Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tell Singapore Not to Import Live Dolphins


The Solomon Islands banned live dolphin trade in 2003 after a public outcry when dolphins were shipped to Mexico, but unfortunately the export prohibition was later lifted when a new government came to power. The Solomons permitted the transport of 28 dolphins to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in October 2007 and is now considering allowing another 18 to go to Singapore, where a theme park partly owned by Universal Studios is being built for a 2010 opening.

TAKE ACTION
Please fill out the form on this page to automatically send a message to the Prime Minister of Singapore, Minister Lee Hsien Loong, urging him to prohibit the import of live dolphins into Singapore for use as tourist attractions. Be sure to personalize the subject line and text with your own words so that your email will stand out and have a greater impact.

The dead dolphins found in a Solomon Islands garbage dump in October 2007 are a reminder of the horrible consequences of live dolphin trafficking. By giving the Solomons a market for the dolphin trade, Singapore will be contributing to the mistreatment of these animals. Don't let 18 more innocent dolphins become victims—please contact Prime Minister Lee today!

Click here to read and do your part.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The first fruits of civil disobedience

Seelan Palay: Noticed the "opening up" of Speaker's Corner to demonstrations on the front pages of papers today. Here are excerpts from what I consider to be the best response to it.

The first fruits of civil disobedience
By Alex Au, Yawning Bread

Things got a little crazy Monday afternoon. I received so many calls from reporters that my cellphone battery was completely flat by 6 pm. This had never happened before.

The reason? The Home Ministry held a press conference in the morning in which they provided details of the new regulations pertaining to demonstrations at Hong Lim Park. Reporter after reporter, from as far away as Australia, wanted a reaction from me.

There was a certain pattern in local reporters' questions, and as the day wore on, the repeated direction of the interviews began to seem too familiar.

I could see that all of them were angling the story in way flattering to the government. The changes were presented as a big step ("Don't you think this is a really significant liberalisation?") and an act of magnanimity from almost out of the blue ("Did you expect them to go this far?")

Other questions suggested it would be churlish of citizens to spurn the government's offering and not quickly plan some demonstrations, as if demonstrations can be whipped up on demand like so many trade shows, divorced from the tidal forces of social and political issues.

One reporter whom I was on the way to meet for an interview tried to be helpful, messaging me in advance so that I could formulate my answers in good time: "Please think of possible assemblies, demos, parades you can organise."

She (and perhaps other reporters too) seemed somewhat taken aback when I refused to laud the changes. They are nowhere near what I consider satisfactory, or in any substantial way respectful of our civil rights, I emphasised. They are as small as a pea. What's the point of taking a magnifying glass to marvel at the icing on a pea?

To all of them, I kept repeating that the freedom to demonstrate is meaningless unless it is applicable to all of Singapore. For more of my views, just read what I wrote in Demonstrations to be allowed in Hong Lim playpen.

The two words "civil disobedience" were nowhere to be found in any of the questions. Yet, if a journalist wants to do justice to the news, this aspect should be central to the story. The government's retreat, not only over demonstrations, but also over the question of political films, podcasting and vodcasting during elections, cannot be understood without acknowledging the recent history of civil disobedience.

The victory belongs to Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin this coming 1st September when the rules are set to change. They stood their ground for about 5 days and nights when the police tried to bundle them out of Hong Lim Park in October 2006 during the World Bank Summit, generating heaps of bad press for the Singapore government.


Reporters trying to record opposition leader Chee Soon Juan's words while he was surrounded by policemen to prevent him from continuing his march, October 2006.


More police officers ring Chee Siok Chin at Hong Lim Park, October 2006.


I am convinced that the so-called "liberalisation" was simply to give the government a bit more manoeuvering room the next time something similar happens. Why am I sure? Just consider this: Did anybody ask for the right to demonstrate at Hong Lim Park? If there was no outstanding request, then who was the government trying to please by making this move?

Read the complete article at Yawning Bread.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Burmese activists hold press conference on being denied visa renewals in Singapore


Seelan Palay: I was present at this press conference where local Burmese activists were trying to publicize the plight of 6 of their compatriots who have had the renewal applications for their PR re-entry permits, employment passes, work permits, or social visit passes turned down.

