30 Sep 2006

Hardware Zone websites sold

Singapore (dpa) - Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is buying all the magazine and online titles of Hardware Zone, which operates a website featuring new electronic products and reviews, SPH said in a published statement Saturday.

The website, which started in 1999 as a hobby for the co-founders, currently has operations in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, China and Australia.

Co-founders Eugene Low and Jackie Lee were 22-year-old undergraduates at the National University of Singapore when they started Hardware Zone.

The purchase price is 7.1 million Singapore dollars (4.5 million US dollars).

"Hardware Zone's online magazine business strategy will complement SPH Magazines' strong print magazine business," said the statement in The Straits Times.

The acquisition is scheduled to be completed around November 1.

[Reaction from Forumers...]
SPH have control of all major papers and magazines....
anything from straits times - business times - zao bao - berita harian
all the way to men's health, citibella, maxim...

the loooming issue here is actually bigger than any potential change in "forumer" privilege or rights in speech freedom but the monopoly control of local media offline and online in singapore. by Radish

29 Sep 2006

Mini Lee's Motivational Poster

A poster that mini-Lee might want to print out and post on his office wall from asiapundit.

Or how about this one I created at despair.com ...

Empower Singaporeans Seminar Series – register now!

Singapore Democratic Party

Following the landmark protest at Hong Lim Park during the WB-IMF Meeting, a workshop will be held on 15 October 2006, Sunday, under the Empower Singaporeans Seminar Series.

This day-long seminar is tailored for the Singaporean who yearns justice and democracy, but doesn't know how to go about working towards it.

The seminar, starting at 9 am and ending at 6 pm, will feature lectures, interactive discussions, debates, and role-playing on topics such as human rights, the development of democracy in Asia, and a history of repression in Singapore.

Participants will also learn about the principles and practice of Nonviolence, and how it can be applied to Singapore.

The activists at the Empower Singaporeans Rally and March on 16 September will be on hand to conduct some of the seminar discussions. This is your chance to talk to them and learn how they overcame their fears.

Learn how you can break through your crippling sense of powerlessness, fear and isolation. Discover the courage trapped in your hearts and unlock the shackles that imprison your minds.

Don't just sit by and criticize, channel your energy and ideas into constructive action. Join us at the seminar.

The seminar is open to all Singaporeans. To attend please register by sending us an email (speakup@singaporedemocrat.org). Details of the seminar will be sent to you if your registration is successful.

Please register early as places are limited.

The FEER Article that Caused Offence

Singapore’s ‘Martyr,’ Chee Soon Juan
July/August 2006
By Hugo Restall

Striding into the Chinese restaurant of Singapore’s historic Fullerton Hotel, Chee Soon Juan hardly looks like a dangerous revolutionary. Casually dressed in a blue shirt with a gold pen clipped to the pocket, he could pass as just another mild-mannered, apolitical Singaporean. Smiling, he courteously apologizes for being late—even though it is only two minutes after the appointed time.

Nevertheless, according to prosecutors, this same man is not only a criminal, but a repeat offender. The opposition party leader has just come from a pre-trial conference at the courthouse, where he faces eight counts of speaking in public without a permit.

He has already served numerous prison terms for this and other political offenses, including eight days in March for denying the independence of the judiciary. He expects to go to jail again later this year.

Mr. Chee does not seem too perturbed about this, but it drives Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong up the wall. Asked about his government’s persecution of the opposition during a trip to New Zealand last month, Mr. Lee launched into a tirade of abuse against Mr. Chee. “He’s a liar, he’s a cheat, he’s deceitful, he’s confrontational, it’s a destructive form of politics designed not to win elections in Singapore but to impress foreign supporters and make himself out to be a martyr,” Mr. Lee ranted. “He’s deliberately going against the rules because he says, ‘I’m like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. I want to be a martyr.’”

Coming at the end of a trip in which the prime minister essentially got a free ride on human rights from his hosts—New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark didn’t even raise the issue—this outburst showed a lack of self-control and acumen. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the man who many believe still runs Singapore and who is the current prime minister’s father, has said much the same things about Mr. Chee—“a political gangster, a liar and a cheat”—but that was at home, and in the heat of an election campaign.

Mr. Chee smiles when it’s suggested that he must be doing something right. “Every time he says something stupid like that, I think to myself, the worst thing to happen would be to be ignored. That would mean we’re not making any headway,” he agrees.

But one charge made by the government does stick: Mr. Chee is not terribly concerned about election results. Which is just as well, because his Singapore Democratic Party did not do very well in the May 6 polls. It would be foolish, he suggests, for an opposition party in Singapore to pin its hopes on gaining one, or perhaps two, seats in parliament. He is aiming for a much bigger goal: bringing down the city-state’s one-party system of government. His weapon is a campaign of civil disobedience against laws designed to curtail democratic freedoms.

“You don’t vote out a dictatorship,” he says. “And basically that’s what Singapore is, albeit a very sophisticated one. It’s not possible for us to effect change just through the ballot box. They’ve got control of everything else around us.” Instead what’s needed is a coalition of civil society and political society coming together and demanding change—a color revolution for Singapore.

So far Mr. Chee doesn’t seem to be getting much, if any traction. While many Singaporeans don’t particularly like the PAP’s arrogant style of government, the ruling party has succeeded in depoliticizing the population to the extent that anybody who presses them to take action to make a change is regarded with resentment. And in a climate of fear—Mr. Chee lost his job as a psychology lecturer at the national university soon after entering opposition politics—a reluctance to get involved is hardly surprising.

Why is all this oppression necessary in a peaceful and prosperous country like Singapore where citizens otherwise enjoy so many freedoms? Mr. Chee has his own theory that the answer lies with strongman Lee Kuan Yew himself: “Why is he still so afraid? I honestly think that through the years he has accumulated enough skeletons in his closet that he knows that when he is gone, his son and the generations after him will have a price to pay. If we had parliamentary debates where the opposition could pry and ask questions, I think he is actually afraid of something like that.”

That raises the question of whether Singapore deserves its reputation for squeaky-clean government. A scandal involving the country’s biggest charity, the National Kidney Foundation, erupted in 2004 when it turned out that its Chief Executive T.T. Durai was not only drawing a $357,000 annual salary, but the charity was paying for his first-class flights, maintenance on his Mercedes, and gold-plated fixtures in his private office bathroom.

The scandal was a gift for the opposition, which naturally raised questions about why the government didn’t do a better job of supervising the highly secretive NKF, whose patron was the wife of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (she called Mr. Durai’s salary “peanuts”). But it had wider implications too. The government controls huge pools of public money in the Central Provident Fund and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp., both of which are highly nontransparent. It also controls spending on the public housing most Singaporeans live in, and openly uses the funds for refurbishing apartment blocks as a bribe for districts that vote for the ruling party. Singaporeans have no way of knowing whether officials are abusing their trust as Mr. Durai did.

It gets worse. Mr. Durai’s abuses only came to light because he sued the Straits Times newspaper for libel over an article detailing some of his perks. Why was Mr. Durai so confident he could win a libel suit when the allegations against him were true? Because he had done it before. The NKF won a libel case in 1998 against defendants who alleged it had paid for first-class flights for Mr. Durai. This time, however, he was up against a major bulwark of the regime, Singapore Press Holdings; its lawyers uncovered the truth.

Singaporean officials have a remarkable record of success in winning libel suits against their critics. The question then is, how many other libel suits have Singapore’s great and good wrongly won, resulting in the cover-up of real misdeeds? And are libel suits deliberately used as a tool to suppress questioning voices?

The bottling up of dissent conceals pressures and prevents conflicts from being resolved. For instance, extreme sensitivity over the issue of race relations means that the persistence of discrimination is a taboo topic. Yet according to Mr. Chee it is a problem that should be debated so that it can be better resolved. “The harder they press now, the stronger will be the reaction when he’s no longer around,” he says of Lee Kuan Yew.

The paternalism of the PAP also rankles, especially since foreigners get more consideration than locals. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund will hold their annual meeting in Singapore this fall, and have been trying to convince the authorities to allow the usual demonstrations to take place. The likely result is that international NGO groups will be given a designated area to scream and shout. “So we have a situation here where locals don’t have the right to protest in their own country, while foreigners are able to do that,” Mr. Chee marvels. Likewise, Singaporeans can’t organize freely into unions to negotiate wages; instead a National Wages Council sets salaries with input from the corporate sector, including foreign chambers of commerce.

All these tensions will erupt when strongman Lee Kuan Yew dies. Mr. Chee notes that the ruling party is so insecure that Singapore’s founder has been unable to step back from front-line politics. The PAP still needs the fear he inspires in order to keep the population in line. Power may have officially passed to his son, Lee Hsien Loong, but even supporters privately admit that the new prime minister doesn’t inspire confidence.

