Friday, May 30, 2008

Closing statement by Chee Soon Juan in court with Lee Kuan Yew


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Your Honour,

This case has been one fraught with acrimony and controversy. Many legal points have been raised, some of which I have understood, others have completely bewildered me. But all the points raised centred around one subject: Whether there was malice when we published that NKF article.

Let me deal with this point. It is clear as daylight that the plaintiffs sued not because their reputations were tarnished but that it was a way to stop our campaigning over the issue during the elections.

Instead of letting the public decide, they have dragged the courts in and insisted that the courts adjudicate in a matter where it should not. In the process, they put the courts in an untenable and unenviable position. This is a tragedy that history will not kindly look upon.

But a court case is what we have and court cases are about seeking the truth and allowing that truth to surface.

As I pointed out, the question centres around whether there was malice on our part.

I cannot deny that I get angry and even bitter with Mr Lee Kuan Yew over the things that he has said and done to me and others. But through the years, I have seen the bigger picture and developed a sense of calm and equanimity that comes with knowing my role in society.

And because I feel at ease, I don't hate Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong. I don't wish them ill in anyway despite all that they have done and continue to do to me and my family.

I harbour no hatred towards Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong, much less any malice.

To hate my opponents would drag me down to their level of rancour and deceit which has no place in what we're trying to achieve for Singapore. I find it too draining and distracting to harbour those emotions.

My Christian faith guides me and it is a faith that compels me to fght for justice and to treat my fellow men and women with compassion.

Mr Lee tempts and taunts me to get out of bankruptcy and get back into the stream of political life that he sits as lord and master. Believe me, in such an environment it is a temptation that can be overpowering.

What I said to Mr Lee Kuan Yew during the cross-examination is exactly where I stand. I feel sorry for him but I don't hate him.

But I also told him that ultimately it isn't about him. Neither is it about his son, and it most certainly is not about me. It is about this country and the people who live in it.

It is about what is just. It is about compassion and how we treat our fellow men. It is about freedom and human dignity.

A society stripped bare of these virtues is a society unable to embrace humanity. A society without humanity is a thought too frightening to entertain.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew kept on repeating how he built up this country and how much he has stored in the reserves. That is the tragedy of the man. For all his intelligence, he does not possess the wisdom of life.

Because unlike reputation, character cannot be bought. A true statesmen will not need to fight for his reputation, for that will shine through even after he takes his final bow and leaves the stage of life. His name will linger on and be writ large fondly in the hearts of many for generations to come.

Many lies have been spread about truly great leaders. And yet these lies have never been able to snuff out the greatness in these individuals. On the contrary, their legacy grows in size and intensity.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew fights all his demons within himself to try to shore up his reputation. In the process, however, he destroys the very legacy that he so desperately desires to establish.

When he pulled out the citation from Transparency International Malaysia and tried to use it as an endorsement of his integrity it, frankly, surprised me because it showed me how empty Mr Lee's life has become.

Such an intelligent man and yet so utterly devoid of wisdom. Can he not understand that no paper, no award, no citation can ever hope to still the voices of those who see the truth behind the propaganda?

I take no joy in pointing out to him how TIM is not an established, well-grounded institution on which one can take pride in being awarded a citation especially on the subject on integrity. In fact, I felt bad to point that out because it seemed that it was all the MM was clinging to.

Mr Lee must understand that integrity cannot, and does not, come from the grandiloquence of one's speech, it must shine forth from the righteousness of one's heart. If that light of righteousness is dim, no amount of persuasion will brighten it.

Can he not grasp the fact that no amount of wealth and power can hold back the silent voices forever? When he is no longer with us in this world, no amount of suppression can hold back the vehemence of his critics.

I hope he takes the little time that he has left to ponder what I have said and to turn from his ways. It is not too late.

Over the last couple of days in court I have observed, as have many here, how those around him treat him with such servitude that made my hair stand on end. For whatever reason, they go out of their way to show him their subservience.

They are doing him a disservice by not telling him that he needs to amend his ways if he so desires to uphold his integrity. Maybe he has chosen to surround himself with these yes-people. Either way Mr Lee is moving in life's wrong direction.

