30 Jun 2006

Managing The Internet

An interesting concern found on Sammyboy forum.

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows SPH has just launched this STOMP website for youths.

Actually, it is a scam to distract youths from private blogs and forums that is Pro- Alternative Parties and centralised all the "Youth Issues" into one website controlled by the authorities.

Even Video is allowed to be uploaded. They hire all the Pro PAP bloggers like Xiaxue and Dawn Yang to spread the gospel.

Whill this STOMP website worked for PAP ?

This STOMP website is PAP's first trial run to manage,deal and fix the internet.

Will Youtubes and Blogspots truimph over STOMP?

In long run, Singaporeans might only be able to identify with STOMP and everyone MUST go that website to upload videos and speak your mind.

Like how NS men can only go NS Portal to do NS stuff.

This STOMP website might be a competitor against blogs like Yawning Bread, Gayle Goh etc

Youths today and voters of tomorrow might in the end get distorted information about Singapore politics again.

Until STOMP allows us to upload videos like WP crowds,AP Speeches and Chiam See Tong's Long March to Town Council clips, this STOMP website is considered PAP website.

STOMP is to reinforce people already inside the matrix so that they will never get out.

Maybe someone can try uploading Chiam's clips into STOMP and see what happen ?

The internet war has just begun and it is still early days.

STOMP was not really mean for us seasoned internet pros.

It was meant for those youths who are about to become seasoned internet pros.

The catch here is that these youths will read Pro PAP news instead of listening to us critisizing PAP.

Then PAP will have a internet following in 10 years time .

Whatever motive PAP have behind in creating STOMP should be self-defeated and make redundant.

STOMP advertisements are relentless and everywhere.

If PAP succeeds, the consequences are unthinkable.

Imagine an entire generation has already passed by for 40 years, hoodwinked into the matrix by SPH and Straits Times without bothering to think of the credibility of the news they read.

I do not wish to see the new generation with internet, sms, mms, 3G etc be also hoodwinked for another 40 years into matrix by the very same media, medium and tools they use to access information.

I can bet on STOMP being a useful tool and gathering point for Pro PAP videos, pictures and stories for GE 2010/2011.

PAP is starting to manage the internet.

I'm the victim here, says Ravi

Lawyer facing action writes to the Law Society
Friday • June 30, 2006
Christie Loh


Lawyer M Ravi (picture), 37, is facing the prospect of a temporary suspension — or worse, having his licence revoked — for insolence toward a female district judge, a case that comes in the wake of several instances of improper court behaviour.

But Mr Ravi wrote a letter to the Law Society yesterday, decrying what he called "a serious miscarriage of justice".

He argued that his case did not warrant an appearance before the Court of Three Judges. That is the legal profession's top disciplinary authority with the power to strike an errant lawyer off the rolls or suspend him for a maximum of five years.

The Law Society's disciplinary committee had referred Mr Ravi to the highest body after hearing of the solicitor's rude behaviour during a trial presided over by District Judge Wong Choon Ning three years ago.

Mr Ravi's poor behaviour included speaking loudly while other cases were being heard, and remaining seated while being addressed by the judge.

Because Justice Wong lodged a complaint with the Law Society, the matter was brought before its disciplinary committee which last week ordered Mr Ravi to pay the Law Society costs of $2,000 and also decided to involve the Court of Three Judges.

Mr Ravi, who has forked out more than $5,000 for four previous transgressions, told Today that he would pay the latest penalty. But he insisted that the Law Society had no case against him.

He explained that Justice Wong had accepted his apology. And because she refused to testify against him, the Law Society should then have either dropped all the charges, or proceeded with the case without the judge's evidence, which could eventually lead to the charge not being proved.

However, neither course of action was taken, as the Law Society went on to amend the charges, resulting in a less serious case against Mr Ravi.

That confused the disciplinary committee, which chided the Law Society for not having understood the legal implications. But the committee still concluded that Mr Ravi should go before the Court of Three Judges because disrespect for judicial authority is "like poison transfused into the system little by little attracting less than serious attention," the committee said in its report.

"As a result of a series of misdirections, I am now a victim," Mr Ravi said in his letter.

When contacted, Law Society's communications assistant director Shawn Toh said he had not seen the letter.

"I don't know how the Council will respond. They may choose to ignore it or not," he added.

Mr Ravi, who is representing the Singapore Democratic Party's Dr Chee Soon Juan in a defamation case filed against him by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, received support from his client.

Dr Chee said that if Mr Ravi was suspended, it could deprive SDP leaders of legal representation.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Singapore cited in Report to US Senate

29 Jun 06
From Singapore Democrats

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) recently presented its findings on the development of democracy around the world to the US Congress and made a couple of pointed references to the PAP.

On 8 June 2006, Mr Carl Gershman, President of the NED, presented a 52-page report before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Backlash Against Democracy Assistance.

Mr Gershman stated that foreign governments' efforts to constrain democracy assistance have recently intensified and now seriously impede democracy assistance in a number of states.

Despite these developments, however, the demand for democratic assistance is greater than ever. The report goes on to say that there is a long history of successful democracy assistance, even in challenging circumstances.

In its conclusion, the report outlines a number of concrete recommendations for Congressional actions to counter the new backlash.

The following are what the report said about the PAP:

“As democracy has spread, it has acquired the status of the only broadly legitimate form of government. Today, about three-fifths of all the world’s states—121 of 193 by Freedom House reckoning—are democracies. The collapse of twentieth century totalitarianism removed not only the greatest threats to democracy but also the only systemic and ideological alternatives. Similarly, democratization has largely undermined East Asian exceptionalism and transformed the tiger economies that once seemed to present modernizing authoritarianism as an alternative to democracy for developing economies. Singapore still represents this model and, to some extent, China may be seen as an updated version, offering economic growth—development, not democracy—as an excuse for maintaining authoritarian rule. But even these regimes and their would-be emulators claim to represent or aspire to a variant of democracy, not a serious alternative.”

“Punitive legal actions are another form of harassment, notably in Singapore. In February 2006,opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, was bankrupted and, as a consequence, barred from contesting political office, following a punitive defamation suit brought by former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Chee was barred from traveling to the World Movement for Democracy’s Istanbul assembly in May 2006 when immigration agents impounded his passport.”

For the full report, go to: http://www.ned.org/publications/reports/backlash06.pdf

Thoughts on the SM views of the GRC

I read this a few days back and was very shocked and mulled about it occasionally over with friends and decided to finally blog about it.

The Straits Times Article:

June 27, 2006

GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM

Without good chance of winning at polls, they might not be willing to risk careers for politics

By Li Xueying

SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday gave a new take on the role of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics.

Their role is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament, he said. They also contribute to Singapore's political stability, by 'helping us to recruit younger and capable candidates with the potential to become ministers'.

'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,' Mr Goh said at an event marking the appointment of members to the South East Community Development Council (CDC).


In other words, the GRC system further allows the PAP to convince their choice of select Singaporeans to join PAP, win and serve the people. The GRC system is equated with the “assurance of a good chance of winning.” It is moot that such will only serve the party that has the ability to assure these select Singaporeans a good chance of winning.

There are four questions that could be raised, and their answers, reflect a situation that ought to be properly debated in Parliament.

The first question is whether this coincides with the nation’s best interest.

When the choice of leadership becomes further removed from the heart of democracy: popular choice, what are the potential effects? The PAP is suggesting implicitly that their choice is the right one, and will hence coincide with the nation’s best interest.

Alex Au asks, “Who gets to define talent?” and how subjective this might be. He also suggests that groupthink is a bad thing and this system creates groupthink.[1]

The fear I had and have is similar: the GRC system has the potential of focusing greater power on the hands in a single party. The PAP governs your life today, and now, it appears to indirectly govern the choice of your leaders in the future. This broken linkage between popular choice and leaders might be bad for the nation.

Who should do future leaders aspire to serve under such a scheme? Should they aspire to serve the people or the PAP? Will they aspire to serve the PAP more because the PAP is the party who shall give them the assurance to win? Legitimacy in a democracy comes from the people’s support, not party politics. Intelligent clear-headed inspired leaders will no doubt recognise that their final masters are the people, and no party. We have already agreed that PAP is not Singapore, and PAP is not the people.

The PAP is the ruling party while the people are your masters. Let no politicians, even those who are assured of winning, fail to recognise that. This system however, does not encourage explicitly, especially during election time, our would-be new leaders to recognize that.

