30 Apr 2006

GE buzz on Web

From Today Online
Weekend • April 29, 2006

WHO says Singaporeans are apolitical? The buzz on the Internet about the Singapore election should dispel all such talk.

According to a report by Nexlabs, an information management company which scanned election related postings on the Internet, there have been about 1,200 reports on GE 2006 published on blogs since January.

Since the Election Writ was issued the week before, the volume of postings about the election has also gone up. The week before the Writ was issued, about 280 related postings were tracked on blogs over six days; after the Writ was issued, over 400 postings were tracked in the six days that followed.

The most prolific of all the blogs is www.singabloodypore.blogspot.com, which, as of Thursday, had posted 232 articles since the beginning of this year.

The issue of an open society was the most widely discussed election theme on blogs, making up almost 18 per cent of all articles and postings about GE 2006. This differed from issues news websites focused on — defamation suits and the National Kidney Foundation scandal. The most commonly discussed Group Representation Constituency (GRC) on blogs is Sembawang GRC , while the most oft-mentioned Single Member Constituencies were the two Opposition-held wards of Potong Pasir and Hougang. — LIN YANQIN

Call to Action - Letter to the Editor

Someone has generously provided a well written letter. You might want to consider attaching your name to it and sending it to CNA.

Dear Editor,

I have just been to your website and am disappointed that your media is taking the liberal opportunity of presenting pro-PAP news features at the expense of the opposition, which doesn't do much to reduce the very widespread perception that your media company is a propaganda tool of the ruling party.

A quick glance of your homepage shows about 12 stories dedicated to the PAP's promotional campaigning while stories of the Opposition parties number a paltry few. Your "jumping" on the PAP bandwagon on defining the Opposition parties along the James Gomez minority form fiasco and the pending defamation lawsuits involving the SDP have not gone unnoticed.

Singapore Inc. has acquired a notorious reputation overseas in terms of its repressive political and social environment, having become bedfellows with some of the most oppressive regimes in the world including Burma, Saudi Arabia and China. Perhaps it may be a good strategic policy for your media to move away from your affinity with the establishment and move towards establishing yourself as a credible, independent media that peoples of the world can come to admire.

I am a member of your target audience group (the PMEBs) and I know that many of us having travelled widely and being educated, sophisticated world citizens are no fools in discerning and recognising the blatant bias in the reporting in your media.


MediaCorp News Hotline 68 2222 68

Give us your feedback on our content.
Contact: newseditor@channelnewsasia.com

Rally at Ubi field

More outstanding work from Yawning Bread...

This is a part of a screenshot of 'Today' newspaper, 28 April 2006. It informed the public that there would be 2 election rallies in the evening for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC).
The People's Action Party would be holding theirs at a comfortable sports stadium about 700 metres from Serangoon metro station, walking along paved roads. The stadium would have seats.

The Workers' Party was allocated a rough field in a mixed industrial and residential area, about 1.2 km from Eunos metro station, with no easy walking approach. The Pan-Island Expressway lies midway between the station and the field. Only one bus service goes there.

I chose Ubi field. I only had an hour or so, as I had a ticket for the Film Festival's 'Angry Monk' at 21.15h. But I should be able to grab some photos, I told myself.

Then it started to rain.

Singapore Election 2006: Party Political Broadcast

Part 1: WP and SDA

Part 2: SDA

Part 3: PAP

Broadcast details: Political parties fielding six or more candidates in this election are eligible for party political broadcast. Airtime is in proportion to the number of the candidates fielded. This is the first of two programs, the speakers respresenting their parties are:

Mr Lee Hsien Loong, from the People's Action Party;
Mr Chiam See Tong from the Singapore Democratic Alliance;
Ms Sylvia Lim from the Workers' Party;
Ms Chee Siok Chin from the Singapore Democratic Party.

The party fielding the smallest number of candidates will appear first, the party fielding the largest number, last.

S'pore Election: Parties Speak To S'poreans Via Political Broadcasts

By Jackson Sawatan

SINGAPORE, April 30 (Bernama) -- The four contesting parties in the Singapore general election spoke to Singaporeans last night via political broadcasts aired over television and radio.

The alloted time for each party to make their political broadcasts in four languages -- English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil -- was based on the number of seats contested.

The People's Action Party (PAP), which is contesting all 84 seats, was given 12 minutes while the Workers' Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), each with 20 candidates, were given 4.5 minutes each.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), with seven candidates, was given 2.5 minutes.

In his broadcast message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the PAP had fulfilled its 2001 promise to create more jobs for Singaporeans.

"You gave the PAP a strong mandate. We delivered on our promise. Last year, we created 113,000 jobs -- the highest number in 10 years," he said.

He also spoke of making Singapore a land of opportunity, saying that he would put in all his energy to make it a reality.

"But I cannot do it alone. I need a strong team of ministers and MPs to help me. I need honest, capable and committed men and women who feel passionately about Singapore and can draw on the ideas and energies of all Singaporeans to create our future," he said.

He promised that the PAP would educate all Singaporeans to be the best that they could be, involve the people in building the country and help lower-income households and to have more affordable health care services.

He said that the PAP candidates were the best team for Singapore.

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim criticised what she claimed as the selective implementation of upgrading projects for constituencies.

"Why we came forth? Amongst many other issues is one that clearly threatens to split the fabric of our nation. This is the use of taxpayers' money to selectively upgrade constituencies that vote for the PAP," she said.

Calling that strategy a threat to the voters, Lim said that the PAP used public funds to entrench and promote the party through public-funded grassroots organisations. "Is this a First World government?" she asked.

SDA chairman Chiam See Tong urged the voters to deny the PAP -- which has already won 37 seats in seven Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) -- a clean sweep.

"We need a multi-party system in Singapore to ensure that democracy survives... A vibrant and cosmopolitan Singapore needs creativity of the mind and innovation. All these can only flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and an environment where there is no fear -- the people's mind can be most creative and most productive," he said.

SDP made comparison of the salaries the ministers earn and the thousands of Singaporeans it said were not able to pay their utility bills or afford to buy their own flats or rent homes.

"The PAP ministers are paid S$100,000 a month -- the highest in the world," SDP member Chee Siok Chin said. The next and final political broadcasts is on Thursday.


Call to Action

The comment below was submitted by an anonymous reader and I thought it deserved your attention.

Please call mediacorp as [a] member of the public to say how disgusting we find the misrepresentation of the non-PAP parties during their coverage of the election.

If everyone [of] us calls, they will change. Trust me. Many of the reporters WANT to report the TRUTH! However, they are stopped by their bosses.

We are Professionals & thinking people, [we] must do our part by giving them pressure from all sides. [If] enough pressure and professional support [is raised], the reporters will have call in figures to back their desire to want to report the TRUTH.

Many reporters are on our side, many policemen are on our side, they are Singaporeans too. We can support them by calling in & writing in.

Let's give them tons of calls and emails to press for TRUTH. We can make a difference. Each call can make a difference.

MediaCorp News Hotline 68 2222 68

Give us your feedback on our content.
Contact: newseditor@channelnewsasia.com

What are you waiting for.....pick up the phone and call, logon and email. Give them support to report the TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH.

Some reporters said they hate the censor and want to resign, they need our support, they need our encourgement, they need to hear from us to know that they are not fighting alone against their bosses.

By Anonymous,

SDA candidate Steve Chia says govt not transparent on NKF, reserves

Singapore Democratic Alliance's (SDA) Steve Chia, who is contesting Chua Chu Kang, has accused the PAP government of not being transparent.

He was referring to what had happened at the NKF.

"If TT Durai did not sue SPH (Singapore Press Holdings), let me ask you, will our PAP ministers still be praising the NKF, Mr TT Durai and urging people to continue donating to the old NKF? If TT Durai did not sue SPH, would they, our world class ministers, know all the wrongdoings in NKF?” challenged Steve Chia, SDA candidate for Chua Chua Kang.