Which brings me to the damages. I stand by everything I have written in the article in The New Democrat about the NKF as it relates to the running of this country because it is the truth and Mr Lee and the rulers of this country must always hear the truth no matter how inconvenient that truth may be.

I know what I say now will not make a difference in terms of damages.

I willingly assume the position in this life because if this is the path that God has chosen for me then I cannot run away.

I can leave this country or I can capitulate and join what others have done in politics under the PAP. I will do neither. For to me my own integrity is at stake and that cannot be paid for in dollars.

Mr Lee may try to tempt me out of bankruptcy but it will not work. I may remain a bankrupt for the rest of my life as a result of my obstinacy. It is not a position one aspires to but it is a cause I find worthy of battle and a call, though sometimes I may resist, I will ultimately trust and obey.

So, Your Honour, we have come to the stage where all of us will be held to account for what we do today. It is said that as we make our bed, so shall we lie in it.

What we do today will live on in history forever. I do not envy your position. I ask that you forgive me if I have offended you in a personal way. I had no intention of doing that. In another place and time, we would be perhaps be good friends.

But I have to take issue with your position as a Judge and what you have done as well as the decisions you have made in this courtroom. To that extent I will fight you with every fibre of my being for the sake of justice.

We all have decisions to make in life. I have made mine and I am at ease with it. You have yours to make. I wish you wisdom and honesty.

Thank you.

CHEE SOON JUAN

Source: yoursdp.org

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Opposition leader calls hearing on premier's lawsuit 'pathetic'

"I do not hate you," said Chee. "You are not worth the time and the effort."*

The Earth Times

Singapore's most vocal opposition leader accused the High Court on Tuesday of making his cross-examination of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong "meaningless" by upholding objections to almost every question asked.

Lee and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew pressed for a second day for aggravated damages against Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, his sister and executive member Chee Siok Chin, and the party itself.

Justice Belinda Ang granted the request of Lee's lawyer Davider Singh to limit the time for cross-examination of the prime minister, which started on Monday. She also agreed to set two hours for the cross-examination of independence leader and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, wrapping up the proceedings on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

Lee took the witness stand for more than an hour. Singh objected to one question after another from Chee, who was representing himself, continually on the grounds of irrelevance. The objections were upheld.

"You have chopped off our legs and lopped off our arms," Chee Siok Chin said to Ang. "Do you want our heads next?"

The Lees won the defamation suit against the SDP and the Chees in 2006 stemming from the SDP newsletter, The New Democrat, published before the general election that year. It contained articles on a scandal at the National Kidney Foundation and drew parallels between how the charity and government were run.

The father and son sued over remarks which alleged they were corrupt and covered up wrongdoings at the foundation.

Not only were questions touching on the scandal ruled irrelevent, but others on Government Investment Corporation funds, Lee's salary and his awareness of the plights of the elderly poor and other conditions in the affluent city-state.

"Lee has said he takes great pride in his integrity," Chee told Ang in explaining a question. "It must be relevant."

"Move on," she responded.

Lee did acknowledge that he had said that Chee harbored hatred toward him. When Chee asked how Lee knew him, the prime minister said "not as a personal friend" but from his record as a public figure.

"I do not hate you," said Chee. "You are not worth the time and the effort."*

The case marks the first time any leader of the ruling People's Action Party has been cross-examined by a political opponent in open court. The party holds all but two seats in the 84-member parliament and has dominated the political scene since independence from Malaysia in 1965.

If the SDP is unable to pay up, the 28-year-old party faces the prospect of dissolution.

Chee Soon Juan was declared bankrupt following a defamation award of 500,000 Singapore dollars (373,000 US dollars) in February 2006 to Lee Kuan Yew and another former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong.

He is barred from running for parliament until 2011. His sister was declared bankrupt for failing to pay costs related to a protest last year. Activists and critics including Amnesty International say Singapore's leaders use defamation lawsuits to cripple opposition politicians. The government maintains such legal action is necessary to safeguard the leaders' reputations.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/208124,opposition-leader-calls-hearing-on-premiers-lawsuit-pathetic.html

* Dr Chee's full quote to Mr Lee Hsien Loong was: "I don't hate you. To hate someone, that someone must do something big and controversial. Your only claim to legitimacy is that you are Lee Kuan Yew's son. So don't flatter yourself." You not worth the time and the effort."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Singapore PM faces opposition in court showdown


Reuters, SINGAPORE, May 26 - Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took the stand in court on Monday to be cross-examined by opposition leaders, in a case to determine defamation damages against an opposition party.