This of course could be salvaged by sufficient party indoctrination and education that the PAP serves the People, and that individual politicians ultimate responsibility is the people. But how does that politician really know unless he gets that mandate directly?

The second question is what types of people are the PAP looking for

The article also suggests that some PAP winners need the assurance of victory before joining politics. “Society before self?” In other words, does it not imply that there are current PAP winners who will not have risked their careers to serve the people? The question whether this is a trait of suitable candidates were not questioned. Instead

SM Goh added,

'Why should they when they are on the way up in the civil service, the SAF, and in the professions or the corporate world?'

In other words, SM Goh feels that this is justified because these people were already so good, they only could lose by joining politics in Singapore and not taking risk is the norm. Are these the type of people Singapore want?

Of course these men and women might be great at their work and will serve Singapore truly well. Yet again, the answer to the second question exposes risks in the recruitment process as such people appear to be willing to put self over society when called to serve. They are not willing to take the plunge and the risk.

This again decreases moral authority. It might be more efficient, might attract “better people” but the GRC system seen in this perceptive places faith in the recruitment process. What if it goes wrong?

The third question is whether there are really risks in joining PAP politics

Let us assume that the first two questions are answered in the affirmative for the PAP; (that this truly serves the best interest of Singaporeans, and that this is the type of people we are looking for) the next question is whether such fears to their careers when they join PAP politics are justified.

I have personally never come across any report since the introduction of the GRC, which shows that ex-PAP candidates have done poorly or terrible relative to their ex careers after retirement from politics (save for those who ran foul of the law.) There are examples that joining the PAP might bring one less monetary incentives but that problem is already supposed to be fixed by the pegging of Ministers pay scale to the private sector.

Being unsure, I have doubts whether this is entirely accurate. In other words, the fears might not be even justified. Should policy decisions be made on fears that are not all that clear yet?

The fourth question is what this does to opposition politics?

By making it easier for the PAP new candidates to enter office, the system might deprive more deserving opposition candidates (deserving defined here by majority ballot votes in an imaginary one on one scenario).

Do Singaporeans want to make it more difficult for opposition members to enter Parliament?


At the end of it all, GRC does not make it easier to find top talent, as the headline suggests. What it does, however, is that it makes it easier for the PAP to pick future leaders for Singapore based on their criteria. A criterion that is explicitly un-required is that these talents do not need to risk their careers – need not risk their careers to serve the people. It creates a system where it is less clear the newly selected's mandate comes from the people. Finally, it makes things harder for the opposition.

Is that what we, Singaporeans, want?

29 Jun 2006

Elections Department Needs to Explain

My Feedback to TODAY in response to the below article:

I am alarmed by the news report on the glitch causing ballot boxes to be reopened. The glitch puts in place questions on the secrecy and the handling of votes. It is an issue which requires attention and retification since it has occurred both, in 1980 and 1997.

The authorities need to explain how and why it occurred, the personnel involved, and how the secrecy of those voters whose ballot papers are sealed in both boxes will be protected.

This incident also questions the eligibility of voting. The Elections Department must explain why Singaporeans who did not vote for current or previous elections will have their names struck off the electoral list for future elections.


Glitch causes ballot boxes to be reopened
Thursday • June 29, 2006
Jasmine Yin


BALLOT boxes from two polling districts in Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) have to be re-opened, as the name lists of people who voted in the May 6 General Election (GE) were mistakenly sealed along with their counted ballot papers, the Elections Department said in a press statement yesterday.

President S R Nathan has directed an Order for Returning Officer Tan Boon Huat to "retrieve only" the name lists of AJ24 and AJ25 polling district voters "for the purpose of preparing the lists of electors in these two polling districts who failed to vote at the General Election 2006".

All eligible voters are required to cast their ballots in Singapore.

The lists of non-voters "cannot be prepared", the press statement read, because the names of voters "were inadvertently placed together with the counted papers and other documents by the staff at the Xinghua Primary School counting centre in the ballot boxes and sealed therein".

According to the Jan 9 edition of the Government Gazette, AJ24 includes the area bound by Upper Serangoon Road and Hougang Avenue 3, while AJ25 includes the area bound by Hougang Avenue 1, Hougang Avenue 3 and Tampines Road.

Aljunied GRC was one of the hotspots in last month's GE. The five-man People's Action Party (PAP) team led by Foreign Minister George Yeo won 56.09 per cent of the vote against the Workers' Party (WP) team.

The Elections Department said this was not the first time that ballot boxes — which are kept in the vault of the Supreme Court for six months after the polling day — have had to be unsealed. Similar instances have occurred in 1980 and 1997.

When told about the unsealing of the ballot boxes, 28-year-old unemployed Aljunied voter Mark Lim said he felt "uncomfortable", citing the serial numbers that were printed on the ballot papers.

Non-Constituency Member of Parliament and WP chairman Sylvia Lim, who led a team against the PAP in Aljunied, would only say: "I would like to reserve comment until I find out more about this."

PAP Member of Parliament for Aljunied Zainul Abidin Rasheed said: "To me, it sounds like a technical matter and I would leave it to the Elections Department to resolve."

The Elections Department said that the lists of non-voters in polling districts AJ24 and AJ25 will be published for inspection on or after Nov 6. The lists from other polling districts are now available for inspection at the Elections Department and designated community centres and clubs.

Those who failed to vote at the last General Election can apply to restore their name on the Registers of Electors with the Elections Department.

Visit www.elections.gov.sg for more information.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Poorer S'poreans earned less last year

Thursday • June 29, 2006
Lee U-Wen

Lower-income Singaporeans earned less last year than in 2000, with higher unemployment and smaller wages just two possible reasons for the decline.

Last year's General Household Survey shows the average monthly household income from work dipped to $1,180, or by nearly 20 per cent, for the 11th to 20th percentile of wage earners, and to $2,190, or by about 5 per cent, for those in the 21st to 30th percentile.

This latest survey, conducted once every 10 years by the Department of Statistics, showed that the decline was caused partly by the growing number of homes with retirees and those without any income.

A department statement added that, compared to 2000, last year's higher unemployment and lower salaries could have also contributed to the dip. Homes with jobless family members typically fall into the lower income groups as the overall income generated from work falls when a person loses his job, explained the department.

The figures, however, do not take into account the various monetary handouts by the Government, such as this year's $2.6 billion Progress Package, which were primarily meant to help lower-income residents here.

On the whole, all ethnic groups in Singapore enjoyed a growth in their income levels between 2000 and last year. The monthly household income increased from $5,200 in 2000 to $5,600 last year for the Chinese. For the Malays, it went up from $3,200 to $3,400, while the Indian community saw a rise from $4,600 to $5,200.

Ironically, it was the top 10 per cent of wage earners who enjoyed the largest increase in monthly household income. The average of $16,480 was 14.8 per cent higher than the $14,360 earned by this group in 2000.

The average household monthly income across the board last year was $5,200. After factoring in low inflation, the income increased in real terms between 2000 and last year by 1.1 per cent a year.

Besides income levels, this latest instalment of the household survey focused on Singaporeans' habits when it came to taking public transport, going on vacation and the type of house they resided in. Download the full report from www.singstat.gov.sg.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Who is Lionel De Souza?

Who exactly is Lionel De Souza? Who does he work for? Why are his letters continually published in The Straits Times? Why do his views always adhere to the views of the establishment and the PAP? Is he really a member of the Peoples Action Party or someone who acts as a confederate for the policies and actions of the ruling party? Is he the editor writing under a pseudonym?

And as for - "I am certain that if this letter is published in The Straits Times, netizens and other cyber-terrorists will have a field day posting all kinds of nasty or defamatory remarks against me." I am not a cyber terrorist and my name is Steven McDermott aka soci, John Hicky and currently a research student in Scotland.

And the reason most bloggers attempt to remain anonymous is to protect themselves from defamation and sedition cases for speaking their mind - defending freedom of speech. Something I am sure you believe is readily available with the Straits Times regardless of what those annoying international independent organisations argue.

