31 Oct 2006

Political elitism

Again from Little Speck
Takes an emotive turn
The term is becoming synonymous with ‘privileged class’ and ‘leadership arrogance’, threatening PAP’s long-term rule. By Seah Chiang Nee
Oct 29, 2006

Singapore’s People’s Action Party is confronted with a widening class divide and a creeping political elitism that could drive it from power, if they are allowed to fester.

Inter-related, these problems are shaping up into the ruling party’s biggest challenge in the next election in 2011 – and probably beyond.

They are neither new nor unique in the world, having prevailed in advanced nations like the United States, Britain and even Japan – except in Singapore, the small size and meagre safety net are exacerbating matters.

The General Household Survey revealed that the top 20% of Singapore’s households last year earned 31 times that of the bottom 20%. And the gap is widening.

Two events last week showed up how much disconnect there is between a segment of the political elite and the citizens it has to represent.
The problem is serious. [to continue reading]


Wee Shu Min Is she devastated?

Spotted on Little Speck

Wee Shu Min
Is she devastated?
Far from it, ex-classmate says she’s ‘laughing’ at and ‘mocking’ web responses. Weikiatblog.

Oct 30, 2006

"I was a top student from RJC (Raffles Junior College). Just graduated a few years ago. Most people that I know in RJC were just too full of themselves.

They thought that since they are from RJC, they are the smartest in Singapore. Unfortunately, many of my RJC friends have low EQ and common sense.

Most only know how to memorise and practice questions and possess very weak critical thinking skills."

"To follow up on what fellow Rafflesian, Gene, said above, I would like to emphasise that the majority of us from RJC are not like Shu Min.

In fact, few of us sympathise with her current "plight" (not that she is taking it badly, she was in fact laughing and mocking at the responses on various websites).

What had happened also did not surprise us because she is well known in school to have an inflated sense of superiority and low tolerance of the pedestrian and the uncultured.

But please remember that one Wee Shu Min does not make RJC. The rest of us from RJC should not be impeached because of her."

"I'm a classmate of Shu Min in RGS and RJC. Many of us don't know her well because she does move around in her own exclusive circle of the smart and well-connected.

And yes, she is conceited, overbearing and thinks that she and her clique own the world. But, I do think some of the comments here are excessive, even unreasonable.

You can fault her character and her worldview, but is there a need to descend to vulgarity?"

"As a Rafflesian, I am saddened that our good name has been smeared by the poison pen of one elitist female.

The saddest part of this episode is that she reminds me of the remark made by newbie Michael Palmer, "Before I joined the grassroots organisation, I never knew there were poor people in developed countries".

Where does the PAP find such freaks? They are no better than the Hitler Youth, and our country can only be the worse because of them."

http://weikiatblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/looking-back-home.html





Prosecution makes another U-turn; trial gets more and more comical

This case is starting to look like it should be linked to wiki's definition of a Kangaroo Court.

From the Singapore Democratic Party Site
30 Oct 06

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ms Lee Lit Cheng unbelievably made another U-turn today.

After firmly ruling out showing the video evidence in court against the Defendants, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Yap Keng Ho, DPP Lee said that she has decided to admit the video after all.

The three men are being charged for speaking in public without a permit on 22 Apr 06 during the general elections period earlier this year.

Ms Lee said that because the Defendants have been making "spurious allegations" against the Prosecution, she decided to use the video evidence.

On the second day of the trial, the Defendants discovered that the Investigating Officer ASP Jeremy Koh, who is also one of the Prosecution's witnesses, was sitting in the courtroom and listening to the testimony of the other police witnesses.

He was also found to have gone in and out of the witness room and talking with another witness who had yet to testify. Under the rules, this is disallowed as the witnesses can influence one another's testimony.

Based on this and the Prosecution's refusal to admit the video evidence, the Defendants charged that the DPP was using underhanded tactics.

Under this pressure, Ms Lee has relented and will now admit the video as evidence. She had wanted to only rely on the evidence of 12 witnesses – all police officers.

However, she now refuses to give the Defendants a copy of the tape. Judge Eddy Tham pointed out that there was no harm giving the Defence a copy of the VCD. The DPP remained defiant and, worse, refused to give a reason.

She told the Judge that the Defendants could view the tape at Jurong Police Division Headquarters but remained adamant about not giving the Defendants a copy.

Dr Chee said that at last the Prosecution had come to its senses but wanted to first verify the authenticity of the tape before agreeing to it being used in court.

He said that with everything that had gone on, including letting ASP Koh sit in on the trial while his colleagues were giving evidence, the Defendants had every right to be suspicious of the DPP's motives and moves.

At this point, the frustrated Judge commented that it was "unfortunate" that this dispute about the authenticity of evidence should have been settled during the pre-trial conference.

Dr Chee then reminded the Judge that it was the Prosecution who first indicated that it would be using the video evidence during the trial and even agreed to give the Defendants a copy. Halfway down the line, it changed its mind. Now during the trial it has changed its mind again.

Dr Chee said that it may not be proper or correct under the rules to admit evidence halfway through a trial and, worse, to refuse to give the Defence a copy of the evidence.

Mr Eddy Tham, who had been a colleague of Ms Lee Lit Cheng as a DPP until a few weeks ago when he was promoted to a District Judge, then backtracked and ruled that the video could be admitted as evidence.

Unsurprisingly, he also agreed with Ms Lee that the Defendants need not be given a copy of the video and said that if the Defendants wanted to they could view the video at Jurong Police Division.

Mr Yap Keng Ho then protested and said this was "a joke." He noted that on the first day of the trial, he had applied for the video evidence to be admitted but Judge Tham refused it. But now when the DPP makes the same application, the same Judge allows it.

Mr Gandhi Ambalam, shaking his head, then told the Judge that he was tired of the whole charade. He told the court that it might as well dispense with the rest of the police witnesses and just pronounce the Defendants guilty so as not to waste any more time.

Earlier in the day, the High Court dismissed Mr Yap's Criminal Motion application to abort the trial due to ASP Koh being present throughout the testimony of the first three police witnesses. Not surprisingly, it was rejected.

Mr Ambalam and Dr Chee filed similar Criminal Motions today. Their hearing is scheduled to be heard tomorrow, 31 Oct 06, at 11 am in the High Court.

Meanwhile, Judge Eddy Tham has adjourned the hearing to the afternoon (2:30 pm) of 31 Oct 06.

If there are any lawyers who can give any legal input about evidence being admitted halfway through a trial and the Defence not given a copy of the video, please email speakup@singaporedemocrat.org. Thank you.



Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?

Human Trafficking
Akha Woman Imprisoned in Singapore's
Changi Prison - Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking
?


How one woman's "babe" permit expired.
The Imprisonment of Ms. Meitinee Wongsa. Changi Prison ID S12369
We request her release.


Now an interesting situation is coming to light in the case of Ms. Wongsa. It appears that Singapore "allows" women to come into the country to "solicit". They make no note of who they are or if they are trafficked from what we can tell. Apparently Singapore needs people to come into the country to meet the needs of Singapore men who can't get enough in their own country. And then when Singapore is done with these women, they send them home, or send them home early if they don't work out.

These women, such as Ms. Wongsa, are banned from coming back into the country like so much used up trash. Flush.

In this case an Akha woman, Ms. Wongsa, who was brought into the country in the name of a business woman in Hatyai, in order for that woman to make a profit, meets the definition of a person being trafficked. Ms. Wongsa did not come on her own. She saved that for later when she was a free woman.

It seems rather high moral ground, that Singapore uses up these women, how ever they get into the country, and then sends them out, and will criminalize them if they come back. What Singapore has used and "degraded", is no longer welcome, thank you.

Therefore, the case of Ms. Wongsa does NOT clarify for us how Singapore fights injustice and opposes trafficking.

Obviously, Ms. Wongsa did not make up the fake travel documents. Apparently the brothel owner in Hatyai did. Maybe Singapore could pressure the Thai government to arrest this woman for being a trafficker, but then of course the women who are badly needed in Singapore might quit coming.

The Brothel and Trafficker:
New Rose Karaoke
3/4 Chaiyakul Uthit Rd Soi 3
Hat Yai Songkhla, Thailand
Tel: 074-223 176
Mgr: 01-738 1797 (Ah Kib)
Name of trafficker : Chatkaew Sripormma (Female)
Contact Number : +66-8-94662262


We call on the Thai Police to arrest this trafficker.

How is it that the Singapore Police are so inefficient to find this information, when we are able to find out exactly what brothel and the woman who trafficked Ms. Wongsa into Singapore?