"Our world class ministers are led blindly by a charity organisation. It is an honest mistake and the ministers say we were all conned by them and apologised. Is that all? When the government makes mistakes, they apologise. Don't you think more should be done?" asked Mr Chia

Meanwhile, speaking at an SDA rally at Tampines Stadium on Saturday evening, the party's candidate for the single seat of Yio Chu Kang Mr Yip Yew Weng said the SDA is not out to form the next government.

They goal is to check on the government formed by the PAP.

"In this election, we are not aiming to form the next government. Our 20 candidates are not enough to form the government so that's not an issue. What we aim to do is keep an eye on the PAP to ensure they govern Singapore well. Let the PAP form the government, let them distribute the money. But nobody is perfect and the NKF is a case in point. We must not let such an incident take place again," said Yip Yew Weng, SDA candidate for Yio Chu Kang.

- CNA /ls

SDA's Chiam See Tong rebuts NCMP suggestion

By Rita Zahara, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : The chairman of Singapore Democratic Alliance Chiam See Tong has rebutted National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan's suggestion that he should be voted into Parliament as a Non-Constituency MP.

Mr Chiam, who has served as MP for Potong Pasir for the past 22 years, said he would not be able to help the residents and meet their needs if he is relegated to just keep a check on the PAP in Parliament.

Mr Mah had criticised Mr Chiam's two-in-one formula, in which the SDA leader urged residents to vote opposition candidates into Parliament so they would get the services of both the opposition MPs as well as the aspiring PAP candidates, who would work extra hard to win them over.

Turning the tables against him, Mr Mah had said residents in Potong Pasir will still benefit from the services of two representatives if they vote for Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, as Mr Chiam can come in as a Non-Constituency MP.

Mr Chiam said: "One very basic thing he does not know is that a Non-Constituency MP has got no constituency to look after. How can I help the constituency ... if I am selected as a NCMP? I don't think he knows what he is talking about." - CNA/de


(English IPS News Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)by Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Apr. 28, 2006 (IPS/GIN) -- The three opposition parties fielding candidates in Singapore's May 6 legislative election have little chance of winning against the People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled with an iron grip since 1959.

The PAP's return to power in Southeast Asia's richest country is a foregone conclusion. But opposition groups like the Workers' Party, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) fielded enough candidates to force a contest in more than half the seats in the 84-member legislature. The PAP was sole contestant in 37 other seats.

The government of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is attempting to silence opposition voices and prevent customary pre-election debates by preventing opposition parties from campaigning.

In that way, Singapore and its supposed democracy is no different in spirit and intention to what is on display in Laos. Opposition voices in Laos have been denied a space to argue their case in the April 30 elections for the country's 119-member national assembly, being held a year ahead of schedule.

"The people of Laos have no right to present their independent and opposition party's ideas," Wangyee Vang, secretary general of the U.S.-based Laos National Federation for Peace, Democracy and Prosperity, said on the group's Web site soon after the Communist Party of Laos, which has run the country since 1975, announced plans for the April poll.

In February 2002, during the last elections for the Laotian national assembly, all but one of the 166 candidates were from the ruling party.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (or RSF) ranked both Singapore and Laos among the bottom 20 of 167 countries reviewed in its 2005 survey on the right to free expression, a cornerstone of any democracy. While Singapore came 140th, Laos was the 155th. The ranking was similar the year before.

"Despite being far advanced in the use of new technologies, Singapore is still in the Middle Ages when you look at the way it deals with freedom of expression in cyberspace," Philippe Latour, RSF's Southeast Asia representative, told IPS. "For the current electoral campaign bloggers and Web site managers do not have the right to back a particular candidate's program. It (Singapore) is no better than Laos or Vietnam in this regard."

The plight of the opposition SDP and its leader, Chee Soon Juan, is a case in point. The Singaporean government has banned Chee's views criticizing the PAP from being broadcast on the SDP's Web site and has cracked down on the SDP for the opinions expressed in its party newspaper, The New Democrat. In addition, police repeatedly harass Chee.

Singapore's founding father, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, and his successor, former premier Goh Chok Tong, pursued a strategy favored by the country's ruling elite to silence dissent -- bankrupting the dissenter through legal suits. Chee became the target early this year with a defamation case filed against him by Lee and Goh demanding $500,000 in damages.

The government also has banned Chee, a neuropsychologist educated in Singapore and the United States, from speaking in public ahead of the election. The ban also holds true for groups who try to read in public any speeches written by Chee.

The PAP currently controls 82 of the 84 seats in the Singapore legislature.

"This is a new policy. It is part of the effort to control freedom of expression because the PAP is worried about criticism and the questions the public will raise, particularly the young voters," Sinapan Samydorai, president of Think Center, a Singapore-based non-governmental group, told IPS in a telephone interview. "The opposition cannot use blogs, the Internet, podcasts, the entire electronic media during the election period."

Lee Hsien Loong, the leader of the PAP, inherited the post without an electoral contest in August 2004 when Goh stepped down. Lee is the son of the country's founding father, who transformed Singapore from a developing country to a developed one by ensuring that the PAP dominated the government with able support from the supine judiciary and media.

"The political system here is as fair as you can find in any country in terms of your being able to stand up, to have a view, to organize, to mobilize and participate, and not need a lot of money or lot of power to get moving," Lee was quoted by The Straits Times, a government-controlled daily, this week. "You just need good people and passion, and you can win."

He will have to do more than that to convince the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia, an organization of democracy activists, which has given Singapore a failing grade in its 2005 Asia Democracy Index (ADI).

"Singapore ranks second from the bottom, just one place higher than Myanmar (Burma)," states the index, which studied the climate for civil rights, elections, governance, media, rule of law and public participation in 16 Asian countries. These included Japan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Pakistan and Malaysia.

"This may surprise many who are not familiar with the island-state's politics," it adds. "Yet, the results of the ADI dispels the myth and shows Singapore for what it really is, a highly repressive society."

29 Apr 2006

Workers Party Rally Videos

Chiam See Tong (SDA)

Gopal Krisnan

Arrival of Sylvia Lim

Eric Tan

Low Thia Khiang introduces Aljunied GRC WP candidates

James Gomez

To save these videos visit

These videos were first spotted on Singapore Election Watch

SDP chairman flip-flops over ousting Chee

I really got to add that this seems to be the ONLY press the SDP is getting during the current elections. Dr Chee needs to get those podcasts out now and circumvent the PAP controlled mass media, whether it is illegal or not is rapidly becoming unimportant. The international press is listening and this is all they hear...

SINGAPORE: SDP chairman flip-flops over ousting Chee
Chairman accuses media of discrediting the Singapore Democratic Party

Straits Time
Friday, April 28, 2006

By Chua Chin Hon

At 11 a.m. yesterday, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Ling How Doong was going on about how he was 'angry and disappointed' with the way Dr Chee Soon Juan ran the party and got members dragged into a lawsuit.

He even told reporters that he and fellow SDP leader Wong Hong Toy had wanted to oust Dr Chee a few weeks ago but failed to marshal support.

'You didn't read that report when we told the Chinese press we said we intended to remove him?' Mr Ling asked shortly after arriving at Fajar Secondary School, the nomination centre for the single-seat Bukit Panjang ward.

But several hours later, in the afternoon, he did an about-face. In a joint statement with Dr Chee, the two SDP leaders said media reports on how Mr Ling wanted Dr Chee sacked 'is completely untrue' and accused the media of discrediting the SDP even before the hustings began.

'The SDP stands united in this election amd is determined to speak up for the people,' the statement read.

It was a far cry from what Mr Ling told reporters when he turned up with supporters to file his papers in the morning.

He noted press reports in which Dr Chee was decribed as running a 'one-man show', adding: 'I can't agree more.'

Mr Ling also said that he disagreed with Dr Chee on 'a lot of things', including the party newsletter, which he had no hand in.

Asked whether he would quit the SDP or switch political parties if he was so unhappy, he said: 'I've been standing for elections since 1984, and I've no reason to pack up because someone made a boo-boo.'

Over at Hotel Asia where the SDP was having a press conference, its first for this General Election, Mr Ling was conspicuously absent.