Regarding the Char case - I hope that the judge throws it out of court. The sedition act covers race and class and attacking, laughing at and offending a religion is a pillar of freedom of speech. Char was right to post the images and right to defend him or herself against the accuser. This time we have a religious 'jobs worth' arguing that he was 'offended'. Christianity and the iconography of Jesus Christ offends many, the persecution of non-believers, the Pope's refusal to endorse condoms in the fight against AIDS, christian fundamentalists in the US White House, the dangers and absurdities of organised religion 'offend me' but I sure will not be calling on the police force to endurse my belief system.

June 22, 2006S from nofearSingapore...

Bloggers should have the conviction to stand behind any statements they make and not hide under the cloak of anonymity

I refer to the report, 'Divided views over police checks on blogger' (The Sunday Times, June 18).

Personally, I have developed a great distaste and distrust of bloggers who post anonymously or use pseudonyms to disguise their identities. I can understand that sometimes anonymous postings are unavoidable. However, when postings on the Internet are seditious or have a tendency to deliberately wound the religious feelings of any person, the perpetrator of the posting should have the full weight of the law brought to bear on him or her.

It appears to be the norm for bloggers to hide under the cloak of anonymity or use pseudonyms to blame, insult and rant out against the Government or individuals believing that their postings can better the political process or current events concerning Singapore. Netizens have no legal or constitutional right to condemn the whistle blower who brought blogger Char's blasphemous posting of pictures of Jesus Christ on the Internet to the attention of the police. The conduct of netizens is similar to that of cyber terrorists since netizens have unashamedly condoned the seditious posting of Char, which could have sparked off strong reaction as did the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper in February this year. Fortunately, Char's blasphemous and seditious posting happened in Singapore, a country of tolerance. I am certain that if this letter is published in The Straits Times, netizens and other cyber-terrorists will have a field day posting all kinds of nasty or defamatory remarks against me. They will do so anonymously or using pseudonyms. To these cyber-terrorists I say, 'Be brave and don't hide under the cloak of anonymity or use pseudonyms'.

They should have the conviction to stand behind any statements they make. If they do not have the confidence and passion to put their names beside their statements, I am sure that all right-thinking people cannot take them seriously. It appears to be the current trend for bloggers to hide under the cloak of anonymity to act irresponsibly by ranting and musing about current events. If their ratings and musings do not cross the line of fair comment, they are free to do as they please. However, for bloggers who choose to post seditious and inflammatory comments that could cause anarchy by damaging the fabric of religious and racial harmony; they should be dealt with vigorously under the law. Cases of this nature should not be dealt with by the Community Court where the punishment meted out could be probation and performing a number of hours doing community service. They deserve a more deterrent punishment. I hope that I do not sound 'sub-judice', but I hope that blogger Char receives his just deserts for his blasphemous and seditious posting.
Lionel De Souza

28 Jun 2006

Goh Chok Tong admits that GRCs are meant to skew

An extract from Yawning Breads article regarding an interview for The Straits Times.

Goh Chok Tong admits that GRCs are meant to skew

As if Lee Hsien Loong's remarks denigrating Australia were not enough to convince people how anti-democratic the Singapore government is, Senior Minister (and former PM) Goh Chok Tong has now provided more evidence.

In his latest speech, Goh said that one of the purposes of Group Representation Constituencies [1] was to help People's Action Party (PAP) candidates win election easily.

There! He has admitted it. The State and its electoral system have been corrupted to serve partisan ends.

to continue reading...

Email Reply on article, ""No regrets over glint of toughness on democracy, says Lee"

With regards to the online news report, in New Zealand Herald, "No regrets over glint of toughness on democracy, says Lee" published on Wednesday June 21, 2006, written by John Roughan, I subsequently sent an email reply to his article. I have yet to hear a reply.


Dear Mr Roughan,

As a Singaporean currently travelling overseas in Australia, I am glad to to be able to read online about the Singapore Prime Minister’s press conference from your paper. In my opinion, the New Zealand Herald has chosen a much more objective reporting on the Singapore’s Prime Minister visit to New Zealand than any of the Singaporean press.

While the paper has tried to present as much as possible an objective report, some of the comments made by the Singapore Prime Minister needs to be challenged. I hope New Zealand Herald will publish my letter or at the very least, do another more in-depth story on the political situation in Singapore. I believe this is crucial as the free trade agreement between New Zealand and Singapore; as well as both countries’ close ties mean that the political situation back at home generally has an impact on New Zealand. New Zealanders must recognize that Singapore is not a democracy, as its leaders claim; and that the authoritarian Singapore government retains a tight grip on the city state in many political and social aspects.

In Singapore, it is not uncommon for PAP and especially its leaders to call Opposition names. Our Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien, has now chosen to call Dr Chee names in an overseas trip. His father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, has also done the same over the years against his critics. During the last election, Mr Lee Kuan Yew called Mr James Gomez, an Opposition Party Candidate for the Worker’s Party, “a bad egg”. Upon calling their opponents’ names, they go on to taunt the other party to sue them for defamation. As is commonly well-known, no one has ever won any defamation suit against the Lees. Even foreign papers have been forced to issue apologies or risk having their circulation curtailed.

With regards to the defamation suit that both Mr Lee and his son has chosen to file against SDP and its Council Executive Committee members, Dr Chee and his sister has chosen to stand firm, while the other members has chosen to apologise. This occurred prior to the recent General Elections over an alleged defamatory article printed on the New Democrat, which is the Singapore Democrat’s Party newsletter. Currently, the Lees have applied for a summary judgement on this case which means that it will be decided in chambers behind closed-doors. It is ironic that the Lees, who felt that they have been wrongly defamed, have chosen to avoid an open hearing.

Mr Lee also mentioned that permits are required for outdoor gathering. Again, it is well-known that the government has constantly denied application permits for protests.

When Mr Lee said that we can have “any number of gatherings (by which he means indoors) [and] you can publish anything you like in writing”, it is again misleading to readers who are unaware of what is happening in Singapore.

Indoor political gatherings such as forums have been subjected to intrusion by the secret police department, commonly known as the Internal Security Department in Singapore. Such gatherings do not allow overseas speakers to participate. The government has banned Amnesty International spokesperson, Mr Tim Parritt, from speaking in an anti-death penalty forum on 16 April 2005. The government has also detained and deported Mr Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, a representative of Nonviolence International from Singapore's Changi airport, on the evening of 13th May as he was invited to Singapore to conduct a non-violence workshop.

It would be of interest to readers of this paper that the PAP pays its ministers highly grotesque amount salaries. The government maintains that it is necessary to keep “talent and making sure we were the best qualified team.” Such vague terms are debatable. Not to mention that the Singaporean population has never been consulted on this issue.

Mr Lee also said that the government keeps “a broad central view of Singapore” in perspective. He said, “We are not representing one section of the population, workers against employers or any other group. We are representing the whole country."

In that regard, how does he explain that the government continues to repress the rights of the sexual minority? Homosexuality remains a punishable crime and People Like Us, a gay rights group, was denied legal registration as a society. The government also banned Fridae.com, a regional gay portal, from holding outdoor dance parties such as Nation, Snowball and Feeling Good. The government has refused to act constructively against the increasing HIV rates amongst the MSM (Men Who have Sex with Men) community but instead, chose to react with a homophobic attitude. How does the government expect the community to deal with HIV if it chooses to see gays as a “outsiders” or worse “criminal outcasts”?

The Singapore government has also refused to pass legislations which will elevate the plight of foreign domestic workers. On December 6 2005, the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a detailed report on actual and potential abuses of foreign domestic workers and recommended remedial actions.

Mr Lee also mentioned that Singapore conducts “elections” and that there are other Opposition parties, news media and blogs in Singapore; which unfortunately only “keep up the appearance” of a democracy. The Singapore Elections are neither free and fair. The campaign period is over a limited period of 8 days and political parties are denied of using effective means to reach out to voters, even on the Internet. There is a list of do’s and don’ts on what is allowed. The Singapore Democratic Party podcast was removed during the campaigning period to comply with regulations. Blogging and vodcasting is also banned during this period as citizen journalists are barred from reporting on rallies or commentaries (though some bloggers have refused to comply with the regulations). Anonymity is however not guaranteed in blogosphere. The police is recently investigating a blogger for posting Jesus Cartoons. It has charged three bloggers for “sedition” on making racist comments.