During the election, Prime Minister Lee made what should have been a routine attack on multiparty democracy: “Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters’ votes, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?” But of course the ominous phrases “buy votes” and “fix them” stuck out. That is the kind of mistake, Mr. Chee suggests, Lee Sr. would not make.

“He’s got a kind of intelligence that would serve you very well when you put a problem in front of him,” he says of the prime minister. “But when it comes to administration or political leadership, when you really need to be media savvy and motivate people, I think he is very lacking in that area. And his father senses it as well.”

However, the elder Mr. Lee’s death—he is now 82—is a necessary but not sufficient condition for change. Another big factor is how civil society is able to use new technologies to bypass PAP control over information and free speech. The government has tried to stifle political filmmaking, blogging and podcasting. Singapore Rebel, a 2004 film about Mr. Chee by independent artist Martyn See, was banned but is widely available on the Internet.

Meanwhile, pressure for Singapore to remain competitive in the region has sparked debate about the government’s dominant role in the economy. Can a top-down approach promote creativity and independent thinking? The need for transparency and accountability also means that Singapore will have to change. That is the source of Mr. Chee’s optimism in the face of all his setbacks: “I realize that Singapore is not at that level yet. But we’ve got to start somewhere. And I’m prepared to see this out, in the sense that in the next five, 10, 15 years, time is on our side. We need to continue to organize and educate and encourage. And it will come.”

He doesn’t dwell on his personal tribulations, but mentions in passing selling his self-published books on the street. That is his primary source of income to feed his family, along with the occasional grant. As to the charge of wanting to be a martyr, once he started dissenting, he found it impossible to stop in good conscience. “The more you got involved, the more you found out what they’re capable of, it steels you, so you say, ‘No, I will not back down.’ It makes you more determined.”

Perhaps it’s in his genes. One of Mr. Chee’s daughters is old enough that she had to be told that her father was going to prison. She stood up before her class and announced, “My papa is in jail, but he didn’t do anything wrong. People have just been unfair to him.”

Mr. Restall is editor of the REVIEW.

SINGAPORE: British reporter denied entry at airport

Mr Jaya Gibson [his official site] has also removed an article from his blog that refered to his 'assisting with administrative matters' with M. Ravi, which I refered to in an earlier post this week.

Authorities do not allow British Epoch Times reporter into country to cover trial of Falungong activists

Straits Times
Thursday, September 28, 2006

By Khushwant Singh

A British journalist who flew in from London on Sunday was denied entry at Changi Airport and asked to leave.

Mr Jaya Gibson works for New York-based The Epoch Times, which is strongly supportive of the Falungong movement.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said that Mr Gibson was ineligible for a visit pass, but did not give any reason.

He left on Monday.

Mr Gibson was in Singapore last month to cover the trial of two Falungong followers who were charged with displaying insulting words on a banner opposite the Chinese Embassy in Tanglin Road on July 20.

When the trial was adjourned, Mr Gibson left for Geneva to attend a human rights conference, said Mr Sng Beng Kok, a photojournalist with The Epoch Times.

Mr Gibson had also been assisting the Falungong pair's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, with administrative matters, Mr Sng told Agence France-Presse news agency.

The Epoch Times focuses on reporting alleged human rights abuses by China's Communist Party, especially its crackdown on Falungong, which Beijing outlawed as an "evil cult" in 1999.

The newspaper has been circulating here since 2004.

Mr Ravi has been hospitalised and the two Falungong practitioners on trial have till Monday to decide if they wish to hire a new lawyer.

Date Posted: 9/28/2006

28 Sep 2006

Singapore bans Far Eastern Economic Review magazine

AFX News Limited

09.28.2006, 08:21 AM

SINGAPORE (XFN-ASIA) - The government said it has banned the Far Eastern Economic Review magazine after it failed to comply with media regulations.

'The Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts has revoked with effect from 28 September 2006 the approval given to the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) for sale or distribution in Singapore,' a government press release said.

It added that it was also an offense to import or possess copies of the Hong Kong-based magazine for sale or distribution in the city-state.

The move comes two weeks after revelations that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew had filed defamation suits against the FEER.

The Lees filed the lawsuits in August against editor Hugo Restall and Hong Kong-based Review Publishing, alleging the pair had been defamed in a July article based on an interview with opposition politician Chee Soon Juan.


Firing up the post-65ers

According to this report a third of those present were already blogging so it would be great to hear some of their interpretations of what happened. Post a link to your blog in the comment section, please.

PM wants them to make noise but they're just finding their voice

Thursday • September 28, 2006

Christie Loh
• News Analysis

It takes a while to warm up young Singaporeans — even with the Prime Minister egging them on to jump up and take a shot in open dialogue.

"This evening, I've been trying hard to get people to put their hands up to speak. But some shy," quipped Mr Lee Hsien Loong, 54, at last Saturday's forum with 220 youth, aged 17 to 30, at the Supreme Court.

This was the 12th time a prime minister of the country had held an annual dialogue with young Singaporeans from schools, voluntary welfare organisations, the civil service and the media. For Mr Lee, the exchange fitted in with his priority, since becoming premier in 1994, to galvanise those born after 1965.

Then, he had called on the "P65", or post-65, group — which makes up about half the nation's current population — to step up and shape its future. On Saturday, he urged those not happy with things not to just up and leave but to "make a nuisance" of themselves until they had fixed it.

It was a rare event to witness the engagement between prime minister and youth; for the first time, the normally closed-door dialogue was open to media coverage. What was also different was a "pre-dialogue session" held the week before, where younger Members of Parliament and the participants brainstormed which 12 questions to ask the PM and by whom.

Except that Mr Lee didn't quite stick to the script when the day came. Instead of first answering the set questions and then taking follow-ups "if there was time", he often halted the flow of the 100-minute session to push for more spontaneity. Such as when he stopped co-moderator Minister Vivian Balakrishnan from moving on to the next topic because Mr Lee wanted to hear more views on race relations.

The room waited. Eventually, a Muslim teacher asked what the out-of-bounds markers are when it comes to religion and race.

"I think we're already discussing OB markers," a smiling Mr Lee said, before addressing her question on why schools in multi-ethnic Singapore prefer an open "common space" to one for each religious group.

Mr Lee wanted more crossfire. So he heard a girl's lament that her years in schools dominated by Chinese students had led to an ignorance about other cultures. Swiftly, Mr Lee whipped out a sheet listing cross-cultural activities organised by some of the schools.

No issue was taboo, from the impact of foreign talent to the rise of new media. The openness impressed participants who, afterwards, applauded Mr Lee for his "warmth", "clear, satisfactory answers" and being "not condescending".

Some voiced fears of foreign talent taking jobs away from the locals, a concern that had cropped during a string of recent dialogues between youths and P65 MPs. Mr Lee reiterated that foreign talents help enlarge the economy, creating more jobs for the locals.

The twin topics of new media and political expression took up about 40 minutes of the session.

Inquisitive youths wanted to know if Mr Lee's "older colleagues" would be able to accept an era of political expression with fewer boundaries. His reply: More young parliamentarians will be brought in to "do the talking", but opening up has to be done step by step because "politics is a serious sort of business".

What of the Government's plans to engage the young through their increasingly preferred medium of expression — blogging? Mr Lee's response was that while engagement by way of new media was necessary, "we have to experiment to see how it works". For example, should he start blogging to reach the young, he asked. He wasn't sure, but he would do it only if he had something "sincere and substantial" to share.

Turning the tables, Mr Lee then asked how many blogged. About a third raised their hands. At the same time, many participants started marching up to the mike to proffer their views on, what else, speaking up.

The lively exchange on youth expression heartened Mr Teo Ser Luck, parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, who told Today: "If they want political freedom, it's because they want to have more say. If they didn't want to speak up or if the blogs were not active, then I'd be worried."

But encouraging as Saturday's session might be for Government-youth engagement, Mr Teo is only too aware of a much larger pool of youths that has not made it to any dialogue session.

Those who attend such "formal" settings, Mr Teo said, are the "converts" and "good youths who do their homework". Such as the polytechnic student who stumped him by asking, during the pre-dialogue session, if the $1,800 income bracket for S-Pass applicants (skilled middle-level workers) was too low.

But many more don't think about such things. "What should we do? Go to the void deck?" he asked, wondering if activities at housing estates would work.

For now, Mr Teo and his fellow P65 MPs can take heart in the email that have been streaming in, asking how one could take part in the youth dialogues — and they are "not from the usual-suspect schools".

"They're warming up to us," noted Mr Teo.