The case that disturbed me the most was that of Hlaing Moe, who was a part-time student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, studying for a Diploma in Technology (Mechanical) with exams on 14 – 24 August 2008. He appealed for an extension of his Social Visit Pass to enable him to complete his exams, but this appeal was rejected, also without any reason. If only he was allowed to stay on for 2 more weeks, he could have finished his exams.

The Burmese have already suffered so much under the Junta. Must they suffer even more under the Singaporean authorities?

I find the Overseas Burmese Patriots in Singapore a highly inspirational group of people who have defied the restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly here to show their solidarity with the righteous Burmese struggle. They set an example for all Singaporeans.

Here are links to longer, more detailed reports on the press conference by other attendees:

Singapore shows Burmese dissidents the door (Yawning Bread)

Burmese citizens hold press conference on being denied visa renewals in Singapore (SG Politics)

Buddies-in-autocracy: Singapore helps junta in victimising activists (SDP)

Burmese citizens denied renewal of visas in Singapore (The Online Citizen)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hindu Temples & Crematoriums To Be Phased Out Of Kuala Lumpur?

More than 120 temple representatives present at a meeting organized by Malaysia Hindu Sangam at the Dewan Tan Sri K R Soma, KL yesterday were shocked that their temples and 2 existing Hindu Crematoriams were not identified at the master Plan of City of Kuala Lumpur by 2020.

What is of great concern to the community leaders is whether there is a plan to erase off hundreds of Hindu Temples and 2 crematoriams at Jalan Loke Yew and Sentul by the year 2020.

There was a feeling of disappointment and disgust when they were briefed on the Master Plan. They were informed that they have to send their note of protest using the appropriate DBKL Form by 30th August 2008. About 100 forms were distributed at the meeting.

Briefings were made by MHS President Datuk A.Vaithilingam, IT Consultant Mr. Chin Meng Sun, MHS Temples Advisor Ir Ariathavaratnam, MHS Temples Affairs Committee Chairman Mr. G.gunaraj and Bukit Jalil Social worker Mr. Thiagarajan. All those who are not able to obtain the DBKL Master Plan Books are requested to go online and visit www.klcityplan2020.dbkl.gov.my and try and identify the location of their temple. It does not matter whether the temple is registered with ROS or with our MHS or is said to be illegal and of the temple is not identified in the plan please get the forms from DBKL or ring 012-392 5995 (Mr. Gunaraj), 012-328 7823 (Mr.Chin), 016-3674304 (Mr. Thiagaraj) or 016-277 1495 (Ir. Ariathavaratnam) for advice or on how to obtain the forms.

All temples are advised to immediately submit their protests to DBKL and send a copy of the protest form to Malaysian Hindu Sangam at No. 67, Jalan PJS 1/48, Taman Petaling Utama 7, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Fax 03-77847304.

All protests must reach DBKL by 30th August 2008.

Dated 20th August 2008.

Datuk A Vaithilingam
President
Malaysia Hindu Sangam

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Nation Under Lee to premiere in Malaysia


Source: singaporerebel

One Nation Under Lee, seized by Singapore censors during a private screening this year, will make its official premiere in Malaysia's Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur. Directed by local artist and activist Seelan Palay, the 45 minute documentary will then proceed to make its rounds in Johor, Sarawak and Penang. Three months after its seizure, the Board of Film Censors has yet to certify the film, which means it is effectively prohibited from public screening in Singapore.

Previous Singaporean works screened in FFF included Martyn See's Singapore Rebel, Zahari's 17 Years and Speakers Cornered, Tan Pin Pin's Singapore Gaga and Moving House, and Asia Witness Production's I Love Malaya.

Film : One Nation Under Lee
Dir : Seelan Palay
Date : Saturday 6 Sept 2008
Time : 4.30 pm
Venue : Central Market Annexe, Kuala Lumpur

Click here for the full program of Freedom Film Festival.

Read about and watch One Nation Under Lee at http://one-nation-under-lee.org/

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PM Lee’s National Day Rally: Protests ok in Speaker’s Corner


Written by Ng E-Jay
18 Aug 2008

(A more complete summary of PM Lee’s National Day Rally speech will be provided later. These short notes are my critique of various key points raised in his speech.)

PM Lee said in his National Day Rally speech that those who want to hold outdoor demonstrations will soon be allowed to do so, but only at Speakers’ Corner. Currently, Hong Lim Park is only designated as a place for people to make public speeches.