We know there are MORE Akha women in the Changi prison.
How many Akha women are in Changi Prison?
We request to know the answer.

We request to know, how ICA knows she came into the country, if they do not have a record from Anti Vice, and if they have a record with Anti Vice, then they know who Ms. Wongsa was sent to in order to get her permit for "work" in Singapore. Those are the individuals who have contacts with the trafficking agents. ICA is not being honest about this case.

ICA said that Ms. Wongsa applied to solicit legally in singapore through AVB. AVB rejected her application and recommend to ICA to ban her from entering singapore in the future. Ms. Wongsa was directed to go to Anti Vice and apply, through prior arrangement. Why she was rejected is unknown at this time, but Anti Vice is certainly aware of the particulars.

At the time that Ms. Wongsa entered Singapore, she could not speak Thai, or any other language but Akha, could not read or write. Certainly the arrangements have been made between Hatyai and Anti Vice.

We are concerned that the government of Singapore does not recognize the issue of trafficking and that Akha women are trafficked into their country for brothels. The Singapore Immigration people (ICA) have repeatedly told us that they are "checking into the case" but then never reply to our email.

We are informed that there numerous Akha women in Changi prison, possibly also victims of trafficking into Singapore. Does Singapore arrest victims of trafficking? We find it disgusting that Singapore allows women to be trafficked into the country for what ever reasons. We find it more disgusting that they put the victims in prison.

Ms. Wongsa was sentenced to one year in Changi Prison this last week.
She entered Singapore on documents supplied by her Employment Agent from Thailand but was refused a work permit and sent out of the country in 2004. Now on her own documents, Thai ID card and Passport, she has entered Singapore with her fiance. When she applied for an extension of visa as she and her fiance were to marry, the Singapore authorities told her that she had previously traveled under a different name and passport supplied by her employer, so was now to be arrested.

Upon her previous trip and return to Thailand, her employer told her that the Singapore police demanded 100,000 baht and she was made to repay this money working in Hatyai.

When Akha children are born, Thai authorities often give them a Thai name on their travel documents and any made up birth date. Employers often supply the Akha with documents for travel, as they may not even have an ID card of their own. These are the agreements they have to live with as contract labor. In some cases, contract labor may be more like trafficking or debt bondage. While it appears that Ms. Wongsa's employer was familiar to the Singapore police, Ms. Wongsa is being made to pay the price for what is often standard practice for people being shipped from Thailand to foreign countries.

There is little to no protection for ethnic women who find themselves in this situation in Thailand.

We have contacted the Singapore Embassy and Ambassador in the US, the ICA in Singapore, an MP in Singapore, Amnesty International and a number of individuals and agencies regarding this case. We are asking that her case be reviewed and that Akha women are not made to pay the price for either trafficking or unethical Agents who put them in these situations. We are asking that she be released and NOT deported from Singapore.

Please contact the Singapore Embassy regarding this case.



SINGAPORE: Freedom of expression again assailed

Amnesty International is monitoring developments relating to Singapore Democratic Party(SDP) leader Dr Chee Soon Juan and his colleagues, who have been charged with a number of offences, including speaking in public without a permit. In September Dr Chee was prominent in organising public protests without a permit relating to the meetings in Singapore of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Dr Chee appeared in court in early October, charged with trying to leave Singapore in April without permission. As a bankrupt, he needs the permission of the official assignee to go abroad. His bankruptcy stems from non-payment of S$500,000 to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, whom he was convicted of defaming during the 2001 election campaign He wished to attend a meeting in Turkey of the World Movement for Democracy, in which he is an active member. If found guilty, he faces a possible sentence of up to S$10,000 in fines and two years in prison. The World Movement for Democracy issued a statement October 17 in support of Dr Chee, charging that the government's actions "give the appearance of orchestrated efforts to restrain Dr Chee in his efforts to advance democracy in Singapore....[T]he Steering Committee calls upon the Singapore Government to drop all charges against him, to return his confiscated passport, to restore his right to travel freely abroad, and to permit him to exercise his democratic rights both within and outside the country of Singapore". Dr Chee and SDP members Yap Keng Ho and Gandhi Ambalam are facing charges of speaking in public without a permit. The Judge has ruled as irrelevant a video recording of the three during the event.

Chee Siok Chin, an SDP candidate in the 2006 election (and sister of Dr Chee Soon Juan) is now facing bankruptcy after failing to pay S$23,550 as a result of challenging a move by the Singapore police to disperse a small peaceful prtest in August involving herself and three others. She plans to challenge the bankruptcy order.

Lawyer M Ravi, who has acted for Dr Chee, Siok Chin and others on a number of occasions, has been suspended from practice by the Law Society for a year for showing reported "disrespect" to the Singapore judiciary. Dr Chee and his colleagues are now without a defence lawyer and are acting on their own behalf. Lawyers in Singapore appear unwilling to act in politically-sensitive cases.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Singapore government to respect the right to freedom of expression.

Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia
Amnesty International Canada

Thailand: Temasek should not find quick fixes to its 'embarrassing situation'

This editorial published October 30, 2006 in The Nation newspaper of Thailand is perhaps the most cogent coverage of the Tongnoi Tongyai scandal, the latest boo-boo for Temasek Holdings (emphasis mine):

A question of misjudgement: Temasek's attempt to try and peddle influence in Thailand by hiring a former royal employee has backfired

The scandal involving former royal aide MR Tongnoi Tongyai, accused by HRH Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's Personal Affairs Office of making false claims about his employment status to pursue his own business interests, is worrisome. The idea that Tongnoi had the temerity to misrepresent himself as a former deputy principal private secretary to His Majesty the King and adviser to the Crown Prince to peddle influence has caused a damaging misunderstanding and public confusion.

On Saturday, the Prince's Personal Affairs Office issued a statement attacking Tongnoi and clarifying that he was no longer in the employ of the Royal Household. The statement described Tongnoi as "a cunning man and personally immoral". Last Tuesday, Temasek Holdings of Singapore, which faces possible investigation for alleged improper use of nominees in a complex deal to take over Shin Corp from deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's family, announced that Tongnoi was to be appointed as chief adviser of the company's planned Thai office. It was obvious Temasek had been seeking a connection with Tongnoi, believing his high standing and prestigious connections might be able to provide some sort of protection from current investigation by the Thai authorities. A suit has been filed with the Supreme Administrative Court over whether the Information and Communications Ministry and the PM's Office should revoke the satellite and TV licence held by subsidiaries of Shin Corp as Temasek had breached the 49 per cent foreign ownership limit.

The other regulatory bodies looking into the controversial Shin Corp deal will also determine what to do with Temasek, which holds well over 90 per cent of Shin Corp - which in turn holds the majority shareholding in a number of subsidiaries that are engaged in protected businesses such as mobile phone services, satellite communications and television stations - well in excess of the foreign ownership limit. But just two days after it announced its deal with Tongnoi, Temasek withdrew the appointment without providing any reason. But the damage had been done. Apparently, Temasek Holdings has not learned from the painful lesson from its past association with the corruption-prone Thaksin Shinawatra. Instead of accepting the reality of its position, Temasek seems to have chosen to seek a solution to its precarious position by tapping into Thaksin's power of patronage to cut corners.

Since the coup, public pressure has mounted for the authorities to take legal action over the Shin Corp deal, as Temasek is an investment arm of the Singapore government and therefore should be above reproach. In addition to huge losses it may have to bear from the sharp drop in the value of the market capitalisation of Shin Corp stocks and its subsidiaries, Temasek faces the prospect of being forced to reduce its shareholding in those of its companies that pose a national security concern to within the legal limit of 49 per cent. If it does not, it may have the concessions to operate those companies revoked altogether.

At home, Singaporeans are looking at the development of the Shin Corp deal with a lot of interest. What will happen to Ho Ching, the CEO of Temasek, if the Shin Corp deal ends up with ugly red marks scrawled across Temasek's balance sheets? In Thailand, Temasek is pretty much hamstrung. It is not certain when the Supreme Administrative Court will act on Shin Corp's satellite and TV licences In addition, the Thai police are making slow progress in the investigation into whether Temasek has relied on nominees to circumvent Thailand's foreign ownership law. But the Thai justice process rests on the involvement of the police, the prosecutors and the court to complete the case, which might take years. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Temasek does not appear to know which way to turn. But it has already signalled it is ready to reduce its shareholding in Shin Corp.