The police has harrassed individual activists over the years. Martyn See, who made a short documentary, entitled, Singapore Rebel, about Dr Chee, has had his equipment confiscated and questioned for an extended period of time. The police has however not filed any charges. It is effectively a dasmacus sword and a precautionary tale to Singaporean filmmakers. Mr Robert Yeo, an internet activist, has a less well-known story to tell. After distributing leaflets at a shopping mall which raised questions about the counting process in the 1997 General Election in Cheng San GRC, the police went to his house, arrested and sent him to the Institute of Mental Health. His computer was also seized.

Mr Lee closed his speech saying that human rights are familiar issues to Western journalists and maybe readers, but that it does not define Asia. He said that New Zealanders need to come and learn how people live.

As a Singaporean and more importantly, a human being, I take offence at Mr Lee’s remarks which suggest that Asians are either non humans or a substandard derivative form of living being. Unfortunately, as a Singaporean, I cannot openly criticize our Prime Minister and the comments he make. In what way then, can he claim, that Singapore is a democracy.

What I have written in this letter, is just the tip of the iceberg of the going ons in Singapore.

I hope the paper will publish my letter or do another in-depth story on the political situation in Singapore. I will be very happy to provide any information that I am in possess of. I would also encourage the editors of the paper to contact the various people who are involved with the democratic struggle in Singapore, if there is a need to do so.

I-S Magazine interview with Sylvia Lim

The fever of the elections has passed, the dust has settled. Sylvia Lim, Chairman of Worker’s Party, leads the highest-scoring opposition team, winning 43.9 percent of votes at Aljunied GRC.

Newly appointed as Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), she gives Sharon Lim an insider view....

Stepping into the interview in a bright pink chinois jacket and a pair of jeans, Sylvia Lim looks relaxed and unassuming- nothing like the persona portrayed during the nine-day hustings. Personable and eloquent, answers easily roll off her tongue when asked about politics and the work of her party.

But delve into Sylvia Lim the person, and long pauses and hesitation fill the air. Realistic and practical, she typifies the composed party leader with her feet {and ear) firmly on the ground.

Don't expect her to be championing women's causes in Parliament. Her passion lies in the bread and butter issues of the regular Joe. And bring up the fact that she is the first woman opposition MP since 1963, she retorts, "So what if I am male or female. It doesn't make a difference."

From a supporter who donated bottles of birds' nest drinks for each Workers' Party candidate, to an anonymous man who sent Lim constructive feedback on her rally speeches every day via email, to the hordes that attended the nightly rallies, these actions surprised, touched and affirmed her cause in giving Singaporeans another voice in politics.

Q: Did you feel that you were given justified media coverage during the elections?
A: I think this round, generally, the English and Chinese papers did not represent the Workers' Party in a bad light. And because of this, it affected voters' perception of us as well. So people started to think, "Hey, Workers' Party is not crazy." But then, we could have had more coverage vis a vis PAP, but that's" the way things are.

Q: "The way things are." Is that a resigned statement or ...?
A: It's born out of a sense of realism and also from having worked with people who have been in opposition politics longer. They'll tell you "Oh, it's so much better than the previous elections, don't complain." So there is a little bit of taking the scraps that fall from the table, that kind of thing.
Of course we want things to improve, but we can't expect things to improve in quantum leaps overnight, so we try to push the boundaries. I find sometimes also that because people are too resigned to the fact that the status quo will remain, that there's no inclination for change, and that's wrong. Because if you've ever tried to push the boundaries, you will realise that things can happen. If you're there and you're prepared to take a risk, things will happen.

Q: What part of campaigning did you find enjoyable? ..
A: I think it was enjoyable to know that a party of our size - which is nothing compared to the PAP - can make some waves. So it's always good to know that you don't have to have a lot of money or a lot of manpower to make some difference. Even little steps do matter. People are prepared to come forward to join the party and stand as candidates against the PAP. These are the pillars on which bigger things will be founded.

Q: What was the high point for you?
A: I found the Serangoon Stadium rally quite a high point for me. It was the final rally, first of all.
Secondly, it was the one and only rally site that we had where we could see the audience, because the stadium was very well lit and we could see people's faces. That was very very uplifting. And we ended off the whole thing with the pledge - and I think there was some sense of unity of purpose, some solidarity with the people.

Q: What was the lowest point?
A: For me personally, I think there were times when I thought that I didn't do as well as I could. For example, for the party political broadcast on Tv; the feedback was that I came across as arrogant, blah, blah, blah. I didn't intend to be so, but I realised that it's got a lot to do with media training. Other than that, what I imagined the campaign to be eventually turned out to be not as scary as I thought.

Q: Were you scared?
A: I wasn't scared at all. But initially, you know, when you think of it in vacuo, you think that the PAP is going to dig out everything you've done from the time you were in kindergarten or whatever. I was waiting for that, but nothing came. In the end, they were just harping on the J. Gomez thing.

Q: What is your feeling on the outcome of the James Gomez incident?
A: I was surprised that the police gave him a warning. Not because I felt that he had done anything wrong.

Q: Was there any point in time when you thought, "Yah, we actually have a chance of winning."
A: Such thoughts do cross my mind, but generally I know that we really need to be prepared for the worst, because if we win or if our margins are poor or whatever, we still have to face the media and the people. And we have to be composed at that point, you see. So it's always important to be prepared for all eventualities.

Q: Were you pleased that you actually met your 40 percent target?
A: I wouldn't say it was a target, but we are pleased that the voters showed that they were prepared to support us. We were not really surprised by the results, but I think we still hoped that we could have done better

Q: How did you feel when the Party decided that you would be the NCMP?
A: I felt a sense of responsibility, that I have to do it properly. And also not to let down the people who had voted for us.

Q: What can we expect from you in Parliament? What kind of issues will you be championing?
A: The traditional concerns that WP tends to raise, i.e. to speak up for those who are not doing very well under the free market economy. So we'll be watching issues like cost of living, health care costs, retirement concerns. Ar the same time also, because I'm legally trained, I will be reviewing the legislation concerning Parliament, which I've been helping Mr Low to do for the past few years anyway. So I'll be speaking up on that. And personally, I guess I will take an interest in some of the law and order debates. But I must add that I'm not there to canvass my own causes.

Q: What is your mantra, speaking generally?
A: Fairness. I think people should be treated fairly. I think that's the fundamental principle.

Q: Do you think you're misunderstood?
A: No, not really (laughs). I don't think people's impressions of me have fossilised yet. It's hard to put this in a neutral way. People have come up to me after the elections, in public places, and told me things like "Thank you for what you're doing," "Thank you for giving us a choice: and "Don't give up." So for whatever reason, I think that they believe that what we're doing is actually something for them. Which I think is really (pause) it! We're not in this for ourselves because, frankly speaking, the benefits you get are (laughs), you know, let's not talk about that. There are some sacrifices made, because we think that it is probably better for Singaporeans in Singapore if there are elections where people have choices. And because of that, if the people perceive it, then I think we've achieved quite a lot.

Q: That speaks of the party, but what about you?
A: Similarly too, I think, okay, I don't know about everyone, and I'm sure some people hate me, but ah ...

Q: Does that concern you?
A: You can't please everyone, so that's okay. But I think so long as the average person believes that I am sincere in what I'm trying to do on the Workers' Party platform, that is try to advance their interest and keep the government accountable, so long as people believe that, I think that would be good enough.

Q: Do you think people believe this?
A: It may be too early to form a definitive judgment, but I think, based on the elections feedback and all that, that people do believe that I'm sincere in what I'm trying to do. It's something that is a long haul thing, you know. Of course I'm not saying that I'm going to be around forever. I think, personally, I would commit my time and energy if I feel that there's support for the things we're trying to do and we're making headway. But if I find that we're not making headway, then what's the point. I mean, we all have lives to lead, right?

Q: You're a public figure now. How does that make you feel?
A: I think that's alright. I think I can still bear with that. But I suppose I have to be more circumspect in the things I do. So I guess you can expect me to be going out of Singapore more (hearty laughs). Like just yesterday I went down to my neighbourhood coffee shop dressed in my home clothes. I put on sunglasses to try to look as unrecognisable as possible. I was waiting for my mother, actually, and along came this group of retirees, and they said "Oh, we finally get to meet you" or something like that. It was very, very touching. They were supporters of Workers' Party. And they told me about the rallies they had attended and gave me feedback. It's useful to remain in contact and be approachable. We don't want that to change.

Q: So who is Sylvia Lim?
A: I'm idealistic, but I'm also a very practical person. So I would make sactifices for my ideals, but still try not to break the law in doing that.