When asked about Mr Ling's comments on wanting to oust him, Dr Chee said: 'I don't want to be entertaining all these reports.'

Pressed further, he said he had called Mr Ling but the SDP veteran could not speak as he was driving. 'But those with him said there was no such thing. Let me sort this out and then we'll take it when it comes.'

Asked why Mr Ling was not present, Dr Chee said that the press conference was intended for the introduction of the Sembawang slate only.

As for the assertion that he ran a 'one-man show', he replied: 'The people sitting here, many of them are in the CEC. If the whole situation rests on the fact that this is a one-man show, I don't see how we can get these things done.'

He told reporters that during the nine-day campaigning period, the SDP will focus on issues like the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) scandal, income disparity and rising cost of living.

These issues had 'tremendous significance' for ordinary Singaporeans, he said, but offered no concrete solutions when asked how his party would go about lowering the cost of living.

As for the lawsuit filed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, he said it had affected the party's campaign logistics as the printer was afraid to print his posters.

Asked if it would also affect how voters viewed the SDP team, he said: 'A lawsuit is a lawsuit. This campaign is separate from that.'

But would the SDP be able to convince Sembawang voters to separate the two? He replied: 'We tell the voters that it is important for you to concentrate on what is going to happen right now and the PAP is trying to distract you.'

Additional reporting by Ben Nadarajan, Aaron Low and Azrin Asmani

Lee Defends Policy, Calling Singapore Politics `A Rough Game'

2021 Signatures of Singaporeans disagree MM Lee

To: The Secretary-General of the People's Action Party
We are concerned about the linking of public housing upgrading and estate renewal programmes to electoral support for the PAP in a constituency.

The prioritisation of upgrading programmes should be based on sound criteria and be kept a separate issue from the general election.

These are the reasons:

1) In selecting a precinct for upgrading, the age and condition of the estate and the flats should be foremost considerations. As national agencies, the HDB and the MND have the responsibility to improve the living environment of all Singaporeans.

2) Residents in the opposition wards are fellow citizens and they contribute to this country just like you and me. It is against national cohesion and irresponsible for the government to alienate them by denying them of upgrading programmes and public amenities in their constituencies. The people of Singapore certainly have not entrusted the PAP government to misuse public funds to advance its self-interests.

3) It is important not to turn our parliamentary elections into local council contests. The government should be elected based on their policies and plans for Singapore - not municipal issues. To intimidate voters with withholding upgrading programmes seems to suggest that the ruling party is trying to avoid serious debates on national policies.

The elected government of the day should work for and together with all Singaporeans transcending political factions. The provision of upgrading programmes and public amenities must not be dominated by narrow party self-interests.

We, the undersigned, request that the vote in a general election not be linked to upgrading programmes.


The Undersigned

Click here to Sign the Petition

View Current Signatures

Lee Defends Policy, Calling Singapore Politics `A Rough Game'
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Lee Kuan Yew, modern Singapore's founder, defended a government policy that prioritizes housing renovations for its own supporters, saying that reversing the practice may loosen the ruling party's four-decade hold on power.

``Where it is upgrading and it is by constituency, surely it is the principle of government to do the upgrading first in the constituencies that supported them,'' Lee, who holds the post of minister mentor, said late yesterday. If districts held by the opposition were renovated first, ``why should our constituents vote for us the next time around?''

Singapore's People's Action Party has changed the island from a trading backwater to the region's second-richest nation per capita after Japan. The party, which has been in power since before the country won independence in 1965, is seeking to extend its rule in an election May 6. Still, opposition groups this week mustered enough candidates to challenge the government in the polls for the first time since 1988.

Lee, answering questions after dinner at the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore, said improving democracy and fostering a free press weren't priorities for the city-state's 4.3 million voters.

``If you watch what happens in the election, nobody talks about freedom of the press, more democracy etc.,'' Lee said. ``They are talking about the cost of living, cost of transport, cost of electricity, power, and wages not catching up. That's what the daily grind of life is about. We're going to win this election because we've got the answers.''


The government currently holds 82 of the 84 directly elected parliamentary seats. The People's Action Party, led by Lee's son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, was uncontested in 37 of the seats on nomination day on April 27.

The housing-renovation policy has been questioned at least twice in public this week. At a debate at the National University of Singapore on April 26, Arhshath Kaleni, a 17-year- old student, told lawmaker Indranee Rajah that any work should be completed based on the need of the buildings, not on how the constituents voted.

The policy penalizes people for exercising their choice, Kaleni said. The government ``should represent the collective population without this bias,'' he said. About 80 percent of Singapore's population lives in such housing.

Critics of Singapore's political system include Human Rights Watch and billionaire George Soros, who have argued that the government places unnecessary curbs on civil rights and lawsuits against political opponents have harmed freedom of speech.


Lee said yesterday that Singapore's society will develop ``at our own pace and in our way.''

Asked whether an unrestricted media would help, Lee said ``if I believed that a free press would create a more self- reliant and creative opposition, I would seriously consider that.''

He said the challenges for Singapore include narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, and remaining competitive in the shadow of India and China, the world's two largest populations. Lee said he, not foreign countries or their media, knows best how to meet those challenges.

``There are very few things that I do not know about Singapore politics,'' said Lee. ``I know what would work here.''

Lee said he was unwilling to participate in a televised debate with Singapore's opposition parties, which include the Workers' Party and the Singapore Democratic Party. To do so would give them pre-election publicity that they're unable to generate on their own, he said.

``We are happy to meet anybody, after the votes have been cast,'' he said.

Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan said April 26 that ``fear'' of repercussions was hampering the development of a political opposition. Lee yesterday said the opposition is able to win seats in parliament, though will need to field higher quality candidates.

``I want a world-class opposition, not this riff-raff,'' he said. ``You've got to be rough. This is a rough game.''

Chee is being sued for defamation by Prime Minister Lee and Lee Kuan Yew for statements made in his party's newspaper earlier this month.

Yesterday the elder Lee said Chee, who can't stand for this year's election because he is bankrupt, has been ``discredited'' and was unlikely to return to the political arena. Chee lost a defamation suit filed during a 2001 election and was ordered to pay S$500,000 ($315,000) in damages to the elder Lee and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

``Having got rid of what I would call gutter politics,'' Singapore has the opportunity ``to start off on a new basis,'' Lee said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Angus Whitley in Singapore at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

The (In)significance of Elections in Singapore?

Who cares, and how the elections provide political legitimacy for the PAP, thats it...

28 Apr 2006

Nomination Day in Photos by Yawning Bread

Below is a very brief excerpt from Yawning Breads photo essay on nomination day. Nice to get an alternative take, rather than the CNA we love the PAP coverage.

More supporters of the Workers' Party. Some of their colleagues didn't want to be in the picture.

When I approached them, they immediately asked me if I was from the mainstream media. Only when they were convinced of my denials did they agree to pose. I wondered why.

After the shot, they enquired which website it would be on. I soon realised that none of them had ever heard of Yawning Bread. Out of curiosity, I asked if they knew of other sites like Singapore Ink, Singabloodypore, Mr Wang, etc. Zilch. None of them recognised any of those names.

Somewhere in there may be an indicator of how the party is not yet able to exploit new media.

But these folks have the courage to wear the opposition's colours and show up at the Nomination Centre, even if they'd be outnumbered 50:1 by the PAP. Think about that.

Can we nominate Yawning Bread for the Pulitzer Prize?

Opposition party ordered to withdraw podcast from website

Reporters Without Borders today accused the Singaporean government of placing increasing curbs on online free expression after the electoral authorities ordered the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) to withdraw a podcast from its website on Wednesday, 10 days before parliamentary elections.

“A new form of protest on the Internet and in blogs is emerging in Singapore,” the press freedom organisation said. “Internet users aware of the latest technologies are daring to say things online which one has never been able to read in the local newspapers. Podcasts are the only way to hear the speeches of opposition leaders, who have few opportunities to speak publicly. We support the Internet users and bloggers fighting for free expression in Singapore.”