The scandal involving Tongnoi is its latest stumble and it could prove costly to its attempts at damage control and the restoring of its corporate image. What appears to have occurred here would give the lie to Temasek's supposed world-class standards of governance and business ethics.

We can only hope this is the last such stumble for Temasek. It must remove any cloud of uncertainty surrounding the Shin Corp deal. If it tries to think that it can manipulate persons supposedly occupying positions of influence in Thailand in order to find a quick-fix to its embarrassing situation, then it is a bad miscalculation.


People in Thailand were sick of Thaksin abusing his position of power; a forcible removal of Thaksin from that position of power was the result. Must we in Singapore wait until things fall apart to the same extent before our leaders wake up and smell the flowers fertilizer?

Read about Elia Diodati's personal opinions here.

,

29 Oct 2006

Support M. Ravi in his time of need

29 Oct 06

The Singapore Democrats express our disappointment at the one-year suspension of lawyer Mr M Ravi.

Mr Ravi has been a faithful servant of the democratic movement in Singapore and a dear friend of the SDP. He has also steadfastly championed against the mandatory death sentence in this country.

The fact that he is the only lawyer in Singapore willing to take on cases with political overtones, and on a pro-bono basis to boot, is testament to his courage and dedication to ensuring justice being served. In addition, he has applied himself with distinction to bringing international attention to the lack of the rule of law and the violation of human rights in the city-state.

In this time of need, when he has been punished by the Law Society and when his mental health has been affected, Singaporeans need to rally around Mr Ravi and give him the support and prayer that he needs.

The media, especially the Straits Times, should in the meantime desist in its shameless exploitation of the lawyer's situation by repeatedly publishing stories about his late mother.

The SDP is confident that Mr Ravi will return stronger and even more determined to fight the cause of justice and human rights in Singapore. We look forward to continuing our work with him in this endeavour.

Finally, the last thing Mr Ravi should do is to heed the advice of the Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong who was reported to have told the lawyer during the hearing on 29 October 2006: “We hope that you may become the lawyer that we want you to become.”

In the 1997 General Elections, PAP ministers were seen entering polling stations illegally. When the SDP lodged police complaints, then Attorney-General Chan Sek Keong said that because the ministers were found inside the polling stations and not loitering outside of the stations, they were not in breach of the Parliamentary Elections Act. (see AG's explanation at http://www.singapore-window.org/ag0721.htm).



Peasants paying these jokers

From an anonymous comment.

Peasants paying these jokers more than $100,000 a month to spew crap like this? seriously!?!

--------------------------------

“Retrenchment is good for singapore. If there is no retrenchments, then I worry.” - SM Goh

“I don’t think that there should be a cap on the number of directorship that a person can hold.” - PAP MP John Chen who holds 8 directorships.

“It’s not for the money because some of the companies pay me as little as $10,000 a year.” - PAP MP Wang Kai Yuen who holds 11 directorships.

“If you want to dance on a bar top, some of us will fall off the bar Top. Some people will die as a result of liberalising bar top dancing… a young girl with a short skirt dancing on it may attract some insults from some other men, the boyfriend will start fighting and some people will die.” - Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports

“I would want to form an alternative policies group in Parliament, comprising 20 PAP MPs. These 20 PAP MPs will be free to vote in accordance with what they think of a particular policy. In other words, the whip for them will be lifted. This is not playing politics, this is something which I think is worthwhile doing.” - SM Goh

“If you sing Jailhouse Rock with your electric guitar when others are playing Beethoven, you are out of order. The whip must be used on you.” - SM Goh again, on a dramatic u-turn, rethink or backtrack, whatever you call it.

“Save on one hairdo and use the money for breast screening.” - another gem from Lim Hng Kiang

“We started off with (the name) and after looking at everything, the name that really tugged at the heartstrings was in front of us. The name itself is not new, but what has been used informally so far has endeared itself to all parties.” - Mah Bow Tan on the $400,000 exercise to rename Marina Bay as Marina Bay.

“Having enjoyed football as a national sport for decades, we in Singapore have set ourselves the target of reaching the final rounds of World Cup in 2010.” - Ho Peng Kee

“Only 5% are unemployed. We still have 95% who are employed.” - Yeo Cheow Tong

“Singaporean workers have become more expensive than those in the USA and Australia.” - Tony Tan

“People support CPF cuts because there are no protest outside parliament.” - PM Lee

“No, it was not a U-turn, and neither was it a reversal of government policy. But you can call it a rethink.” - Yeo Cheow Tong

“…I regret making the decision because, in the end, the baby continued to be in intensive care, and KKH now runs up a total bill of more than $300,000…” - Lim Hng Kiang, regretting the decision to save a baby’s life because KKH ran up a $300,000 bill

“Without the elected president and if there is a freak result, within two or three years, the army would have to come in and stop it.” - MM Lee Kuan Yew

“Please do not assume that you can change governments. Young people don’t understand this” - Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, post-2006 General Elections

Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?

From The Akha Heritage Foundation
Human Trafficking
Akha Woman Imprisoned in Singapore's
Changi Prison - Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?


The Imprisonment of Ms. Meitinee Wongsa. Changi Prison ID S12369
We request her release.

The Brothel and Trafficker:
New Rose Karaoke

3/4 Chaiyakul Uthit Rd Soi 3
Hat Yai Songkhla, Thailand
Tel: 074-223 176
Mgr: 01-738 1797 (Ah Kib)
Name of trafficker : Chatkaew Sripormma (Female)
Contact Number : +66-8-94662262

We call on the Thai Police to arrest this trafficker.



Picture of the front of the New Rose Brothel in Hatyai.


A larger image. Large Image

How is it that the Singapore Police are so inefficient to find this information, when we are able to find out exactly what brothel and the woman who trafficked Ms. Wongsa into Singapore?

We know there are MORE Akha women in the Changi prison.
How many Akha women are in Changi Prison?
We request to know the answer.

We request to know, how ICA knows she came into the country, if they do not have a record from Anti Vice, and if they have a record with Anti Vice, then they know who Ms. Wongsa was sent to in order to get her permit for "work" in Singapore. Those are the individuals who have contacts with the trafficking agents. ICA is not being honest about this case.

ICA said that Ms. Wongsa applied to solicit legally in singapore through AVB. AVB rejected her application and recommend to ICA to ban her from entering singapore in the future. Ms. Wongsa was directed to go to Anti Vice and apply, through prior arrangement. Why she was rejected is unknown at this time, but Anti Vice is certainly aware of the particulars.

At the time that Ms. Wongsa entered Singapore, she could not speak Thai, or any other language but Akha, could not read or write. Certainly the arrangements have been made between Hatyai and Anti Vice.

We are concerned that the government of Singapore does not recognize the issue of trafficking and that Akha women are trafficked into their country for brothels. The Singapore Immigration people (ICA) have repeatedly told us that they are "checking into the case" but then never reply to our email.

We are informed that there numerous Akha women in Changi prison, possibly also victims of trafficking into Singapore. Does Singapore arrest victims of trafficking? We find it disgusting that Singapore allows women to be trafficked into the country for what ever reasons. We find it more disgusting that they put the victims in prison.

Ms. Wongsa was sentenced to one year in Changi Prison this last week.
She entered Singapore on documents supplied by her Employment Agent from Thailand but was refused a work permit and sent out of the country in 2004. Now on her own documents, Thai ID card and Passport, she has entered Singapore with her fiance. When she applied for an extension of visa as she and her fiance were to marry, the Singapore authorities told her that she had previously traveled under a different name and passport supplied by her employer, so was now to be arrested.

Upon her previous trip and return to Thailand, her employer told her that the Singapore police demanded 100,000 baht and she was made to repay this money working in Hatyai.

When Akha children are born, Thai authorities often give them a Thai name on their travel documents and any made up birth date. Employers often supply the Akha with documents for travel, as they may not even have an ID card of their own. These are the agreements they have to live with as contract labor. In some cases, contract labor may be more like trafficking or debt bondage. While it appears that Ms. Wongsa's employer was familiar to the Singapore police, Ms. Wongsa is being made to pay the price for what is often standard practice for people being shipped from Thailand to foreign countries.

There is little to no protection for ethnic women who find themselves in this situation in Thailand.

We have contacted the Singapore Embassy and Ambassador in the US, the ICA in Singapore, an MP in Singapore, Amnesty International and a number of individuals and agencies regarding this case. We are asking that her case be reviewed and that Akha women are not made to pay the price for either trafficking or unethical Agents who put them in these situations. We are asking that she be released and NOT deported from Singapore.