What's your view? Email us at news@newstoday.com.sg

27 Sep 2006

'Zahari's 17 Years' to premiere in Malaysia

From Singapore Rebel...

Three Singapore films have been selected for screening at the 2006 Freedom Film Festival in Malaysia. Martyn See's 'Zahari's 17 Years', Tan Pin Pin's 'Singapore Gaga' and 'Moving House' will feature among an international slate of films dedicated to raising the consciousness of socio-political issues.

Following Martyn See's participation in last year's festival, local documentary filmmaker Tan Pin Pin has been invited by this year's organisers to present her work. She will be attending the screenings at Taylor's College in Subang Jaya.

The festval will run over two weekends in two venues.

29 Sept to 1 Oct
KLANG VALLEY : Taylor’s College, 1, Jalan SS15/8, 47500, Subang Jaya,
For invite in Klang Valley, call Effa Desa 03-79685415

6 Oct to 8 Oct
PENANG : The Actors Studio Greenhall, Ground Floor, Zhong Zheng School Memorial Centre, 32, Lebuh Light, 10200 Penang
For invite in Penang, call Wee Ching 012-2755438 Or Chon Kai 019-5669518

Showtimes for 'Zahari's 17 Years'
Klang Valley on Oct 1, 2.30pm
Penang on Oct 8, 2.30pm

The full schedule of the festival here.

A short clip of the movie can be seen here...

Chees write to Chief Justice on summary judgement hearing

27 September 2006

Mr Chan Sek Keong
Chief Justice
Supreme Court
Republic of Singapore

Dear Sir,

In the recent summary judgement hearing presided by Judge Belinda Ang on 12 September 2006 in the matter of Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong v. Chee Siok Chin and Chee Soon Juan (Suit Nos. 261 and 262 of 2006), Ms Chee and I were not represented by counsel.

Before the proceedings began, we had informed Judge Ang that our counsel, Mr M Ravi, was not well and that we needed time for him to recover. The Plaintiffs lawyer, Mr Davinder Singh, insisted that our application was nothing but a ploy to delay the hearing. Judge Ang sided with Mr Singh and rejected our application.

This being the case, we then asked to discharge Mr Ravi as our lawyer as he could not continue arguing our matter and to have a two-week adjournment for us to find another lawyer.

Again, Mr Singh objected and again Ms Belinda Ang sided with him. The summary judgement hearing thus proceeded without us having legal representation. Ms Ang ruled in the Lees’ favour. All this was done in her chambers away from the media and public.

Mr Ravi has now been hospitalized. A medical certificate from the hospital has already been produced in court. Given his illness, Mr Ravi was also unable to represent his other clients in three other cases.

It is clear that Judge Ang was wrong not to allow our counsel time to recover or to give us time to try to find another lawyer.

I do not have to tell you that to have a hearing in chambers with one party not having legal representation is a grave breach of the principles of justice.

The defendants would like to appeal Judge Ang’s decision to proceed with the hearing despite the absence of our lawyer. However, we have to pay the security cost of $10,000 which we cannot afford. We would like to ask that the cost be waived given the nature of the case and the circumstances surrounding it. This will enable us to proceed with the appeal and have justice not only done, but also manifestly seen to be done.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party

A sharing I gave regarding Singapore...

Below is the article written by Mr Gibson which he has removed from his blog. Mr Gibson is a reporter for the Epoch Times and had been in Singapore covering the case of two Falun Gong members. M. Ravi is the lawyer who was defending the two Falun Gong members. It was posted on the 9th of September 2006 and was available until 28th September 2006. It is posted in full below and may shed some light on the reason he was denied access to Singapore by the authorities.
Saturday, September 09, 2006

This is my understanding of the situation regarding Ravi. Please understand that so much has happened in the last week that it is hard to write everything down in great detail.

Through out this whole time my understanding of the entire situation is that no matter what the circumstances and details of the situation in this dimension, any outcome good or bad has been due to the strength/lack or clarity in our collective righteous thoughts and understanding of the Fa.

The entire first week Ravi was fine. He performed excellently in court and although he was very direct in his manner with whoever he spoke to he never used bad words and was calm. To me he seemed like an everyday person but with very righteous views when it came to Falun Gong's situation. I have never met an ordinary person other than David Kilgour or Edward Scott-MacMillan so determined to stand up for Falun Gong. He has risked much personally taking this case. It was only when he was in debate in court that he got excited but it seemed very effective and the prosecution and the judge had a hard time trying to beat him on his points so instead they would just try and side step the issue altogether.

The entire week he was clear and only at certain points when the collective understanding of the practitioners here was not clear, only then would Ravi become frustrated. But at those times either all or one of myself, You Xin and the 2 other Australian practitioners where present to clarify the situation and assist Ravi.

On the 3rd day Ravi offered You Xin and I to use a spare room in his office so that we can do everything we need to do to assist the trials. We can use any materials, the internet, the phone with no charge. This is very helpful as his office is just opposite the Subordinate Court so it has helped greatly. He shares with 2 other women lawyers who are all very close to Ravi and also very supportive of the situation. He also mentioned a lot that he felt very calm around practitioners. Since then I have kept very close to Ravi and I have been aware that I should not become attached to him through Qing or anything else, it has been hard and I made some errors but now I feel unmoved regarding Ravi.

Only when the overseas practitioners left did Ravi start to show some signs of instability but not too bad and it was a little more work to help him through that. It seemed as time went on each day some new pressure would come to bear on Ravi, like another complication regarding one of his other cases etc. With this it was obvious to anyone that he was feeling the pressure as an ordinary person would.

Then we had the teamspeak and halfway through Ravi came back very jittery and nervous. He insisted that I listen to him and didn’t wish to wait until after the teamspeak. He explained that something happened at the temple and he believed that he was being setup by the priests and the police to be arrested on false charges. I told him I couldn’t get involved in this matter and he got upset. I said that I had to stay focused on Falun Gong and be true to my understandings. He was sill very upset and angry with me saying all kinds of things. When I told him that I would do my best within my understanding to help him he calmed down a little. I persuaded him that it was very important that I get back on the teamspeak. Then on the teamspeak the practitioners overseas wanted to speak to him. He got on the teamspeak and talked a lot with the practitioners, he seemed to change quite quickly from nervous and jittery to becoming focused on the Falun Gong issue. I felt that the situation with the temple was just a distraction and to pay no attention to it.
Afterwards he was so clear and calm and determined to go on. He even gave up going to Australia to do his human rights tour which is related to his client who is going to be executed soon. He felt that this matter was a priority. That night he was worried about police coming and arresting him so we slept in the office.

That morning when he woke he was completely different and acting very unusual. I realised very quickly how this was not good. It was 5:30am and he wanted to go to his temple to do his rituals but he was worried that he would be falsely arrested and asked me to come just in case. Before I went into the temple I asked master to seal off my ears and not let anything I see, hear or sense get into me as I didn’t want to accept any of it. I was here to make sure Ravi was OK. At the temple his actions were not good and he behaved irrationally which upset the others worshipping there. I was doing FZN but it was hard to keep calm and I sometimes feel my heart beating very fast, I knew it was vital that I remain still but it was so hard because the situation seemed so utterly bizarre and inappropriate.

The police were called and turned up; they asked questions to both of us. At that point I decided I was not going to be a part of what he was trying to get me involved in, I refused and he got very upset. I felt that I did the right thing no matter what his reaction and that to trust master was the best thing. All of a sudden I felt better and relief that I had made this decision. I became much calmer. In the end the police determined that there was no cause for complaint and left after asking Ravi to leave peacefully. It took some persuasion from myself and the police but he left. When the police had first arrived I phoned You Xin and asked her to come immediately. The police were very calm and seemed to be very good people which surprised me.

Ravi and I left the temple went to a coffee shop very nearby while we waited for You Xin. In the temple he had called some of his friends – who were also clients - and they turned up at the coffee shop. I explained the situation to them and they were concerned but trusted us to look after him.

Ravi continued to act irrationally so either Ming Guo, You Xin or myself were with him to calm him down. You Xin and Ming Guo took him to the beach and helped him stay calm which worked very well. I continued to make a summary of what has happened in court and get the complaints from the public hearing together in Ravi’s office. I heard from You Xin that they share the Fa with Ravi and it was good.

We felt that it was important that he stay out of the public view while he was in this state so he went to stay with his friend Karen near the beach and he seemed to be very calm. The next day we had a couple of phone calls from him and it seemed that he was still a little confused. During the last week Ravi has slept very little, maybe a couple of hours a night.

