicative of a wider issue. If the conduct of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises is adherring to human rights and proper treatment of inmates then surely the clients have nothing to fear.

Is the policy put in place to make money for Changi prison or rehabilitate offenders? What evidence is there that working 12 hours a day as a telemarketer will rehabilitate?

Questions need to be answered.

24 August 2005


SINGAPORE - Female inmates at a Singapore prison are working 12-hour shifts as telephone call-center operators and telemarketers in a state campaign to rehabilitate lawbreakers, an official said on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty much the same as a commercial call center, except it’s behind bars,” said Vincent Chan, a senior manager at the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises.

“It’s our way of upgrading the old prisons’ industries and enhancing the inmates’ employability,” Chan said.

He said the call center is a cubicle-filled room about the size of a basketball court at the Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Center.

The duties of the 38 inmates working there include answering questions about prepaid mobile phone cards and consumer products, he said, adding that supervisors monitor the calls to make sure they are limited to business.

The operators are trained to speak clearly and to soothe difficult customers.

The call center operates around the clock and has 10 clients, including a telecommunications company, Chan said. Clients did not want to be named due to concerns that links with a prison could hurt their business.

Chan declined to say whether the prisoners are paid for their work, or to give any other details about the program’s finances.

“I was a workaholic before, and not having anything to do in jail made me feel down,” Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper quoted a 32-year-old operator, who identified herself as Aris, as saying. “Being in this program helped me to be myself once again because I feel useful.”

23 Aug 2005

Lee wants Singapore to ape Las Vegas

Lets hope Singapore emulates the good that takes place in Las Vegas as opposed to the bad.

AP , SINGAPORE Tuesday, Aug 23, 2005,Page 1
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) urged this tightly controlled city-state to take a cue from freewheeling Las Vegas, as he stuck to economics and largely avoided politics and free speech in his second annual address to the nation.

"It must be a totally different Singapore. Because if it's the same Singapore [as] today, we're dead," Lee said, referring to his country in the future. "We have to remake Singapore -- our economy, our education, our mindsets, our city," he added in his National Day Rally address, an annual policy speech.

At one point in the nearly two-hour speech late on Sunday, the usually unflappable politician's eyes teared up as he tried to rally his citizens, recounting his past participation in independence day parades.

On Aug. 9, Singapore celebrated its 40th year of independence from Malaysia. It had previously been a British colony.

Lee, 53, said that Singapore -- one of Asia's wealthiest countries, which has long relied on its efficiency and clean government to attract foreign investment -- will move to "foster innovation and enterprise."

He said the island republic's citizens must look at Las Vegas for new direction.

"Out of nothing in a desert, they have built a city. Forty million people visit every year," Lee said. "We don't want to become Las Vegas, but we should learn from their spirit."

Lee's administration has approved the building of two casinos in resource-poor Singapore by 2009. Several Nevada casino moguls are bidding for the jobs.

Lee's speech also touched on terrorism, Singapore's service culture and improved relations with China, which were damaged after he visited Taiwan last year.

"Our relations with China are back on track. We are friends with key players who matter to us," said Lee, who visited Taiwan just before assuming leadership of the city-state.

Singapore has been attempting to retool its formerly manufacturing-based economy, focusing more on areas like biomedical sciences and the arts.

22 Aug 2005

Increase in divorces a worrying trend

It is a worrying trend for a predominantly patriarchical society. I doubt however that the women who filed for divorce would see it as 'worrying'. So even though I may not agree with the tone of the article it is posted here. One solution to this worrying trend is to redefine 'the family' set up new indicators, accept other forms and structures of the 'family'. So this article is one for all my ex-students out there.

First spotted on Singapore Window

Star, Malaysia
August 21, 2005

Insight Down South By Seah Chiang Nee

GLOBALLY connected and well-educated, Singapore is undergoing great social changes, one of which is a weakening of the family unit.

Like in other Asian cities, Singaporean couples are filing for divorce in worrying numbers, some of them barely months after tying the knot. At the same time, marriage and birthrates are in decline.

This may have an impact on the city’s long-term future. Singapore has about a million families, and its leaders have repeatedly said that the country can do well only if these units are well.

Last year, the number of divorces hit a peak of 6561 cases, doubling over 10 years. Among Muslims, more than three in 10 marriages broke up within the first five years. This means that for every seven marriages registered in Singapore, two ended in divorce, or some 28.5%.

This rate, however, is nowhere near the US and West Europe, where half the marriages end up in divorce. It is also lower than South Korea (47%), Hong Kong (41%) and Japan (38%) but higher than China (15%).

Divorces are rising here because the younger generation has been brought up differently. They are more individualistic and when faced with a problem in marriage, each thinks of his or her own interests instead of family harmony. Traditionalists blame it on Western culture.

Forty years ago, divorce was unthinkable but today’s MTV generation feels less attached to the concept of marriage.

It’s the wife who initiates many of the break-ups. Today’s women are no longer subservient to their men. Independent-minded, many of them no longer tolerate their husbands’ abuse or infidelity. In fact, some women even rival man’s propensity for adultery.

The Women’s Charter protects their financial interests in the event of a break-up, often ensuring the husband contribute to his divorced wife and estranged children. It’s hard to believe, but many Singaporean men see themselves as the victims of these social changes.

“We can succeed financially on our own without a man,” said a single mother with a seven-year-old son.

The women’s assertiveness has come as a blow to those men who are raised to believe that their role in a marriage should be unquestioning.

It isn’t only 20-somethings breaking up. Like in Japan, divorce is becoming more frequent among mature couples, too. After tolerating it for years, many suffering spouses (often the wives) wait until their children have grown up before taking action.

About 21% of last year’s divorces in Singapore were between spouses who had been married for 20 years or more.

According to cases, the danger age is 35 to 49, most of them having wedded before they were 25. Half the couples said problems had cropped up in the first four years of marriage. Dual-income couples often struggle with juggling the need to earn money and enjoying a healthy family life. Surprisingly, infidelity accounts for only 9% of divorces.

A high level of education is scant help; half the divorced people were graduates or diploma holders. Recent economic hardship is an added cause, although failure to communicate is said to be the biggest factor.

One divorcee remarked: “We don’t live in a land of milk and honey – you need money to survive. So when you have insufficient money, there’s stress on the marriage.”

Divorce is evidently an excruciatingly painful affair, but because of changing social mores, the younger set doesn’t feel the stigma that was once attached to it.

An open, modern city, Singapore lies on the crossroads between East and West.

At least a quarter of its 4.2 million population are foreigners. It receives 8.5 million tourists a year, and some 150,000 Singaporeans are working or studying abroad.

With these exposures, the society has become more vulnerable to outside influences than most of its rural neighbours.

A generation ago, its people began moving into high-rise housing, bringing to an end the traditional extended family under one roof. More than 90% of Singaporeans are now flat dwellers.

Unhappy couples are left without the mediation or advice that aged parents had provided in the past.

The transformation also stems from the vast number of educated women joining the labour force.

Singaporeans are a very competitive lot and this leaves a toll on home leisure. To improve family life, the civil service has just reduced the work-week to five days.

And creeping into the picture are such 21st century practices as separate bank accounts between husband and wife, pre-nuptial contracts and having private investigators to check into spouses’ lives.

Overall, the tone for social changes is the globalisation of ideas and popular culture with their new role models for any woman thinking of doing it alone.

The influence of TV, the Internet and other imported entertainment may have contributed to the phenomenon. Unfortunately, the trend is accompanied by a steady drop in the number of marriages. In 2003, only 21,962 couples registered to be married, a year’s drop of 5%.

The transformation of the family has, however, been tempered to an extent by bilingual education and organised efforts to retain cultural values. A Family Day is celebrated every year in Singapore’s heartland. Although most Singaporeans live in small nuclear families, many opt to live near parents for practical reasons. No one can care for their children better than dad and mum.

It helps to ensure a passing down of generational values.

o Seah Chiang Nee is a veteran journalist and editor of the information website littlespeck.com

Related Article:
"The Flight From Marriage" in South and South East Asia by Gavin W. Jones (pdf)
The Battle of Sexuality

Pilot n Jo with Dr Chee Soon Juan

I really got to take my hat off to these two guys. Great work, great interview.
At long last real journalism in Singapore. You may not agree with everything that Dr Chee has to say but he has a right to say it and be heard.