Please contact the Singapore Embassy regarding this case.




Wee Siem Kim's PR fiasco

posted by yuen ...


wee siew kim/wee shu min, singapore elite members

I would like to comment on the PR fiasco suffered by Member of Parliament Wee Siem Kim, a senior executive in the Singapore Technology Group, and his daughter Shu Min, a high school student, concerning the value of the elite in a society.

One of the frequent themes in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's speeches is "Asians care more about good government than democracy", that developing the self-discipline of the citizens has to come before democracy. LKY's statement was easily misconstrued: self-discipline is not the same as obedience to authority. In fact, it is more applicable to the people in authority than those under it. The lack of self discipline displayed by Chen Shuibian and his family members and associates in Taiwan, and not quite as seriously, by Mahathir in Malaysia, not only have great impact in themselves, it also sets examples that make it harder to ask the ordinary people to show self-discipline.

In other words, self-discipline first has to prevail among the members of the elite, that they should use their power and wealth with restraint, that they should be scrupulous in their methods to acquire power and wealth. Further, only with awareness for the need for self-discipline would they be in a position to establish relevant monitoring and prosecution systems to impose discipline on the whole society.

A society in which the elite thinks that discipline applied only to others and not themselves soon finds that even the most efficient monitoring system would break down as the people in charge of enforcing discipline lose confidence about whether they can apply the same rules to everyone, and then learn to twist the rules to gain benefit for themselves. In other words, failure of elite members to apply self-discipline soon corrupts the whole society.

Whatever their superior points, elite members should be constantly asking themselves: what do I give back to society for my privileged status? They should think of the example of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, for this is what distringuishes a cultured society from a crude one. The CEO earning 1M a year should be asking whether they are 100 times more indispensible than the cleaner who makes 10K, and even those whose management had produced huge profits for the organization should be asking whether the cleaner had benefited from the achievement, whether the CEO has done enough to keep everyone working in the organization motivated, for the long term benefit of the organization.



28 Oct 2006

Singapore suspends human rights lawyer for a year

Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:32 PM IST

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has suspended a prominent opposition and human rights lawyer for a year on disciplinary grounds, according to court documents and media reports on Saturday.

M. Ravi, who has represented prominent opposition leader Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on several occasions, and has defended two high-profile death penalty cases in the city-state, was suspended from practice for a year by the legal profession's top disciplinary body on Friday.

Ravi was suspended due to rude behaviour to a district judge in October, 2003, according to the local Straits Times newspaper.

"I hope that...you will find peace, examine yourself and hopefully, one year later, when you come back, you will become a lawyer that we want to see in this court," the paper quoted Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong as saying.

Ravi, who had defended Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin earlier this year after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew launched a libel suit, could not be reached for comment.

Chee Siok Chin said on Saturday she plans to represent herself in future lawsuits.

"It's certainly a pity," said Chee Siok Chin, referring to the suspension. "Ravi would take up cases which most other lawyers would shun."

Ravi has actively campaigned against the death penalty in the city-state, which has possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population, according to London-based rights group Amnesty International.

The wealthy Southeast Asian nation sparked international controversy last year after it ignored repeated appeals by Australia to spare the life of Australian drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van for carrying 400 grams of heroin while in transit at the Singapore airport in 2002.



The Judge in QuestionPublished 4.28.2004
Ravi first made the news in September last year after he had a heated exchange with High Court Judge Woo Bih Li while trying to seek a retrial for a condemned drug trafficker who had exhausted all avenues of appeal.

Justice Woo has since made a complaint to the Law Society against him for improper conduct in court.


Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?


Akha Human Rights - Akha University

Akha Woman Imprisoned in Singapore's Changi Prison - Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking?


We request her release.
We know there are MORE Akha women in the Changi prison.
How many Akha women are in Changi Prison?
We request to know the answer.


We are concerned that the government of Singapore does not recognize the issue of trafficking and that Akha women are trafficked into their country for brothels. The Singapore Immigration people (ICA) have repeatedly told us that they are "checking into the case" but then never reply to our email.

We are informed that there numerous Akha women in Changi prison, possibly also victims of trafficking into Singapore. Does Singapore arrest victims of trafficking? We find it disgusting that Singapore allows women to be trafficked into the country for what ever reasons. We find it more disgusting that they put the victims in prison.

Ms. Ah Meeh (Not her real name) was sentenced to one year in Changi Prison this last week. She entered Singapore on documents supplied by her Employment Agent from Thailand but was refused a work permit and sent out of the country in 2004. Now on her own documents, Thai ID card and Passport, she has entered Singapore with her fiance. When she applied for an extension of visa as she and her fiance were to marry, the Singapore authorities told her that she had previously traveled under a different name and passport supplied by her employer, so was now to be arrested.

Upon her previous trip and return to Thailand, her employer told her that the Singapore police demanded 100,000 baht and she was made to repay this money working in Hatyai.

When Akha children are born, Thai authorities often give them a Thai name on their travel documents and any made up birth date. Employers often supply the Akha with documents for travel, as they may not even have an ID card of their own. These are the agreements they have to live with as contract labor. In some cases, contract labor may be more like trafficking or debt bondage. While it appears that Ms. Ah Meeh's employer was familiar to the Singapore police, Ms. Ah Meeh is being made to pay the price for what is often standard practice for people being shipped from Thailand to foreign countries.

There is little to no protection for ethnic women who find themselves in this situation in Thailand.

We have contacted the Singapore Embassy and Ambassador in the US, the ICA in Singapore, an MP in Singapore, Amnesty International and a number of individuals and agencies regarding this case. We are asking that her case be reviewed and that Akha women are not made to pay the price for either trafficking or unethical Agents who put them in these situations. We are asking that she be released and NOT deported from Singapore.

You may write us if you would like to contact the Singapore Embassy regarding this case.


Useful links:

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
H.O.M.E. Migrants Rights
Singapore Prison Service
Singapore Embassy Washington DC



Netizens want Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Wee Siew Kim to step down

The Importance of Being Elite




A link back to acknowledge the source.
http://xialanxue.blogspot.com - With Halloween fast approaching, Netizens are going for blood. Wee Shu Min has retained the number 1 position at technorati's popular searches for the past 5 days. Even after repeated apologies by Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Wee Siew Kim, father of the 18 year old RJC girl, the flaming continues. It appears that the saga would not die down anytime soon unless Netizens get what they want - for Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Wee Siew Kim to step down.

Some have argued that Wee Shu Min would only truly be humbled if her father was not bringing in a pay check of over S$10,000 per month as a result of being a Member of Parliament of Singapore. It is a well-known fact that politicians in Singapore are one of the highest paid in the world. The recent (Wee Shu Min and Wee Siew Kim) vs (Derek Wee and Netizens) saga has been likened by many to the old NKF saga not too long ago where Mrs Goh Chok Tong, a patron of the old NKF and wife of the former Prime Minister of Singapore, commented that a salary package of S$600,000 a year was peanuts. As a result of the old NKF saga, the former management team was forced to step down, investigations into possible misuse of funds were initiated and several lawsuits were filed against the former board of directors.

But the bulk of the argument for MP Wee Siew Kim to step down stems from the first apology that he issued which many have argued shows the fundamental lack of empathy and compassion for the citizens that Mr Wee Siew Kim is supposed to serve. Netizens have made use of simple arithmetics to calculate that if Wee Siew Kim were allowed to serve out his 5 year term as a Member of Parliament of Singapore, he would be bringing home more than S$600,000 (5*12*$10,000++) or what Mrs Goh Chok Tong term peanuts. Good money that would indirectly go towards paying for Ms Wee Shu Min's expensive holidays and overseas trips (evident from the many photos that netizens have dug up of Ms Wee Shu Min enjoying herself on overseas trips). Wealth that has perhaps resulted in Ms Wee Shu Min's elitist viewpoints.

In a society where the income gap is widening and the poor have been driven to take their lives by jumping into the paths of oncoming MRTs, do we really need politicians in our parliament who show by their words/actions that they do not have the interests of the people they are supposed to be helping at heart?

27 Oct 2006

Justice for Anna Politkovskaya

Russia

We have all been shocked by the news of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. Her commitment to exposing authoritarian abuses in Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the “dirty war” in Chechnya had made her a symbol of democratic conscience in both Russia and the West.

We are now demanding that the competent authorities - under the United Nations or Council of Europe aegis for example - create an international commission of enquiry in order to establish the truth about Anna Politkovskaya’s murder on 7 October in Moscow.