Last night Ravi called me and asked if we could come over to be with him he felt that he needed us around. So You Xin, Ming Guo, William and myself went over and shared with him. He was calm but constantly talking, talking, talking about his understandings according to his practice. Eventually I get the idea to start reading the Fa to him; I started at Lecture Six on cultivation insanity. Immediately he stopped talking and started listening very carefully. Very soon he became sleepy and lay down. He went to sleep for 30 minutes but when You Xin and William tried to leave he woke up again. We decided that we should take turns to stay with him and help understand the Fa better. In the end Ming Guo and I stayed and we read Zhuan Falun from Lecture Six to some of the way through Lecture One. We read non-stop for 6-7 hours. He slept for 3 short periods through out this and remained calm but sometimes he would become irrational and make strange movements, we told him to be calm and just listen to the Fa at which point he would lie down again.

At 7am today his Ravi’s friend Karen woke up. Ravi woke up too and seemed like he was back to normal, very rational and calm. But slowly throughout the morning he started becoming irrational again. Ming Guo and I did the exercises and the meditation while Ravi and Karen tidied and cleaned up the house. You Xin turned up and after some sharing we felt that we needed to do FZN to this house as Karen was also a yoga practitioner and there were some unrighteous statues and what not that Ravi brought here. We decided that the evil was interfering with Ravi and didn’t want him to go to Geneva and we shared that the evil wanted to keep us busy maybe if we stopped running around after him like he was a little child wanting attachment. As soon as we decided to leave Ravi started banging things around and making noise. Ming Gou had asked some other practitioners to come also as we had no sleep and we had lots of other things to do regarding the trail here. Ng Chey Huey (one of the accused) and another practitioner came. Also Violet - one of the lawyers Ravi works with who practices a different form of mediation – arrived with her maid. We shared on what we should do, whether we should stay or go and we had a couple of different thoughts one that said we should stay and one that said we should leave. It was hard to know which was the best course of action. I felt that we were being distracted by running around after Ravi like he was a small child demanding lots of attention.

After a small sharing with the practitioners and some lunch that Karen organized I left. Violet followed me and wanted to share with me and help me understand Ravi’s situation some more as she has been very close to him and has seen him go through this before as this period of the year is around the time of his mothers dearth and also an important ceremony in his faith takes place soon.

My understanding as result of all this is quite simple; Ravi is confused because we are not solid in our understanding here collectively. So the evil is able to give him a hard time making him irrational and make us waiver on whether to continue with him. I think to just drop him would be bad for him also.

Through out this whole time my understanding of the entire situation is that no matter what the circumstances and details of the situation in this dimension, any outcome good or bad has been due to the strength/lack or clarity in our collective righteous thoughts and understanding of the Fa.

I also believe that Yuyi has been covering her attachments and that has caused some big problems here in Singapore. I have come to understand that she and William do not communicate much at all which I believe is a big gap on both their parts as they are the heads of FXH here.
On the whole Yuyi has been quite negative about me being here and has been negative towards Ravi. For the most part I have ignored it and just gotten on with what I have to do here. But after reading her email I believe she is being misleading as she has had very little contact with Ravi in comparison to myself or You Xin & Ming Guo.
Of course we must look inside and make sure we are not attached to Ravi. I believe that if Ravi is not part of the case that Master will of course arrange for the best to happen. But my heart tells me that for Ravi’s sake and ours, we must break through the evil interference and get him to Geneva. Ravi has done so much good for our case here so far the public hearing for example. Why are we all of sudden so willing to cut him off. Surely he needs our help right now too. I believe that will the issue of his faith has some relevance that getting distracted by that is what the evil wants. Didn’t he do well when we knew nothing of his personal life? Now that we know and we all have conflicting views within the body of practitioners involved is Ravi confused. I believe we should look inside as a whole on this issue.
I believe she was also not present at the initial teamspeak which I found out just now and I think it is odd that she wasn’t there.
The Australian practitioners that were here for the first week also shared with me that they felt the same way and were also surprised at the attitude towards us. At one of the group sharings she said that I shouldn’t be encouraged to share as I was a new practitioner and there were older practitioners with better understandings than me. Anyway you look at it this is not a good statement.
This has been passed onto me second hand but I did talk with her once and I was very surprised at her attitude. It seemed very negative and it felt like she wanted to have control of the situation and was jealous of You Xin’s and my involvement, until that point I thought she was glad that I was here to help but after talking to her it seemed not to be that way. She stated that Master said anyone coming here needed to have a good understanding of Singapore law along with the points that Theresa mentioned, I had never heard this sharing at this time and I didn’t understand why no one told me or the other Australian practitioners this before we came over here. At the time I challenged Diana on this saying that as head of FXH here surely it was her responsibility to make sure we understood these points. She didn’t respond to my query and said it was an unwritten rule and stated that she was the head of the FXH here like her position gave authority over any understanding I had share. I was surprised that someone who was FXH was so unwilling to look inside or consider other points of view.
Theresa didn’t mention this when she talked about what master said regarding Singapore’s situation on the teamspeak but I didn’t think anything of it until now. Could someone please clarify for me this point.
Also please remember that no other lawyer in Singapore has come forward and the story of how they came to have Ravi as their lawyer feels like it was predestined to me.
I am in agreement with Terri and Theresa on their understandings as they have first hand experience of the interference lawyers have had.
This is an issue that on the surface seems very complex but I think it comes down to looking within and having solid righteous thoughts. I feel it would better to share about this on Teamspeak sooner rather than later i.e. before Monday night.
This is just my understanding, please share anything you feel maybe incorrect.

posted by gifted01 at 4:23 PM 0 comments links to this post

M. Ravi - Get Well Soon

Here is an extract from a blogger by the name of Jaya Gibson in Singapore Saturday, September 09, 2006. It refers to M. Ravi someone although I have never physically met but feel close to as I have followed his human rights cases over the years. It seems to involve the Falun Gong and is I feel a very personal account of M. Ravi's current state. The validity and reliability of the testament given is not secure. However I do feel that if correct M. Ravi's family and close friends need to be called upon at this time of stress.

At 7am today his Ravi’s friend Karen woke up. Ravi woke up too and seemed like he was back to normal, very rational and calm. But slowly throughout the morning he started becoming irrational again. Ming Guo and I did the exercises and the meditation while Ravi and Karen tidied and cleaned up the house. You Xin turned up and after some sharing we felt that we needed to do FZN to this house as Karen was also a yoga practitioner and there were some unrighteous statues and what not that Ravi brought here. We decided that the evil was interfering with Ravi and didn’t want him to go to Geneva and we shared that the evil wanted to keep us busy maybe if we stopped running around after him like he was a little child wanting attachment. As soon as we decided to leave Ravi started banging things around and making noise. Ming Gou had asked some other practitioners to come also as we had no sleep and we had lots of other things to do regarding the trail here. Ng Chey Huey (one of the accused) and another practitioner came. Also Violet - one of the lawyers Ravi works with who practices a different form of mediation – arrived with her maid. We shared on what we should do, whether we should stay or go and we had a couple of different thoughts one that said we should stay and one that said we should leave. It was hard to know which was the best course of action. I felt that we were being distracted by running around after Ravi like he was a small child demanding lots of attention.

All this talk of 'the evil' makes my skin crawl. It sounds like the usual blah blah of a religious , dare I say the word 'cult'. Nothing more nothing less. The references continue...
So the evil is able to give him a hard time making him irrational and make us waiver on whether to continue with him. I think to just drop him would be bad for him also.

In my humble opinion Ravi should drop the Falun Gong case now.

...if Ravi is not part of the case that Master will of course arrange for the best to happen. But my heart tells me that for Ravi’s sake and ours, we must break through the evil interference...

M.Ravi needs our thoughts and best wishes at this difficult time. Not a bunch of religious individuals reading to him from...
"the Fa to him; I started at Lecture Six on cultivation insanity [...]We read non-stop for 6-7 hours."

Someone reading for 6-7 hours to you is not about working on a legal case but trying to induct you into a religion. Any interference in this case seems to becoming from the Falun Gong trying to get more converts as opposed to fighting a 'human rights case'.

Get well soon M. Ravi.

Falun Gong case postponed due to hospitalized lawyer

Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa
Published: Monday September 25, 2006

Singapore- The lawyer for two Falun Gong members accused of displaying an insulting banner opposite the Chinese embassy has been hospitalized, resulting in the postponement of an appeal hearing until next month, news reports said Tuesday. M Ravi was scheduled to appear Monday in court to argue against the dismissal of his application to stay the Subordinate Courts' trial of housewife Ng Chye Huay, 42, and computer engineer Erh Boon Tiong, 49.

Ravi was admitted Wednesday to a private hospital offering psychiatric services.

His clients were accused of displaying a banner reading, "7.20 Stop persecution of Falun Gong in China" on July 20, the date marking the anniversary of China's crackdown on the Falun Gong movement.