In announcing the move, he joked, “I think we’ll still call it Speakers’ Corner. No need to call it Demonstrators’ Corner.” He added, “Our concern is law and order, and security. It comes back to race and religion, because one incident could undermine our racial harmony, and confidence in Singapore.”

Also, the management of Speaker’s Corner will be taken off the police and handed over to the National Parks Board.

My view is that the “concession” for protests at Hong Lim Park is pathetic.

The government should realize that Singaporeans are granted freedom of assembly and expression under Article 14 of Part 4 of the constitution.

The government shows disrespect for our constitution by willfully enacting subsidiary legislation that takes away our constitutional rights, and by using the state machinery of the police and judiciary to punish peaceful protesters.

The “concession” for Speakers’ Corner protests are no concession at all if you realize that our fundamental freedoms are still being taken away.

It is not the job of the government to decide where and when Singaporeans should be granted civil liberties and fundamental freedoms. Those are enshrined in our constitution, applying to all citizens at all times and at all places.

It is the job of government to promote lawfulness by active cooperation with peaceful protesters, not to use the machinery of the state to silence dissent under the guise of promoting lawfulness.

Visit sgpolitics.net to read E-Jay's other responses to the PM's speech.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lawyer M Ravi sent to IMH for assessment

Seelan Palay: I can't believe this is happening, but it is. Below is an excerpt from a news article on the issue, followed by an excerpt from Uncle Yap's personalized account on Ravi's mistrial.

Lawyer M Ravi, who's alleged to have disturbed a group of worshippers praying in a mosque earlier this month, has been taken into remand.

He'll be sent to the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric assessment after District Judge Carol Ling granted the prosecution's request the second time around.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Toh Shin Hao's first request was dismissed by the judge.

Explaining her decision to grant the request this morning, the Judge said she found few instances where Mr Ravi was unsound.

She also said that Mr Ravi seemed lucid in court.

Full article at 93.8 Live

From Uncle Yap's blog:

As simple as any layman will understand, it is a mistrial today at court for M Ravi's hearing regarding AGC's re-application to commit him to remand in Institute of Mental Health.

Mr. Ravi discharged his council Mr. Chia Ti Lik at the very beginning of the trial in open court at court 9, the trail went on for the entire morning with Mr. Ravi only representing himself without any other council. Under the law's very basic providence, any person on trial have the rights to council, however, the deputy public prosecutor went on the hearing asking the court to commit Mr. Ravi to IMH, as the accused Ravi who is supposedly of unsound-mind DID NOT HAVE ANY COUNCIL. And the presiding judge still let this application and argument went on for entire morning session.

Any layman of law will be able to simply understand that an accused person should not be defending in person without any council, against an application to commit himself to remand in mental hospital for having UNSOUND MIND. How can a person of UNSOUND MIND be able to represent himself? How can a court accept to hear an application in such a seriously unfair and prejudiced condition? How can this be right under any kind of law or legal system?

Click here and read his full account, including news on Gopalan Nair.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Activists go back to court to continue fight for change

Sunday, 17 August 2008
Singapore Democrats

The activists who have been charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly and procession on 15 Mar this year are due back in court tomorrow for another pre-trial conference (PTC). The group of 18 were given till 18 Aug 08 to look for lawyers.

All have pleaded not guilty to the charges. This is because the PAP Government has no right to deny citizens their Constitutional rights to freedom of assembly laid out in Article 14 which states that "every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression" and "all citizens of Singapore have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms."

It is obvious that the Government is worried about the growing interest in the TBT campaign which takes aim at the greed of the ministers and escalating cost of living in Singapore. This message will resonate even more as the economy slows down, retrenchments pile up and prices remain high.

Singaporeans resent the high pay of the ministers even as the number of hungry and homeless increase. On 15 Mar, the TBT activists decided to act on this.

Click here and read the full article.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saakadai & Sathai - Two edgy local Tamil plays

I attended this great double bill of plays by Ravindran Drama Group on Saturday night. Very edgy, raw and confrontational works which I highly recommend, 17 Aug is the last day so catch it if you can.



Performance Date : 15 (8pm) & 16 August 2008 (3pm & 8 pm)

Tickets $19 Call RDG Hotline 91940941 or 6100-2005

This production is rated RA (18 ) for Course Language and presented in Tamil.