Twenty one journalists have already been murdered since Putin became Russia’s president in March 2000. Most of these murders has not been solved. The murder of Politkovskaya, one of the few reporters to have covered the situation in Chechnya since 1999, one who had received many international awards for her work, has taken Russia across a new threshold of horror.

Sign the petition calling for an international commission of enquiry.



Elitism



Elitism is the belief or attitude that the people who are considered to be the elite — a selected group of persons with outstanding personal abilities, wealth, specialised training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are the people whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously, or that these are persons whose views should be regarded as carrying the most weight, or, more simply, these people are best fit to govern. Alternatively, the term elitism could be used to describe a situation in which power is in fact concentrated in the hands of an elite, whether rightly or not.

Elitism has highly negative connotations and is often used pejoratively to describe a general mindset of arrogance or disregard for the general non-elite public (Meritocracy, a special kind of elitism, does not carry this connotation).



Another elitist face

A more coherent albeit elitist rant from shadowbamf.blogspot.com:

I am elitist. I believe those in the elite circles (no inverted commas) are better than those outside, not because they are naturally smarter, but generally because those who are there made it there on something, and they do deserve some recognition, more so than the general populace. So don't complain that the elite schools get more money etc. They actually deserve it.


There are two kinds of upper class citizens that generally exist in any society. The upper or upper-middle class in this context is defined by financial standing, those able to afford a relatively comfortable life, that condo/house, a flashy BMW or Mercedes Benz. And if you should be so lucky to be the offspring to reap your parents' paycheck, maybe even a more than generous allowance and your own car by the age of 18. Given that Singapore is an overall prosperous country, it wouldn't be far from the truth to say that there is a significant demographic in the population regardless of a widening gap between rich and poor, who would fall in this category of the upper-middle and above class.

And then there are the "elitists". It's a redundant term in social and financial standing because unlike a normal class system, it is a status given by one's self, intellectual superiority is automatically assumed and defined by him/herself.

Derek's argument that people become reduandant once they reach 40 is supported by evidence of taxi drivers. And erm, because he met a couple of taxi drivers who got retrenched and couldn't find jobs, says that everyone becomes obsolete at 40.

... I dunno about you guys, but i can easily name 10 people (not even related to the government!) that still hold good steady jobs over the age of 40. So please don't take your taxi drivers as case study for the whole populace.


Anyone can easily see that neither Derek nor the "elitist" are equipped with representative survey reports to defend their assertions. But this is irrelevant to the fundamental understanding that lack of evidence is not proof of anything i.e. an assertion of knowing people above 40 holding secure jobs does not disprove that others don't. It is intellectual laziness. It further reinforces my constant belief that colleges and universities, upper-tier or not, do not automatically generate people capable of thinking skills critical to logical debate.

Ironically enough, i don't think elitism is something the upper class invented from themselves. Elitism in my opinion starts from the segregation of certain people, because of social stereotypes, and all that crap. I get really annoyed when people go "Wah you from RJ ah. Must be damn smart lor" etc. When in actual fact we're really no different from the rest of you people. Except maybe for the fact that we do use our brains for something more useful. It's the mentality however, that people have about us, which we eventually accept for ourselves. So don't blame us for being elitist.


Ironically, Derek seemed more proficient in using a spell-check in his article, Future of Singapore. Ironically, this "elitist" who believes he is naturally "smarter" than most, believes his self-imposed status is really a consequence of social stereotyping, a ghetto mentality for excusing one's behaviour. I have my reserves as to what the "elitist" really deems his brain useful for, if such a person is unable to intellectually grasp a subject before branding the opposition with poor grammar (another irrelevant point to any real discussion) and name-calling. Surely that would be more akin to the on-goings of a kindergarden playground afflicted by crap flinging.

A Dissonant Cacophony of Callouness and Insensitivity

From Sg Review
Dear All

I had on the morning of 25th October 2006 responded with biting criticism to the Straits Times report on MP Wee Siew Kim’s comments in defiant defence of his dear daughter.

I was totally disgusted by MP Wee’s comments which I will not let go pass untouched.

The ST’s Forum Editor had passed over my response and published another letter which was far less critical.

I am a strong proponent of freedom of expression, I will not stop at being silenced by elements of the mainstream press. Attached below is the letter that was targeted at our PAP AMK GRC MP Wee Siew Kim.

My purpose for publishing this letter is to encourage greater freedom of expression stronger and unrestrained criticism of the Ruling Party by all and I am taking the lead here.

Coincidentally, MP Wee made a statement in the press today which was of course published. This statement claims to be apologizing to the readers who were offended.

I have read MP Wee’s statement and I am not of the view that the apology is full and unreserved. I trust Singaporeans can come to their own conclusions on the matter.

“RESPONSE TO PAP MP FOR AMK GRC MR. WEE SIEW KIM’S COMMENTS IN STRAITS TIMES REPORT OF 24TH COTOBER 2006.

I had read in amazement of what Ms Wee Shu Min had written in her blog. I ruminated on her statements and her lineage and illustrious background and after much thought, decided not to criticize her in spite of the callousness she had exhibited at such a tender age.

For to me, there is simply no reason to overreact to the ignorant bigotry of an 18 year old girl and that the matter is best left to rest after the barrage of criticism she met with on the internet.

However, when I saw the Straits Times report of 24th October 2006, I read with disgust what Ms Wee Shu Min’s father PAP MP for AMK GRC, Mr. Wee Siew Kim had said in brazen defence of his dear daughter justifying her callousness and adding further insult and injury to Singaporeans.

MP Wee, in his dismal attempt to soften the effect of his daughter’s ramblings, had sought to downplay the incident as a lack of sensitivity on her part and to quote him “Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language, so she ought to learn from it.”

Whilst the less discerning may opine that MP Wee has apologized on behalf of his daughter, in truth both father and daughter have exhibited no more empathy or remorse than when the remarks were first made in Ms Wee’s blog. MP Wee’s remarks albeit more diplomatic had in fact exhibited an even higher level of arrogance and lack of empathy.

MP Wee must note that her daughter has since removed the offending posting from her blog. That is itself discordant with the stance he exhibited in his interview in the Straits Times. One wonders whether the removal of the posting was a father-sanctioned public perception management exercise for damage control or was it a true indication of remorse and regret?

If indeed MP Wee had similarly been just as careless with his callous remarks, he ought to acknowledge so and then extend nothing short of an unreserved apology to all Singaporeans especially those who are in situations similar to that of Mr. Derek Wee.

And upon doing so, MP Wee should also take steps to inculcate the appropriate level of humility in his daughter and do so in an early stage of her life, for MP Wee must remember that the government that he backs has taken bloggers to court, punished and shamed them for the undue comments they have made similarly for a limited audience.

Whilst I do not hope that the current establishment gets richer as a result of whatever discussion that takes place, I do hope that the former does get a lot humbler and wiser for Singapore will need leaders who can truly empathize with the people instead of having to live with parrots perched tree high above ground and their dissonant cacophony of callouness and insensitivity.”

The PAP and its supporters are invited to attack this posting with unrestrained fervour.

Regards

Chia Ti Lik


26 Oct 2006

Internet users urged to join in 24-hour online demo against internet censorship

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS URGES INTERNET USERS TO JOIN IN 24-HOUR ONLINE DEMO AGAINST INTERNET CENSORSHIP

Where: www.rsf.org
When : 11 A.M. on 7 November to 11 A.M. on 8 November


No one should ever be prevented from posting news online or writing a blog, but they are in the 13 countries singled out by Reporters Without Borders for a 24-hour online protest against Internet censorship.

Worldwide, 61 people are currently in prison for posting "subversive" content on a blog or website. Reporters Without Borders is compiling a list of 13 countries whose governments are "Internet enemies" because they censor and block online content that criticises them. The Internet scares. Censors of every kind exploit its flaws and attack those who pin their hopes on it. Multinationals such as Yahoo! cooperate with the Chinese government in filtering the Internet and tracking down cyber-dissidents.

The defence of online free expression and the fate of bloggers in repressive countries concern everyone. So Reporters Without Borders is offering Internet users tools to campaign against Internet predators and is calling on them to participate in an INTERNATIONAL CYBER-DEMO.

Everyone is invited to support this struggle by connecting to the Reporters Without Borders website (www.rsf.org) between 11 a.m. (Paris time) on Tuesday, 7 November, and 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 November. Each click will help to change the "Internet Black Holes" map and help to combat censorship. As many people as possible must participate so that this operation can be a success and have an impact on those governments that try to seal off what is meant to be a space where people can express themselves freely.