The group is legal in Singapore.

Ng and Erh asked for the trial to be adjourned until Ravi recovers or to allow them to engage another lawyer, The Straits Times said.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam gave the pair until the end of Tuesday to find another lawyer.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa

Also read the comment section of this earlier post.

The Real Problem - Ginger Kids

Something I came accross that made me laugh and is kinda relevant to the current 'Chinese/Malays are better debate'.

"If you thought ginger kids were not a problem...Think again!"

Thaksin’s Assets Should be Frozen, say Opponents

Lets all try and keep our eye on this ball and not get distracted. It was enough to cause the collapse of an elected representative in Thailand. Surely this should be reverberating around Singapore?
(Online Commentary)
By Bruce Kent
September 26, 2006

While Thailand’s new ruling military council struggles to put the international community at ease about its intentions, Many people in Bangkok are pushing for a freeze on ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s massive assets.

The Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy, as the generals call themselves, has quickly set up a new National Counter Corruption Committee and an offshoot special assets-investigation panel, which is to be applauded. Thaksin, and many members of his cabinet and business cronies, are suspected of making fortunes while he was in power.

Thaksin’s Shin Corp telecommunications empire is reliably calculated to have quadrupled its financial strength during his five years in power.

But for many observers in Bangkok, the CDRM’s moves to install the anti-graft network isn’t enough. They want the financial blood of Thaksin and his associates as quickly as possible. That means swiftly freezing their assets.

While the anti-corruption fighters are equipped with the power to freeze assets, they want to be seen to be carefully following the rule of law. They first have to have evidence of wrongdoing by the suspects, such as hiding assets, before any freeze.

The anti-corruption team and the CDRM—which has been the butt of mostly-ill informed criticism in the West since its military putsch—also don’t want to be seen to be persecuting Thaksin, whatever his sins.

An estimated US$ 1.3 billion of his $1.9 billion windfall from Shin Corp’s sale is reliably reported to be in three or four Bangkok banks.

That was when he claimed his “one son and two daughters,” all in their twenties, sold most of Shin tax free to the Singapore government’s investment arm, Temasek, run by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching. Themasek is worth more than $100 billion, but Ho cannot be feeling that good over the acquisition of Shin.

Estimates in the squeaky-clean city state put Temasek’s losses on the Shin deal to date at more than $1 billion. This was because of the market fall of most of Shin’s subsidiaries since Thaksin’s political woes following the group’s sale. And this certainly wasn’t helped when the prime minister lost power in the September 19 coup.

Thaksin’s wealth, of course, is much bigger than the $ 1.9 billion Shin deal. There are persistent stories in Bangkok of two special flights leaving Bangkok airport’s military airstrip, each loaded with some 50 Thaksin suitcases just before the coup. There were, of course, no customs question asked in Bangkok, and the planes are said to have headed for unknown destinations.

That is probably a more reliable way of getting assets out of a country than a telegraphic transfer.

Apologise? But LKY was defending his race...

After posting this below, a thought [obviously not an original one] occurred to me that what the Minister Mentor should do is 'Do-a-Pope' on this issue. Simply argue that you were not being racist but merely trying to create a political space for a sincere, honest and calm debate on racism in South East Asia. Invite leaders of various ethnic or racial groups, [which one is more PC these days?] to come to Singapore for a meeting by invitation of the M&M. And there behind closed doors with no press he can kneel before the delegates and apologise. No one need ever know.

Amar AA
Sep 26, 06 6:34pm

Amid calls from Umno leaders for Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to apologise for his remarks that the Chinese minority in Malaysia and Indonesia are systematically marginalised, Lee may want to rely on the premise that 'there is no need to apologise if I am defending my race.'

After all, that infamous defence was used by no less a person than the prime minister's son-in-law against his fellow countrymen. And given that he is an Oxford graduate, the senior statesman, being a Cambridge product, could use the phrase assuredly.

I doubt however Lee would stoop to that level (he would prefer to justify his comment on facts) in view of the Singaporean psyche, i.e. Singapore has been many times more successful than us in forging a national identity as they consistently refer to themselves as Singaporeans unlike in our beloved nation where only 35% of Malays and just about 50% of the three major races on average think of themselves as Malaysians first as evidenced by the Merdeka Center research.

This is not to say that all is well and good in Singapore. Subtle prejudices do exist between the various ethnic groups.

But by virtue of the structure of the ruling PAP (Peoples’ Action Party), where it is a single party with membership cutting across the races, they have not sunk into an abyss of racial stratification where one coalition party manifests control, unfortunately along racial lines, and other component parties are gradually subjugated thus becoming second-class members of the coalition. In essence, PAP's structure forces it to address issues from a broader perspective and not just from a single ethnic viewpoint.

The dominant form of racism in various parts of the world today is ethnocentrism, i.e. the belief that one's own race is the most important, its culture superior to other ethnic groups and one's group is the centre of everything against which other groups are judged. Imagine the futility of every group claiming its superiority. The end result is incessant wars, arguments and bitterness with no true winner - an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind as Gandhi said.

Isn't it easier therefore to administer a country based on facts and not ethnicity? If 90% of the poor and destitute are from community A, would not 90% of the resources for alleviating poverty be availed by them?

It is astounding to note that most of the problems between people and nations the world over are a result of double standards. Nobody seems to place themselves in the shoes of the other person. They consciously do unto others what they would not want done unto them. Hypocrisy is easy to overcome however; it just requires a sense of fairness and the will and conscience to follow through with righteous action.

There is a well-known saying that goes 'those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword'; similarly, those who live by racism shall die by racism (metaphorically speaking). History is replete with such instances.

26 Sep 2006

House angered by Lee's RI Chinese comments

This is not the first time I have said this and will probably not be the last but with all due respect sir, please stop talking without first checking that what you are saying will not cause an offence. Have someone else write or cross check your speeches, stick to the party line etc. This is happening too often.

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Angry lawmakers are demanding a public apology and explanation from Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew after he reportedly said the minority Chinese-Indonesian community was being systematically marginalized.

"The statement is full of lies. We are very upset because it has disgraced Indonesia. We will ask the government to send a letter of protest to Lee," Djoko Susilo, a member of the House of Representatives' Commission I overseeing security and international affairs, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Djoko, who represents the National Mandate Party (PAN), said there was no longer discrimination or systematic marginalization of the ethnic Chinese here.

"Now, the minority Chinese has access to all positions, even in the military. We even have ministers and lawmakers from the ethnic group."

According to reports, Lee told a forum in Singapore it was vital for the Chinese majority state to stand up to its majority Muslim neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia.

He said the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia toward Singapore had been shaped by the way the countries treated their own ethnic Chinese minorities.

"Our neighbors both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful. They are hard working and, therefore, they are systematically marginalized," Lee was quoted as saying.

Malaysian leaders also have reportedly demanded an apology from Lee.

Another lawmaker from Commission I, Amris Hassan of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), criticized Lee's remarks for the danger they posed to Indonesian unity as well as ASEAN's good relations.

"It is very dangerous for our unity because the false feeling of some people here will be justified, and they will think that marginalization really exists. Beside obstructing our bilateral relations, the remarks also hinder the process of establishing the ASEAN community."

Amris said Lee should issue a public apology, rectify his statement and explain what he meant not only to Indonesian leaders but also to the Indonesian people.

Indonesians of Chinese descent account for approximately 3 percent, or around six million, of the country's 220 million population.

Then president B.J. Habibie issued a decree ordering government officials to treat all Indonesians the same after he took power in 1998. In 1999, he renewed the call by issuing a decree banning discrimination against Indonesians based on their origins.

It was during the presidency of his successor, Abdurrahman Wahid, that Chinese-Indonesians were allowed to practice their faith and have cultural performances in public.

However, almost a decade after the antidiscrimination regulations, reports continue of persistent discriminative administrative policies in obtaining birth certificates, ID cards, family card and a citizenship certificate (SBKRI).

"We should analyze Lee's statement carefully because I think this time his remarks were not a slip of the tongue," Hariyadi Wirawan, an international relations expert at the University of Indonesia, told the Post.

"He's aiming at something. Probably, Indonesia is pressing Singapore on returning 'blacklisted' businesspeople, who happen to be ethnic Chinese who fled to the country, in recent extradition talks."

Thank you message from the protesters

From the Singapore Democratic Party
25 Sep 06

Dear Fellow Singaporeans,

We want to say a very heartfelt thank you for all the support you showed during our 72-hour protest last week.

In our small and humble way we wanted to show to the mighty PAP regime that it cannot continue to steamroll over our fellow citizens and us – at least without having to pay a political price.