Q: Is being Chairman of WP and lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic your entire life? Or is there more to it?
A: No, no, it isn't. I would say it takes up quite a lot of my time. I still have time left over, which I save for a few things like my family, close friends and mysel£ And I will always leave that pocket there, because I think that's very important for my sanity.
I-S Magazine

-via Little Speck

27 Jun 2006

Stop unlawful execution of Africans: M Ravi

From the Singapore Democrat:

The following is an appeal to the international community launched by human rights lawyer Mr M Ravi, urging the international community – in particular the Nigerian and South African Governments – to take action to stop the unlawful hanging of Amara Tochi (Nigerian) and Nelson Malachy (South African) in Singapore.


The High Court in Singapore had imposed Death Sentence on Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi. 19, a Nigerian and Okele Nelson Malachy, 33, who is stateless (from South Africa).

On the 16th March 2006, the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals. As a last resort, they can file appeal for clemency to the President. It is clear from previous clemency petitions that the President hardly grants clemency.

In Singapore, "the law presumes that a person caught in possession of prohibited drugs knows that he is in possession of some drugs, with the burden of rebutting the presumption on the person charged."

Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi thought that he was carrying African herbs that tasted like chocolate. On 28 November 2004, he was arrested at the Changi Airport transit lounge with heroin. He had with him 100 capsules of heroin weighing about 727.02 grams.

Tochi was arrested for allegedly carrying heroin while Malachy was nabbed in a subsequent police operation after Tochi identified him as one of his companions. The court in Singapore handed the death sentence after a 13-day trial. It is disturbing to note that the learned trial judge himself having raised reasonable doubts proceeded to convict them.

Against Tochi the trial judge Mr.Kan Ting Chiu made the following finding at paragraph 42 of his judgment [2005] SGHC 233:

"There was no direct evidence that he knew the capsules contained diamorphine. There was nothing to suggest that Smith had told him they contained diamorhine, or that he had found that out of his own."

Against Malachy, the trial judge made the following finding at paragraph 61 of his judgment:

"Although there was no direct evidence that the accused knew that the capsules contained drugs, and there is no presumption of such knowledge raised against him…"

According to Amnesty International 2005 report. Singapore has the highest rate of executions per capita in the world. Most of the executions arise from trafficking of drugs and the laws have been applied in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner.

Unjust Criminal Laws in Singapore

The criminal laws of Singapore are completely weighted against the accused for example; confession alone can be relied upon in sentencing a person to death. Also, there is no right to pre-trial discovery on accused statements or admissions.

It is almost impossible to rebut the presumption where the burden is reversed on the accused to prove his innocence. Further, accused person can be convicted solely on the uncorroborated and unsupported evidence of the co-accused. Also the courts here have declared they have no jurisdiction or powers to reopen a case even if there is fresh evidence adduced before execution. In one case, which I argued on the eve of the execution asking for a retrial, the then-Chief Justice who presided the case maintained that an innocent man can be hanged in Singapore due to procedural matters.

Singapore practices Mandatory Death Sentence in that it takes away the discretionary powers from the judges in precluding them from looking into extenuating and particular circumstances of the individual cases. Once the accused is convicted of trafficking eg: 15 grams of heroin, death sentence is mandated.

Recent campaigns against mandatory death sentence in Singapore

In the recent case involving an Australian, Van Nguyen Tuong, 25, who was ruthlessly hanged in Singapore amidst international criticism, I filed a complaint to the UN Rapporteur Philip Alston against the mandatory death sentence imposed on Van Nguyen.

In response, Mr Alston a press release condemning the mandatory death sentence imposed on Van Nguyen as being unlawful under International law.

Although less than half the world’s nations support death penalty (including Nigeria) very few of them practice mandatory death sentence. A former Singapore High Court judge had argued recently that the practice of mandatory death sentence is unconstitutional in Singapore.

I have been extensively campaigning along with other civil society groups in Singapore against the mandatory death sentence in the past. Recently, I was the counsel for two high profile cases where my clients were executed despite my eleventh hour appeal applications in court taken out on the eve of the execution on grounds of miscarriage of justice.

Prejudice against African nationals in Asia

There have been a spate of executions of African Nationals across Asia, which had gone unnoticed. The Australian and Western counterparts get different treatment in the media eg; German national Julia Bohl who was convicted for trafficking drugs escaped the gallows in Singapore. McCrea, an Australian charged for committing double murder in Singapore received clemency even before his trial commenced. Last week, McCrea's double murder charges had been reduced to one of manslaughter.

It is important that, the international community and the media stand united in lending their voice to protect our African brothers from being treated in a discriminatory manner as executions of Africans rarely get the attention of the international or local media. Also many young African males are lured to Asia by attractive sports and athletic deals but end up being exploited as petty drug traffickers.

Appeal to take immediate action

In this sprit, I also appeal to the African nations and civil societies across Africa to appeal to Nigeria and South Africa to bring the present matter to the International Court of Justice and challenge the mandatory death sentence imposed against Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Okele Nelson Malachy. I repeat that the mandatory death sentence in Singapore was declared unlawful by the UN in November 2005. I am prepared to lend my assistance to Nigeria and South Africa to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice and to argue the case.

I will continue to network with International organizations like American Bar Association, Amnesty International, and Australian Coalition against Death Penalty to highlight this grave situation in Singapore and I will carry the campaign across Europe, African and Asia to abolish the mandatory death sentence in Singapore.

I also urge all the anti-death penalty activists and like-minded Singaporeans to join hands in support of the upcoming campaign to prevent the impending and unlawful execution of the two Africans.

In Peace,

M Ravi
Lawyer, M Ravi & Co

26 Jun 2006

SDP: Once more into the Breach

"In the recent burst of court cases, has the SDP breached the MIW's defences by subtly attacking the links between the judiciary and the ruling party? Or is their confrontational deliberate law-breaking activism actually their political folly?"


25 Jun 2006

Airport powder scare sees hundreds quarantined

ABC News Online

Adelaide airport is in chaos this afternoon because of a yellow powder found on bags on the international luggage carousel.

Up to 400 people have been quarantined in the airport's international terminal.

The powder was noticed on luggage that had been carried on a Singapore Airlines flight, which arrived just after 7.30am ACST.

Emergency crews are struggling to identify the powder because remote equipment is failing to work from inside the terminal.

Adelaide Airport's public relations manager John McArdle says some of the passengers managed to get to a taxi and leave the airport before authorities could quarantine them.

"I understand that some of them got into a taxi and authorities are trying to track them down."

Mr McArdle says passengers on all incoming international flights are being put into quarantine.

"Incoming international aircraft and being unloaded and people are being placed into a secure lounge ... and they will be processed as soon as the product is identified as being safe," he said.

Mr McArdle says some passengers came in contact with the powder when they picked up their luggage from the carousel, he says they then inadvertently transferred the powder onto other passengers.

Mr McArdle says there were 200 people on the initial flight and another 150 have since arrived on other flights.

"This is a real incident and this is the first of the major incidents that we've had," he said.

"We're more than happy with how the process is handled. My feeling would be that the delay would escalate through the day."

Found in a Singapore Airlines flight... Did it come from Singapore? If it did, how did it get past the Singapore customs? Is it a possible prank? If they are some form of poisonous materials used by terrorists, does it mean that they are already using the powder in Singapore for terrorists means?

Philippines stops death penalty

By Sarah Toms
BBC News, Manila

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has signed a law abolishing the death penalty just two weeks after Congress passed the legislation.

As a result the sentences of the 1,200 inmates on death row will be now be commuted to life imprisonment.

Mrs Arroyo said she welcomed the change but insists she is not softening her stance on fighting crime or terrorism.

Mrs Arroyo has been under pressure from the influential Roman Catholic church to scrap capital punishment.

The signing comes as she prepares to head to Rome for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Earlier this month legislators in the Philippines, a mainly Catholic country, voted overwhelmingly to abolish capital punishment. By Philippine standards the bill was pushed through in record time.

Violent crime wave

In a speech Mrs Arroyo said "we yield to the high moral imperative dictated by God to walk away from capital punishment".

Earlier she had assured the public that the end of the death penalty did not mean there would be a soft stance against criminals.

The Philippines is plagued by violent crime with guns readily available and used in even minor disputes. Supporters of capital punishment say they fear the repeal will result in more crime.