In this episode, they speak to SDP Secretary-General, Dr Chee Soon Juan about free media, free speech, censorship and podcasting as a tool to reach out to the heartlander.

Please help spread the word. They have also informed us that a video will be up soon.

21 Aug 2005

Stuffy Singapore to Host Its 1st Sex Expo

Look at the words used to describe Singapore, 'staid','tightly-controlled', 'stuffy' are just a few. Do these words refer to the political situation or your right to buy an erotic toy? The idea that these images can be shaken off by turning to the lowest common denominator is just cheap.

So the idea is to change the image of Singapore from 'staid' to 'cheap'. Recent images of FOUR protesters and the over-reaction of the police sending in 40 police officers in riot gear cannot be erased from the international image of Singapore with the use of an erotic toy section. Allowing someone to buy a sex toy is not an indicator of the existence of democracy. A free market allowing someone to buy a sex swing is not freedom of expression, or freedom of assembly.

The argument that Singaporeans 'want censorship' is commonly mentioned but I have yet to see the empirical evidence that this is based on. In the article below it refers to "they are trying to loosen the shackles to cater to a generation exposed to overseas influences". Do Singaporeans become swingers on mass overseas or return to Singapore smuggling in case loads of erotic toys?

The argument that Singaporeans may not have wanted to be confronted by a large plastic phallus on the streets, is not somehow justification for denying freedom of speech, trade unions, allowing gerrymandering, maintaining lack of transparency, lack of openness and lack of accountability.

The staid image is an image of the political situation. Allowing an erotic toy will not somehow undermine that image. It will merely cheapen it.

By Associated Press

August 21, 2005, 6:04 AM EDT

SINGAPORE -- Staid Singapore will host its first-ever Sex Expo in November after receiving in-principle approval from the tightly-controlled city-state's authorities, a local newspaper reported Sunday.

The Singapore police have already imposed certain conditions for organizers -- no obscene acts can be put on display and all exhibits and promotions will face government scrutineers, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

Only patrons aged 21 or older will be admitted, the paper added.

The exhibition will feature furniture "designed to enhance lovemaking" and an erotic toy section, the paper said. An exhibition on the history of condoms is also scheduled for show.

Singapore, a tiny, wealthy Southeast Asian city-state of 4.2 million, has been attempting to shake off its well-known stuffy image, and officials say they are trying to loosen the shackles to cater to a generation exposed to overseas influences.

But restrictions abound: Cosmopolitan magazine can only be sold if wrapped to avoid browsing by minors, and programs like HBO's "Sex and the City" and "Six Feet Under" have been screened with cuts by the country's censors. Singapore also outlaws oral sex and homosexuality.

Officials say its citizens want censorship. Police could not immediately be contacted for comment

20 Aug 2005

Free speech and opposition parties in Singapore

This paper evaluates the use of free speech by opposition parties in Singapore. In particular, it looks at the impact, several key legislations such as the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act, the Defamation Act and Parliamentary Privileges, have on opposition party communication. Although cases of free speech restriction with regards to opposition parties and its members have received great publicity, in real terms the value of free speech for opposition parties in Singapore is limited. First, defamation laws in Singapore continue to extract caution from the opposition, creating a pressure within the opposition movement to ensure political comments do not result in defamation suits. Second, free speech in itself is politically not useful for opposition parties if the content in their free speech exercises are not disseminated by the local media. Hence both the fear of defamation suits and the limited dissemination of content in free speech exercises by the local media, keep the political value of free speech for opposition parties limited in Singapore. This has prompted one opposition leader to declare that perhaps non-violent civil disobedience may be a way to go. Thursday, 04 August 2005

by James Gomez

19 Aug 2005

Air-Conditioned Nation

Meet Dr Cherian George, an ex-senior journalist with The Straits Times who then moved into academia.

I have included a section of Calibrated coercion in Singapore here to encourage you to go and read the entire article.

How long these circumstances can last is largely a matter of speculation. Determined challengers could try to expose the repressive core of the state by deliberately provoking a strong response. Following Arendt’s logic, a violent reaction by the state would reduce its power. This appears to have been the tactic adopted by opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, who flouted public speaking rules and refused to pay a fine, landing him in prison. The degree of public outrage was limited, partly because the authorities did not respond to Chee’s well-attended talks with any show of force, but simply dealt with the speaker and organisers later through the courts. Still, Chee’s action drew attention to the taken-for-granted licensing rules for public events, and the ensuing public discussion led to accommodation by the government, which instituted a Speakers’ Corner and then liberalised the licensing rules for indoor talks.

Calibrated coercion could also be compromised internally, by less astute political leaders. In this respect, the widely-held stereotype of Lee Kuan Yew as more “hardline” than younger leaders may be profoundly misleading. The central argument in this essay has been that calibrated coercion is more a matter of political nous than of ideological position. It is the product of long-term strategising, shaped through experience and honed through practice. Lee Kuan Yew and his two successors – who make up the three most senior members of the current government – have had a total of more than 90 man-years of cabinet experience. Future leaders will inherit formidable means of repression, but not necessarily the long-term vision or the expertise to use them in a calibrated manner. Like many other leaders around the world, they may reach quickly for the seemingly decisive weapons that are so easily within reach, at great cost to their legitimacy and power.


First stumbled upon at Mr Wang Says So.

Singapore NKF Seeks Help From CAD - Report

August 18, 2005 02:01 ET

Singapore NKF Seeks Help From CAD - Report

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--The National Kidney Foundation, Singapore's largest charity, has asked police to look into "certain matters of grave concern," Channel NewsAsia reports Thursday, citing a statement from NKF.

The news channel said the problems were uncovered by the charity's interim board of directors, which the government appointed about a month ago.

NKF said it's not at liberty to discuss these matters as they have been referred to the police's Commercial Affairs Department, or CAD, Channel NewsAsia said.

The NKF saga started in mid-July when it took Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (T39.SG) and one of its writers to court for defamation.

In the course of the trial, details emerged on the pay and perks that its then-chief executive T.T. Durai was getting. Lawyers for SPH also showed that NKF had overstated the number of patients at its dialysis centers and understated about how long its S$200 million-plus reserves would last if it discontinued its fund-raising activities.
Public pressure led to the resignation of Durai and the NKF board, and the Health Ministry stepped in to appoint an interim board and chief executive.

NKF officials weren't immediately available for comment.

Youth, 16, faces 5 years in jail

p2pnet.net News:-

Big Music’s RIAS (Record Industry Association of Singapore) sicced local cops onto a 16-year-old they say was sharing files.

The youth and two others, the oldest of whom was 22, were arrested in Singapore and charged with distributing digital music files "in the city-state's first crackdown on illegal file sharing," Singapore police said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

“Under the amended Copyright Act, anyone who illegally downloads files on a ‘commercial scale’ could face criminal charges, including five years in jail and fines of up to S$100,000 (33,322 pounds or about $60,000)."

Police were “tipped off" by the association "representing local and foreign record companies,” says the story, adding, “The suspects used an Internet chat programme as well as a music-sharing programme to distribute the music files.”

Reuters neglects to say it's never been demonstrated, let alone proved, that file sharing equals even a single sale lost.

Nor does it point out that with file sharing, nothing has been stolen and no money changes hands.

18 Aug 2005

Internet Filtering in Singapore in 2004-2005: A Country Study

Before you read, there is a shorter journalistic piece below covering the release of this material by OpenNetInitiative. So if you are currently suffering from a low attention span, scroll down to the next article where you can read very small extracts.

Below is a short extract for my own use. The links that show in detail the references used have been removed, as I do not have enough time. The entire document includes information on methodology, data analysis etc. For those of you not interested in the methodological details I have included here the main argument and details of how the internet is controlled in Singapore. I do however believe they have missed one very important method of controlling the internet. A method of control that can not be explicated when using the methods the OpenNetIniative have employed.


The Republic of Singapore is an economic leader in Southeast Asia, with a vibrant information and communications technologies sector; however, the state maintains strong formal and informal controls over the information to which its citizens have access.Singapore’s official position is that the state filters Internet content to promote social values and maintain national unity,with the goal of denying access to objectionable material, especially pornography and content encouraging ethnic or religious strife. The Media Development Authority (MDA) claims to block only a symbolic list of 100 Web sites (primarily pornography) as a symbol of the state’s disapproval of this content. In addition, the MDA encourages, and each of Singapore’s three primary Internet Service Providers offers, optional, filtered Internet access services that block additional sites for a minimal monthly fee.