The speech by SDP leader Chee Soon Juan can still be downloaded from the party’s site at http://www.sgdemocrat.org/radioSDP/GE2006_PC1.mp3, while a transcript is available at this blog : http://www.singabloodypore.blogspot.com/. In it, Chee accuses Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the government of sabotaging his election campaign and trying to undermine his party by denying it the means to communicate with its supporters.

Chee says he is constantly being followed, watched and threatened by the police and has not been allowed to make any public speeches. The SDP lawyer claims that the podcast ban is unconstitutional, even during an election campaign.

At the start of this month, Reporters Without Borders condemned the new Internet regulations that have just been adopted by the government. They force websites that openly espouse a political position to register with the Media Development Authority. During an election campaign, even registered sites must now refrain from posting any political comments. The government says this is necessary in order to have a “responsible” election campaign.

As the traditional media are unfailing in their support for the People’s Action Party, which has ruled the city-state since independence in 1959, the Internet offers the only space where a real democratic debate could be held.

Mr Lee or PM Lee?

quzy of quiescente queste has raised an extremely important point by stating
Correct me if I'm wrong, but since Parliament has been dissolved on 21 April, shouldn't all Cabinet apppointments be expired as well? Yet CNA has been consistently using appointment titles like MM Lee, PM Lee and SM Goh.

It's notable that election officers at the nomination centres correctly used Mr, Ms, and Dr when announcing candidate names.

This matter should be clarified by the election officers, but then again I feel that as they are not independent this seems unlikely to happen. What it does indicate is the open bias in favour of the PAP of Channel News Asia. Just look at the opening paragraphs and headline of the latest article on Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

PM Lee begins campaigning at Ang Mo Kio GRC
By Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : With 47 seats being contested in the upcoming General Election, political candidates were out busy canvassing for votes from the constituents a day after Nomination Day.

Among them was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who last faced a contest 18 years ago.

There were a few surprised faces but mostly smiles when the early morning crowd in Ang Mo Kio encountered the Prime Minister during his morning walkabout.

One of his first stops was the MRT station where he greeted people queuing for a copy of their "TODAY" newspaper and others rushing to work.

Mr Lee has been with the Teck Ghee ward since he joined politics but this is the first time he is facing a contest since 1988.

And he is not making light of this challenge.

PM Lee said: "I'm taking it quite seriously otherwise I would not be here."

Is it PM Lee or Mr Lee since Parliament has been dissolved?

27 Apr 2006

Local media waging a campaign against SDP

According to Singapore Elections Watch this reply has been issued by Dr Chee and Ling How Doong. If this rebuttal is true and was issued by the Singapore Democrats it raises some serious questions about the 'journalist' and Channel News Asia. Just who is spreading untruths, lies during the election? Who is deviating from an engagement in political debates in a factual and objective manner?

Local media waging a campaign against SDP
The reports about Mr Ling How Doong saying that Dr Chee Soon Juan should be sacked as Secretary-General of the SDP is completely untrue. The SDP stands united in this election and is determined to speak up for the people.

It looks like the media is running a campaign aimed at unfairly discrediting the SDP before the hustings can even begin. Such reportage of the SDP is not surprising. The media has consistently tried to present the worst image of the SDP because the Party has called for reform of the political system in Singapore.

The SDP’s message to voters at the Sembawang GRC and Bukit Panjang SMC is resonating and the anger of the voters at the PAP will have a significant impact on the results in these wards.

Ling How Doong

Chee Soon Juan
posted by Singapore Election

The offending article is posted below...

By Sharon Tong, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : The Singapore Democratic Party Chairman Ling How Doong says the party's Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan may be sacked from its Central Executive Committee.

Mr Ling was talking to the media shortly after arriving at Fajar Secondary School on Thursday morning to file his nomination paper to contest Bukit Panjang in the General Election.

Speaking at a separate media conference, Dr Chee denied he could be ousted from the party.

He said he had not heard a word from Mr Ling.

Dr Chee claimed he had not heard the report that he might be sacked from the Central Executive Committee.

He claimed he had called Mr Ling and was told that the chairman had denied the matter.

Mr Ling was not present at the news conference, while the rest of the team vying for Sembawang GRC was there.

Dr Chee and other members of the CEC currently face defamation suits brought on them by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew over their comments on the government's handling of the National Kidney Foundation issue.

These remarks were published in the SDP's newsletter.

The PAP leaders had sent letters of demand last Friday to all 12 members of the SDP's CEC that they were to apologise and pay damages or be sued.

But only four of them have apologised.

Dr Chee and a few other CEC members have said they will be fighting the defamation suits.

They also continued to sell the newsletter over the weekend.

The two PAP leaders are now seeking aggravated damages. - CNA /ct

Video Blogging the Elections?

Viewing an election rally, take your camera, film it, upload and email me the address of the site.

Check out these sites over the next week for updates and new rally dates and places

Election Meeting Sites.

Election Meetings Updates.

Workers Party.
Rally for 28th April 2006
WP will be holding its first rally for this elections at the open field by Ubi Road 3, Ubi Ave 1 and Ubi Ave2. Time: 7.00pm to 10.00pm

Singapore Democratic Alliance.
SDA Rally Venue
Date: 28 April 2006
Venue: Potong Pasir Ave 1 Open Field infront of Blk 147

Singapore Democrats

And re-posted here for your convenience...

Included here are two of the more popular sites to upload video to. Signing up is easy and most require you to download some software.

Your work deserves to be seen.You've made a great video. Now who will watch it?

Whether you produce hundreds of titles a year or just a few, you can give your videos the recognition and visibility they deserve by promoting them on Google - for free. Signing up for the Google Video Upload Program will connect your work with users who are most likely to want to view them.

Sign up and upload...
We're accepting digital video files of any length and size. Simply sign up for an account and upload your videos using our Video Uploader (please be sure you own the rights to the works you upload), and, pending our approval process and the launch of this new service, we'll include your video in Google Video, where users will be able to search, preview, purchase and play it. Find out more here.

What is YouTube?

YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you.
With YouTube you can:
Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide
Browse thousands of original videos uploaded by community members
Find, join and create video groups to connect with people with similar interests
Customize your experience with playlists and subscriptions
Integrate YouTube with your website using video embeds or APIs

Some other sites that accept videos include:

PAP's Election results

1955: won 3 of 25 elected seats, % NA.(PAP began in opposition with Lee Kuan Yew as opposition leader. The Labour Front won 13 seats and was the governing party.)

1959: won 43 of 51 seats, with 53% of the vote (since 1959, voting in Singapore has been compulsory).

1963: won 37 of 51 seats, with 47% of the vote (opposition votes were spilt between the Barisan Sosialis Party and the United People's Party).

1968: won all of the seats, with 84% of the vote.

1972: won all of the seats, with 69% of the vote.

1976: won all of the seats, with 72% of the vote.

1980: won all of the seats, with 77% of the vote.

1984: won all except 2 seats, with 65% of the vote.

1988: won 80 of 81 seats, with 63% of the vote.

1991: won 36 of 40 contested seats, with 61% of the vote.

1997: won 34 of 36 contested seats, with 65% of the vote.

2001: won 25 of 27 contested seats, with 75% of the vote.

The number to watch in the coming election is the percentage of the vote, a dip in the percentage of votes for the PAP would be interpreted as Singaporeans giving LHL and the PAP a bloody nose.

Workers Party Coming On Strong

For the first time in two decades the Singapore election isn't simply a one horse race with Singapore's opposition parties on Thursday declaring their intention to contest more than half of the seats in Singapore's May 6.

Not the most objective of polls above, even though it has received 1581 votes, not all from Singaporeans and not taken from a random sample. It does seem to be indicating that the Workers Party are at least in front of the Social Democratic Party.

And with the PAP shifting the number of seats they hope to win downwards, in order to be able to claim a success for their party, the PAP seem to be aware of the competition.