Lee and his father, former premier Lee Kuan Yew, are expected to ask for aggravated damages against the Singapore Democratic Party , its leader Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin, for articles in the party's newspaper in 2006 that were found to be defamatory.

The SDP's lawyer M. Ravi said this would be the first time the Lees will be cross-examined by political opponents in court.

"The lawsuit was brought to clear my name and establish the facts," Lee Hsien Loong told Ravi in court. "This case is not about money, this case is about establishing the facts and putting a stop to poisonous lies," Lee said, when asked why he was sueing two bankrupt people.

Chee Siok Chin was declared bankrupt last year for failing to pay legal costs in a lawsuit involving a protest. Chee Soon Juan was also declared bankrupt last February after failing to make libel payments of S$500,000 to Lee Kuan Yew and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong.

Lee Kuan Yew, 84, is credited with policies that have been critical to making Singapore one of the region's most prosperous countries, but has been criticised by human rights groups for his use of lawsuits against political opponents and the media.

"Would you agree that your family controls Singapore?" Ravi asked Lee Hsien Loong, to gasps from a packed audience in Singapore's Supreme Court. Lee's lawyer objected to the question and the objection was upheld.

Singapore's political landscape has been dominated by one party -- the People's Action Party -- since its independence in 1965. Its past two prime ministers still retain loosely defined cabinet posts, namely "minister mentor" and "senior minister".

The lawsuit could see the winding up of the 28-year-old opposition SDP party if the defendants are not able to pay the damages, said Gandhi Ambalam, a senior SDP member.

The hearing is expected to last three days.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Singapore probes political film on Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's media regulator is investigating the screening of a political film that an opposition party said critically examines the city-state's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

The film, "One Nation Under Lee", was made by a group of political activists and looks at the rise of Lee and his relationship with the media, Chee Siok Chin, a senior member of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), told Reuters.

It was screened to an audience of about 70 at an opposition party fundraising event last week, before Singapore's media regulator interrupted the showing and took the film, said Chee, the event organiser.

"After investigation, the Board of Film Censors (BFC) proceeded to serve a notice to the appropriate person that it would be an offence to screen a film that has not been submitted to the BFC for classification and that is not approved for exhibition," Tan Chiu Kee of the BFC said in a statement late on Tuesday, adding that a copy had been handed to officials.

Singapore, which has been ruled by the People's Action Party (PAP) for over 40 years, bans the production and screening of all political films, imposing a maximum fine of S$100,000 ($73,260) or a jail term of two years on those caught.

Lee Kuan Yew, 84, is credited with policies that have been critical to making Singapore one of the region's most prosperous countries, but has been criticised by human rights groups for his use of lawsuits against political opponents and the media.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Online politicization: Singapore’s source of new activists


by James Gomez

The post 2006 GE participation and exposure to online political expression and real world political activities has given birth to a new pool of civil-political activists in Singapore.

This new pool of activists who are made of mostly younger Singapore are likely to play the role of supporters, reinforcements, activists and online alternative news providers in the run up to the next general elections.


Real-time interactive environment
Singapore’s internet political landscape after GE 2006 has evolved in keeping with developments and advancements in WEB 2.0 technology. As a result almost real-time interactive capability and capacity has now become a prominent online feature of Singapore’s internet landscape.

This means that event coverage, reporting and commentary in prose and video of alternative political activities in Singapore are now almost instantaneously.

In particular, popular alternative online platforms in Singapore now consistently feature pictures and video. Political video content, especially, is getting popular because, for many, this form of content (if it is just shoot and upload) is easier to compile than writing time consuming well thought out prose.

With cheaper and dual functioned (picture and video capture features) digital cameras and the advent of distribution platforms such as YouTube, the whole process of picture taking, filming and uploading visual-audio content has become easier.

Unlike, prose, videos in particular provide real world content that viewers can now “see” for themselves thereby increasing their level of “experience” with alternative political issues and events. More elaborate production of “films” take up more resources and time to produce but they deepen the political experience further.