In our testing, the OpenNet Initiative (ONI)found extremely minimal filtering of Internet content in Singapore, as only eight sites of 1,632 tested (.49%) were blocked: www.cannabis.com, www.chick.com, www.formatureaudiencesonly.com, www.penthouse.com, www.persiankitty.com, www.playboy.com, www.playgirl.com, and www.sex.com. The limited blocking that our testing revealed focuses on a few pornographic URLs and one site each in the categories of illegal drugs and fanatical religion. Similar content is readily available at other sites on the Internet that are not blocked in Singapore. Thus, Singapore’s Internet content regulation depends primarily on access controls (such as requiring political sites to register for a license) and legal pressures (such as defamation lawsuits and the threat of imprisonment) to prevent people from posting objectionable content rather than technological methods to block it. Compared to other countries that implement mandatory filtering regimes that ONI has studied closely, Singapore’s technical filtering system is one of the most limited.


A. Internet Infrastructure and Access

Singapore restricts media coverage of topics both formally and informally. According to a recent censorship review by a government-appointed committee, access should be denied to content that “undermines public order and the nation’s security, denigrates race and religion, or erodes moral values.”In evaluating moral values, the committee defined as “clearly immoral and demeaning” content that includes “pornography, deviant sexual practices, sexual violence, child pornography, [and] bestiality.”It noted, though, a range of opinion in Singapore on “violence, nudity and homosexuality,”recommending in particular that the ban on homosexual content be eased.(This may be because Singapore has become a hub for gay culture in Asia.The first category, protecting public order and national security, is quite vague; dissidents allege that the state has used similar language in its Internal Security Act to deter political protest and hinder opposition parties.Defamation lawsuits against dissidents and news organizations are also used as a method of control.Singapore views discussion of religious and ethnic issues as risky given the background of its population; these topics must be approached carefully in public discourse.The state is also concerned about Islamic extremist groups such as Jemaah Islamiah.

B. Internet Infrastructure and Access

Singapore has achieved tremendous Internet penetration. In 2002, 61% of the population of Singapore had access to the Internet from home, work, or cybercafés.Three firms provide Internet access for most of the state’s 2.31 million subscribers: StarHub, SingTel’s SingNet, and Pacific Internet.While all three Internet Service Providers are public entities, the government was the majority shareholder in each as of April 2001.Whether a viable independent Internet access provider is possible in Singapore remains in question.

C. General Media Regulation

Singapore lacks a free and independent press. According to one group of observers at the University of Hong Kong, the Singapore media is used as a “semi-official bridge between the government and the public.”The University of Hong Kong report found overwhelming evidence that the state owns an equity stake in the press and broadcast conglomerates it supports.Singapore fiercely criticized a report by Reporters Sans Frontières, which ranked the state at 147th in its annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index — by far the lowest ranking of any wealthy, developed nation.The committee chartered with reviewing Singapore’s censorship laws urged the state to reduce censorship in June 2003, and the state has accepted the committee’s recommendations. Formal action to control content is frequent; Singapore recently imposed sanctions on a radio station for broadcasting sexual content and on a print journalist for reporting on a foreign trip by the former prime minister’s wife for medical treatment.

Media ownership is carefully monitored by the government, which exerts influence over content through investment and informal ties. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), a company with close ties to the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), controls all of Singapore’s daily newspapers.The Media Corporation of Singapore (Mediacorp), which is owned by a state investment agency and controlled by PAP supporters, dominates the broadcasting media.Mediacorp and SPH merged partially in late 2004, reducing greatly media competition in newspapers and television.

Formally, the Media Development Authority (MDA), which was created on Jan. 1, 2003 (formerly the Singapore Broadcasting Authority), is the agency responsible for media regulation. The MDA’s primary authority derives from the Media Development Authority of Singapore Actthat established it; however, other laws, notably those relating to pornography and election material, have been applied to the Internet and users. Overall, the state influences newspaper editorial decisions through its links to the SPH,and television programming is controlled and censored by the MDA.

An important, informal means of media control in Singapore is the use of lawsuits under the state’s stringent defamation laws.Defamation suits in Singapore are a common tactic for controlling speech, especially that related to Singapore’s government and politics; defendants who lose such suits often face hundreds of thousands of dollars in liability.There have been repeated allegations that judges in political defamation cases are linked to – and favor – government officials.Self-censorship by the media is common since the standard of proof in a defamation suit is easily met -- the burden rests upon the defendant to prove the truth of the statements (absent a claim of privilege, which is quite limited in scope) by substantial evidence, without the benefit of a jury trial.Thus, “The law of defamation presumes that defamatory words are false and the plaintiff need do no more than prove that the defamatory words have been published by the defendant. The burden is then on the defendant, if he wishes to rely on the defence of justification, to prove that those words are true.”The United States Department of State has condemned the scope and effect of Singapore’s defamation laws, stating that “government pressure to conform resulted in the practice of self censorship… [law]suits, which have consistently been decided in favor of government plaintiffs, chilled political speech and action and created a perception that the ruling party used the judicial system for political purposes.”

A recent example that demonstrates the reach of these laws, and their effects on Internet communication, targeted a blogger studying at the University of Illinois. Jiahoa Chen, a Singapore citizen, was forced to shut down his blog “caustic.soda”(hosted on the university’s server) under threat of a defamation lawsuit from A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research), a state-funded agency that provides scholarships to Singaporeans studying abroad in return for a commitment to public service after graduation.Chen broke his contractual agreement with A*STAR and had to repay his scholarship to the agency.Subsequently, he criticized A*STAR in an interview with Singapore’s The Electric New Paper and also on his blog. Chen stated that A*STAR treats its students “merely [as] a human resource”and that the agency’s recently instituted 3.8 grade point average requirement for maintaining scholarship funding was “unnecessarily draconian and counterproductive.”Shortly thereafter, A*STAR chairman Philip Yeo sent a series of e-mail messages to Chen threatening legal action and demanding the immediate removal of the blog.Under the threat of a defamation suit, Chen closed his blog, issuing a statement that “the price of maintaining the content that used to be available at this URL has become too high for the author to afford.”Following continued pressure from Yeo and A*STAR, Chen later posted a more explicit apology that reads, “I admit and acknowledge that these statements are false and completely without any foundation. I unreservedly apologize to A*STAR, its Chairman Mr. Philip Yeo, and its executive officers for the distress and embarrassment caused to them by these statements.”Chen’s case reinforces the power of Singapore’s defamation laws to alter Internet content and has led other Singaporean bloggers to write more cautiously.

D. Internet Access Regulation

The Singapore Broadcasting Act requires Internet access service providers (IASPs), political parties, Internet service resellers (ISRs), Internet Content Providers (ICPs), and entities with Web sites related to political or religious topics to register with the MDA under a class license scheme.Under the law, both service and content providersare required to comply with the Internet Code of Practice, which “outlines what the community regards as offensive or harmful to Singapore’s racial and religious harmony.”Political parties, religious groups, or individuals discussing these topics on their Web sites must “provide the [MDA] with such particulars and undertakings as the Authority may require”.ISPs (comprising ISRs and IASPs) must conform to terms of the Class Licensethat mandate enforcing compliance with the MDA’s Internet Code of Practice.In addition, the license requires that sites providing material about or hosting discussions regarding politicalor religious topics register with the MDA and conform to MDA requests regarding that content.Thus, Singapore has erected barriers to creating Internet content that augment its regulations for content itself.