Protests will also be staged by Reporters Without Borders bureaux around the world to condemn Internet censorship and ethical misconduct of the Internet giants when operating in one of these countries.

Reporters Without Borders will publish the list of the 13 Internet enemies on 7 November and at the same time will launch its blog platform, rsfblog, and an Arabic-language version of its press freedom website.

The agency Saatchi & Saatchi has created an Internet ad calling on the entire Internet community to take part in the 24-hour campaign. All media, websites and blogs that want to support this large-scale protest are invited to get in touch with C├ędric Gervet at +33 1 4483-8474.


Straits Times gloating in a one-horse race

You know what they say, a pat on the back is only a foot away from a kick in the arse. And Seah Chiang Nee (LittleSpeck.com) delivers the boot:

Informed media watchers in Singapore couldn’t help but chuckle when they came across this recent headline: “Straits Times keeps No 1 spot, drawing 1.35m readers.”

I’m not sure why it bothered to proclaim this victory considering the newspaper is running in a one-horse race. It’s the only national English-language broadsheet on sale here, competing against itself.

It’s tantamount to SBS Transit claiming to be Singapore’s best bus operator. I doubt it will get any message of congratulations from the public.

(With due respect to it’s staff, TODAY is no editorial competitor. It is neither national nor provide full coverage and is competitive to the ST only in advertising.)

The second caveat to its claim lies in its purported rise of 30,000 readers to 1.35m compared to 1.32 in 2005 (quoting the latest Nielsen Media Index survey).

“It retained top spot as the favourite daily in Singapore,” it declared, obviously regarding TODAY, Business Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian, Tamil Musasu, etc as competitors.

To the newspaper, this increase “is very good” compared with the rest of the declining world outside.

"Readership is falling in many newspapers round the world because news is available free on the Internet, on TV and on radio, “ says the ST editor.

"We face the same challenges in Singapore, and to be able to gain new readers in such a difficult environment is very encouraging."

Audited circulation, please!

Generally, readership surveys have limited worth, useful in determining the reach of the newspaper and detailing – for advertisers - readership profiles.

In other words, they show what age groups are avid readers and what they read to help advertisers plan their campaigns.

Some are actually wary about readership surveys, preferring to know the audited circulation figures - or actual sales figures (net of complementary copies) as the minimum requirement.

Conducted over one issue of over a period of say three months, these surveys are purportedly done on thousands of households. Figures are always higher than circulation data.

This is because several family members or office workers (in ST’s case 3.5 readers) share the same copy.

I have also noticed that in recent years, when circulation figures had shown stagnation or declines, the Straits Times had increasingly been emphasising on “readership” rather than “audited circulation.”

(Actually a truly transparent media would offer both because they complement each other.)

Many advertising firms in a non-monopoly environment (where they had a wider adv choice) would insist on detailed audited circulation information rather than merely “readership” surveys as the primary data source.

“Readership” surveys, if professionally carried out, are useful too, but recognisably would always have an element of error or distortion, less accurate than actual circulations.

When newspapers hike prices or during a serious economic downturn, it is possible for sales to drop but readership to go up as sharing becomes more prevalent.

This means that the number of readers may go up from say, 3.5 to 3.7 per copy. That doesn’t result in a better bottom line.

Besides readership often rises during general elections, wars or other major developments of special interest to Singaporeans – faster than audited circulation.

To be fair, The Straits Times do publish circulation figures except – as in the case of the recent gloating report – it doesn’t emphasise them. Understandable so when advertising costs depend mostly on a newspaper's circulation.

With sales trending downwards (it could be worse if not for its near-monopoly and a huge population jump in Singapore), the management probably felt it wiser not to play up ‘circulation’ figures.

How do we know ‘circulation’ had dropped? See for yourself: -

Daily ST average circulation:
1998 = 391,612 (population: 3,490,356)
2004 = 380,197
2005 = 386,167
June 16, 2006 = 381,934 (when population had risen to 4,492,150).

Get out of my elite uncaring face.

Please, get out of my [Wee Shu Min ] elite uncaring face. by Brennan Sinbun #2


Other Sources:
RJC girl Wee Shu Min gets slammed by netizens

Defendants discover police witness listening in on court proceedings

What in the name of "Justice" is going on?
From Singapore Democratic Party
26 Oct 06

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse…

On the second day of the trial the DPP Ms Lee Lit Cheng dropped the ball when it was discovered that one of her police witnesses was sitting in the courtroom listening to the testimony of other police witnesses.

This is disallowed because witnesses are required to testify independently and not collaborate with each other.

The trial involves Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, and Mr Yap Keng Ho who have been charged with speaking in public without a permit on 22 Apr 06 during the election period.

Halfway through the hearing, Dr Chee asked the DPP to identify the persons who were seated behind her.

After saying that one of them was ASP Jeremy Koh from Jurong Police Division, the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case and who is the last of a list of 12 police witnesses, the DPP quickly acknowledged the obvious: "It was my omission to have sought the Court's permission to have the IO present in the courtroom."

She apologized for the oversight and explained that she had asked ASP Koh to be present so that she could "activate him to contact the next witness."

Flabbergasted, the Defence queried why the Prosecution needed the IO to be a coordinator when he was a material witness. Was the Police Force so short handed that it could not find someone to assist the DPP to coordinate the witnesses?

Dr Chee pointed out that in previous trials that he was involved in, the DPP did not have a witness to "contact" other witnesses.

Turning to Judge Eddie Tham, Dr Chee asked if it was proper for a witness who was waiting to give evidence to be seated in the courtroom whilst the trial was going on.

The Judge conceded: "It is not proper for a witness who is supposed to be giving evidence to be seated in the courtroom." He added that the DPP's omission to ask the Court for permission to allow the IO to be present during proceedings was "regrettable".

Dr Chee then pointed out that ASP Koh was not just seated in the courtroom. The IO had been going in and out of the witness room and speaking to the other witnesses, and not merely helping DPP Lee Lit Cheng to ensure that other police witnesses turned up on time for their turn to give evidence. Was he collaborating with the other witnesses?

At that point, Dr Chee asked if ASP Koh was in the witness room. The court bailiff took a look and confirmed that the IO was indeed in the witness room with the next witness.

The Judge then summoned ASP Koh and put him on the stand. He asked if the officer had spoken to other witnesses about the testimony given by other police officers who had already testified. The IO said no.

Upon cross-examination, Mr Koh revealed that he had come to the courtroom on his "own initiative" and received "no specific instructions." This contradicted what DPP Lee told the court earlier that she had wanted the IO to be present to "activate" him to contact witnesses.

In addition when Dr Chee queried whether ASP Koh had been with the fourth witness in the witness room, the IO said he did not know who the fourth witness was. If the ASP Koh's role was to help DPP Lee "contact the next witness", why did he not know that the person he was with in the witness room was the next police witness to be called? The discrepancy widened.

Lawyer M Ravi then appeared in court to assist Mr Yap Keng Ho in arguing that the trial be stopped because of the tainting of evidence by the Prosecution.

Dr Chee conveyed his misgivings about the matter. As this was a serious development, the Defendants wanted time to seek legal opinion on how best to proceed.

The Judge stopped the hearing before lunch and adjourned the matter to Friday morning.



Chee on CNN



From Singapore Democratic Party
23 Aug [Should be dated October?] 06

Dr Chee Soon Juan today did an interview with CNN which centred on the banning of the Far Eastern Economic Review by the Government and the lawsuit taken by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong against the journal.

According to CNN, the interview will be broadcast on 24 Oct 06, Tuesday, the eve of the FEER lawsuit hearing fixed for 25 Oct 06 at the High Court.

The presenter, Ms Eunice Yoon, started off by asking Dr Chee his thoughts on the ban and the lawsuit to which the SDP secretary-general replied that he was not at all surprised because of the history of litigation by the PAP.

Having domesticated the local media the Singapore Government had to now silence international critics in order to continue its propaganda that it ran a successful system based on transparency and democracy, Dr Chee added.

The FEER case was just one example, the Singapore Democratic leader cited. He brought up the Andy Xie sacking by Morgan Stanley for writing an email that Singapore was depending on money-laundering from the Chinese and Indonesians.

Ms Yoon then asked if the PAP's reputation as a clean Government was deserved. Dr Chee replied that with on-going suspicions about Singapore being a money-laundering hub and the scandal over the Temasek-Shin Corp deal, the Singapore Government had to rely on silencing the media to propagate the falsehood that it ran a clean government.