Synopsis of Saakadai (Filth)
The play explores the disgusting nature of people where the words they speak, emit the stench of feces; the sights they see, direct to the residence of vulgar; the things they do, shock and cripple one’s comprehension on the way some people can live their lives... lives of sewer. Rather than inching and kissing on the subject matter, Saakadai devours on the stinking societal issues that are happening right before our very own eyes yet regarded transparent as if it never existed. Was that the intention? Or has it become a norm one has become comfortable with? If that’s the case, come! Let’s get comfortable in filth.

Synopsis of Sathai (Flesh)
Flesh attempts to break social boundaries set within the community for personal gain. The play is positioned within a complex barter trade practiced in society where sex is the commodity. Are women victims of lust, objects of desire, heartbreakers, emotionalists, feminists and manipulative? On the other hand, are men impulsive, horny, reckless, and chauvinistic? These questions tread further in the play to unfold a story that takes you to the darker realms of the human mind. Flesh explores the reality of human behavior being taken as a product of interest. Sexual satisfaction is juxtaposed as flesh trade. This concept is triggered from the recent influx of media programmes, where sexuality was used as a commodity to satisfy a global demand.

Trailer


Ravindran Drama Group

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Time to tolerate political diversity


By Cherian George

S'pore has handled diversity well in realms like race and religion, so why not politics?

A running theme in the story of Singapore has been the progressive embrace of diversity. Singapore in the 19th century was a city of tribes. Today, multiracialism is treated as a national value. Even if racial prejudices linger, we know where our society should be heading: towards greater tolerance and understanding.

Attitudes towards different political beliefs and practices remain immature and intolerant. Singaporeans seem not to have learnt from the way our society has handled diversity in other realms and become richer for it.

Similarly, Singapore's religious diversity is increasingly celebrated at major national events. Singaporean secularism is not about banishing various religions from public view to preserve a myth of homogeneity, but about keeping the state insulated and equidistant from each faith.

Attitudes towards differences in individual ability have also shifted. The polarising obsession with exam-defined success is giving way gradually to a more rounded understanding of talent, recognising that a meritocratic society should appreciate different kinds of merit.

One welcome result of this shift is that people with disabilities are today held up as part of the Singapore family, in a way that you would not have witnessed 10 years ago.

Differences in wealth have become more pronounced. But our society is resisting the feudal mindset that is all too prevalent through much of Asia.

In Singapore, being rich does not confer a licence to abuse the poor. And being poor does not mean limitless indignity: Our social norms dictate that nobody here should be homeless or have to beg.

Behind these various social attitudes towards people who are different, there appears to be a widely shared belief in the principle of fairness, as well as the pragmatic attitude that every citizen ought to matter - if for no other reason than that there are so few of us.

There is one area of life, however, that has yet to follow this national narrative. Politics. Attitudes towards different political beliefs and practices remain immature and intolerant. Singaporeans seem not to have learnt from the way our society has handled diversity in other realms and become richer for it.

No group is spared this culture of intolerance. In some circles, joining an opposition party brands you as a dangerous element, and about as welcome in Singapore as dengue-bearing mosquitoes and H5N1-infected chickens. But, in other Singaporeans' eyes, if you enter the ruling party's ranks you must be a self-serving sell-out, consumed by ambition and craving patronage.

Work as a civil servant, and some will assume you must be rigid and reactionary, resistant to changing anything in Singapore. On the other hand, if you get involved with a civil society group, some will conclude that you must be mindlessly apeing the West and pushing agendas that are, at best, irrelevant and, at worst, destabilising.

It seems that the only escape from this careless stereotyping is to retreat entirely from public affairs. Abject apathy is the only ideological stand that is immune to Singaporeans' political bigotry - even though it is the most anti-social and the most deserving of criticism.

Of course, the thing about stereotypes is that they are always grown from a grain of truth. It would not be hard to find an example or two who fit the mould of the opposition wild-man or the cravenly careerist People's Action Party (PAP) member. However, in dealing with ethnic diversity, Singaporeans are learning that it is wrong to apply racial stereotypes to entire communities. Perhaps, then, it is not too much to ask that we should stop imprisoning individuals of whatever political persuasion inside the cages in our mind.

Sometimes, these cages are recreated outside of our heads and built into the frameworks of actual politics: The PAP has fashioned rules of engagement that are premised on the assumption that dissenters are dangerous.

But it does not stop there, because intolerance tends to be reciprocated.