From online to real world interactivity
This online real-time interactivity is now leading into real-world interactivity. Unlike a few years ago when political expression was limited to online platforms, increasingly online political expression is increasingly linked to real world politics

The post GE 2006 sees those who start online initially, moving on to carry through what they say and propose on the internet in the real world. They do this by organizing and participating in real world activities of political action and protest thus completing the full circle of online-real-world interactivity.

Online political expression is thus increasingly leading to opportunities for staging pro-opposition or anti-PAP policy real world actions in Singapore.

Since GE 2006, a variety of real world campaigns organized and publicized online has taken place in the real world and more is to be expected in the run up to the next general elections.


More migration of alternative views to the Net
Given the culture of opposition party and anti-PAP policy reportage in the local media, this new online real-time real-world interactive environment is seeing an increasing migration of alternative views to the internet.

Literally anyone who does not get a letter published in the local media can now publish online on their blog or on any other site that will carry it. They can additionally air their grievance against certain PAP policy and share their personal stories and clashes with the PAP administration and institutions

Political active and aware people in Singapore also no longer need the “approval” of the organizations that they might choose to belong in the traditional sense to do the things they want to do. Individual member of NGOs or opposition parties are very much emancipated in taking their view online and then participating in direct action.

Collectively, the accumulation of alternative political expression online eventually spills over into the real world as political action and protests.


Re-defining Singapore’s online activists
The net outcome of this internet political socialization is the presence of new activists across Singapore’s civil-political landscape.

In the real world, opposition parties’ youth wings have benefited, human rights and political issue groups has seen more youth interest at their activities. In the online world others have joined the legions of bloggers contributing to the myriad of political opinion on the Net.

Using the internet to publicize what they want and attending as observers or taking part in activities where they want in the real world of politics make Singapore’s internet using political activists a new emerging force.

Limiting oneself strictly to an online presence does not complete the full circle of interactivity as Web 2.0 technology and society integrates further. Neither does claiming to be an online activist simply by limiting ones action to online platforms singularly.

This means widening the definition of an online activist to necessarily also mean someone who will also be a real world activist


A disparate group
Post GE 2006 shows there is a shift from whence young people and others who limited their political expression and activity to only online platforms to more moving to use the interactive features of the present web technology to be in evolved in real life actions.

But this new group of activists are not united in their push against the republic’s anti-democratic target - the People’s Action Party, instead have become aligned to the present divisions within the larger civil-political landscape in the city-state.

Unlike in other Asian countries where the young or a newly internet politicized can be a force of their own, in Singapore these politicized internet savvy youths remain a disparate group.

They do not work as a broad coalition among themselves for democratic change in Singapore. However, the various groups know they exist and know of each others alignment, however there is little cross communication between the different forces.


Conclusion: Reinforcements for GE 2010b
Not withstanding the above, the maintenance of individual blogs and the contribution of content and opinions to online forums, websites and blog aggregators have become key mechanisms of political socialization in Singapore since 2006 GE.

This explains why there has been a visible increase in the number of people being involved in online staged real world actions.

As the level of interactively and real time speed increases this will have a direct bearing on political expression and action in Singapore.

The real world platform where all these new activists will converge would be at Singapore’s next major political event – GE 2010.

http://www.jamesgomeznews.com/

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Film on Lee Kuan Yew seized by MDA

"It was a private screening but that didn't stop officers from the Media Development Authority (MDA) from seizing a copy of the film, "One Nation Under Lee", at the Tulip Room in the Peninsular Excelsior Hotel.

The film, produced by activist and artist Seelan Palay, was a narrative of how Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew subjugated various institutions in Singapore, such as the press, under the government's control during his time as Prime Minister. It also depicted how the social divide in Singapore is a result of the People's Action Party's policies. The film included interviews with former Solicitor General Francis Seow, political detainee Said Zahari, opposition politician JB Jeyaretnam and scenes of various public protests which had taken place in Singapore."