E. Internet Content Regulation

Singapore has regulated Internet content since 1996.The state claims to use a “light-touch” approach to regulation.The primary legal instrument establishing control over access to Internet content is the Broadcasting Act. Under the Act, the MDA has authority to require the blocking of specific external sites or domains and to mandate the removal or moderation of “objectionable” content hosted by service or content providers. The MDA’s Internet Code of Practice defines prohibited content, which ISPs must block, as that which depicts nudity in a titillating fashion; promotes sexual violence; shows people engaged in explicit sexual activity; advocates homosexuality or lesbianism; shows sexual activity by a person who is or appears to be less than 16 years old; depicts incest, bestiality, pedophilia, or necrophilia; depicts extreme violence or cruelty; or “glorifies, incites or endorses ethnic, racial or religious hatred, strife or intolerance.”In practice, the MDA claims to have established a “symbolic” list of 100 sites that are officially blocked; persons attempting to view any site on this list will be informed that the site in question is blocked.The MDA states these sites are primarily well-known pornographic domains.As discussed below, ONI’s testing calls this statement into question; we found only eight sites filtered at any point in our testing, including one illegal drugs site and one site devoted to Christian evangelism.

The MDA can issue penalties for violations, including fines or a license suspension or termination for non-compliance. Corporate Internet access is exempt from the requirement to block these 100 sites prohibited under the MDA Class License.The MDA has encouraged ISPs to develop and offer Family Access Networks that filter out pornographic and other objectionable Web sites for an additional fee; fees for this service were roughly $3 Singapore per month in July 2005 The government has encouraged the development of a ratings system and filtering software but has not yet publicly announced the adoption or endorsement of any such system or software.

In addition to explicit attempts to block pornography, hate speech, and similar content, the MDA’s predecessor (the Singapore Broadcasting Authority, or SBA) was accused by members of the political opposition of using its authority to disrupt the PAP’s political opponents and to suppress dissent.For example, during the 2001 parliamentary elections, the SBA was accused of selectively applying electoral laws to registered opposition Web sites.The SBA was also criticized for its treatment of fateha.com, a Muslim site that protested the ban on Muslim students wearing head scarves. In addition, the Computer Misuse Act and e-commerce legislation adopted in 1998 give Singapore’s police wide powers to seize and search computers without a warrant and to decrypt online messages.

The Internet Code of Practice does not provide for any restrictions or penalties imposed on users; however, violation of other laws, such as those banning possession of pornography, may subject an Internet user to criminal penalties. In addition, the government has been accused of manufacturing charges against political dissidents and of monitoring the Internet use of suspected dissidents; the Computer Misuse Act and similar legislation have greatly increased the government’s authority to monitor and decrypt Internet content. Even if few such charges are filed, the threat thereof may serve to deter political opposition in Singapore.

In addition to filtering that occurs under the mandates of the MDA, other providers of Internet access (such as universities) implement blocking of sites as well. Like the MDA, these providers generally do not reveal which sites are blocked or the precise rationale for filtering the sites to which access is prevented.

Related Links:
The entire document can be found at Opennetinitiative.
PDF version available here.
U.S. Newswire

Singapore's net controls shun filters

The AgeNew York
August 18, 2005 - 10:40AM

Singapore maintains some of the world's tightest restrictions on free expression on the internet, but unlike other regimes, it doesn't do it with technological filters.

Instead Singapore controls the web through an unusual mix of legal pressures and access restrictions, according to a new study by three universities.

Testing of 1632 websites by the OpenNet Initiative found only eight blocked, mostly for pornography.

"If you look at it alongside places like China and Iran, Singapore's technical internet censorship regime is mild by comparison," said John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University, which formed the OpenNet Initiative with the University of Toronto and the University of Cambridge.

Singapore's government manages to restrict discussions on politics and religion by requiring sites on those topics to obtain licences, the report found.

Internet service providers also must comply with regulations banning speech deemed offensive or harmful.

To discourage dissent, the government also uses defamation laws that favour plaintiffs and puts defendants at risk of hundreds of thousands of dollars in liability, the report found.

The report cited the case of a University of Illinois student from Singapore who was threatened with a lawsuit over comments made on his web journal.

Singapore's Agency of Science, Technology and Research agreed not to sue after he shut down his blog and apologised for comments he had posted about the agency.

Singapore cracks down on music file-sharing offenders

The issue has finally arrived in Singapore. It has been well covered in the UK and USA. I am rather surprised that only 3 people have been arrested.

From Reuters
By Nur Dianah Suhaimi

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Three Internet users have been arrested in Singapore and charged with distributing digital music files in the city-state's first crackdown on illegal file sharing, Singapore police said on Thursday.

The three young men who were arrested, between the ages of 16 to 22, had shared more than 20,000 files in internet chatrooms.

It was the first time Singapore police have clamped down on web surfers who download pirated music and films since new copyright laws came into effect in January this year.

Under the amended Copyright Act, anyone who illegally downloads files on a "commercial scale" could face criminal charges, including five years in jail and fines of up to S$100,000 (33,322 pounds).

Police were tipped off by the Record Industry Association of Singapore (RIAS), an association representing local and foreign record companies. The suspects used an Internet chat programme as well as a music-sharing programme to distribute the music files, a police statement said.

RIAS, which conducts constant checks to curb illegal file sharing told Reuters it has sent warning letters to those engaged in illegal file-sharing on the Internet.

"Prosecution was a last-resort measure," said RIAS Chief Executive Officer Andrew Neubronner.

Industry analysts say the rollout of high-speed broadband Internet in Asia, particularly in countries with high piracy rates like China, India and Indonesia, has sent the number of people downloading free music off the Web spiralling up by millions a month -- and recorded music sales to tumble.

Singapore has one of the world's highest Internet penetration rates, with over 60 percent of its 4.2 million people living in homes wired to the Internet.

Presidential contest: the end

From Yawning Bread
18 August 2005

And so it has come to pass: the presidential contest ended even before it began.

When Andrew Kuan first announced that he would seek the presidency, many people hoped that he'd be allowed to, and that for once there would be a genuine contest.

However, by the time the CEO of Jurong Town Corporation, Kuan's employer from 2001-2004, trotted out to make negative comments about Kuan's ability and his job history, most knew how it would end.

A day later, on 13 August 2005, the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) did the dirty work. It announced that no one other than the incumbent, S R Nathan, was qualified to run for President. Andrew Kuan, the most likely other candidate to qualify, was ruled ineligible.

* * * * *

There are no winners in this affair. Not even S R Nathan who has been returned unopposed.

I heard him speak on TV news tonight (17 Aug 2005). He said, "I want to thank all Singaporeans who came forward to support me." What a poor choice of words, for it reminded everyone how his support has never been tested. If there was any 'support' evident, it was only that engineered by the so-called labour movement that the PAP government captured and neutered long ago.

It was quite pathetic, and I thought to myself, the best thing he can do to redeem his personal honour is to resign.

To continue reading yet another excellant article from yawning bread click here.

17 Aug 2005

How to become a CFO in a billion-dollar S'pore Stat Board

From: "unemployedorstressedworker"
To: Sg_Review
16 Aug 2005
Accountancy 101 - How to become a CFO in a billion-dollar S'pore
statutory board

In the first place, the problem started when Mr Kuan was "headhunted" (or "highly recommended" perhaps) to be the Group CFO of JTC. And this is an important lesson for all Singaporeans (especially those who need "help" in finding high-paying jobs in government departments, statutory boards, GLCs, etc..). You first "volunteer" as a member of the RC, NC (and all the various "CCs") in your constituency and rub shoulders with the MPs (and ministers if possible). What is the 8-letter word for all this, starting with "ne------"? (Of course, they call it "networks", but sorry if you're thinking of another word). As for what happens next, the sky is the limit....even the President one fine day !!

Having got in, what do these stat boards and GLCs do when they find your work performance "unsatisfactory"? Of course, through their "networks" again, they try to "help", failing which, they'll try to keep you "employed" (for as long as possible, but maybe 27 months is long enough with all that salary and bonuses to tide you over for some time, lest you accuse the government as an "employer with no heart").

It is high time the Prime Minister sets up a market-based and international-standard appraisal system (market-based salary must come with market-based responsibility and appraisal) and ensures that such senior appointments in the government (including statutory boards and GLCs) should not be allowed to remain in their positions if their performance is found to be unsatisfactory. For those whose performance is bordering on the "unsatisfactory" range, they should be subject to a "review period" of 3 or 6 months during which they must exhibit marked improvement in their performance. Furthermore, senior officials under "review" must require the approval of the respective Minister to remain in their job at the expiry of the "review period" (If certain key appointments require the approval of the President (a post Mr Kuan was on the verge of becoming), certainly appointments of CEOs and CFOs (and other C-Os) of statutory boards and GLCs (whose reserves can easily run into billions of dollars) should also require similar stingent scrutiny?)