The resulting political culture may have hurt the PAP itself. There are many reasons for the chronic difficulty it faces in getting the ablest Singaporeans to serve in politics, but surely one of them is their reluctance to enter an arena that they perceive as lacking in civility.

In this regard, politicians could learn from religious leaders. Respectful inter-faith dialogue among leaders of the world's major religions is not aimed at erasing doctrinal differences, but is instead largely motivated by self-preservation. Surrounded by secularism, astute religious leaders know that they cannot protect the communal interests of their respective faiths unless they protect the status of Religion as such.

If they do not build a culture of tolerance towards people of other faiths and collectively highlight the good that religion can do for society, the ground will slip away beneath them. Similarly, partisanship in politics needs to be tempered by a collective investment in shared civic values.

If people who are engaged in public affairs from whatever angle sow intolerance instead, they will reap cynicism and apathy from the wider public. Nobody should be surprised when either bully talk by those with power or histrionics by those without leave the broad middle ground turned off.

In Singapore, the culture of political intolerance does not encourage youth engagement with public affairs. There is that well-known fear of taking positions that can be construed as anti-government. But there are also talented young people who feel embarrassed about joining the Government because their peers scorn such a path as lacking in idealism.

There is a practical reason it is worth working for a culture of mutual respect between political outsiders and insiders. Chances are that both will prove equally vital to any major national enterprise. History shows us that societies do not make great strides by everyone marching along a single, predictable path, to the beat of a single drum. National independence movements, environmental successes or equal rights for women, for example, all depended on a mix of people working for change within the system, and others pressing from the outside. Only in hindsight is it ever apparent which routes and methods are most productive, but invariably all have a part to play.

Singapore, facing its own challenges, would be foolish to put all its eggs in one basket. We need to judge people by their ability, passion and sincerity, not by the different paths they take.

The country needs many able men and women of conviction and conscience to continue joining the Government because there is simply no better avenue to achieving large changes quickly. Partly as a result of the late 20th century turn away from big government, the public sector is not seen as an avenue for changing the world - despite having the greatest wherewithal to do so.

No other organisation has the resources and power of the state, and individuals who step forward to help the state use that power for society's benefit deserve our support, not our contempt.

However, Singapore also needs some good people to join the opposition, as a long-term insurance policy for the day it needs an alternative government. Theirs is a lonely enough path; they do not need stones thrown at them.

Not all worthy causes are vote-winners, though, so Singapore also needs talented civil society activists who are prepared to push on without any pretensions of winning power.

Then, there are those who prefer to pour their passion into the intangibles. Singaporeans - who are practical-minded to a fault - should be glad of this, because history again tells us not to underestimate the importance of the poets, philosophers and public intellectuals. They can do a better job than any official scenario planner or strategist in highlighting inconvenient truths essential for the future.

Singaporeans have been accustomed to asking ourselves whether we can afford to tolerate political differences. Our experience in dealing with other types of differences - ethnic and class - should give us hope that we can try. Our complex and unclear future tells us we cannot afford not to.

The writer is an assistant professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University

cherian@ntu.edu.sg

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

SDP calls on activists not to exploit Ravi's situation

Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Singapore Democrats

The Singapore Democrats are concerned about the arrest and prosecution of Mr M Ravi yesterday. There is no escaping the fact that Mr Ravi needs medical attention and rest to recuperate.

Mr Ravi is a capable lawyer with a heart of gold. He is a compassionate individual who looks out for the little guy. He campaigned rigorously against the death penalty in Singapore when it was still unfashionable to do so. He has also discharged his duties as counsel for the SDP admirably and in a manner expected of a lawyer of the highest professionalism and dedication.


Mr Ravi stepped into the breach to help the SDP defend itself against Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong in the recent hearing when few lawyers were willing to do so. He held his own against the Lees' lawyer, Mr Davinder Singh, and refused to be rail-roaded. Mr Ravi is a one-man legal firm while Mr Singh is the chief of Drew & Napier, a law firm of more than 150 lawyers. In that hearing Mr Ravi applied himself with distinction.

The Singapore Democrats wish to record our thanks to Mr Ravi.

What Mr Ravi needs presently is rest and medical care. In this light, we call on the authorities to view this matter in perspective and we hope that Mr Ravi will be treated appropriately.

We also call on activist bloggers to refrain from exploiting this matter by posting inaccurate statements about Mr Ravi's situation and stoking sentiment against the authorities, including the police.

