21 May 2007

Amnesty International - Singapore Update

Received via email from Margaret John

To: Singapore/Malaysia Network
Date: May 20, 2007

The following notes on Singapore and Malaysia are reported developments over the past few months, covering both Amnesty International (AI) concerns and the framework in which we work. The information is from normally reliable sources but has not always been validated by AI. Further information or corrections are welcome. Amnesty International's website is www.amnesty.org. The website of AI's regional office in Hong Kong is www.asiapacific.amnesty.org. AI Australia's regional death penalty information is at http://asiadeathpenalty.blogspot.com

Main points can be found in Berita, the journal of North American Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei scholars available from rprovenc@juno.com

As the longstanding opposition critic and human rights defender J B Jeyaretnam is at last freed from bankruptcy and he plans to resume full campaigning, the international spotlight is again highlighting the government's tight restrictions on freedom of expression and is raising the bar on international concern. At the same time, challenges within Singapore to the political status quo are slowly increasing not only by prominent opposition activists and human rights defenders such as Dr Chee Soon Juan but also -- unusually -- from critics of recent high salary increases for the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia

1. International spotlight:
Foreign parliamentarians gagged;
International Bar Association meeting in Singapore -- human rights focus urged;
Chee Siok Chin in Italy;
Far Eastern Economic Review faces defamation suit -- and is honoured;
Australian University strongly criticised for doctorate for Lee Kuan Yew;
US Department of State assesses Singapore's human rights record 2006.

2. Human rights campaigners/government critics:
J B Jeyaretnam freed from bankruptcy -- and not silenced;
Dr Chee Soon Juan -- more challenges and also not silenced;
Francis Seow -- Beyond Suspicion? preface available;

3. Concerns continue:
Another death sentence;
Torture/ill-treatment -- ten strokes of cane;
Suspected terrorists still held;
Falun Gong persecuted;
Freedom of expression restricted but also rights exercised --
on Cabinet salary hikes;
on Said Zahari documentary;
on media (further controls?); on gender rights.