"Why keep Andrew Kuan on if he was unsuitable?

Puzzling questions came to mind when I read excerpts of the press conference by JTC Corp on former presidential aspirant Andrew Kuan ("JTC was not satisfied with Kuan's work"; ST, Aug 12).

For a high-level position in a statutory board such as the JTC, where corporate transparency is critical - and so is the bottom line - I wonder how it is possible and justifiable that Mr Kuan kept his position as group financial officer just because JTC board members were "reasonable employers" and hoped that will "help him to tide over and find a job elsewhere".

If Mr Kuan did not make a bid for the presidency, this would probably have not come to light.

The chief executive officer and members of the board should make decisions based on the capability of the employee and not on the two reasons given for extending his tenure, especially when they were dissatisfied with his performance in such a senior position ("and came the second year, when we were quite sure that we were not satisfied...").

Why did JTC rate his performance as "good" if it was not satisfactory? JTC should also explain why performance bonuses and pay rises were given to him.

Statutory boards are semi-independent agencies that carry out specific plans and policies of the ministry, meaning that officers serving such boards are funded by taxpayers.

I believe taxpayers do not support the retaining of high-level, highly-paid employees if they are deemed to be not suitable for a position.

Jennifer Tan Ban Ban (Ms)"

15 Aug 2005

Silent Protest in Singapore Video

The details and links to the video were emailed to me anonymously, so I have no idea who produced the video or who uploaded it. It lasts for 14 minutes and is basically silent except for moments when Dr Chee is in frame. Other than that it documents what was a peaceful silent protest, until the police arrive.


Below are links to a 14 minute video of a silent protest staged by 4 Singaporean activists on August 11, 2005 outside the Central Provident Fund building on Robinson Road.

Download video here (low resolution 40MB)http://www.archive.org/download/LoResSilentProtest

Video link page here (low resolution 40MB)

Download video here (high resolution 107MB)

Video link page here (high resolution 107MB)

You will require a RealPlayer in your computer in order to play these files. If you do not have a RealPlayer, you can download it for free at

RealPlayer - 10.3MB here:

Or, RealPlayer - 9.56MB here:

14 Aug 2005

Singapore Incumbent President gets sole Certificate of Eligibility

Nothing happening here, please keep moving along, nothing to see here, nothing happening here, no change, everything is still the same, move along now please...

From the Peoples Daily

The incumbent President S. R. Nathan got the only Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Presidential Elections Committee, said the Committee in a statement on Saturday.

"He has all the credentials for the office of the President and is well regarded and respected for his public service. The Committee considered Mr. Nathan as a man of integrity, good character and reputation," the statement read.

The Committee deemed that the other three applicants, Andrew Kuan, Ooi Boon Ewe and Ramachandran Govindasamy Naidu, "could not have the experience and ability in administering and managing financial affairs as to effectively discharge the duties and responsibilities of the office of the President" according to their career history.

The decision made Nathan the only eligible candidate in the third presidential election in the city state since the Constitution was amended to provide for a President elected by the people in 1992.

It is expected that Nathan, who became Singapore's second Elected President in 1999 without any contestant, will win a second six-year term in office on the Nomination Day on Aug. 17.

A related article from Channel News Asia titled "Many Singaporeans welcome Presidential Elections Committee's decision " By Wong Siew Ying/May Wong writes the following joke of an attempt at a journalistic piece. Three anonymous people are happy with the decision, so the entire population of 4 million are obviously happy. Marvellous work, truely outstanding piece of journalism.

I have one question for Wong Siew Ying/May Wong, how the hell do you sleep at night?

Said one Singaporean, "He tries to participate in all activities organised by the grassroots; he tries to be close to the people."

Another said, "He interacts with the people, he comes down to the people's level. I think that is important for a leadership role."

Said a third person, "I am pretty happy with his performance as a president. Before, he was an ambassador for Singapore to Americans; I thought he did a good job."


Do not PANIC - It is a hoax. Singaporeans don't care that much.

Something tells me that this is a joke posted on a newsgroup website and then posted on the comment section of this site. It has got to be a joke as the links take you to an unrelated site and I have never heard of Simon R. Nigel. It is a real pity that the idea that Singaporeans would actually protest in public is a joke.

Nice try!

REPORT: Singaporeans plan massive protest against Nathan

By: Simon R. Nigel
South East Asia Correspondent,
Asia Press Service

SINGAPORE, Aug 13 (APS) - A mass rally is being planned on August 17, nomination day for Singapore's presidential election, to protest against the government's refusal to allow potential candidate Andrew Kuan to run for the post of president.

The organisers plan to hold the protest at the People's Association headquarters at around 11 am, when the incumbent, Mr SR Nathan, arrives to file his nomination for re-election.

On Saturday, the island's Presidential Elections Committee granted Mr Nathan a "Certificate of Eligibility" to contest the election and rejected the bids by three other applicants.

This means that come Nomination Day on August 17, the 81 year-old former internal security chief will be returned unopposed for a second six-year term.

In a statement, the committee said that Mr Nathan has "all the credentials for the office of the President and is well regarded and respected for his public service".

It also announced its reasons for rejecting the other three applications.

It said two of them, Mr Ooi Boon Ewe, a former tutor, and Mr Ramachandran Govindasamy Naidu, a retired senior store keeper, were rejected due to their lack of qualifications.

"The career history of these two men obviously showed that they did not hold any similar or comparable position of seniority and responsibility in any other organisation or department of equivalent size or complexity in the public or private sector, which is necessary for the office of the Presidency," said the statement.

As for Mr Andrew Kuan, the former Group Chief Financial Officer of JTC, the committee argued that "the seniority and responsibility of that position was not comparable to those needed for the office either".

Singaporeans by and large were shocked at the announcement and newspaper offices were flooded with calls from irate readers calling on the government to explain the rationale for rejecting Mr Kuan's application.

Meanwhile, online newsgroups and blogs saw tons of angry postings calling for the government to allow Mr Kuan to stand for the election.

A posting on the soc.culture.singapore newsgroup said: "it's pretty obvious the MW ("men in white", here referring to the ruling PAP government) is NOT READY for the TEST".

As the public outcry triggered by a huge scandal at the government-backed NKF (National Kidney Foundation) is still fresh on many people's minds, the reader said the government was afraid that Mr Nathan could be defeated at the polls.

Speaking to reporters, the organisers of the protest rally said they hoped Singaporeans would turn out in force to pressure the government to review their decision to reject Mr Kuan's bid.

"The PAP government obviously owes the people of Singapore an explanation," said the spokesman, who refused to be named.

Meanwhile, an online petition calling on Singaporeans to support Mr Andrew Kuan for the presidency (http://www.petitiononline.com/sg050817/) has been gathering steam since it was launched by a mass organisation calling itself The Singapore Patriotic Front (SPF) here on Sunday.

The SPF said Mr Kuan's "distinguished record in public service, strong professional financial training and experience" would allow him to do well as a "People's President", provide "a watchful eye over the Singapore's national assets and foreign reserves", as well as push for "greater transparency and accountability in the Government-Linked Companies".

The petition also slammed the incumbent, Mr Nathan, for failing to discharge the responsibilities of his office "despite having received close to $10 million in salary over the last five years".

It added: "this could be attributed to his lack of financial training and his being appointed by the Singapore Government instead of being elected by the Singapore citizens".

Expressing shock at the government's rejection of Mr Kuan's bid, the SPF argued that "if the incumbent, despite his poor performance and his alleged connections with the Japanese Kempeitai during World War II, is allowed to run for the Presidential Election, there is no reason for a more qualified candidate like Mr Kuan to be denied the 'Certificate of Eligibility'".

"Unless the Singapore Government is trying to manipulate the outcome of the election to suit its nepotic & despotic needs," it added.

The SPF also took the state-controlled media to task for launching a smear campaign against Mr Kuan.

"We demand that the Singapore Government stop treating Singaporeans as fools and manipulating the media to cast the incumbent in the best of light while conducting smear campaigns against all those who are running against the incumbent. This is childish & unconstitutional," said the SPF.

Mr Nathan's office could not be reached for comment Sunday. - APS

Copyright: Asia Press Service
URL: www.asiapress.com

13 Aug 2005

Will Singapore remain the outlier?

