9 Mar 2006

Singapore - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005 by US Department of State

Abstracts of The report focusing on events in the year 2005, "

.... The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were significant problems in some areas. The government has broad powers to limit citizens' rights and to handicap political opposition, which it used in practice. Caning was an allowable punishment for numerous offenses. The following human rights problems were reported:

* preventive detention
* executive influence over the judiciary
* infringement of citizens' privacy rights
* restriction of speech and press freedom, and the practice of self-censorship by journalists
* restriction of freedom of assembly and freedom of association
* some restriction on freedom of religion
* some trafficking in persons

....

... At year's end, 36 detainees were being held under the ISA as suspected terrorists. Of these detainees, 33 were suspected of belonging to the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, and 3 were suspected of membership in the Philippines-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The first arrests of suspected terrorists occurred in 2001; another group was arrested in 2002, additional arrests took place in 2003 and 2004, and on August 5, a suspected Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist was arrested. Some of those detained have been released under restriction orders (ROs). A person subject to an RO must seek official approval for a change of address or occupation and for overseas travel and participation in any public organization or activity. Approximately 19 persons were under ROs as of mid-October; this number included both released detainees and suspected terrorists who were never arrested but who have been placed under ROs ...

... Government leaders historically have used court proceedings, in particular defamation suits, against political opponents and critics (see sections 2.a. and 3). Both this practice and consistent awards in favor of government plaintiffs raised questions about the relationship between the government and the judiciary and led to a perception that the judiciary reflected the views of the ruling party in politically sensitive cases. On January 6, the High Court awarded former prime minister Goh Chok Tong and former senior minister Lee Kuan Yew $300 thousand (S$500 thousand) in damages for comments made by opposition leader Chee Soon Juan the 2001 election campaign...

.... In August 2004 the government relaxed the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act (PEMA), which requires a permit for virtually any form of public speech or entertainment (see section 2.b.). Citizens do not need a permit to speak at indoor public gatherings outside the hearing or view of nonparticipants, unless the topic refers to race or religion. Nevertheless, police continued to invoke the PEMA for minor public protests. On August 28, eight cardboard cutout white elephants were placed outside a subway station to coincide with the visit of a government minister. Area residents complained that the station remained unopened despite being completed and thus was a "white elephant." Police initiated an investigation under the PEMA to determine the identity of the perpetrators, who could have been fined up to $6 thousand (S$10 thousand) for violation of the PEMA...

... In April the government allowed a foreign researcher from Amnesty International to attend a public forum on the death penalty but not to speak. Plainclothes police who were present at the forum demanded to see the forum moderator's identity card to verify that she was a citizen. In May the government denied entry to a foreign national, Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, who had been invited by the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) to speak at a public workshop on nonviolent action. The Ministry of Home Affairs noted that foreigners were not allowed to interfere in domestic politics. The government also reportedly banned the workshop on nonviolence that he was scheduled to attend...

... The Films Act bans political advertising using films or videos as well as films directed towards any political purpose. The act does not apply to any film sponsored by the government, and the act allows the MICA minister, subject to such conditions as he sees fit, to exempt any film from the act. Under government pressure a local filmmaker withdrew his film Singapore Rebel, about opposition leader Dr. Chee Soon Juan, from the Singapore International Film Festival in March. Police questioned the filmmaker about his film on May 16 and August 29. They ordered him to surrender his video camera, courier invoices, and tapes of his film. Although no criminal charges have been filed against him, authorities claimed that his film violated the Films Act, which prohibits films "directed towards any domestic political end." If charged and convicted, the filmmaker could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to $60 thousand (S$100 thousand). In protest of this investigation, an activist filed a complaint against the national broadcaster, MediaCorp, for screening two programs about the ruling People's Action Party leaders. The activist claimed that the Films Act is politically biased in favor of the ruling party. Other restrictions tightly control the types of campaign materials that can be distributed by or about candidates and parties during an election...

...The government prosecuted three individuals for allegedly racist remarks they made on the Internet, accusing all three of violating the Sedition Act. The court sentenced one to one month in jail, another to one day. The third individual, who was 17 years old, was placed on probation and ordered to do 180 hours of community service in Malay welfare organizations...