What you don't see on TV

From Singapore Election Watch


SINGAPORE (AFP), APRIL 26, 2006 (STAR) A Filipina maid facing trial over the death of a compatriot whose body was chopped up and left inside a bag will escape a possible death sentence after prosecutors reduced the murder charge against her, the woman’s lawyer said yesterday.

Guen Aguilar could now be jailed for life if convicted after a trial to begin on May 15, the lawyer Shashi Nathan said.

"Originally she faced a murder charge," Nathan told reporters after a preliminary inquiry at High Court.

"The present charge is one for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. There is a possibility of a life sentence."

Nathan said he did not know why the charge had been altered but it was a huge relief for his client and he would work to convince the court that she should be sentenced to much less than life if convicted.

"Certainly the first thing we need to do is to tell the court that a life sentence would not be fair in this case and we have to show the court through our own arguments and submissions that a sentence below 10 years would be appropriate."

The accused listened to proceedings through an interpreter.

Aguilar, 29, was arrested hours after the severed head and limbs of Jane La Puebla, 26, were found inside a sports bag near a subway station at the Orchard Road shopping district on Sept. 9.

La Puebla’s torso was later found at a nature park.

Nathan first said last October that he would not rule out seeking an amendment to the murder charge against Aguilar after his conversations with her gave the defence team a clearer picture of what may have transpired

Singapore's opposition to contest more than half of parliament seats+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)SINGAPORE, April 27_(Kyodo) _ Singapore's opposition parties on Thursday declared their intention to contest more than half of the seats in Singapore's May 6 parliamentary election for the first time in nearly two decades, challenging Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's bid for a strong leadership mandate.

The opposition parties filed nomination papers to contest 47 of the 84 seats in Parliament, marking the first time since 1988 that the ruling People's Action Party has not been automatically returned to power on nomination day.

"We don't have a majority who have been returned unopposed, so we are fighting this election to decide who will form the next government of Singapore," Lee told reporters.

The PAP is expected to win the election on polling day as it has done at every election since the country's independence in 1965.

Most people in the wealthy city-state see the PAP as the backbone of Singapore's economic success and prefer political and economic stability rather than change.

The opposition parties have made it their clarion call for Singaporeans to vote more opposition members into parliament to check the ruling party's overbearing power. They will contest all nine single-seat wards and half of the 14 multi-seat wards, including Lee's constituency.

Lee, who is facing his first electoral battle since taking over from Goh Chok Tong in a planned leadership succession in 2004, is seeking a clear mandate for his leadership.

Noting that the Workers' Party challenging his constituency has got the largest number of candidates among the opposition parties, he said, "We are taking them seriously...we are eager to fight them."

Most other top party leaders, including Lee's 82-year old father, elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew, and Goh, who has been a senior minister in the Cabinet since he stepped down from the premiership, will retain their parliamentary seats as they are uncontested.

The move to contest more seats reflects a newfound confidence among the larger opposition parties, which have recently managed to attract more young, successful professionals to join their ranks despite being hampered by government-imposed restrictions on public speeches by opposition politicians and Internet debates.

One positive factor that has helped the opposition this time is the government's unprecedented move to release changes in electoral boundaries about a month earlier instead of at the last minute, thus giving the opposition more time to prepare. It also tinkered much less with the boundaries.

The ruling party won a landslide victory in the previous election in 2001, when it was under Goh, sweeping 75 percent of valid votes and all but two of the 84 parliamentary seats.

PAP leaders have said they would be happy to win at least 65 percent of the vote in this election and to wrestle back the two opposition-held seats.

"This election is really about PM Lee Hsien Loong and his new team and whether the electorate will go for the 'staying together, moving ahead' slogan," said Antonio Rappa, assistant professor of political science at the state-run National University of Singapore.

"If he can get at least 68 percent, it would be a super strong signal from the electorate that they are very confident of his leadership ability in the future. This would mean an increased likelihood of him continuing beyond the next three to four elections," he said.

Diane Mauzy, a political science lecturer at Canada's University of British Columbia, who has researched and written on Singapore politics, said "The PAP would be delighted with 70 percent or more of the votes. Sixty-five percent they could live with, but were it down to 60 percent, I think the PAP would be shaken."

The ruling party and the opposition camp will hold intense campaign rallies over nine days until polling day. Lee has chosen to take advantage of the current economic upswing by calling for an early election even though the five-year term of Parliament was not due to expire until the middle of next year.

The two main opposition groups -- the Workers' Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance, which groups four parties -- hope to defend their respective seats and also wrench one or two more seats from the PAP in the hope of carving a larger presence in Parliament.

Singapore Democratic Party, a small party that is unrelated to the SDA, has been threatened with a libel suit from top ruling party leaders in the last few days for certain allegedly defamatory remarks in the party's newsletter on a scandal involving Singapore's largest charitable organization that has shocked the nation.

The National Kidney Foundation scandal, involving the abuse of charity money, is one of the issues that the opposition hopes to raise, along with perennial bread-and-butter concerns such as the high cost of living, subsidies for medical care and jobs for displaced older workers.

Singapore's authoritarian rulers tangled in web

By Shawn W Crispin

BANGKOK - Democratic elections in Singapore have always brought out the worst in the People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the island republic in authoritarian fashion since 1959.

The PAP has repeatedly threatened to cut public housing funds to constituencies that vote for opposition candidates. In populist fashion, this year the party handed out cash payments to low- and middle-income voters just weeks before announcing the May 6 elections.

Historically those PAP tactics have had the desired effect: landslide election victories. The PAP swept 82 of the possible 84 seats in the country's unicameral legislature in 2001, and the ruling party is widely expected to score another resounding electoral win next week.

Yet a new government ban on electioneering and political discussion over the Internet during the current 10-day election season shows that the PAP may be falling out of step with a new generation of Singaporean voters, who increasingly say they favor more democracy and less government intervention in their daily lives.

Muted political chatter

The Internet is changing the nature of political expression in Singapore in new and profound ways.

Online political chatter has surged during the periods leading up to national elections, and the run-up to this year's polls saw unprecedented Internet traffic. At the same time, the PAP has an established record of unplugging online commentators deemed critical of the government.

Consider Sintercom, an online news provider that broke new ground with its 1997 election coverage that often trumped the PAP-controlled mainstream media by posting maps, past election results and snippets from various political parties' manifestos on the Internet.

In the run-up to 2001 polls, the PAP-led government inexplicably amended the Parliamentary Elections Act, limiting political parties' election "advertising" over the Internet and banning non-political entities from election-related reporting and discussion. Sintercom's owner closed down the site in protest, voiding Singapore's only credible outlet for balanced election news coverage.

Chat rooms partially filled the information gap, with voters engaging in online forums to discuss and debate the rules and processes of the elections that have historically worked to the PAP's advantage. The new special legislation on politically oriented electronic communications, however, in effect outlaws all forms of citizen journalism related to this year's election.

New rules limit political discussions online during the 10-day campaign season, including politically oriented podcasting, vodcasting, blogging and even posting photos of opposition rallies on public websites. The opposition had earlier planned to stream its rallies live over the Internet using podcasting technologies.

In recent years opposition parties have used the Internet to bypass the country's state-influenced media, including The Straits Times daily English-language newspaper, which reports unswervingly in favor of the PAP, to appeal to voters. Until last year, commentators needed to receive licenses from the government to conduct any type of public political discussions; that ban is still in place if foreign commentators are scheduled to participate in public forums.

New media have opened the political space for opposition parties to promote their alternative economic policies and raise their profile as a "more transparent, more accountable" political option among the younger, more technology-savvy generation of voters, they contend.

Tan Tarn How, a media researcher at Singapore's Institute of Policy Studies, said the country has hit the "global blogging big league", citing statistics gleaned from Technorati.com, an independent blogger search engine. Technorati.com recently showed that the names of three Singaporean bloggers ranked among the world's top 10 most used search words.

Prior to the PAP's controversial new Internet ban on political discussions during elections, new blog entries with the words "Singapore election" ranged between 12 and 30 per day, with more than 100 new politically oriented entries uploaded on some days in March, Tan noted. More than 67% of Singapore's 4.4 million population is connected to the Internet, the third-highest percentage in Asia behind only Japan and Hong Kong, according to statistics provided by Internetworldstats.com.

