Friday, May 2, 2008

Amnesty International Report on Singapore

by Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia


The March election in Malaysia raised questions about the possibilities for political change in Singapore. The Star wrote "For younger Singaporeans who want political change the defining March 8 general election in Malaysia has come as an encouragement and morale booster....In fact, there has already been a psychological impact on some Singaporean minds that if it can happen there [in Malaysia], it can surely happen here. Some 33% of Singaporeans voted opposition in 2006". The Star wrote that Singaporeans watched with amazement the "sweeping impact of the worldwide web in shaping public opinion in Malaysia" (19/4)

Human rights defenders -- despite persecution -- continued to take action and encouraged Singaporeans to overcome their fear and speak up. Leading opposition party members were increasingly engaged in extending their international involvement and impact. Issues of wealth and poverty became more pronounced. Singapore again opposed UN moves toward abolition of the death penalty. The Law Society of Singapore set up a committee to promote greater awareness of human rights.

Human rights concerns include:

- Four offenders face imminent execution;

- Dr Chee Soon Juan and colleagues faced further difficulties through the courts;

- Singapore's leaders were seen as taking no steps to loosen state control over the media, films and the Internet;

- Two offenders were sentenced to be caned;

- Singapore was repeatedly reported as providing financial and other support for Myanmar.


AI and other NGOs urged the ASEAN countries to take steps to implement human rights reforms via the new ASEAN Charter. Dr Munawar Anees again addressed the issue of Islam's place in the world and the need for inter-religious discussion, understanding and cooperation. Calls came worldwide for real change in Asia regarding the whole spectrum of human rights.

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