Read full reports at -
TOC
Singapore Rebel
SDP

Watch the film here - http://sheepcitytv.com/

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Malaysian Government Revokes Passport of Human Rights Lawyer P Waytha Moorthy


PRESS STATEMENT

RE : MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT REVOKES MY PASSPORT & THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

I was travelling back to London from Geneva after the HINDRAF briefing with the United Nations High Commissioner’s office on Human Rights on April 21, 2008 and was totally shocked to be informed by the UK immigration officer at Gatwick Airport that the Malaysian government had revoked my passport thus making me de facto stateless.

I see only one purpose. The Malaysian Government had intended that I be deported back to Malaysia by the British authorities so that I too could be arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act and be detained for unspecified period of time without trial and be subject to torture and inhumane treatment for my political beliefs. I have not committed any offence or crime other than to champion the cause of the systematically marginalized, discriminated and alienated ethic Indian community in Malaysia who remained a permanently colonized community despite achieving independence 51 years ago.

It is most distressing to learn that, the land that my forefathers toiled as indentured labourers and one that I had been made citizen by the will of the unavoidable circumstances has decided to banish and exile me for speaking and advocating the truth that was never spoken off before.

The government has once again acted according to its whims and fancy without a second thought of the public or for the good of the public.

The Malaysian government repetitively had oppressed , suppressed and persecuted all causes of HINDRAF by their act of totalitarianism from the very beginning but nevertheless the will and spirit of the HINDRAF supporters have been the beacon of hope for the new strength founded upon our new found MAKKAL SAKTHI (people power).

The callous and cowardly acts of the government against me not only undermine their credibility domestically but also internationally. The government needs to realize that the Malaysian public can no longer be cowed as the public are no longer the sheeps that begets the government wolves.

The government may use its best weapon in attempting to stall and break me but they fail to realize that I derive my strength from my MAKKAL SAKTHI and that is all that I need to carry on the torch and fight for the unjust cause of the ethnic Indians in Malaysia even if it means championing my cause from exile.

As much as I have been coerced, castigated by the Malaysian government, so have the HINDRAF supporters. HINDRAF supporters have shown unprecedented courage and character for the truth. It only motivates me further to pursue our goals.

The revocation of my passport is probably the last ditch desperate effort by the Malaysian government in crippling my international lobby for the cause of the Malaysian Indians. This unwarranted act has given me a greater “inner” strength to continue to fight for the struggle of the Malaysian Indians and for the unconditional release of my fellow brothers held unjustly in Kamunting. The government can unleash all the man made mechanism to stifle and silence me, but I have the backing of MAKKAL SAKTHI and that alone is sufficient for me to continue my fight for the people.

In MAKKAL SAKTHI, I have found the truthness of my cause for the people. In today's world, utterance of truth is seen as a revolutionary action, and my quest for the truthness has resulted as a hindrance for the government. My judge is the people not the government.

I will continue this struggle until my last breath. They may break me but they will never be able to break my will and spirit that is derived from the people for the truthness is in it.

I shall continue the struggle for the “freedom” of the ethnic Malaysian Indians from London and urge all HINDRAF supporters to remain calm as they have always been. I shall forever remain a loyal Malaysian and will return to Malaysia soon to continue and accomplish what I had started.

P.Waytha Moorthy
Chairman
HINDRAF

www.hindraf.org and www.hindraf.co.uk


Saturday, May 10, 2008

SDP may be made to shut down

The party of some of my friends, the Singapore Democratic Party may be shut down by Lee Kuan Yew through a lawsuit. Visit yoursdp.org for details.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Traditional Ritual to Bless & Empower M Ravi to represent Temple's legal rights


Video and full article at Uncle Yap's blog

Today 3.Mar.2008 is accordingly the divine birthday celebrated by Taoists for Tua Pek Kong 大伯公. I was invited at night to Woodlands GuangXiaoShan 广孝山 Chinese Temple to witness and film a traditional Taoist ritual, by which lawyer Mr. M. Ravi was blessed and empowered spiritually to represent the legal rights of Woodlands GuangXiaoShan 广孝山 Chinese Temple @ 506C Woodlands Road.

Followers & religious leaders are unwilling to move from their location where the Chinese Temple and sacred burial grounds of OVER 100 years, past down by ancestors of the Teochew Ngee Ann Kong Si. The famiLEE LEEgime is evicting this temple and to exhume all the graves around for their project to build new MRT line linking to Johore Bahru.