The repeal comes just days before Mrs Arroyo visits the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Some analysts see the repeal of the death penalty as an attempt to win support from bishops for the president's plan to move to a parliamentary system of government.

Others say Mrs Arroyo is trying to diffuse opposition from the church to the government's efforts to revive mining.

The death penalty was abolished once before in 1987 but was re-imposed seven years later after a rise in crime.

Under that law seven executions were carried out by lethal injection, but in 2000, the then president, Joseph Estrada, ordered a moratorium after strong lobbying by the church, the European Union and human rights groups.


Thought this may be of interest since Philippines, it appears, despite their crime rates (which is seen as higher than Singapore), opposes the death penalty. The article also mentioned that Arroyo was under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church to scrap capital punishment. The Pope's Special Envoy Cardinal Renato Martino was in Singapore for a few days to visit Nathan. Did the religious leader pressurise the Singapore government on the death penalty? Apparently not, else it would have made news...

World Bank seeks street protests in Singapore

By Marwaan Macan-Markar
24 June 06

Activists familiar with street protests outside the venues of annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are in for a different treat at this year's gathering.

Singapore, the host country of the mid-September event, is sparing little to ensure that it lives up to its legacy as an affluent city state where universally accepted democratic principles -- such as the right to freedom of association -- are banned. The South-east Asian nation's penchant for thought control will be evident enough for the expected 16,000 delegates.

Till now, a broad group of activists who have written a letter to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, requesting the government to permit the traditional anti-Bank protests, have still to receive a reply. ''(We are concerned) about the impending restrictions and threats reportedly being made that will hamper meaningful civil society participation at the upcoming ... meeting,'' the letter, sent in March, said.

The World Bank, however, has stepped in to assure activists that space for civil society is being negotiated to avoid what some critics of the international financial institutions says will undermine the credibility of the Bank's claims to promote good governance, accountability, transparency and democracy.

''We are working closely with the IMF and with the Singapore Government -- and have been for many months -- to ensure that diverse civil society voices are very much heard before, during and after the Annual Meetings,'' writes Peter Stephens of the Bank's Singapore office in a letter to the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). ''We believe that meaningful civil society engagement is critical to the effectiveness of the meetings.''

The letter also dismisses the argument made by the NGOs that the Bank and the IMF are trying to shut the door on the world's poor by giving shape to a restrictive process. ''Far from being a regulated or restricted process, as you appear to suggest, we are trying to enable a process that is open and led by civil society, and for the issues and means of addressing them to arise spontaneously, not through a formal process that we lead or try to manage,'' adds Stephens.

But for veteran civil society actors in Singapore, the Bank's letter appears to be out of touch with the stubborn reality on the ground in the city-state. ''It will be nearly impossible to protest in Singapore for locals,'' Sinapan Samydorai, head of Think Centre, a human rights NGO, told IPS. ''Locals trying to express any political opinion in public will require a license. The licenses are often denied to locals.''

There is a possibility, though, that the Lee Hsien Loong administration, may provide space for select foreign groups, he adds. ''The government may permit a selected number of foreigners to march peacefully -- with the required license -- to show-case that there is 'freedom' in Singapore. Controlled and managed, it will boost the image of Singapore.''

Concern about the oppressive measures that await activists in Singapore emerged as early as February, when Home Affairs Minister Wong Kang Seng issued a threat that public protests may ''attract severe punishment, including caning and imprisonment''. The restrictive law against public gatherings -- where any gathering of more than four people need a security permit -- was introduced by the British when it ruled this country as part of its colonial empire. The military dictatorship in Burma, also a former British colony, keeps Singapore company by upholding the same law.

And the installation of nearly 158 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to monitor activity at 67 traffic intersections and at the venue of the September meeting, Raffles City, a shopping mall and convention centre, will make it easier for the country's police to respond to protests without permits.

Among the examples of a typical Singaporean response to local protestors who dare to think independently -- than succumbing to the thought control measures of the country -- was the arrest of four demonstrators calling for greater accountability and transparency of the state-managed pension fund. This silent protest in August last year brought out nearly a dozen anti-riot police in full battle gear, including helmets, shields and batons.

Neither the police nor the courts accepted the fact that these demonstrators had not broken the law, since they were below the required number that needs a permit, M. Ravi, a human rights lawyer who handled this case, said in an IPS interview. ''The court ruled that even one person protesting and saying unfavourable things against the government is incendiary.''

According to Ravi, the government does not compromise on this measure to control dissent and alternative views in the country. ''It is extremely serious about the bans against public demonstrations.''

The recent parliamentary elections in May, where the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) was returned to power, served up large helpings of the bizarre quality of Singapore's ruling dynasty. The country's founding figure, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, father of Lee Hsien Loong, justified these authoritarian measures as a mechanism needed to transform this malaria-infested trading port in the late 1950s to a development success story.

At the poll, the PAP marginalised opposition parties by banning their use of the electronic media to campaign, denying the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party a chance to campaign in public, banning his speeches being read by others in public and police intimidation of other candidates that made normal political activity look like a crime.

Yet Lee Hsien Loong did not consider such violations of political and civil liberties a problem. On the eve of the poll, he was quoted as having told 'The Straits Times,' a government mouthpiece, that ''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 organise, to mobilise and participate.''

''(You do) not need a lot of money or a lot of power to get moving,'' he was quoted as saying.

Shalmali Guttal, a senior researcher at Focus on the Global South, a regional think tank, wishes that was really so. ''This year's annual meeting seems very suspicious to us because the World Bank and the IMF are still uncertain about the calls by civil society for demonstrations to be permitted. Failure will only prove to us that the hegemony of these institutions continues at the expense of democracy.''

For her, public participation on the streets outside the meeting's venue ''is the only available option for the victims of the Bank's programmes to protest. The meeting's credibility will suffer if demonstrations are banned.''

24 Jun 2006

Business Times Interview

To: Swati Chaudhary
Date: Jun 8, 2006 6:58 PM
Subject: Re: Feature on Singapore Bloggers

1)How did you start blogging
i) When?

The first post was written June 2003 while sitting at my desk during lunch break in Singapore. Initially using a different name 'John Hicky' as some of what I was writing about needed a certain level of anonymity in the beginning. And my boss may not have been to keen to know what I was using the company computer to do.

ii) Why blogspot (features/ease of setting up or any other reasons there may be)

Blogspot was really the first blogging software that I had heard of then and the ease of use combined with the html and java skills I had picked up while running a more academic site for my students made the shift into blogging an easy one. All it takes to start publishing on line is an internet connection, the ability to post an email and three easy set up tasks that blogspot walks you through. Getting people to read it is a different matter. Reading other bloggers material, posting comments hyper linking other bloggers and trackbacks allows other bloggers to know you are there and they will cross link and cross post etc integrating your site into the wider blogging community. When getting started blogspot enables you to slowly learn and use these techniques while not overwhelming you with code and blogger speak.

2) How many visits a day do you get?

Currently it is an average of 1,027 new hits 1,585 refreshes or people returning to the site. Making an average of 2,500 per day.

i) Where are your visitors mainly from? Currently 65-75% are from Singapore. This has largely been the trend for the last 3 years. Depending on current news events the 'other' countries will increase or decrease according to the geographic location of the story. There is also a small number of Singaporeans who are currently studying overseas. Click on the link to see the up to date country share of visitors.

ii) Who are they? (if you have any idea based on the comments and emails that you receive)

The vast majority of commentators tend to be Singaporean and guessing as a result of their command of the English language well educated and articulate. Those who tend to go online for information regarding politics and social affairs are in the 20 to 29 year old demographic according to a recent IPS survey. There are a few brief comments given by readers who appear younger but the IPS survey did not deal with that demographic.

3) What do you think makes your blog attractive to people?

The blog has to be updated on a daily basis and more if possible. We would also like to think it is viewed as an alternative news and information source. As a team, myself and the other contributors search the internet, news sites, blogs etc for stories relevant to politics and social issues in Singapore or we take articles from the main stream media, political speeches and criticise them, question their assumptions, check out their 'facts'. Readers also get to contribute and can be perceived as producers of content rather than passive consumers, in political discussions, and calls to action such as signing petitions or attending meetings.