The CNN presenter than commented that Singaporeans seemed to be more concerned about their financial security than their political rights. Dr Chee stressed that this is not true especially when one looks at the Internet where there's a free flow of information. Where Singaporeans are given the opportunity to freely express themselves, they show that they are very concerned about the democratic freedoms and rights.

Singaporeans, having been deprived of an open discussion in the mainstream media, are turning to the Internet to express their frustrations and their desire to see a more open and democratic system.

Dr Chee was also asked what he thought of the label 'martyr' that the PAP has sarcastically used on him. The SDP secretary-general replied that it did not bother him the names the PAP used on him. He added that what mattered most is the work that needs to be done to for democracy and justice in the country. Every name and every action that the PAP took against him only made him more resolute to fight on.

The 10-minute interview will be edited down to a couple of minutes for broadcast. In the past Dr Chee has been interviewed on the network on programmes like Q&A with Rhiz Khan and, more recently, TalkAsia with Lorraine Hahn.

S'pore files bankruptcy order on opposition figure

By Koh Gui Qing
REUTERS


7:16 a.m. October 25, 2006

SINGAPORE – The Singapore attorney-general has filed a bankruptcy order against an opposition politician for not paying about S$24,000 ($15,300) in legal costs in a move that could potentially cripple the tiny Singapore Democratic Party.
Chee Siok Chin – the sister of SDP leader Chee Soon Juan, and herself a senior member of the party – is facing a bankruptcy order after she failed to pay S$23,550 in costs, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

'They do want to incapacitate me,' she told Reuters on Wednesday.
Chee Siok Chin led the handful of SDP candidates in Singapore's May 6 general election. The party did not win any seats in parliament but did get 23 percent of the vote in the wards it contested.

If declared bankrupt herself, Chee Siok Chin would be unable to run for parliament again under Singapore law, putting the SDP's future at risk.

Her brother Chee Soon Juan – Singapore's most vocal opposition politician – was declared bankrupt in February after failing to make libel payments of S$500,000 to former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.

Chee Siok Chin said she incurred the legal costs after she challenged a move by the Singapore police to disperse a peaceful protest in August 2005. The protest, by Chee Siok Chin and three others, took place outside a public building in Singapore and called for greater transparency in state institutions.

Public protests are rare in the city-state. Any public gathering of more than four people requires a police permit and a person convicted of unlawful assembly can be fined up to S$1,000.

Activists and critics such as human rights group Amnesty International say that Singapore's leaders used defamation lawsuits to cripple opposition politicians.

But Singapore's leaders say such legal action is necessary to safeguard their reputations.

Government leaders have also filed defamation law suits against foreign media, most recently against the Far Eastern Economic Review.

In the 2006 Worldwide Press Freedom Index released by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday, Singapore was among the worst-ranked countries. The city-state has slipped six places to rank 146th out of 168 countries following the government's latest legal action against the foreign media.

Chee Siok Chin, who spoke on the sidelines of a trial where her brother and two other SDP party supporters were being charged for speaking in public without permits in the run-up to the election, said she plans to challenge the bankruptcy order, which is due to be heard in court on Nov. 3.




Child killer to hang after clemency plea rejected

From The Star

SINGAPORE: Convicted Malaysian child killer Took Leng How will go to the gallows after his final plea for clemency was rejected by the president.

Took, 24, a Penangite who worked here as a vegetable packer, was convicted of killing eight-year-old Chinese national Huang Na in October 2004 at the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

He was sentenced to hang in August last year.

Took filed an appeal shortly after but in January this year, the Court of Appeal upheld the death sentence in a split two-one decision, prompting his family to start a campaign to save him from the death sentence.

As many as 34,000 signatures were collected in the petition for clemency. [online petition]

Took’s lawyer urged the president to reconsider the views of the dissenting judge but on Monday, the lawyers received a letter stating that the death sentence would remain, The Straits Times reported.

In Singapore, hangings will normally take place within two weeks after the final plea.

Huang Na’s disappearance from the wholesale market in October 2004 sparked a massive search by police and volunteers.

The police had also questioned Took in connection with the murder.

He later fled Singapore for Malaysia, sparking a nationwide search for him by Malaysian police.

He was arrested when he returned to the republic.

Took later led Singaporean police to the child’s naked and decomposed body, which was stuffed in a box in a park several kilometres from the market. – Bernama




Singapore slips even further in press freedom rankings

[Sketchbook]
Questionnaire for compiling a 2006 world press freedom index

From a regular read of mine... Singapore Patriot
RSF compiled its Index by asking freedom of expression organisations, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists, to answer a survey of 50 questions about press freedom in their countries. The questionnaire covered various challenges faced by journalists ranging from violence and physical threats against them, government restrictions on their work and state control of the media. While Singaporean journalists do not suffer from physical violence like in the Philippines, some of the questions which Singapore scored low on probably included:

14. Improper use of fines, summonses or legal action against journalists or media outlets?

19. Problems of access to public or official information (refusal by officials, selection of information provided according to the media’s editorial line etc)?

26. Censorship or seizure of foreign newspapers?

28. Independent or opposition news media?

29. An official prior censorship body systematically checking all media content?

30. Routine self-censorship in the privately-owned media?

31. Subjects that are taboo (the armed forces, government corruption, religion, the opposition, demands of separatists, human rights etc)?

32. A state monopoly of TV?

33. A state monopoly of radio?

34. A state monopoly of printing or distribution facilities?

35. Government control of state-owned media’s editorial line?

38. Opposition access to state-owned media?

42. Licence needed to start up a newspaper or magazine?

44. Serious threats to news diversity, including narrow ownership of media outlets?

45. A state monopoly of Internet service providers (ISPs)?

46. ISPs forced to filter access to websites?

48. ISPs legally responsible for the content of websites they host?

49. Cyber-dissidents or bloggers imprisoned (how many?)


25 Oct 2006

Thai professor sues government for allowing Shin Corp sale

From The Australian, a worrying development in the Shin Corp saga that may initiate a cascade of problems for the beleagured acquisition by Temasek Holdings and open a Pandora's box of retroactive litigation regarding similar shady deals.

New kick in the Shin for Thaksin
Peter Alford, Tokyo correspondent
October 25, 2006

OF the slew of actions now afoot over the sale of Thailand's Shin Corp to Temasek Holdings, the one that could most hurt the already bruised Singaporeans is an action initiated by a junior academic at Bangkok's Rangsit University.

The Central Administrative Court has agreed to try an action by Sattra Toa-on, a 28-year-old law lecturer, against state regulators over their alleged failure to enforce rules that would have prevented then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's family from selling control of the Shin Corp communications group for 73.2 billion baht ($2.6 billion) to the Singapore government investment company.

After initially buying 49.6 per cent of Thailand's biggest telecoms group from Thaksin's children and relatives in January, the Temasek-led consortium now owns 96 per cent of Shin Corp equity. Temasek itself claims an "economic interest" in 76 per cent of the group.

Thaksin is exiled in London, having been overthrown five weeks ago by a coup that culminated in a series of explosive events sparked by the initial Shin Corp purchase.

This deal was already turning into a stinker for the Singaporeans. They're currently down about Bt23 billion on the market value of the investment and, though they insist they behaved with perfect propriety, Singapore Inc's reputation for fastidiousness has hardly been burnished.

Sattra's legal action is further bad news because it calls into question the fundamental legality of the Shin Corp deal. It alleges the use of nominally Thai-owned but Singapore-controlled front companies to flout the country's 49 per cent limit on foreign ownership of strategic assets was clearly in breach of the law but that the state regulatory agencies refused even to investigate.

That's a bad thing by implication too for the 13,000 or so foreign investors in Thai corporations and property who use nominee structures to dodge foreign investment restrictions. Already 16 other large takeovers that employed apparent nominee companies have been singled out for retrospective investigation.

Sattra's suit makes more difficult Temasek's attempts to produce what might be described as an administrative resolution to the foreign ownership problems it created by grabbing for Shin Corp when Thaksin's family offered it on a plate.

The case will delay any attempt to dilute Temasek's stake below the legal foreign ownership ceiling before other adverse findings arise. (The alleged use of a suspected nominee company, Kularb Kaew, is under police investigation and a report is expected by the end of November.)

Several Thai investment funds have indicated tentative interest in helping Temasek lighten its holdings at "reasonable" prices - that is, considerably less than the unprecedented Bt49.25 per share Temasek's consortium paid Thaksin's kin in January (the shares are trading around Bt34 this week). But there's little apparent interest from the big corporate investors Temasek would need to bed down much of what, even at current depressed prices, would amount to almost Bt50 billion of stock.