A group of people appear to be talking about Singaporeans and the future of Singapore, maybe they might acquire a 'truer' picture if you gave them your two cents worth over at danieldrezner.

Will Singapore remain the outlier?

Whenever people start talking about the interrelationships between regime type, the rule of law, economic development, and political corruption, the outlier is always Singapore.

Think that economic development inexorably leads to freedom of the press? Hello, meet Singapore.

Think that authoritarianism automatically leads to corruption? Have you met Singapore?

Think that no government can plug its country into the Internet while still retaining a vast web of censorship? Yes, yes, that is Singapore over there in the corner giving you the raspberry.

[So what do political scientists say whenever the Singapore is brought up as the counterexample to the general rule?--ed.] There are a few options available:

OPTION #1: "Oh, you say a small city-state violates my covering law? I say 'feh.' All statistical relationships will have outliers. The general observation still holds."

OPTION #2: "Unless Lee Kuan Yew can be cloned, this is a unique example of political leadership that doesn't generalize beyond the borders of Singapore."

OPTION #3: "Oh, Singapore won't remain an exception for long. A one party state cannot be combined with information technology and a free market and live to tell the tale. You just wait.... yes, you wait right over there in the corner."

OPTION #4: "Singapore is merely the exemplar to demonstrate that these kind of feel-good generalizations break down when applied outside of OECD countries. Deal with it."

Some of these options are not mutually exclusive.

My thought piece on information technology and regime type takes some steps towards the third position. So I'm pleased to see that Associated Press reporter En-Lai Yeoh is also moving in that direction:

Amnesty International Report 2005

A round up of the current situation in Singapore from Amnesty International. I have removed material that refers to Malaysia, but if anyone would like to receive a copy of the entire correspondence please feel free to ask me via email. Or you can click here to get the entire document.

The document has been compiled by Margaret John Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia, for Amnesty International.

To: Singapore/Malaysia Network


The following notes include unconfirmed (though usually reliable) information from various sources. I have given media sources where possible and in most cases further information is available. AI documents are accessible at www.amnesty.org or www.asiapacific.amnesty.org I would appreciate updates on developments.


Calling for more openness, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his inaugural 2004 National Day speech that his vision for Singapore was of a "community where every citizen counts, where everyone can develop his human potential to the full." At the same time, Singapore has defended its media laws and balked at the suggestion that citizens live in a climate of fear.

Yet AI's Annual Report 2005 again underlines continuing tight political control of expression. Nevertheless, critics are once more challenging the government on issues of fundamental human rights. These include: the death penalty (Singapore still has the highest per capita rate worldwide, with six recorded executions from January to September) and curbs on freedom of expression. The death sentence and execution of Shanmugam Murugesu sparked unprecedented anti-death penalty activity, including demonstrations and a public death penalty forum, to which AI's Singapore researcher was invited. And there is now an opposition Internet radio programme, set up by the opposition Singapore Democratic Party. Prominent human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience Dr Chee Soon Juan recently published a new book: The Power of Courage -- Effecting political change in Singapore through Nonviolence. In addition, AI continues to express concern about restrictive legislation, the threat of defamation suits, the detention without trial of alleged Islamic militants held under the ISA; and the detention of Jehovah's Witnesses who are conscientious objectors. Reuters (27/5) refers to the US State Department Human Rights Report that sharply cirticises Singapore for using libel suits to intimidate opposition politicians.

Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew, in correspondence with AI Canada's Secretary General, gave assurances that Canada will continue to seek appropriate opportunities to express concern to the Government of Singapore and looks forward to continuing the excellent cooperation with Amnesty International.

Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia
Amnesty International Canada ( English speaking)



The death penalty in Singapore, which AI's 2004 report highlighted as having the highest per capita rate worldwide, is now being increasingly questioned within the country -- though still by a small number of Singaporeans . The case of Shanmugam Murugesu, who was hanged for drug trafficking, sparked unprecedented campaigning in the country. GIven tight controls on the press and civil society organizations, public discussion of the death penalty is rare in Singapore. The international media, however, regularly underline its execution record -- a recent travel article in Canada's Globe and Mail began with "We arrive in Singapore on hanging day "(16/7). However, the Shanmugam case sparked public sympathy within Singapore. Sinapan Samydorai, President of the Think Centre, commented: "This is definitely the first time the local community has come forward to look at the death penalty issue.... At least we now have people saying that things should change."

One outcome was an NGO public forum on the death penalty, at which AI's lead researcher on Singapore was invited to speak. At the same time, several articles by Singaporean lawyers have posed questions about its constitutionality. A recent concert against the death penalty -- as part of a regional series -- was allowed to go ahead in Singapore It has not, however, become a debatable issue at government level. It is thought that some eight people are on death row.

AI's researcher on Singapore, Tim Parritt, was allowed to enter Singapore in April to attend the NGO-sponsored Forum on the Death Penalty, but was denied a Professional Visitor Pass. He was not, therefore, permitted to address the forum, which focussed on the death sentence of Shanmugam Murugesu. The Singapore government was reported as saying it did not need a foreigner to lecture it on its criminal justice system. (Age 18/4) Mr Parritt's statement, which was read out for him, stressed that "Human rights are for the best of us and the worst of us" and that

"Amnesty International is disappointed not to be able to address this forum today....AI welcomed this opportunity to participate in today's forum and to report on death penalty developments worldwide. And as another execution, that of Shanmugam Murugesu, becomes imminent, AI appeals once again to the Singapore authorities to exercise clemency."

The statement referred to the global trend towards abolition and called for Singapore to provide the complete statistics on executions to show key criteria, including crimes, nationality, age, as well as background in terms of education, professional status and socio-economic status of those sentenced to death. (Full statement on request)

Mr Parritt was later interviewed by international media who attended the forum and who continue to refer to AI's 2004 groundbreaking report on executions in Singapore. He later met an official of the Singapore Foreign Ministry.

Police in uniform were present at the public forum and the Chair was questioned as to citizenship. The forum drew some 120 participants, though few were willing to be quoted. The Observer (UK, 8/5) reported that a woman who printed T-shirts with the words "Highest per capita execution rate in the world" admitted that she had been terrified to do so -- and police shut down the open mike session just as the first person spoke.

- Shanmugam s/o Murugesu

Despite high-level campaigning in Singapore and internationally, the former taxi driver aged 38 was hanged on 13 May. He had been sentenced to death for possession of just over one kilogram of cannabis. His lawyer, M Ravi, unsuccessfully applied for a stay and a Constitutional Court review. Ravi argued that Shanmugam had been treated unfairly , citing other cases where people arrested for trafficking in more than 500 grams of cannabis (an offence carrying the mandatory death sentence) had received prison terms after the charges against them were reduced. Ravi was reported as planning an appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial,summary or arbitrary executions in a last-ditch attempt to save his client (AFP 10/5, 12/5)

Shanmugam was given custody of his twin sons after his divorce, reportedly lost interest in life and became a victim of drug abuse. Coming from a poor Indian family, his desperate financial circumstances led to his offence. Petitions, vigils and other campaigning events raised awareness in Singapore about the cruel and arbitrary nature of the death penalty. Shanmugam's 14-year-old twin sons handed out leaflets in the streets. Dana Lam, former president of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), called the death penalty a "harsh law....Mercy is precisely what is asked for....Just when and how will that Mercy be free to flow?" The Singapore Democratic Party called the President's rejection of Shanmugam's application for clemency "a black day for Singapore." AFP reported that when family and friends made their final visit to Shanmugam on the eve of his execution, he urged them to press on with a rejuvenated campaign to end the death penalty in Singapore. (15/5) Following his execution, Shanmugam's mother was reported by the Singapore Democratic Party (25/5) to have asked for regular government financial support for the twin sons amounting to $500. The welfare department offered her S$150. The SDP pointed out that PAP ministers make S$500 an hour.