Singabloodypore has been online now for three years and has been updated almost daily from the start; we are consistent, determined and not easily frightened into self-censorship by speeches from members of parliament. We have done and will continue to engage the public in an open debate and continue to be shape and be shaped by the online topics and debates.

4) Why have you refrained from putting up ads/sources of revenue on your blog?

Not an anti-commercial stance but more to do with not being aware of companies or educational establishments willing to align their brand with a site that can be politically controversial. The demographics of the readership would require a Singaporean based target market in order to be a practical endeavour.

Engaging in politics in Singapore is seen by many as a risky endeavour with few material gains to be made unless you align your opinion to that of the dominant party.

Individual Singaporeans seem to be less risk adverse than Singaporean companies.

6) What advice would you give to people who hope to follow your example and be widely-read bloggers?

My number one no-no is writing about employers, past, present or future. Yes blog about products you are launching but approach your boss first. Next 'do not do' is hate speech aimed at specific individuals, groups or organisations. There is a certain code of ethics I adhere to, maybe one day I will get around to writing them down. Finally I try to write as little as possible about my personal life, enough to individualise it but not an online personal diary, simply because it is irrelevant to the focus of a political blog.

Pick a topic that you are consumed with passion for. Post often, keep it as up to date as possible and most importantly of all read other blogs within your target community, be it business or IT, comment frequently on your own site and others, reply to questions and comments as much as possible, block flamers, hyper link to as many bloggers as possible and approach the bigger players politely asking for a hyper link to your site after you have provided a link to theirs.

Blogging is about social relations online while trying to build a little community. Blogging requires you to realise that bloggers are inter-dependent not independent.

If you require any further clarification please feel free to ask.

ST Interview on Internet Regulations in Singapore

To: Elgin Toh MY
Date: Jun 12, 2006 6:55 PM

1. We are in the 10th year of Internet regulation in Singapore. How do you think the regulation has evolved during this time, both in theory and in practice ( i.e. enforcement)?

As I have only been engaged with Singapore and in particular the Singaporean internet scene since 1999 I can not account for the years I was not engaged with it. I am however aware of the 'back ground' story of how Singapore became one of the most connected cities in the world and the various government initiatives that have been implemented in order to facilitate the level of connection that Singapore has.

The story of the original sintercom is a good point to view how the initial regulations were enforced. The site had become rather popular in the run up to the previous elections and this resulted in the owner of the site being approached and encouraged to register the site as a political site. Sites like the Think Centre had also been approached in the past to register. The Think Centre registered, however the owner of sintercom felt that the pressure was a little too much and decided to close down what was an extremely important social and political discussion space.

Today the theory or the proclamations are the same, namely that political blogs need to register with the MDA. The laws are still in place, however the will to enforce them appears to be lacking. The pro-active stance of the authorities of the 1990's has become re-active. The recent jailing of 'racist' bloggers after complaints from blog readers to the police is a case in point of this new approach.

2. How have internet practitioners like yourself adjusted to the evolving regulations and what has this meant for political discussion?

Speaking for myself, I will openly admit that I very rarely consider the 'regulations' in my day to day activities on line. The idea that the 'regulators' make a declaration and then everyone online shifts their behaviour to meet the new regulations is a rather one sided view of the process that is at work in the new online media. The recent declaration regarding political pod casting, video casting and political blogging is a good example.

Before the elections as most will remember an announcement was made regarding the new media and certain 'political advertising' that was deemed out of bounds. Many bloggers responded in a rather fearful manner. Some closed their sites but the majority appeared to carry on as normal, after all the current internet users tend to have a greater level of knowledge and many appear anonymous online. Those only really affected by the 'ban' was the Singapore Democrat Party leading to speculation that the ban was only really intended to further curtail their voice in the new media thereby ensuring the dominant voice to be that of the Peoples Action Party.

The SDP complied but a quick look at the activity of individual and group bloggers shows this did not stop their engagement with the political debate from reaching the online public.
Whether those that make the regulations will admit it or not, they are in a process of negotiation with online producers not a position of authority where they are 'managing us'. Laws and regulations can and are announced on a regular basis but if the infrastructure and the will to enforce them is absent they appear to be idle threats. The very nature of the internet is questioning the old power structure whereby those in a dominant position were able to dominate the media, dominate the cultural production - this position is no longer tenable.

In terms of political discussion I feel that the most pertinent issue is 'who controls the internet', does the Singaporean state exert its sovereignty over the 'virtual world'? Or are the people of Singapore willing to claim their voice, and speak truth onto those in power. The political discussion that is ongoing is the battle for this new media.

3. Given the evolving regulations, what is the current role of the Internet in Singapore vis-a-vis the traditional media especially in the context of political discussion?

The current role or possible niche of the internet in Singapore is that the national media or main stream media is ranked 140 th on the Reporters Without Borders index out of 167 countries for media freedom. If taken seriously this indicates that there is very little political discussion in the traditional media in Singapore.

Other countries are beginning to take notice, with large newspapers starting to accommodate the new media. Their main concerns are a drop in revenue as more and more 20-something's and younger go online to get information. They are also concerned with the drop in revenue as advertisers are shifting towards online outlets instead of the traditional media.

With particular reference to political discussion I get the sense that by internet users being able to go online and get involved in online petitions, discussion groups, sending letters or joining local and international Non-Governmental Organisations there is slow political awakening occurring. Politics has for a long time been regarded as a 'risky' activity dare I say it almost criminal. As more take part on line and there are no repercussions then people might get a little braver and more active and attend a forum or sign a petition. This is of course pure speculation.

4. Some are philosophically against the regulation of the Internet at all. What are your views?

As I am not one to take an absolutist position on most arguments I feel that the only appropriate response is to look at the question from a practical or pragmatic position. The current situation in Singapore is that very few sites are blocked. Those that are tend to be pornographic in nature. However anyone with the knowledge of how to send an email can get around these blocks with the use of proxy servers and anonymous email addresses. There are of course also issues of copyright and the most distasteful of all are adults luring children to meet off line.

Yes children need to be protected – protected by their parents and those charged with their care at school etc. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression for all are just as salient as protection of the vulnerable and minorities.

For financial transactions to be secure regulation of the internet is necessary , the copyright of individuals work protected etc. Not at the expense of being used as a smoke screen for authoritarian governments to maintain their grip on the minds of the people. Not at the expense of stunting culture and creativity.

If a handful of companies and government organisations control access to the new media, and they decide which political views get aired and which issues are up for discussion this week, you might like the views and opinions. However a country that allows a few to decide the issues that everyone else gets to hear about is unacceptable.

5. The Government promises a lighter touch for the future of Internet regulation. Are you in favour of this? Does this make regulation here more aligned to regulation in other countries? How do you think the lighter touch is going to work, in practical terms?

Promises can be broken, what is needed is a clear declaration and a dismantling of certain internet and election advertising legislation in regards to online political discussion, then and only then is such an announcement to be welcomed.

The government has promised a lighter touch not out of an ideological love of freedom of speech or expression but as a pragmatic response to an attempt to control the new media during the 2006 election that failed. It is the same old approach of trial and error. If something doesn't work try something different.

A more important question is why the government used the regulations in order to demand that the SDP remove pod casts from their site during the recent election.

The future of the internet will not be decided by the Singaporean government alone. They need to acknowledge that they are actively in a process of negotiation with their own net savvy citizens.

Further restrictions on political opposition leaders

Via email from Amnesty International
June 25 2006

To: Singapore/Malaysia Network


Recent weeks have seen developments in Singapore, several of which reflect Amnesty International's continuing concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression. Some were associated with the May 6 General Election and involved opposition party candidates. The following information comes from a range of sources normally regarded as reliable and often providing the background on AI's concerns -- but does not necessarily represent AI's views or findings. Further information or corrections are welcome.

Best wishes,

Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia

SINGAPORE: Further restrictions on political opposition leaders

James Gomez, Workers' Party (WP) candidate in the May 6 General Election, wrongly claimed he had filed a minority candidate certificate and was deemed to have possibly committed a:"serious offence" or even a crime, if found guilty of "framing the elections office". Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew reportedly called him a liar. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew challenged the WP to take legal action if it found their remarks libellous. Gomez was stopped at the Singapore airport as he prepared to return to Sweden, where he now works, and was questioned for eight hours. No charge ensued and he was allowed to leave the country after a stern warning.