In any case it's hard to envisage anyone taking a share placement large or small until Sattra's action is settled.

If he succeeded in proving to the court that the regulators, under Thaksin's thumb, refused even to investigate foreign ownership breaches, the state licences for Thailand's largest mobile phone, the iTV television network and the country's only commercial satellite operator, among other assets, would be at considerable risk.

Most foreign investors in Bangkok blame the system for the Shin Corp fiasco. It's certainly undeniable that for three decades, Thai governments and bureaucrats have winked at increasingly barefaced abuses of foreign ownership rules, arguing, when pressed, the country's need for imported capital.

Rather than address that need and confront the naive economic nationalism that still prevails in Thai public discussion, successive governments have allowed the use of nominee companies and other devices to create the legal fiction of Thai ownership of assets that have in fact passed into foreign control.

In doing so they have allowed a whole class of fixers and rent-seekers to line their pockets - among them some of the kingdom's wealthier people - because what better circumstantial evidence is there that you are not a foreign corporation's puppet if you have the means to own what you say you own? In the current case, the funding and ownership entitlements of the Thai partners in Temasek's consortium become a crucial issue.

No prime minister should have been more aware than Thaksin, a billionaire former businessman on intimate terms with international investment flows, of the distortions and corrupt possibilities in his country's defacto foreign investment regime. And no previous prime minister had Thaksin's opportunities to fix the problem - two clear terms in office during which he thoroughly dominated the government, the parliament and the bureaucracy.

Instead, Thaksin sat on his hands until, in what turned out to be his final months in office, his family and Temasek conspired to exploit the system's shortcomings in the most spectacular fashion. One consequence was that the Thaksin family was able to cash-out of Shin Corp at a price never seen before or since.

Now foreign business people in Bangkok, the law firms who facilitated exploitation of the current system and the Board of Trade, which mediates between foreign investors and the government, are quietly urging General Surayud Chulanont's interim administration to let Temasek off the hook, on condition it divests to below the 49 per cent ceiling.

Then let's start again with clear, realistic foreign ownership rules, say some, warning that the alternative is a permanent loss of confidence in Thailand as an investment destination.

Almost incredibly, however, others urge a cooling-off period, then a quiet return to the old "pragmatic" system. Prominent among them are property developers and lawyers who know the ways they've been marketing land titles to foreigners would not survive scrutiny even under more enlightened and transparent foreign ownership regimes.

In the meantime, however, Bangkok lawyers and corporate advisers are telling foreign investors they need to expect their investment structures to be carefully scrutinised by Thai regulators. Everyone now awaits developments in the Temasek case.


Note: using today's exchange rate, the paper loss of 23 billion Baht is equivalent to S$968,735,546.40, or US$616,126,398.90.

MP Wee Siew Kim offers no apology

From Singapore Elections

You agree with PAP or you're a whiner. That's the message PAP is trying to achieve in so called New Media aka blogs. Mr Wee Siew Kim, a MP(PAP) voiced support for his daughter's rebuttal against our hero Derek Wee who wrote a blog entry entitled "Future of Singapore" which later attracted criticism from Mr Wee's daughter. She posted this entry on her blog...


mom's friend sent her some blog post by some bleeding stupid 40-year old singaporean called derek wee (WHY do all the idiots have my surname why?!) whining about how singapore is such an insecure place, how old ppl (ie, 40 and above) fear for their jobs, how the pool of foreign "talent" (dismissively chucked between inverted commas) is really a tsunami that will consume us all (no actually he didn't say that, he probably said Fouren Talern Bery Bad.), how the reason why no one wants kids [continue reading... ]


Singapore Slings Censorship

From OFF/Beat by Emil Steiner
Talk about your all-time wardrobe malfunctions. StarHub Cable Vision of Singapore is being fined $6,350 for showing footage of lesbian sex and bondage during episodes of the reality program "Cheaters." According to Media Development authorities, the country's lone cable provider breached "guidelines which disallow the promotion, justification and glamorization of lesbian lifestyles and their explicit depictions" by airing footage of a pixelated woman tied to a bed in a "bondage session" with two other women. (Maybe it would have been less glamorous without the pixels?) In Singapore, voluntary "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal," can still be punished by life in prison. Gum chewing is also illegal in the repressive city state, though it is unclear if airing footage of people chewing, enjoying or promoting a lifestyle of gum mastication could be similarly punished.


Source: Cable TV broadcaster fined for airing lesbian sex and bondage

Singapore - StarHub Cable Vision (SCV) has been fined for airing lesbian sex and bondage footage contained in a US reality TV show, Singapore's regulator said Tuesday.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) said the footage breached the 'guidelines which disallow the promotion, justification and glamorization of lesbian lifestyles and their explicit depictions,' in a statement on its website.

Singapore-based cable television provider SCV was fined 10,000 Singapore dollars (6,410 US dollars). Homosexual acts are illegal in the conservative city-state.

The show, "Cheaters," exposes ordinary people whom their partners suspect of having affairs.

A woman was seen having sex with another woman in an episode aired between May 22 and 26. There was also a bondage session involving three women.

StarHub's corporate communications manager Caitlin Fua told The Straits Times that her company was disappointed with the MDA's decision.

"Cheaters" has been aired in such countries as China, India and Indonesia 'without any difficulty,' she was quoted as saying.


© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

According to Media Development Authority...
The reality programme featured cases handled by the Cheaters private agency where a person seeks to find out if his/ her partner is being unfaithful in their relationship. The episode concerned was aired during the period of 22 to 26 May 2006 and repeated on 29 August 2006. It contained footages of a woman engaging in lesbian sex acts with another woman. While pixilation was used during the sex scenes, it was still obvious to viewers that the women were naked and engaging in unnatural sex acts. The programme also showed the woman tied to a bed in a bondage session with two other women.The visuals were deemed to be sexually suggestive and offensive to good taste and decency

The programme also promotes lesbianism as a lifestyle, which breaches the Programme Code. The woman manages to get her boyfriend to accept her lifestyle and to invite other people to engage in threesomes with them.



22 Oct 2006

Authoritarianism

Spotted on Singapore Election
John Dean, Ex-ade to US President Richard Nixon explaining the concept of authoritarian followers.



In Conservatives Without Conscience, Dean explains this body of scientific work to general readers and shows its direct relevance to contemporary conservatism. Counsel to President Nixon for a thousand days, John Dean also served a chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee and as an associate deputy attorney general in the US Department of Justice. He writes a bi-weekly column for FindLaw. He is the author of Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, and six other books.


From ForaTv

Mdm Ho Ching must step down as head of Temasek

From Dr Chee
20 Oct 06

Given the revelations of the scandalous deal between Temasek Holdings and Shin Corp which continue to trickle from Bangkok, it is impossible for Singaporeans not to take notice.

The transaction has not only provoked outrage among the Thai people, leading to the souring of relations between Singapore and Thailand.

This reinforces the Singapore Democrats' stand that the Government has to get out of being directly involved in business as it arouses, not without reason, suspicion in the countries in which it makes deals.

In addition, with the questionable performance of the Temasek-linked companies and some high profile debacles, including

- The sinking of Micropolis which cost Singaporeans $630 million

- The ill-advised acquisition of Optus by SingTel which stands to face a write-down of between $5 billion to $8 billion,

- And the present eruption of the Shin Corp deal in which due diligence was not exercised which may yet incur a loss of up to $3 billion

it is clear that Madam Ho Ching, wife of PM Lee Hsien Loong, has failed as head of Temasek. Her decision to buy into Shin Corp has even provoked a criminal investigation into the deal in Thailand.

And while Mr Thaksin Shinawatra and his family are laughing all the way to the bank, Temasek has lost the hard-earned money of Singaporeans which now looks unrecoverable.

While all these developments have taken place, the Government and the company continue to remain tight-lipped apart from the few platitudes offered by the Prime Minister that serve no purpose or have any meaning.

In light of all this the SDP calls on Madam Ho Ching to resign as chief executive of Temasek Holdings.

In addition, in the interest of transparency and accountability Singapore should hold its own public inquiry into the affair and have Temasek come clean about all the related matters. There are reports that the non-transparent deal was influenced by members of the Lee family.

If Temasek is indeed a commercial entity that adheres to the corporate code of conduct, then it will make itself transparent to its shareholders, that is, Singaporeans.

Singaporeans must be given all the information to determine for themselves if there were any wrong-doings by all the players involved.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party