- Lawyers speak out: - K S Rajah's article, The Mandatory Death Sentence (published in Inside the Bar), concludes: "Singapore cannot for long be a global city and player in the world's affairs in every respect, except when it comes to punishing offenders for wrongs done. It is now open to an accused to show through experts in international law that a mandatory death sentence is cruel and inhuman punishment under customary international law. " (ksrajah@harryelias.com.sg)

- Michael Hor, in his article The Death Penalty in Singapore and International Law, addresses a number of issues, including minimum standards under which capital punishment may legitimately be employed, mandatory and discretionary death, and due process, and concludes: "At the very least the fact that so many other states of all persuasions (and they are not all Western liberal democracies) are not willing to execute, or execute so often ...should cause decision makers to ... reconsider what the value of life is in Singapore." (2004 Singapore Year Book of International Law and Contributors).

As part of an ongoing series of regional concerts against the death penalty, the first Concert Against the Death Penalty was held in Singapore early August entitled Songs for Sam: Hung at Dawn in memory of the execution of Shanmugam Murugesu. A CD is being compiled. The police banned the use of Shanmugam's face on posters and publicity material, because it would "glorify" an ex-convict and "executed person." The Think Centre expressed disappointment at the ban. (www.thinkcentre.org 4/8)

- Australian Nguyen Tuong Van waits for the outcome of his appeal to the President for clemency on the grounds that he had cooperated fully with the police investigation into an international drug ring. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney called upon the Pope to intervene. (AFP 17/3)

- Julia Bohl, a 22-year-old German student , who had faced the death penalty for drug possession and trafficking but was instead given a five-year sentence, was released in July after three years, her lawyer was reported as saying, because of good behaviour. She had escaped the death penalty after tests showed the marijuana seized in her possession was less pure than previously thought and therefore below the 500 gr. level. Reportedly lengthy legal and diplomatic manoeuvring had helped her avoid the death penalty. (http://www.faz) The SDP (3/6) called the government shameless for executing Shanmugam Murugesu for smuggling marijuana, while releasing Julia Bohl after three years.

- Other reported cases:

Lim Thian Lai: sentenced to death under the Arms Offences Act for shooting with intent to cause physical injury.

20-year-old Indonesian maid, Rohana, faces the death penalty after being charged with the murder of her employer . There are now more than 140,000 foreign maids in Singapore -- many with stories of abuse. (AFP 4/7)

Factory supervisor Leong Siew Chir, 50, was charged in June with the murder of staff member Miss Liu Hong Mei. (ST 19/6)

Took Leng How was charged with the murder of 8-year-old girl Huang Na. (ST 21/7) His claims that he had seen three Chinese men commit the murder were suspected by a psychiatrist as not truthful. (ST 27/

Two Africans are to hang for heroin trafficking. Nigerian Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, 19, and garment wholesaler Obeke Nelson Malachy, 33. Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi said he had been told the pills he carried contained "African herbs." (ST 22/7) The Think Centre issued an Urgent Action, pointing out that the death penalty is considered a "form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment." (8/8)

Of the "high-profile"drug group of 23 people: fourteen were charged and the rest released. Among the fourteen:
Interpol was alerted to look out for three men who had jumped bail. Singaporean Hamdan Mohamed, Tunisian Guiga Lyes Ben Laroussi and Sri Lankan Jeremy Hahen Chanmugam had all been charged with consuming or selling drugs. (ST 3/3) Bail for Chanmugam's wife, Nadia Celina Seraphina Cornelis, was withdrawn, as authorities had received "intelligence" that she would flee. She was later jailed for three weeks and fined S$5,000 for lying, as she had said she did not know of his whereabouts -- yet she had seen him off to Sri Lanka. (ST 29/3) Marx Oh Chi Wee, one of two alleged ringleaders, was jailed for one year. He faces further trials for trafficking and possession. (ST 18/3) Dinesh Singh Bhatia was sentenced to eight months for cocaine use. (ST 7/4 )


A year ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong "urged politically timid Singaporeans to...speak up. " (AFP 8?/8) More of them are doing so. Yet those who speak up -- for example film-maker Martyn See -- also speak of the risk of serious consequences. Reports from the international media and NGOs repeat criticisms that the Prime Minister's call does not reflect the reality i.e. Singapore maintains its tight grip on the media and the political opposition.


- Film-maker Martyn See withdrew from a Singapore International Film Festival his short film on Dr Chee Soon Juan, Singapore Rebel , after the Board of Film Censors said he could be jailed up to two years and fined S$100,000. The "party political" film was judged to contravene the Film Act. The film is being shown outside Singapore, including in the USA and possibly Canada. See comments on Singapore's announced "opening up" as a "pretty schizophrenic situation"given the ban on a gay concert, "biased" political films and anything that is deemed by the authoritities to be "contrary to public interest". (weblog: singaporerebel.blogspot.com) Dr Chee comments: "Such is the abuse of power by the People's Action Party." Martyn See was to meet again with the authorities. (AP 22/3 http://asia.news.yahoo.com; SDP 12/5, 18/5 www.singaporedemocrat.org; weblog: singaporerebel.blogspot.com) AI views the Films Act as fitting into the broader context of excessive curbs on freedom of expression and their potential to be misused by the authorities.

- Three Polytechnic lecturers made a brief film in 2001 on J B Jeyaretnam, "Vision of Persistence": It was banned. (AFP 20/6)

- The Singapore DemocratIc Party says it is "determined to break this arm-lock on the media by the Government. A vibrant and free media will foster a dynamic and enterprising society." (http://www.singaporedemocrat.org 2/7) It has now established its Internet radio broadcasts, which can be accessed via its website. Dr Chee's first broadcast calls for democracy and the need to address the issue of poverty in Singapore.

- Charles Tan, President of Young Singapore Democrats, comments on permission given to three hundred foreign organizations that will be allowed to hold peaceful demonstrations at the 2006 IMF and World Bank meeting in Singapore. But Singaporeans who have faced problems trying to demonstrate in the past point to authorities warning them or punishing them. (Reuters 18/3)

- The Falun Gong Working Group submitted a formal appeal to the UN regarding two members who had been arrested in May 2004 and fined S $20,000 and S$24,000, after they had handed out material about China's persecution of the Falun Gong. Both refused to pay fines, were reported to be on hunger strike for several days before their release 3 May, and planned to appeal to a higher court. Falun Gong is a legally registered society in Singapore. (Epoch Times 2/5, 5/5)

- Coffee Shop Talk at http://forums.delphiforums.com has issued a series of views in the past few months. In July, it focussed on Singapore's National Day, stating that Singapore was formed with five ideals -- of democracy, peace, progress, justice, equality -- but all now restricted or destroyed by the PAP. (31/7) Another article dealt with the increased cost of living (1/8), and one asked why Chia Thye Poh was detained for 32 years. (3/8).

- Four protesters assembled in a public place to show their concern at what they see as a lack of transparency and accountability by the government in dealing with public funds. Approximately 40 police officers in riot gear told them to disperse. (SDP 11/8)

- Businessman Andrew Kuan plans to run against President S R Nathan, who has declared his intention to run for a second term. Newstoday reported that a lawyer is to study Mr Kuan's statements for possible defamation. He had claimed that a resolution to remove him as chairman at his condominium management council was "improperly tabled" and that signatures had been forged. (derrick@newstoday.com.sg www.andrewkuan.com)

Government action:

- Singapore banned a planned weekend concert by gay Christian support group. (AFP 30/3)

- The Ministry for Information, Communications and the Arts stated that local newspapers must carry a Singapore perspective -- otherwise readers might be misled into thinking foreign views reflected those of the newspapers. (ST 9/3)

- Police rejected J B Jeyaretnam's application to demonstrate against a proposed casino, saying it would disrupt civil order. Jeyaretnam commented that political freedom remains elusive, despite government claims to loosen social controls. (Reuters 31/3)

- In March, a forum on politics was held at the National University of Singapore, at which five panellists were invited to offer their views on how much or how little Singapore had achieved in embracing the Prime Minister's vision of a "dynamic city that is open and inclusive...." (ST 2/3)

- In April, Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of Washington-based Nonviolence International was banned from entering Singapore indefinitely for interfering in the nation's domestic policies, the government said. ( Reuters 17/5) He had conducted a workshop in Singapore in January. The Singapore Democratic Party published a letter by Moser-Puangsuwan that the Straits Times had refused to publish. In the letter, he said he had read the Straits Times Editorial Opinion, which encouraged Singaporeans to act for political change, not just talk about the need for it. (www.singaporedemocrat.org 20/5)

- Police banned the annual beach festival of the gay and lesbian community, which then defied the ban by launching a month-long program of events, IndigNation, ending August 26 to assert their place in society (AFP 28/7) No laws were planned to be defied. (ST 29/7) Gay activists accused the government of promoting homophobia and irresponsibility for comments on Aids and the 2004 gay festival. They have urged the decriminalisation of homosexuality. (NZ Herald11/3)

- Member of Parliament Steve Chia, speaking on amendments to the elections bill, urged: "if the government genuinely wants to have a more genuine 'open and inclusive' society, then it should learn to play fairly with its worthy opponents....I hope the Government will make it mandatory to have at least four months' notice before a General Election is being called."