In response to a media enquiry concerning James Gomez, AI's International Secretariat stated its concern about "the continuing misuse of civil defamation suits and other laws for political purposes in Singapore to penalise and silence critics of the government, including those which preceded the recent election. A pattern of politically motivated suits in Singapore has served to maintain a climate of political intimidation and self-censorship which stifles freedom of expression, deters the expression of views alternative to those of the ruling Peoples' Action Party (PAP) and dissuades many Singaporeans from exercising their right to full and free participation in public life".

In early June, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, won their defamation suit against the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), of which Dr Chee Soon Juan is Secretary-General, after the court ruled that SDP had failed to file its defence. The suit was filed against the party's Executive after the January issue of the party's newspaper, The New Democrat, criticised the government's handling of a situation involving Singapore's largest charity, the National Kidney Fourndation (NKF). All defendants except Dr Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin apologised and agreed to pay damages. Dr Chee and Ms Chee have applied to the court to stop the summary judgment applied for by the plaintiffs i.e. a ruling not in open court, but instead determined by the Assistant Registrar, thus disallowing the defendants the right to call witnesses, as intended, from the PAP, the NKF, government agencies, international experts, and individuals such as former prisoners of conscience Francis Seow and Said Zahari. Should the SDP be unable to pay the designated damages, the party could be closed down.

Dr Chee and SDP colleagues Yap Keng Ho and Gandhi Ambalan have now been charged with violating the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act for speaking without a permit on several occasions in the run-up to the General Election, according to their lawyer, M Ravi.

These developments regarding Dr Chee add to the penalties and restrictions faced by him since he joined the small opposition SDP some twelve years ago and became an open critic of the government: he was fired from his university position, charged under various restrictive laws, imprisoned three times, made bankrupt and barred from seeking election. He has also been recognised internationally as a human rights defender and received the prestigious Defender of Democracy award from Parliamentarians for Global Action. His latest book, The Power of Courage -- Effecting political change in Singapore through Nonviolence, has been described as focussing on "the moral imperative of breaking unjust laws to bring about social uplift, as was advocated by... MK Gandhi and Martin Luther King" (Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, Nonviolencve International). Recently commenting on his imprisonment following the exercise of his right to freedom of expression, he said that the government "can jail me, but they can't jail democracy".

Singapore's Attorney General asked the High Court to dismiss Chee Siok Chin's application to invalidate the results of the General Election, because she had failed to pay the required S$5,000 court deposit on time. She alleged that the PAP secured its 66.6% victory through intimidation, bribery and censorship. Main international media, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Asian Network for Free Elections and others were critical of government restrictions on the opposition during the election. Canada's Globe and Mail editorial spoke of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as paying "lipservice to the need for more openness in a political system that is democratic in name but authoritarian in practice", referred to intensified harassment of the opposition and alleged Lee Kuan Yew's influence over his son's leadership of Singapore. The Age (Australia) published a series of articles by Michael Backman, in which he charged that "Increasingly, people around the world are beginning to laugh at Singapore...too often alternative viewpoints are responded to with public humiliation, threats, defamation writs and detention", and he warned business to "consider these aspects and not just competitiveness when assessing Singapore as a place for investment".

The Follow Up Jesus Pictures?

"Describing himself as a free thinker, he said he had posted a cartoon that depicted Jesus as a zombie biting a boy's head in January.

Char did not reply to the message but chose to irk the person instead. He searched the Internet for more pictures depicting Jesus and published three of them on his blog."
-- Zakir Hussein, ST, 14 June

Char, were these the pictures you posted? You know, the ones so blasphemous, dangerous, and riot-inducing that the ST decided not even to describe them, when they already gave a good description of the zombie cartoon...

A license plate from license-plate-world.com, from its insults collection, which includes gems like "If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic!" and "I took a pain pill... why are you still here?"

A photoshop of the Criterion Collection DVD box of the Last Temptation of Christ

Jesus found on paper. Seriously, after images of Christ have been found on cinnamon buns and subway water stains, this is...?


Reporters Without Borders / Internet Freedom desk


By forcing a blogger to remove four cartoons of Jesus from his blog last March and by charging him with a violation of the Sedition Act, for which he faces up to three years in prison, the Singaporean authorities were violating free expression and trying to foster self-censorship in the country's blogosphere, Reporters Without Borders said today.

"We understand that cartoons relating to religious symbols may be found shocking, but they should be tolerated for the sake of free expression," the organisation said. "Anyway, it is hard to see how posting a few humorous drawings, no matter how bad their taste, could destabilize social harmony in Singapore, as the authorities suggested."

Reporters Without Borders added: "It is not the job of the police to intervene in this kind of case. By targeting this blogger, the authorities have once again shown they attribute scant importance to media diversity and independence. In their view, the role of press is simply to educate and orientate the public, a position not very dissimilar to the one taken by the Chinese and Vietnamese regimes."

The story was first reported by the Singapore-based Straits Times daily, which referred to the blogger only by his pseudonym and did not give his real name or his blog's address. The newspaper said Char did not draw the cartoons himself, he just found them on the Internet and posted them on his blog.

One of them, posted in January, portrayed Jesus as a zombie. All of the cartoons were taken down after the police stepped in. According to the Straits Times, Char acknowledged that posting the cartoons was an "unwise move." The police confiscated his computer and told him an investigation would be carried out. When Char got back in touch with the authorities last month, they told him he was still being investigated.

This case follows the conviction of three bloggers for posting racist comments about the Muslim and Malay communities. One of them got a one-month prison sentence. Reporters Without Borders also voiced concern in April about a series of government measures restricting podcasting (the online distribution of audio files). See: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=17497

In the 2005 Reporters Without Borders classification of countries according to their respect for press freedom, Singapore was ranked 140th out of 167 countries.

23 Jun 2006

The Offending Jesus - Zombie Cartoon?

Char was this the offending cartoon that you posted? If not, how about everyone trying to help me find it. Post your html links in the comment section.

Single party rule ‘best for Singapore

Anyone remember George Yeo who made similar insensitive remarks that caused Taiwan to call us a "snot"? Looks like our dear leaders are making international news to make themselves look silly. As the Singapore saying goes, "You pay peanuts, you get circus monkeys... "

Single party rule ‘best for Singapore’
By John Burton in Singapore and Leora Moldofsky in Sydney
Published: June 22 2006 01:50
Last updated: June 22 2006 01:50

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, has criticised Australia and New Zealand’s liberal democratic practices, suggesting that Singapore’s system, under which a single party has ruled since independence, is more efficient.

Mr Lee made the remarks at the end of a nine-day visit to the two countries, which are attracting a growing number of immigrants from the Asian city-state.

Although the democracies of Australia and New Zealand made for “more exciting” politics, the national interest could suffer in a multi-party system, said Mr Lee.

The comments could provoke controversy, particularly as Mr Lee’s visit was meant to improve economic and defence ties in spite of criticism about Singapore’s human rights record.

“Endless debates are seldom about achieving a better grasp of the issue but to score political points,” said Mr Lee about the political systems in Australia and New Zealand.

He said John Howard, the Australian prime minister, “spends all his time dealing with this party politics. The result is you don’t have a lot of time to worry about the long-term future.”

Dominant party rule was the best system for a small, multiracial country like Singapore, Mr Lee said, as he prepared to leave New Zealand, whose population of 4m is similar in size and ethnic complexity to that of the city-state.

The People’s Action Party has governed Singapore since 1959 when Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee’s father, was elected prime minister.

Mr Lee blamed Australia’s multi-party system for his failure to persuade Canberra to open its aviation market to state-owned Singapore Airlines, which is seeking to fly the transpacific route from Sydney to Los Angeles.

He said Australia’s National party, the minority partner in the ruling coalition, was against opening up the route because Qantas could threaten in response to cut unprofitable routes to rural areas where the party is strong. Qantas has opposed Singapore Airline’s entry on the transpacific route.

The decision was “a net loss” for Australia because it hurt tourism, Mr Lee said.

His remarks appeared aimed at Mark Vaile, the National party leader and trade minister, who will lead negotiators next month in a review of the bilateral trade pact with Singapore.

Mr Lee was questioned about the treatment of Singapore opposition leader, Chee Soon Juan, who was charged this week with speaking in public without a police licence. He said all political leaders had to respect the law, adding that Dr Chee engaged in “destructive” policies that were meant “to impress foreign supporters”.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006