... On August 11, four protestors assembled outside the Central Provident Fund building to demand greater transparency and accountability in the state-managed pension fund and other government agencies. After more than a dozen antiriot police and several other officers warned the protestors they could be charged with "public nuisance" and ordered them to disperse, the protestors left. On September 30, three of the protestors petitioned the High Court asking that it declare the police dispersal "unconstitutional"; on December 7, the court dismissed the action...

... The government closely monitored political gatherings regardless of the number of persons present. Plainclothes police officers attended and videotaped a July 9 book launch by opposition figure Chee Soon Juan. After his presentation, the police questioned Chee and seized a video of protests by Hong Kong residents that had been playing in the background. The police claimed that Chee did not have a certificate for public display of the video...

....In August police allowed a concert opposing the death penalty on condition that the photograph of a drug trafficker executed in May be removed from all publicity and information materials about the concert. In July police disapproved the permit for the fourth annual gay and lesbian beach festival, after having approved the festival in prior years. On April 27, two female practitioners of Falun Gong were fined $12 thousand (S$20 thousand) and $14,400 (S$24 thousand) respectively for unlawful assembly and distribution of video compact discs about the group. In April police rejected the application of former opposition leader J.B. Jeyaretnam to demonstrate against the decision to license the city's first casino. In March the MICA minister upheld an MDA decision not to allow a concert organized by a gay group to raise money for HIV/AIDs...

... On August 13, the committee decided that the PAP‑endorsed incumbent, President S.R. Nathan, was the only qualified candidate out of four applicants. The election was cancelled and Nathan was inaugurated for a second term on September 1. The government placed significant obstacles in the way of opposition political figures' presidential candidacies...

... On December 6, the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a detailed report on actual and potential abuses of foreign domestic workers and recommended remedial actions. On December 7, the Ministry of Manpower issued a press statement citing its efforts over the past few years to address the concerns highlighted in the HRW report and reiterating that it does not tolerate abuse or exploitation of foreign domestic workers... "

The entire report can be read here.

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Strangely, there is no mention of the death penalty in the entire report ... could be attributed to the fact that certain states within USA still has capital punishment.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"..The Ministry of Home Affairs noted that foreigners were not allowed to interfere in domestic politics."

Foregners are not allowed to intefere in domestic politics, locals become dissidents if they do. And what's with the "show IC" thing? Oh, it's to confirm one is a S'porean, so the thugs, sorry, I mean authorities, can sue you or lock you away if you even dare cross the OB markers, I bet. Man, it's tough being a Singaporean huh..

antipathy said...

THe trouble with Singaporeans is that they fail to see that their fear of being jailed for crossing this OB markers is nothing more than cowardice.

If you are jailed so be it, at least it is for something you believe in. IF enough are jailed, it will bring the odious machine to a halt, as the bodies are mashed into its gears.

The problem lies not with the government and the PAP, which will try to hold on to power for as long as it can, but the bloody singaporeans, who only know how to complain about the state.

Salt * Wet * Fish said...

Antipathy, so who should go to jail first? Are you will to make that first sacrifice and go to jail first? Its certainly nice to say that we support people who are willing to go to jail for their believes, but will not be the first one to be on the line. No?

antipathy said...

I am willing to go to jail for what i believe in, salt*wet*fish.

I am not throwing myself into jail for some insane doctrine, but if something i truly believe in is attacked, i will willingly rise up.

I mean if LKY himself is willing to go to jail for his beliefs, and everyone so strongly attacks him for his ideals anonymously on this boards, it just seems to make the anonymous users look like cowards, and him a hero.

Anonymous said...

there are plenty of issues to speak out about without risk of jail; have you spoken out about anything recently antipathy

I havnt, but then, I have a good ricebowl and have no reason to complain; I also happen to be a foreigner so feel indifferent about many things; if you are so courageous, start by telling us more about yourself

antipathy said...

well anonymous, what you believe in might be different from what i believe in.

perhaps you aren't aware, but it isn't just jail, but it is the fact that singaporeans are not willing to face up to persecution of any kind. In other words, your good ricebowl.

The fact of the matter is, apparently because our voting slip itself is numbered, some people believe that when you vote opposition, the PAP will track you down and make your life a living hell. At least that is what some people say.

Anyway, i won't reveal my life details over the board, because it serves no purpose. But i don't go anonymous at least, so you just have to do a bit of poking to find out.