Significantly, the new ban on new media highlights a glaring contradiction in the PAP's policy rhetoric and its on-the-ground actions. Recent policy initiatives have aimed, at least conceptually, to promote more creativity in Singapore's still severely repressed society.

However, that drive has not yet translated into more political and social freedoms. The PAP-led government is now in the process of forcing bloggers to register their online identities, stripping online writers of their anonymity and exposing them to possible defamation prosecution for writing considered objectionable by the government. Last year, two bloggers were charged under the Sedition Act related to their online postings.

Behind the times

Singapore's election system has since the 1980s been structured and regulated in ways that inhibit small opposition parties from fielding candidates, including the cumbersome requirement that parties must assemble an ethnically balanced six-member committee to contest a single parliamentary seat. At next week's polls, opposition parties will likely contest fewer than half of parliament's 84 seats. Yet the new Internet ban hints that the PAP is feeling more vulnerable than most political analysts realize.

Opposition political hopefuls such as James Gomez, a first-time candidate with the opposition Workers Party and a self-styled Internet political activist replete with his own blog and online news website, are actively wooing the new generation of voters that the PAP's heavy-handed policies increasingly alienate.

Gomez contends that the PAP banned posting photos of opposition rallies on the Internet precisely because small opposition parties are attracting tens of thousands of supporters on the hustings, whereas the PAP can barely muster hundreds of supporters at their campaign stops.

"The PAP has a history of trying to control all political content, and now they are trying to extend that control to new media as well," Gomez told Asia Times Online. "It shows just how bankrupt for new ideas they have become," he added, referring to the Internet ban and the PAP's newly promulgated party manifesto.

The PAP has struggled to land upon a cogent policy response to Southeast Asia's diminished role in the global economy and China's concomitant economic rise, both of which have taken a heavy toll on Singapore's export-geared economy. The PAP strategically called snap elections during a cyclical business upswing, but Singapore-based economists say the competitiveness problems that deepened the country's recent recession remain largely unaddressed.

Moreover, the PAP's attempts to force creativity into Singaporean society after years of trying to restrain it has, at best, met with mixed results. The recent decision to open a mega-casino resort complex is just one example of an elderly leadership's grasping for quick economic fixes rather than undertaking long-overdue political reforms, opposition candidates contend.

As the PAP tries to forge a racier national profile, albeit in old-fashioned nanny-state style, it continues to ignore the necessity of free expression to invigorate the population and spawn the new class of technology-savvy entrepreneurs who would propel the economy up the value-added ladder.

When Singapore's new generation of entrepreneurs try to test their creative gears, however, the PAP-led government often cracks down on their activities. Consider, for instance, the case of Martyn See Tong Ming, an independent filmmaker.

See last year produced and distributed over the Internet Singapore Rebel, a short documentary film on the life of Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, who last year lost a three-year legal battle against PAP founder Lee Kwan Yew and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong. The film, which aired at various international film festivals, featured instances of opposition-led civil disobedience to the PAP's restrictions on free speech, including an uncut 10-minute segment of Singaporean police arresting Chee for speaking in public without a permit in front of the presidential palace in 2002.

Police claimed in August that See may have violated the draconian Films Act, which in 1998 was expanded to punish with a fine of S$100,000 (about US$63,000) and two years in prison anyone who produces or distributes so-called "party political films". See has not been formally charged, but similarly to the PAP's harassment tactics of other government critics, he was most recently called in for police questioning last month.

"By questioning me three different times, they are trying to discourage other filmmakers from doing the same thing," See told ATol. "By making me surrender my tapes and cameras, it was a subtle warning to me not to produce similar films in the future."

See's latest documentary, nonetheless, is about a former communist detainee who was jailed without trial in Singapore for more than 17 years because of his political views.

Selective openness

For all the PAP's grandstanding about forging a more open society, even oblique political criticism still warrants severe reprisals. Singapore's first family has a long history of filing crippling criminal defamation suits against feisty journalists and opposition politicians, including most recently a libel suit threat against the Singapore Democratic Party related to its allegations of a government cover-up of corruption at the National Kidney Foundation.

The local news media are renowned for their world-class self-censorship. Big foreign news agencies, which for years through their reporting had challenged then-prime minister Lee Kwan Yew's less-than-democratic credentials, have in recent years also been cowed by the threat of litigation and now regularly report glowingly on his economic accomplishments.

Meanwhile, the PAP's litigious founder has worked behind the scenes to pave the political way for his eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, to take over the premiership in 2004 without democratic challenge. The son's wife, Ho Ching, was later appointed as executive director of the government's highly secretive, multibillion-dollar international investment arm, Temasek.

The younger Lee is obviously between a rock and a hard place. His PAP advisers are cognizant of the economic importance of more openness, but at the same time fret about the potential repercussions if the PAP loosens its political grip too fast. Judging by the proliferating number of Singapore-based blogs, however, a new, Internet-savvy generation of voters has already reached a critical mass and is less satisfied to wander aimlessly around the mall while the PAP unilaterally handles the rest of Singapore's business.

For the first time in years, Singapore has a group of better-organized, forward-looking alternative candidates to the PAP that, among other things, are trying to leverage rather than restrain the democratizing force of the Internet for political change.

It's a given: the PAP may win next week's polls in a landslide. But by unplugging the Internet for shortsighted, self-serving political purposes, at the same time the ruling party is also likely planting the seeds of its future demise.

Shawn W Crispin is Asia Times Online's Southeast Asia editor

Singapore Tries to Squelch Political Blogs, Podcasts

Simply published here for my own records. Nice to get a mention on MediaShift.

And here is a working link to the podcast from DrChee... If for some reason you are unable to access the mp3 file, leave a comment and I will rectify the problem as soon as possible, or I can email it to you directly.

by Mark Glaser, 12:28PM
Permanent Link to This Post

While many Americans have been focused lately on online censorship in China, few have noticed a similar practice in other countries such as Singapore. That island state is a parliamentary republic in theory, but has really been run by one dominant party in its history of independence since 1965 (see a Singapore historical timeline here ).

The mainstream media is strictly controlled by the government, and one political party — the People’s Action Party (PAP) — has had complete control of all centers of government. The country infamously practices caning of citizens who break certain laws, and executes drug smugglers. (Amnesty International reports Singapore has the highest execution rate per capita in the world.) And recently, its Minister of Communication and Arts, Balaji Sadasiva, announced that blogs and podcasts would be shut down if they ran overt political content in the runup to the May 6 election.

Immediately, the move was denounced by the free expression rights group Reporters Without Borders. “Once again the Singapore authorities are showing their determination to prevent the holding of a genuinely democratic debate on the Internet,” the group said in a statement. And the Internet crackdown was aimed squarely at two new media platforms — blogs and podcasts — that have been embraced by opposition parties such as the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) to get around censorship in other media.

The Singaporean government has won over residents with a powerful economic engine that rivals Western European powers. And in recent years Singapore has relaxed its ban on chewing gum — in order to win a free trade agreement with the U.S — and it has allowed the showing of the movie “Brokeback Mountain” despite laws against homosexuality. So just how serious is this new regulation, and will political speech by bloggers and podcasters be chilled now that elections have been set for May 6?

One Singaporean blogger, Soci, who writes for the very political group blog, Singabloodypore , was defiant in a comment on a related story
on ZDNet:

This blog — Singabloodypore — is not registered with the Singaporean government, has never been asked to register, and if invited to register would NOT register. I Soci also intend to post material of an “explicitly political nature” during the elections and will gladly show videocasting and podcasting of election rallies, speeches etc. of opposition candidates.

And indeed they have been showcasing just that on the group blog. But in many cases, these bloggers and the dozens of others that write about Singapore are anonymous or operate from outside the country. Chris Myrick, who pens the Asia Pundit blog , lived in Singapore until February 2005. He was unsure how much the new regulation would chill speech online.