And many of you helped us. Those of you who sat with us through the nights, you presence made us stronger. Those of you who sang, your voices lifted our spirits. Those of you who came by to share a meal with us or just to say hello, your kind gestures were soothed our minds and bodies.

As the days wore on, we could see that many of you had become bolder and came by to sit with us, despite the police cameras rolling. By the final night much of our fears had gone away.

Critics note that there were very few people who came to support us. It is true that we did not see supporters by the thousands. But in a climate where the police were doing everything they could to discourage Singaporeans from joining us – including seizing our publicity flyers, turning away the public at Speakers' Corner, taking photographs of our supporters and asking for their particulars, and most important blacking out the news of the protest – the numbers that we saw are truly remarkable and extremely encouraging.

Several of you who defied your own fears and police intimidation to show up at the protest site were marvelous. There were also some younger members of the Workers' Party who came and chatted for a while. A couple of them even bought some cheng tng and other refreshments. Thank you. Your gesture is greatly appreciated.

The many of you who took pictures and videos of the protest and posted them on the Internet, who helped to disseminate news reports as they came in thick and fast, who emailed your friends and told them what was going on you were all part of our protest and we owe you a debt of gratitude for your assistance.

And to the many of you who emailed us, a big thank you. To the couple of you who didn't have very nice things to say, we hope to change your minds one day.

September 16, 2006 will go down in history as a day when Singaporeans came alive. Every one of you who was involved in one way or another, big or small, was part of a team that took on the PAP machinery. Without you the protest could not have been as effective.

All of you can truly take pride that we, the proud citizens of this nation, have begun this process of taking back what rightfully belongs to us.

Movements never start with the masses. They always take place with the few taking the first steps followed by greater numbers. We hope to see more of you in the coming weeks and months when we organise seminars to raise awareness and train more democracy activists.

Take heart and don't stop believing that one day, democracy, too, will come to Singapore.

Yours in solidarity,

Gandhi Ambalan
Chee Siok Chin
Jeffrey George
Charles Tan
Teoh Tian Jin
Chee Soon Juan
Francis Yong

25 Sep 2006

FEER Misses Deadline For Singapore Representative, Bond

Monday September 25th, 2006 / 8h00

SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- The Far Eastern Economic Review, which is being sued by Singapore's leaders, hasn't complied with a requirement to appoint a legal representative in the city-state and pay a S$200,000 bond, a government spokeswoman said Monday.

"FEER has yet to comply with the conditions," said Krishnasamy Bhavani, communications director of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts.

The deadline was Sept. 11. The magazine can be stopped from circulating in Singapore if the conditions aren't met.

The Dow Jones & Co Inc. (DJ) owned publication and its editor Hugo Restall are being sued for libel by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew over an article about local opposition politician Chee Soon Juan in the July/August issue of FEER.

Restall declined to comment.

A note from the editor in the September issue of the monthly journal said the publication hopes Singapore will reconsider the bond and legal representative requirements.

"Whatever they decide, we will continue to publish well-reasoned analysis of the country free of fear or favor. More on this in our next issue," the note said.

In August, Singapore imposed tighter restrictions on foreign publications, including FEER, Newsweek, Time, the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune.

The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said FEER would be reclassified as an "offshore newspaper" and must comply with legal provisions governing such publications.

Under Singapore's Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, an offshore newspaper must obtain a permit to circulate in Singapore. It also must appoint a person within Singapore to accept any notice or legal process on behalf of its publisher, and submit a S$200,000 security deposit with the government.

For the other foreign publications, the exemption from the requirements was lifted effective expiry of their current permits.

Ruling party leaders have successfully sued several opposition politicians and publications for defamation over the years. They said they sue to protect their reputations.

But domestic and international critics - including the U.S. State Department and London-based rights group Amnesty International - have accused Singapore's rulers of using defamation lawsuits to stifle opponents.

In addition to this and other newswires, Dow Jones publishes The Wall Street Journal and its international and online editions, Barron's, MarketWatch, Dow Jones Indexes and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with Reuters Group PLC (RTRSY) of Factiva and with Hearst Corp. of SmartMoney.

-By Stephen Wright, Dow Jones Newswires; 65 6415 4151; stephen.wright@dowjones.com
-Edited by Paul Baylis

The fallout from the Thai coup is yet to hit Singapore's Madame Ho

The fallout from the Thai coup is yet to hit Singapore's Madame Ho, writes Eric Ellis.
THAILAND'S military junta has gone out of its way to assure that it's business as usual in Bangkok.

The baht has wobbled, likewise the stock exchange, but neither with symptoms to have neighbours sniffling with the contagion they caught here during the late 1990s financial crisis. The coup has been smooth as silk, as Thais like to say.

But there is one woman in Singapore who desperately hopes the generals are as good as their word, the person whose dealmaking with Thailand's ousted Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, precipitated the coup.

Her name is Ho Ching. She is chief executive of the Singapore Government-owned Temasek Holdings, which controls a $100 billion-plus portfolio, including Optus.

She bought Thaksin out of his family businesses, Shin Corp, in March in a highly questionable $4.5 billion transaction that outraged Thais.

The Singapore company bought the Thai leader's controlling half share in Shin Corp and then quickly snapped up most of the rest on the stockmarket. Temasek now controls 96 per cent.

As Thaksin banked Temasek's tax-free cash, Thais burnt Madame Ho's effigy on Bangkok streets, traducing the reputation created for her by Singaporean spin doctors as a safe pair of hands. It was, at best, a spectacular misjudgement.

Far from being the great buy Temasek claimed, the deal ignited six months of political turmoil, culminating in the coup. Thais stopped using the television, airline, finance and technology businesses Temasek bought.

Now Shin buyers wear a $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) paper loss on the deal after less than six months.

As Thai regulators deepen their probe into the transaction and Thaksin's "rampant corruption", Temasek and its partners reportedly face fines of up to $US2 billion if it's proved, as many suspect, that Thai licensing laws have been breached. Or have the deal declared illegal, the assets nationalised.

Coups d'etat tend to arouse shrill demonstrations of nationalism; Temasek is the convenient foreign villain, its predicament entirely self-inflicted.

In these post-Enron days where blameless corporate governance is paramount, if the chief executive blows $2 billion in six months, the bloodletting in the boardroom would be swift and brutal. But even if her Thai adventure worsens, that seems unlikely to happen to Ho, who is the wife of Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong; the daughter-in-law of the nation's long-time strongman, Lee Kuan Yew.

At 54, Ho is no Singapore Girl. Dour and grim, with a penchant for unflattering grey business suits, she's been Temasek's unsmiling CEO since 2001, presenting as an untouchable corporate dominatrix protected by the formidable Lee family edifice.

The Lees, as compliant Singaporeans famously know, don't make mistakes. Any questioning of their methods - as bankrupted opposition politicians and the foreign press have frequently discovered - hazard libel suits heard in Singapore's courts, where the Lees' history of success is unparalleled.

Not that the Singaporean media does much questioning either. The day's newspapers after the coup did not report Temasek's obvious dilemma, odd given that ultimately it is Singapore taxpayers' money Ho has hazarded.

It was left to a sole letter writer, presciently published a week before the coup, who suggested that an alliance with the much-hated Thaksin might not be a wise risk for the national nest egg. "Hitching our investment bandwagon to the first family is a double-edged sword," wrote Danny Chua in Today.

"We can go higher with their rising star but when they fall, we can fall too. Our investment must stand up to scrutiny in the eyes of the law. There must be compliance with corporate governance and transparency. We must be able to sleep peacefully, knowing that we have done the right thing."

Singapore loves to control and, when it can't, to quietly work its power relationships behind the scenes. Temasek claims to be independent of government but often seems to follow government policy in its investment portfolio, spending to boost neighbours.

And in Thaksin, Singapore found an autocrat after its own heart, rare in a region where mostly-Chinese Singapore isn't much liked, derided though grudgingly admired as rich and arrogant.

Thaksin was a big fan of the Lee's long-ruling People's Action Party and its compliant "Singapore System". Thaksin and Lee were allies in pushing EU-style ASEAN integration and there was resentment in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur of a supposed Singapore-Bangkok axis within the group. Not any more.

Serious questions abound for a Singapore that likes to lecture the world about "best practices" of corporate governance it supposedly employs.

Temasek is suspected of funding Thai partners in the Thaksin deal, the implication being to avoid breaching foreign investment laws.

And where did Temasek pay Thaksin? Thailand's central bank limits personal cash transfers to $US1 million a year - thus it would take about 2000 years to transfer Thaksin's pile - and needs special permission from the central bank to go higher.

But Thailand's central bank governor is seen as a cleanskin, and a contender to be appointed caretaker prime minister by the generals.