The Singapore Democrats will not be deterred from speaking out when our law enforcement agencies detract from their rightful duty and protect the interests of the ruling party instead of the public's. But we will also not hesitate to caution against misguided actions and statements of individuals that inaccurately and unnecessarily portray the police in a negative light.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Arrested M Ravi had no food at police station and charged before investigation completed
Source: Uncle Yap

Yesterday in Court 26, after he was charged with the 2 aboves, Mr. M Ravi told the judge that he had no food since the night before, and was not given any food nor drink at Cantonment Police Complex where he was arrested and detained, he had been hungry all the way until he was in court. The lock-up's mata gave him a tea after that.

Mr. Ravi told the judge that the famiLEE LEEgime mata first took only a short statement (which have a special police formal document type number) and then soon he was charged and made to sign the charge sheet already, before the long statement (which have a very different police formal document type number) was taken. That is to say that he was charged so quickly before any formal investigation process was completed. That is a wrong matter in law.

It thus very obvious that the charges are being INSTRUCTED UPON the Investigation Officers, who were just rushing to complete their task to bring Mr. Ravi to court before the court's day's end. Court 26 was already in the night court mode when I left. This is the sign that the charges are not the result of a normal police investigation process, and the result had been determined before the very short process was rushed to meet the court's hours.

Why so? Because they wanted Mr. Ravi in IMH before dark and not want him in Cantonment Police Complex.

Mr. Ravi spoke very well in court yesterday, and rebuked the prosecutor's KIND OFFER to have him checked and examined in Institute of Mental Health which prosecutor said was MEANT FOR HIS (Ravi's) OWN GOOD. Mr Ravi said he has his own doctor who is very professionally qualified who treated him in 2006 at Adams Road Hospital, and he does not need the KIND OFFER of prosecutor.

Mr. Ravi spoke very clearly as he personally addressed the court for about 20 minutes, with profound knowledge of law & police procedures. The judge was convinced that it is not necessary to commit M Ravi to any mental remand.

Updated: Lawyer M Ravi arrested and charged with disturbing mosque prayers

Channel NewsAsia - Tuesday, August 12

SINGAPORE : Singapore lawyer M Ravi was charged in court on Monday for disturbing a religious assembly.

The lawyer, who has represented the Singapore Democratic Party in previous civil cases, was allegedly disrupting evening prayers at the Jamae Chulia mosque on August 3 at about 7.30pm.

He is said to have been shouting and interrupting the religious proceeding and when approached by devotees, is alleged to have verbally abused them.

According to the police, this is not the first time the lawyer has behaved this way.

They said he is known to have behaved violently and abusively at places of worship, shops, the Subordinate Courts, and other public areas.

Bail has been set at S$8,000.

Police say behaviour that undermines racial and religious harmony will not be tolerated, especially when the provocative act takes place in a place of worship while prayers are being conducted. — CNA/ms

He is now out on bail.

Arrested M Ravi had no food at police station and charged before investigation completed
Source: Uncle Yap

Yesterday in Court 26, after he was charged with the 2 aboves, Mr. M Ravi told the judge that he had no food since the night before, and was not given any food nor drink at Cantonment Police Complex where he was arrested and detained, he had been hungry all the way until he was in court. The lock-up's mata gave him a tea after that.

Mr. Ravi told the judge that the famiLEE LEEgime mata first took only a short statement (which have a special police formal document type number) and then soon he was charged and made to sign the charge sheet already, before the long statement (which have a very different police formal document type number) was taken. That is to say that he was charged so quickly before any formal investigation process was completed. That is a wrong matter in law.

It thus very obvious that the charges are being INSTRUCTED UPON the Investigation Officers, who were just rushing to complete their task to bring Mr. Ravi to court before the court's day's end. Court 26 was already in the night court mode when I left. This is the sign that the charges are not the result of a normal police investigation process, and the result had been determined before the very short process was rushed to meet the court's hours.

Why so? Because they wanted Mr. Ravi in IMH before dark and not want him in Cantonment Police Complex.

Mr. Ravi spoke very well in court yesterday, and rebuked the prosecutor's KIND OFFER to have him checked and examined in Institute of Mental Health which prosecutor said was MEANT FOR HIS (Ravi's) OWN GOOD. Mr Ravi said he has his own doctor who is very professionally qualified who treated him in 2006 at Adams Road Hospital, and he does not need the KIND OFFER of prosecutor.