Judgments from abroad

- In June, AFP reported that there had been little local media coverage of Shanmugam's execution, and instead Singaporeans were taking to the Internet for free speech. "Indeed, with the traditional media shackled by press controls and a virtual blanket ban on public rallies -- Reporters Without Borders ranks Singapore 147th out of 167 countries on press freedom -- the Internet has emerged over recent years as a hotbed for Singapore's dissenting voices." (4/6)

- In May, Falun Gong newspaper Epoch Times described Singapore as "in actuality...a country with complete dictatorship and autocracy....The small number of people who dare to step forward and challenge the government...will simply be brought to court in the name of 'slandering the system....The judicial system of Singapore basically obeys the government'." ( http://english.epochtimes.com)

- Three Swedish parliamentarians (all members of the Sweden-Singapore Initiative for Democracy) strongly criticised the ban on a workshop in May on non-violent political action, and urged the government "to be more tolerant of dissenters, as any modern society fully embraces an active civil society and its international participants." (SDP 27/5)

The South China Morning Post wrote (30/5) "Singapore does not fool its critics...the island nation remains the same as it - has always been -- a virtual police state where the media is tightly controlled, political opposition is barely tolerated and free speech is allowed only with permission."

- In June, Freedom House ranked Singapore 139th out of 194 countries in its Global Survey 2005. "Media freedom is constrained to such a degree that the vast majority of journalists practise self-censorship rather than risk being charged with defamation....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."

- Reporteurs Sans Frontières: Its Annual Report, issued in May, records Singapore as having for several decades "a very sophisticated strategy for silencing Singaporean and foreign journalists who wrote stories that are embarrassing for the political elite....the two large national press groups, Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorps, are run by ruling party allies...the government also continues to censor dozens of films and TV programmes." (www.rsf.org)

- Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA), issued its full report in May on Singapore's elections system. (www.asiandemocracy.org)


- Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary General of the Singapore Democratic Party, said in March that he could not afford to pay S $500,000 damages, as ordered by the court, to former prime ministers Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew. He said he expected bankruptcy proceedings to start, but that bankruptcy would not stop him from fighting for democracy in Singapore. (AFP 15/3)

Dr Chee's new book, The Power of Courage: Effecting Political Change in Singapore Through Non-Violence, is an explanation of "the concept and philosophy of non-violent action and why it is important for Singapore....The book also examines the laws that the PAP introduced to strengthen its grip on power and how these laws are applied selectively against the opposition." The Forewords are by prominent critic and writer Francis Seow (a former prisoner of conscience) and Robert Helvey (President -- Albert Einstein Institute and an expert on non-violence). J B Jeyaretnam provides the Introduction. (www.singaporedemocrat.org) At the July 9 book launch, police filmed the proceedings, seized a CD and demanded particulars of two young activists, Charles Tan and Jonathan Siow, who had spoken. Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada issued a press release July 18, stating that "the attendance of 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." (www.lrwc.org) In May, the UN Non-Government Committee recommended that LRWC be given Special Consultative Status.

In April, the SDP called on Asian governments to support democracy, and at a panel for Asian countries, Dr Chee stated that they must "provide the vision to entrench democracy in the region." As SDP Secretary General and Chairman of the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia, he spoke at a conference in Chile, that was attended by government officials and civil society leaders from some 100 countries. (www.singaporedemocrat.org)

Interviewed for Malaysiakini article, Singapore -- republic of fear, by James Wong Wing On (16/5), Dr Chee compared Singapore with Hong Kong: "One society has thrived on the go-getter attitude, and the other on government direction... .[T]he PAP for all intents and purposes is a dictatorship....With the elections system, media, laws, and the ISA the way they are, there is no way that the opposition can be any stronger. But...dictatorships always look good until the very last minute....Singapore is run on fear." (www.malaysiasiakini.com)

Dr Chee and the SDP have launched an Internet Radio programme in order to "breach the control of the media by the PAP government." Dr Chee's first broadcast message called for democracy and rapped the government over issues such as high salaries of ministers and the lack of transparency and accountability. (Reuters 5/8) The radio broadcasts are accessible at www.singaporedemocrat.org.

- J B Jeyaretnam made a further application in June for discharge from bankruptcy by offering S$258,683.82 (40% of his debt). Goh Chok Tong and Jayakumar, two of his creditors, however, refused to accept the offer. (www.jbjeya.org)

- Singapore Democratic Party: Quoting the Prime Minister that "Ours must be an open and inclusive Singapore," the SDP pointed out many of the contradictory curbs on freedom of expression, including the detention in the Institute of Mental Health of Remisier Boon Suan Ban at the President's pleasure. The SDP's Manifesto: The Distribution of Wealth, called on the government to address the issue of poverty in Singapore. "An economy that boasts of large financial resources but has little compassion for the poor, that rationalises, indeed celebrates, grotesque wealth ....cannot be sustained -- morally or practically." (7/7 www.sinagporedemocrat.org) The SDP referred to the UN Development Index, which ranked Singapore 28th behind countries such as Barbados and Malta, pointing to the 2,000 children in 1999 who had not attended school because parents could not afford it, and to the rise in the gap between rich and poor. The party issued a statement in July expressing concern about Singapore's treatment of workers -- The Truth About Labour. (SDP 23/7)

- Remisier Boon Suan Ban was ordered detained in the Institute for Mental Health until it pleased the President to release him. Critics, including J B Jeyaretnam, believed his detention was to prevent allegedly damaging information about Chief Justice Yong Pung How from being revealed to the public. http://jbjeya.org)

- Robert Ho was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health(IMH), following his distribution of flyers about Singapore's election system. He was later released without charge. Police told his wife that he could be detained in IMH "at the President's pleasure if he continued his activities." A few years earlier, he had been investigated for criminal defamation for posting on a website an article about Lee Kuan Yew's daughter-in-law. (SDP 8/4)

- Chen Jia Hao, a Singaporean 23-year-old graduate student in the USA, shut down his blog and apologised unreservedly after Singapore officials threatened to sue him for defamation. The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporteurs Sans Frontières expressed alarm. Chen was reportedly not informed of the reasons that his blog was considered offensive. (http://escapefromparadisecom/NewFiles/Chen.html) RSF referred to the ranking of Singapore as being among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in its press freedom index. (www.cpj.org)


Dozens of migrant workers in the Working Forum on Justice for migrant workers protested outside the Singapore embassy in Indonesia, demanding the abolition of the death penalty for domestic helpers and other migrant workers in Singapore. Anis Hidayah of Migrant Care was hoping to meet Singapore's ambassador to Indonesia. (Antara News 9/7 www.antara.co.id)


Caning as a penalty for criminal offences continues to be handed down. Victims include bank robber Brian Khoo, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and nine strokes of the cane. His claims, which were later questioned, were that he had been unemployed, had children, was in poor health and had become depressed. (2/4 ST?)

Robber Koh Hock Seng was sentenced to 18 years preventive detention and 15 strokes of the cane. (ST 31/5)

Mohamed Shariff Samsudin, 21, was sentenced to three years and the maximum 24 strokes. He was reported as preying on nine young girls. (ST 1/7)


President S R Nathan declared his intention of running for a second six-year term. Critics have called for a loosening of candidates' eligibility criteria of business or government experience. (AFP 12/7)

There has been local anger at published information about alleged misuse of funds and the S$600,000 annual salary of National Kidney Foundation chief T T Durai and perks including first-class travel. (Today 14/7 val@newstoday.com.sg) The SDP invited people to meet representatives at Speakers' Corner to discuss the issue. (SDP 16/7 www.singaporedemocrat.org )