Thaksin presumably knew that so it raises questions whether Temasek paid some of the funds offshore, in a foreign tax haven perhaps, avoiding Thai rules altogether.

And then there's impact beyond Bangkok. Economic contagion seems to have been contained but the bloodless ease in which Thaksin has been removed, the popularity of the coup, has been noticed in Jakarta and Manila, both struggling to secure their own democracies.

Temasek is in serious trouble in Thailand. It's suddenly friendless, losing its main political ally in Bangkok and his cronies, and runs the risk of having its assets seized as the Thaksin probe deepens. The deal itself is a fait accompli; Thaksin banked his $US2 billion months ago and, now in gilded exile in London, is unlikely to offer to return Temasek's cash.

If Temasek and Thaksin fall out, the legal implications are fascinating. For the moment however, the silence from Temasek has been deafening. It simply says it is "monitoring events". With $4 billion of other peoples' money in the balance, it might've added "anxiously".

Eric Ellis is South-East Asia Correspondent for Fortune magazine.



JACKASS star STEVE-O risked the death penalty in Singapore after smuggling "ass grass" into the country in condoms he swallowed. The hellraising star, who is famous for his wild stunts, carried out his most dangerous one to date away from the cameras after refusing to leave his stash of pot behind when he filmed in India. He boasts, "I had filled condoms with grass, swallowed them, then s**t them out in India. "I flew through Singapore, though, where if you're caught as a drug trafficker, they'll hang you."

25/09/2006 03:27

Lee Kuan Yew told to explain himself

5.20am Monday September 25, 2006
New Zealand Herald
Malaysia's leader has demanded that Singapore's elder statesman, Lee Kuan Yew, explain his claim that Malaysia marginalises its ethnic Chinese minority, saying such remarks are "mischievous" and may inflame racial sentiments.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also indicated Lee's comments could strain bilateral ties.

Lee reportedly said the ethnic Chinese minority population in the city-state's neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, "are hardworking and, therefore, they are systematically marginalised".

And Malays are ... what, Sir?

Singapore Detains Reporter Covering Sensitive Trial

The Epoch Times

reporter Mr. Jaya Gibson was detained Sunday night local time upon attempting to enter Singapore.
At the end of August and during the first half of September Gibson had covered for The Epoch Times two stories that highlighted the difficult human rights situation in Singapore.

He filed several reports regarding the trial of two Falun Gong practitioners in Singapore who had been arrested for displaying a banner on a sidewalk opposite the Chinese Embassy asking for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong.

Gibson also covered the attempts by the Singapore government to restrict any protest activity outside the I.M.F. meetings held there last week.

After a brief trip to Europe, Gibson attempted to re-enter Singapore in order to resume covering the trial of the Falun Gong practitioners.

That trial has been treated by the Singapore government as a matter of great sensitivity. Initially, press from outside Singapore were not allowed into the courtroom to cover it.

Gibson reported that after he began covering the trial he was subjected to regular monitoring by the Singapore police.

The defense lawyer in the trial, Mr. Ravi, had intended last week to fly to Geneva to make a presentation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission about this trial, but was detained before he could leave Singapore.

At issue in the trial, and perhaps one reason why the Singapore government has taken extraordinary measures regarding it, is the influence of the Chinese regime on Singapore.

Asked for the reason for Gibson's detention and deportation, a Singapore immigration official told The Epoch Times that they had "no comment on this case" and that they did not "reveal the reasons to outsiders". They refused to explain the relevant process of law with regard to deportation and the rights of deportees.

Gibson is due to be deported on Monday.

22 Sep 2006

Empower Singaporeans Rally & March - Speeches (Day 4)

Approx. 20 minutes

Activists standing down from their protest on Sept 19, 12.30pm. The speakers were Chee Soon Juan, Gandhi Ambalam and Chee Siok Chin. The activists left Hong Lim Park in a private car.

IMF Meeting Shines Light on Singapore's Rigid Ways

Maggie Lee 21 Sep 2006
World Politics Watch Exclusive
In August, employees of the Singapore Ministry of Education received a memo telling them to guard their computers against miscreants "targeting Singapore government's web presence . . . in an attempt to discredit the event and embarrass the organizing country." The event is the annual meeting of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The miscreants are anti-globalization protestors.

Yes, the IMF and World Bank are in town, with a total of more than 10,000 delegates, advisors, and hangers-on. This time, the hangers-on will not include the sideshow of civil society and anti-globalization protesters in the streets. In Singapore, public protest is illegal, and the world is seeing an IMF meeting where civil society is restricted to an 8-by-8-meter spot in a mall, beside Starbucks.

Most Americans who have heard of Singapore associate it with caning, the punishment meted out more than a decade ago to an American diplomat's son for vandalizing cars.

The Far Eastern Economic Review's blog has called Singapore the "Confucian answer to Plato's republic," alluding to the ruling People's Action Party's air of paternalism and discipline. But perhaps FEER just feels stung; its September 2006 issue drew government ire for publishing a slightly cheeky interview with a local opposition politician. The furor was accompanied by a defamation suit against the magazine brought by current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kwan Yew, the long-time prime minister and the real strength in the party.

Lawsuits are a well-known People's Action Party (PAP) method to stave off political threats. Several foreign press organizations, such as the Economist and Bloomberg, have been required to fork over a $126,000 bond to cover any damages should they become embroiled in a defamation suit. They must either submit the bond or be banned from distribution in Singapore. In the case of defamation, not only is the bond forfeited, the publication must usually print a written apology.

It is overkill like this and the paranoia evidenced in the Ministry of Education memo that makes Singapore a puzzle to liberals. In a June press conference in New Zealand, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong answered a question about opposition politician Chee Soon Juan by saying "he's a liar, he's a cheat, he is deceitful, he's confrontational." He is bankrupt too, incidentally, after being on the losing end of several defamation suits brought by the Lees over the years.

Also in June, popular columnist "Mr. Brown" was suspended from the state-owned Today newspaper for a satirical article about the rising cost of living in Singapore. A response from the Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Arts said Mr. Brown's "piece is calculated to encourage cynicism and despondency, which can only make things worse, not better, for those he professes to sympathise with." Among the treasons in this free daily tabloid column were sarcastic jokes about the government's cheerful tone in a report about Singapore's growing wage gap and about high road taxes.

In February 2003, when millions of people all over the world took to the streets to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a text-message went around in Singapore calling for a protest in front of the U.S. embassy. Six people came to the embassy between three and four o'clock bearing flyers reading, "War is not healthy for children and other living things." All were hauled down to the police station for questioning as they arrived. A seventh man arrived late and was questioned and released on the spot.

Singapore says it is bending over backwards to accommodate the hippie hangers-on of the IMF by allowing the tiny protest area. However, it is no accident that the 500 anti-IMF protesters will look ridiculous corralled into a spot the size of a basketball court while Singaporeans gaze on this zoo-like exhibit and sip latte. But just so the locals don't identify with the people on the other side of the barrier, no Singaporeans are allowed to join and certain internationals have been blacklisted.

Lee Kwan Yew formed the Peoples Action Party when Singapore was still a British crown colony in 1954. Lee was left-leaning, though never a Communist. He set himself up as socialist enough to woo 1960s voters who admired the Chinese model, but not enough to get arrested by the British as an actual Communist.

After British rule, and a short period of federation with Malaysia, PAP swept Singapore's first elections as an independent country in 1968. In most constituencies, the party ran unopposed. In successive elections, right up until today, the PAP has continued to dominate Parliament. They have historically leveraged their control of broadcast and print media to shut down opposing voices. A winner-take-all voting system means that with 67 percent of the popular vote in 2006, PAP won 82 of 84 seats in Parliament. And most Singaporeans agree with the party's mantra that only the PAP can be trusted to ensure economic growth and racial harmony on the small island nation. Today Lee Kwan Yew's son, Lee Hsien Loong, is prime minister, and the father stays in the cabinet as "mentor minister."

Most of the PAP's legitimacy comes from its undeniable record of economic triumphs over the last four decades. Today, the country is literally without poverty. While some countries struggle to provide clean water, everyone born after independence in Singapore always has had access to health care, work, and an excellent education for a nominal fee. And the party does not tolerate corruption.

No party can beat the PAP on economic development. And should any opposition figure criticize a PAP member directly, he will risk being bankrupted with a defamation suit. Several politicians have been hounded out of public life in this way. Young people aspiring to a political career either join PAP or decide on another profession. Singapore is so small that it does not take very many PAP cadres to run the country, keep an eye on opposition and spread the government's message. After years of this, an opposition hardly exists.