“Most Singapore bloggers stay pretty much within limits - there are only a small handful of political blogs and even those will stay away from certain issues (nepotism) or the authors will remain anonymous,” Myrick told me via email. “I have no doubt that the Singapore government would prosecute an individual for breaking the ban. It tends to be the methodology of the state to make an example of people (i.e., the three bloggers who were last year sentenced for sedition ).”

Government explains the crackdown
I queried Singapore’s Ministry of Communication and the Arts (MICA) to get more insight into the new rules for blogs and podcasts and they directed me to a detailed Q&A between government minister Lee Boon Yang and the Straits Times. Here’s one telling exchange:

Q. Why is streaming of explicit political content through podcasts or videocasts not allowed but posting of party manifestos and texts of rally speeches allowed for political parties? What is the worry?

Podcasts and videocasts…have a greater impact because of the nature of the medium. They have the greater power to influence. Hence, we do not allow podcasts and videocasts for election advertising, just as we do not allow party political films and videos. The Internet has its own unique characteristics which require special attention. The Internet is ubiquitous, fast and anonymous. Once a false story or rumour is started on the Internet, it is almost impossible to put it right. Despite its usefulness, the Internet is chaotic and disorganised, with many half-truths and untruths masquerading as facts…

To help bring some order to this chaotic environment, we have made it a requirement for political parties and individuals who use websites to propagate or promote political issues to register with the Media Development Authority (MDA). This promotes accountability and also ensures personal responsibility for comments made on the Internet.

Soci at Singabloodypore was quick to read between the lines of this Q&A , analyzing the underlying meaning of each passage. Soci’s take on the comment above from the minister: “The Internet is a threat to our domination of the national mind set.”

While the minister makes a strong case about the way misinformation spreads online, there are more transparent ways of countering that than blocking off speech completely. For instance, the government could make its own case online, or try to open up a debate with oppositional views.

Alex Au, who blogs about gay rights in Singapore at Yawning Bread , told me that freedom of speech in Singapore exists to a certain point.

“The freedom available to Singaporeans is quite wide,” Au told me via email. “However, there is a climate of fear that the government can clamp down anytime. There have actually been very few instances of arbitrary clamping down, but the fear persists, and thus a lot of people in Singapore, including bloggers, self-censor to some extent. With the passage of time, there is increasing confidence that freedom of speech on the Internet is pretty wide. The more years that pass without incident, the more confidence people gain.”

Au says that in the sedition cases last year, the language used online by the three people who were prosecuted was “extremely gross, full of expletives and deliberately provocative,” rather than an intelligent discussion. So Au feels that the government was drawing the line between measured discussion of issues and inflammatory speech.

In the recent crackdown of blogs and podcasts, Au thinks the government’s ban is very narrow in covering blogs that “persistently promote a political line” — leaving broad political discussions alone. I asked him if he thought the government might act against bloggers in the next couple weeks.

“No I don’t,” he said. “I think the government may want to create the impression that they will clamp down, in order to get people to tremble in their socks and self-censor anything critical that they may have to say about the government. But the government probably knows that the Internet is not (yet) a mass medium that can move large numbers of voters, so to really take action would be overkill. In any case, the junior minister did say in Parliament that politics can be discussed, just that unless one is identified as a political party, one shouldn’t go around promoting any particular party or candidate.”

As Singapore is a trade partner to the West, how the Western media portrays the Singaporean government is important to them. So that means that bloggers and journalists who bring attention to the recent crackdown could help the PAP reconsider taking action.

“Bringing the world’s attention to authoritarian instincts of this government, making them a little of a pariah on account of their policies, embarrasses them greatly,” Au said.

If you want to read more about the upcoming Singaporean elections, you’ll want to check out these sites:

AsiaOne election coverage

Official Singapore Government Site on Elections

Singapore Election Watch


Chemical Generation Singapore

What do you think? Is the Singaporean government going too far in threatening bloggers and podcasters? Is there something that we as outsiders can do to support the bloggers and podcasters who are worried about being arrested or blocked from speaking their minds?

Singapore Democratic Party to Contest Lees' Legal Action

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- The opposition Singapore Democratic Party, contesting elections May 6, said it will fight legal action being considered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew, founder of modern Singapore.

Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan and other officials had until 10 a.m. yesterday to apologize for statements made in the party newspaper and pay damages to the Lees. Lawyers were hired to contest any action, the party said in a statement.

``We won't apologize,'' Chee said in a phone interview on April 24, a stand the party reaffirmed today. ``It's in their court, and they will be issuing the writ after that and we will respond to it.''

The prime minister and his father last week demanded an apology from Chee and the other 11 members of the Singapore Democratic Party's central executive committee for statements made in The New Democrat newspaper. The spat has overshadowed campaigning for the city-state's upcoming elections.

The Lees said they would sue unless a public apology was forthcoming, according to the Straits Times newspaper, which cited their lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh. Singh couldn't be reached today in his office.

Three of the Singapore Democratic Party's executive committee have apologized so far. Kwan Yue Keng, Abdul Rasheed Abdul Kuthus and Lai Kin Kheong published statements in the Straits Times saying they ``unreservedly'' withdrew the allegations and apologized to both the prime minister and his father.


The three also agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in damages to Lee Hsien Loong, who became prime minister 20 months ago, and Lee Kuan Yew, prime minister from 1959 to 1990.

Legal action may also be taken against the printer of the political newspaper, Chee said in a statement on the party Web site.

Both Lees are members of the People's Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since independence about four decades ago. The party has 82 of 84 elected seats in Parliament and is expected to secure a landslide win in May elections, though opposition groups have been trying to increase their popular support.

``The opposition is hoping to put a tougher challenge this time around,'' said Bruce Gale, a Singapore-based independent political consultant covering Southeast Asia since 1988.

Chee faced a defamation suit during a 2001 election. He was ordered to pay S$500,000 ($315,000) in damages for defaming the elder Lee and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong, Agence France- Presse reported last year.


Previous lawsuits by leaders of the ruling People's Action Party have been criticized by human rights groups, the European Union and billionaire George Soros, who called for Singapore's government to allow more freedom of expression during a visit in January. He said then that Singapore, ranked 140th out of 167 countries in a 2005 press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, doesn't qualify as an ``open society.''

The prime minister and his father have both made recent statements saying they need to defend their reputations.

``If we do not act and the lies and defamation are repeated throughout and in election rallies and spread around, I think the government's reputation goes down and its standing must go down,'' Singapore's Sunday Times quoted Lee Hsien Loong as saying. ``It must lose its moral authority to govern because these statements have been made and you have not reacted and that means there must be some truth in it.''

`Extremely Limited'

Singapore also has restrictions on unauthorized public assembly and earlier this month limited the use of the Internet in the election campaign.

``Freedom of expression is extremely limited. Freedom of assembly is extremely limited,'' said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. ``What's missing from the government's position is an end-date for all of this. It was always implicitly the argument that Singapore could grow into a developed society where people could be trusted.''

Singapore barred the use of so-called podcasting, or the distribution of audio files over the Internet, in political broadcasts. The ban during the election period also extends to the distribution of online video messages, as well as blogging, or posting political opinions on Web sites, the government said.

``People will have their diverse opinion and some will want to share their opinion. But people should not take refuge behind the anonymity of the Internet to manipulate public opinion,'' Balaji Sadasivan, senior minister of state for information, said in Parliament on April 3. ``It is better and more responsible to engage in political debates in a factual and objective manner.''

To contact the reporter on this story:
Linus Chua in Singapore at lchua@bloomberg.net.

26 Apr 2006

On the Thai elections

Thaksin Shinawatra generates some sympathy fawning from some normally critical local bloggers. It's not easy to see why: he was on the verge of a long historical project to turn the kingdom into a benevolently authoritarian one-party state, replacing unproductive party politics with pragmatic, technocratic business sense, and instituting some control over the nation's independent media. What's there to hate in people who sincerely want to imitate your country?