Mr. M. Ravi is now representing the legal rights of Woodlands GuangXiaoShan 广孝山 Chinese Temple @ 506C Woodlands Road.

Video showed divine black military flag was used to perform empowering ritual on Mr. M. Ravi to represent legal rights of temple.

During a session conferring with spiritual medium of Tua Pek Kong 大伯公, traditional divine seal was impressed upon joss papers, handed over to Mr. M. Ravi.

Sammyboymod thread

Sunday, May 4, 2008

James Gomez @ Tak Boleh Tahan

James Gomez's Labour Day message at the Tak Boleh Tahan campaign event.

Marking World Press Freedom Day 2008 in Singapore


Click here for photo gallery of all our messages marking World Press Freedom Day 2008 in Singapore.

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY 2008

Today is World Press Freedom Day: an opportunity to reflect upon the principles of press freedom. Press freedom must be championed and protected as it comprises the fundamental Freedom of Expression (Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights). UNESCO's 2008 themes for this day are Access to Information and Empowerment.

In resonance with this, we as independent activists marked World Press Freedom Day 2008 this morning, with a series of messages to share our thoughts on the state of press freedom in Singapore.

CENSORED NEWS IS NO NEWS
It's no big secret that Singapore, though proudly claiming to be a 'First-World' country, is ranked 141 out of 167 in 2007's World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders). 142 is Afghanistan. For the same year, Singapore is ranked 157 out of 195 countries in the Freedom of the Press World Ranking (Freedom House). 158 is Iraq.

Freedom House clearly establishes Singapore's status as "Not free". Not free. Shackled. Clipped. Censored? A common criterion to these indices is an evaluation of the level of censorship. Though news in Singapore may not be overtly censored, the problem is self-censorship.

FREE PRESS, FREE MINDS
A freer press empowers people as it gives them pluralism in sources of information as well as access to diverse points of view. All of us have the right to form and express our opinions and respect should be accorded to this right through freedom to access information.

NEWSPAPERS AND PRINTING PRESSES ACT = REPRESSION
The Newspapers and Printing Presses Act was introduced in 1975. In effect, the Act enables the State to impose such restrictions as:
• Permits (to be renewed every year) granted on a discretionary basis for locally published newspapers. In addition, these permits may be granted with conditions such as the State's specification on the language in which the newspaper may be published.
• Permits required for the sale and distribution of foreign newspapers. In addition, individuals will need to comply with this permissibility for any papers brought in which may be for personal consumption. Complementary provision for powers of examination of packages and articles is included.

Other incidents of repressive media management include lawsuits against foreign newspapers such as the Asian Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), a publication currently banned in Singapore. Yet let us not forget one of the most glaring examples: persecution of journalists. Most notable was the 17-year detention under the Internal Security Act of Said Zahari, editor of then-locally published Utusan Melayu.

NO TO MEDIA MONOPOLY
Today, the press in Singapore is monopolised by the Singapore Press Holdings. It publishes all but one of the dailies (the exception is TODAY published by Mediacorp) – a far cry from a lively press and publishing history in Singapore (pre-1975). There were several papers published in Malay, Indian and Chinese languages as compared to just these main non-English newspapers: Berita Harian, Tamil Murasu, Lianhe Zaobao (& Wanbao) and Shin Min Daily respectively.

GET ALTERNATIVES, GET ONLINE
Though press freedom in the professional arena should be safeguarded, individuals can overcome a restrictive and biased press through citizen journalism. Through the new medium of the Internet, citizen journalism, which increases participation in the exchange of news and information, is on the rise. Alternative sources are available on the internet on web portals and blogs that allow individuals to express themselves and engage with others in open discussion.

Open discussions and dialogue on all human issues are vital for us to engage with each other in an environment of respect and dignity. The role of a free and pluralistic press as such a forum enshrines the fundamental freedom of expression for everyone.

To continue this dialogue on press freedom and efforts to promote it in Singapore, email Noora at noorazul@gmail.com


An effort by Singapore activists,
Chong Kai Xiong
Ho Choon Hiong
Isrizal
Noora Zul
Seelan Palay
Shafiie

Friday, May 2, 2008

Amnesty International Report on Singapore

by Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia


Singapore:

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.


General:

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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