The Indonesian island of Batam is an hour's ferry ride from Singapore. During the IMF meeting, blacklisted activists planned to move their protests over the water to Indonesia, which has a rich tradition of "street parliament," However, local businesses had no desire for a bunch of foreigners to come and make their island look anti-capitalist. Eventually, Batam agreed to host a forum with indoor protests only. After 1998, when Indonesia suffered from austerity measures that in retrospect even the IMF says were too harsh, people took to the streets. But perhaps now the Singapore model is looking attractive.

Indeed much of the Singapore model is popular with the people of neighboring countries. For reasons of political rivalry, Indonesia and Malaysia never officially praise Singapore very much. But many of their citizens look at the wealth and security across the straits with admiration. For Cambodians and Laotians making their first trip abroad, the Singapore subway is enough to amaze. Vietnamese democrats look at Lee Kwan Yew as a shining example of integrity that contrasts with their corrupt politicians. Many Southeast Asians are surprised to hear that anyone criticizes Singapore.

Indeed, Singapore knows how to make money. Government-controlled Singapore Airlines turns a profit every year, without subsidies, and provides excellent service. The country even squeezes money out of public transportation most years. The government has recently sold a gambling license for a casino to be built on reclaimed land downtown. It will be for foreigners and high rollers only. The entity behind such deals is Temasek Holdings, the government-run investment company. Temasek's average yearly return since 1974 is about 20 percent. The Singapore government runs a surplus every year and gives annual rebates to citizens -- holders of "New Singapore Shares."

And making money is the goal. The PAP says the cost of wealth is never-ending vigilance against confrontation. The vast majority of Singaporeans accept this. They are completely aware of their government's actions from reading the local newspaper. Without leaving home, Singaporeans can study the negatives of one-party rule if they want. Contrary to popular myth, the libraries stock Marx, Hobbes, Mao, Soviet history, and plenty of other political literature. And it is easy enough to get around periodic censorship. Singaporeans are plugged in. They could probably even change things if they tried hard enough.

But mostly, they're not interested. They're happy with their snug country and a clean ruling party -- for now.

Maggie Lee is an Atlanta-based writer and researcher specializing in Southeast Asia.

21 Sep 2006

SG IMF - Democracy's "愛拼才會贏" / Strive In Order To Win...

Thai-Singapore axis set to unravel

John Burton of the Financial Times
21 Sep 06

Singapore could suffer the most among countries in the region from the military coup against Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai prime minister, who forged close ties with the city-state and sold his telecommunications group to Singapore's state investment company.

It was the $1.9bn sale of a 49 per cent in Shin Corp by Mr Thaksin's family to Temasek Holdings in January that triggered the political crisis that led to the coup after it was revealed the family paid no taxes on profits from the deal.

Mr Thaksin was seen by Singapore as its strongest supporter for closer economic integration of the Association of South-east Nations, which provoked talk of a Singapore-Bangkok axis within the group.

The ousted Thai leader also expressed admiration for Singapore's political system, telling Singapore officials that he wanted to model his Thai Rak Thai party on the long-ruling People's Action party.

Mr Thaksin decided to sell Shin Corp to Temasek to dispel allegations of conflicts of interest between his family's corporate holdings and his government duties as he prepared to stand for a third term as prime minister.

The deal turned out to be the most controversial conducted by Temasek since Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore's prime minister, became the group's chief executive in 2002 and launched an ambitious global acquisition strategy.

Public protests in Thailand over the deal have led to a nearly 40 per cent fall in Shin Corp's share price since then. In April, Lee Hsien Loong, Ms Ho's husband, told parliament that "Temasek invested in Shin Corp because it saw value in the investment" but added it was not government policy "to second guess Temasek's risk assessments".

A former senior Singapore official, however, criticised Temasek's handling of the deal in light of Mr Thaksin's growing unpopularity at the time. "Temasek did financial due diligence, but not political due diligence," he told the Financial Times. Temasek said it had considered all aspects in concluding the deal.

A Temasek-led consortium increased its stake to 96 per cent in Shin Corp under a mandatory offer, but the takeover has been investigated by Thai regulators over whether Temasek used proxy companies to avoid a 49 per cent ceiling on foreign ownership in strategic industries. Temasek said it fully complied with Thai law.

Michael Montesano, a Thai specialist at the National University of Singapore, believed it was unlikely a new government would nullify the Shin Corp deal, but Temasek might have to reduce its stake if it was found in breach of foreign shareholding limits. Temasek said it was premature to comment on the coup's impact.

Most regional governments expressed concerns about the coup and called for a restoration of democracy in Thailand.

Indonesia's defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, said the Thai coup illustrated one of the pressures facing south-east Asia's civilian democratic governments. "If there's a lesson it is this: politicians and parliamentarians must get their act together and consolidate party building and deliver on performance," he said. "Otherwise people turn to the military for decisiveness and stability."

In the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the president who declared a brief state of emergency to crush an alleged coup attempt early this year, was keen to quell speculation the Thai coup might encourage the military to attempt a similar takeover.

Additional reporting by Shawn Donnan in Jakarta and Roel Landingin in Manila

Activists do not have a voice

Another reply to TODAY letter from Ministry of Home Affairs.


I refer to the article, Activists did have a voice, by Mr Ong-Chew Peck Wan, Director of Corporate Communications, Ministry of Home Affairs letter published on 21 September.

Time and again, I have written to this paper, expressing my views that outdoor demonstrations have been practised peacefully in many countries, and do not necessarily lead to riots or violence. I have also stated that the freedom to assembly is a guaranteed Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Singapore is a signatory of. Therefore, a complete ban by the government is neither valid nor unacceptable.

As for the march that SDP has organised, the low attendance cannot be attributed to low support or 'antics'. The police has issued statements to the public, warning them from joining the march. They have also cordoned the public from the activists during the standoff, while at the same time, employing containment and harassement tactics on the activists or the public (such as taking pictures and videos of anyone who comes up to them); thereby effectively preventing the public from communicating with the activists.

Prior to the march, the police has also harrassed activists while they were distributing leaflets for the march. They have confiscated the leaflets though there are no laws on that. The local papers, which has been impartial, has also often, refused to portray a fair picture of the Opposition. The police has also detained and questioned three activists; and confiscated their leaflets and computers while they were planning on distributing leaflets on the anti-globalisation materials during the IMF/World Bank meeting.

With censorship and climate of fear hanging in the air, the average Singaporean is hence hardly educated on the issues or are too afraid to be involved.

Activists do not have a voice in Singapore.

The banning of international CSO activists, preventing activists for distributing leaflets, drawing up ridiculuous boundaries for indoor protests, and preventing the SDP Empower Singaporeans rally and march shows how much the authorities are afraid of dissent.


Activists did have a voice
Thursday • September 21, 2006
Letter from
Ong-Chew Peck Wan
Corporate Communications
Ministry of Home Affairs

In an editorial on Sept 13, the Wall Street Journal Asia (WSJA) criticised the Singapore Government's handling of the protests during the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings here. The Government's response to the WSJA was published in its Sept 20 issue.

Your editorials "Singapore protests" (Sept 13) and "Singapore backtracks" (Sept 18) criticised Singapore's restrictions on outdoor demonstrations during the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Meetings, and mocked Singapore for allowing in 22 antiglobalisation activists after the "reprimand" from World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.

Singapore is all in favour of peaceful dialogue and argument. Other than disallowing outdoor demonstrations, our arrangements for engaging civil society organisations (CSOs) during the IMF-World Bank meetings in Singapore are no different than for previous meetings elsewhere.

We have provided a well-equipped CSO center within the meeting venue itself, and accredited CSO members have access to practically the whole meeting venue.

We do not allow outdoor demonstrations by anyone, citizens or foreigners. Singapore is a multi-ethnic society. We know from bitter experience how easily street demonstrations and protests can degenerate into riots and violence.

But we have provided an indoor area near the meeting venue, which affords high visibility to delegates and the media, for accredited CSOs to demonstrate.

CSOs can also apply to use any other suitable indoor locations for demonstrations and activities. These arrangements support all CSOs who genuinely seek constructive engagement through debate and discussion.

After Singapore expressed concerns over 27 activists out of the 526 whom the IMF and World Bank had accredited, the IMF and World Bank raised the matter with Singapore.

In order to be as helpful as possible, Singapore reviewed the names whom the IMF and World Bank were prepared to vouch for, and lifted the bans on 22 of them.

We did this before the public statement by Mr Wolfowitz.

Singapore's laws on public demonstration are for Singaporeans to decide. In the general election this year, voters gave the People's Action Party a clear mandate.

Chee Soon Juan's Singapore Democratic Party were soundly defeated, collecting only 23 per cent of the votes in the two constituencies they contested, the lowest garnered by any of the opposition parties. That is why Mr Chee's antics to stage a protest march during the meetings have been ignored by Singaporeans.

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