So newspapers here were the only ones caught out of the loop. Local reporters were fawning and predicting 2006 will be Thailand's 1966, that the decision of the oppposition parties to boycott the election undo them and propel Thaksin's ascension to legal and legitimate one-party rule. That's a national blind spot for you, but surely they should've rmembered that when history actually repeats itself, the second time is always a farce?

What they did not count on (the national blind spot!) was the constitution of Thailand, which was written to prevent precisely these travesties from occuring. In constituencies with a walkover, the unopposed candidate is not confirmed unless 20% of the voters turn up to vote for him anyway. Voters are also given the choice to cast a "no vote", essentially a vote for "none of the above" that in sufficient numbers will invalidate the winner of the election. These are safeguards that prevent the country from sliding into a one-party state with a fake opposition.

Today, Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej gives the best sign that Singapore should be the one emulating Thailand instead. Speaking out at the "complete mess" that Thaksin's snap elections caused, the monarch commented strongly: "The current election is undemocratic. Where there is only one candidate it is not considered a democracy."

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the true senior statesman of Asia.

25 Apr 2006

Videocasts on GE to be available on Channel NewsAsia website

So the media has a legal hold on videocasting during elections while video bloggers are prevented from doing so. As a blogger, I take offence at such blatant discrimination perpetuated by the state... All this talk about opening up is complete b***... Bloggers should just defy the ban on electoral reporting/podcasting/videocasting...

SINGAPORE : Videocasts of the General Election, shot using 3G mobile phones, will be available on the Channel NewsAsia website everyday starting from Nomination Day.

These clips will be produced by bloggers representing both the pre- and post-independence generations.

"Whenever you see Workers' Party or PAP or SDP, the news is pretty objective. You have to state the views and you can't editorialise anything. But here (with videocasting), you can put a little bit of your own personal comments on the issues being argued," said logger and Channel NewsAsia's producer Au Yong May Lin.

"I'm trying to capture a different angle of the elections, something that is more colourful, something noisier and funnier," said blogger and Channel NewsAsia's art director Farid Johari.

What viewers will also be seeing is news as it happens on the ground, as the bloggers will be uploading their clips on the Channel NewsAsia website instantaneously.

Chee's Podcast Text

Chee's podcast text
25 Apr 06

The Singapore Democrats have been ordered to remove our podcasts, including the address Dr Chee Soon Juan gave regarding the persecuting of the SDP and its leaders. Below is the text of the speech.

My fellow Singaporeans,

This is Chee Soon Juan The elections are upon us again and the Singapore Democrats are busy preparing for the polls on May 6.

But unlike previous campaigns, this one is a little different in that even before the hustings begin, the PAP is up to its favourite tactic of suing its opponents for defamation. It is certainly whipping up anti-SDP sentiments through the mass media that it controls.

But that’s not all. The PAP is hell-bent on crippling the SDP’s election campaign.

First, it bans podcasting knowing full well that we had set up our podcast last year specifically so that we can better reach out to voters in this election.

Two, MM Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have sued our Party for defamation.

Three, the PAP has even gone after the SDP’s printer, Mr David Sum, who is now so fearful he dares not print our election material.

Four, everywhere that we go for our walkabouts, undercover police agents are on hand to harass us and issue us warnings.

Five, the PAP is so desperate that it has even changed the rules to bar both Mr J B Jeyaretnam and I from speaking at the election rallies. It goes to the extent to rule that no one can read my speeches out for me at the rallies.

Let me ask you one simple question: Does this sound like a Government that is confident of the popular support that it claims to have or does this sound more like an insecure regime determined to prevent the SDP from telling voters its views and competing with the PAP for votes?

Mr Lee Kuan Yew says that Singapore should have a First World Government and opposition. I couldn’t agree more. But I’d like to remind him that First World Governments don’t sue their political opponents or their printers, they don’t have police officers tailing the opposition wherever they go out to meet voters, or prevent them from speaking at election rallies, or ban podcasting.

What First World Governments do is to have public debates with their opponents uncensored and unedited so that voters can watch and make up their own minds. To this end, I would like to invite Mr Lee Kuan Yew and/or Mr Lee Hsien Loong to demonstrate the PAP’s First World-ness by engaging my colleagues and I in public debate during one of our rallies – telecast live.

This would be a wonderful opportunity for the PAP to show how much of a First World government it is and if what Mr Lee Kuan Yew says about the SDP being a ‘hooligan’ party is true or not. The SDP is confident of letting the people of Singapore be the judge. What about the PAP?

The truth of the matter is that Singaporeans must not let the PAP dictate what kind of an opposition Singapore should have. The state-controlled media will portray the SDP as a party not worthy of the people’s support. That’s not surprising because the Singapore Democrats are openly calling for reform of our political system and for the Government to truly serve the people and not vice versa. The PAP is terrified of this message and wants to shut the party down.

An opposition must speak clearly and loudly when the people are being bullied, when ministers are paying themselves millions of dollars in salaries while the people continue to take cuts in their wages and CPF.

An opposition must spell out its alternative ideas clearly as we have done in our newspaper and various books and reports.

An opposition must not be intimidated by the ruling party no matter how tough the going gets.

Because ultimately an opposition exists to keep democracy alive by speaking up for the people.

Clearly, the Government is going all out to crush the Singapore Democrats. It wants to shut the SDP down. We’re not surprised by this because that’s what undemocratic regimes do to parties that call for reform – reform so that power can be rightly returned to the citizens.

Everything I’ve done, I’ve done it with our nation at heart. You may not agree with everything I say or do. But you cannot accuse me of not speaking up for the people. I love my country as much as anyone else in Singapore. But loving my country and being loyal to it doesn’t mean I have to bow down to the PAP and look the other way when injustice occurs.

We, the members of the SDP, will continue to speak up and we will tell the PAP when it is wrong no matter how much we are persecuted. We will not kow-tow to bullying and to arrogance.

We will continue to speak up and to fight for you. Why? Because Singapore belongs to us Singaporeans, not the PAP. Whatever happens in this election, the SDP will always remain true to our beliefs, our people and, most important, our nation.

Thank you and may God bless all of you and your loved ones.

SDP told to remove podcasts from website

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : The Returning Officer for the General Election has ordered the Singapore Democratic Party to take down audio files and podcasts from its website.

The Elections Department says the podcast contravenes the Parliamentary Elections (Election Advertising) Regulations.

It says those found guilty are liable for a fine of up to S$1,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.

Dr Chee, the SDP's Secretary-General, had recorded a podcast message and posted it on the party's website two days ago.

The Returning Officer has also issued a notice to all political parties with websites to remind them to conspicuously display particulars of any election advertising on their websites, in accordance to the rules spelt out.

Political parties have also been reminded to only publish election advertising on the Internet which conforms to the positive list set out in the regulations. - CNA /ct

The Democrats will not bow to the Lees

Chee podcast: Show Singaporeans you're really First World, debate SDP
23 Apr 06


The Democrats will not bow to the Lees
24 Apr 06

The Singapore Democratic Party will not apologise to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong. The Party will engage Mr M Ravi to act for it and we have instructed him to launch a vigorous defence.

The following have also signaled their determination to defend the legal action: Ling How Doong, Francis Yong, Chee Soon Juan, Wong Hong Toy, Abdul Rasheed, Christopher Neo, Chee Siok Chin, Gerald Sng, Mohd Isa, and Lawrence Lai.

The Party has made a decision that it will not stop individual defendants from apologising to the plaintiffs as this is a matter concerning the individual and his/her family members.

Regarding the election campaign, the Party will continue to ask Ministers Khaw Boon Wan and Lim Hng Kiang to answer our questions:

One, why did the Ministers endorse the NKF and tell Singaporeans that the organization was “in full compliance with the regulations” despite the repeated warnings given by volunteers, members of the public and MPs about NKF’s operations?

Two, why did the Minister for Health reinstate NKF’s IPC status even though the NCSS had rejected it just weeks earlier?

We are still awaiting the Ministers’ explanations.

Singapore Democratic Party