Mr. Ravi spoke very clearly as he personally addressed the court for about 20 minutes, with profound knowledge of law & police procedures. The judge was convinced that it is not necessary to commit M Ravi to any mental remand.

Monday, August 11, 2008

MHA statement on eight facing immigration issues

Ansley Ng

ansley@mediacorp.com.sg

HIS TUITION fees at the National University of Singapore were subsidised
by the Government and last month Mr Maung Soe Thiha completed his
mechancial engineering course here.

He is supposed to honour a three-year bond to work here after graduation
and is relying on a social visit pass to stay here to look for a job.

But instead of starting his career, Mr Maung is now in Cambodia because
his social visit pass was not extended.

The 23-year-old is part of a group of eight Myanmar nationals working and
living in Singapore who have to sort out unexpected immigration issues.

They claim they share one other thing in common: They were all part of a
gathering along Orchard Road last November during the Asean Summit to
protest against Myanmar's military junta.

The group comprises four Permanent Residents, two who were S-Pass holders,
one on a work permit and Mr Maung.

Three of them have left Singapore but have not returned to Myanmar,
fearing for their safety. The remaining five, among them an accountant and
two engineers, held a press conference last night in a cramped cafe at
Peninsular Plaza.

Acting as a spokesman for the group, Mr Myo Myint Maung, a business
management student at the Singapore Management University, said they had
expected the applications to be smooth, "since they all had valid reasons
to stay".

For example, engineer Wunna Saw Thein had applied for a re-entry visa on
Aug 2 so he could keep his PR status if he were to make an overseas trip.

He noted that the processing time stated on the Immigration and
Checkpoints Authority website was 30 minutes and is "puzzled" why his
application is still pending.

When contacted, the Home Affairs Ministry said: "Any foreign national who
wishes to apply for a permission to stay or work in Singapore or to appeal
for renewal of the same can do so freely to the Immigration and
Checkpoints Authority and his case will be assessed on its individual
merits.

"The right of a foreign national to work or stay in Singapore is not a
matter of entitlement by political demand.

"Foreigners who work or live here are expected to at least respect the law
and local sensitivities in Singapore, no less than Singaporeans who are
abroad, are obliged to observe the laws and respect the customs and
sensitivities of the countries they happen to be in."

According to Mr Myo, some of the eight, including Mr Maung, helped
organise the November protest as well as relief projects following Cyclone
Nargis.

About 40 people had participated in the protest and were summoned to the
police station over a few months to help with investigations.

However, they were told later that no charges would be pressed and were
let off with a warning, said Mr Myo.

Mr Maung flew to Phnom Penh when his social visit pass expired, a day
after he wasoffered a job by an engineering firm, which applied to
theManpower Ministry on the same day for an employment pass for him.

"It can be approved within a day, but now it's still pending," said Mr
Myo.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tak Boleh Tahan! on National Day

Seelan Palay: I will be there. Come down and chat if you're free.



Date: National Day (9 Aug 08), Saturday
Time: 12 noon - 3 pm
Place: Toa Payoh Central, Blk 190 (outside the KFC restaurant)
Activity: Distributing flyers, balloons and walkabout (SDP dinner tickets available)
Dress: Tak Boleh Tahan! t-shirt

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

JBJ's interview with Malaysia's Star

Armed for a fresh battle
By NELSON BENJAMIN, 27 July 08

At 82, Singapore’s veteran opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam has overcome the odds and a bankruptcy suit to continue his battle. Armed with a new party, his political convictions are as strong as ever.


VETERAN Singapore opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam created history in 1981 when he became the first opposition MP in the island republic. The former magistrate, regarded now as Singapore's old political warrior, has paid a high price for his political convictions: he has had to sell off his properties and peddle his books along five-foot ways to help raise over S$1.5mil (RM3.45mil) to pay for at least a dozen defamation law suits against him during his 30-year political career.

The 82-year-old has now formed a new party, the Reform Party, and he hopes to continue with what he is doing as long as he is strong and healthy. (Note: See here and here about the Reform Party)

You were prohibited from active politics between 2001 and last year due to a defamation suit against you. How was it for you during this period?

I was angry, I suppose. The reason was obvious, as the reason for commencing bankruptcy procedures against me was to take me out of Parliament. I tried to resist but I did not succeed. As a bankrupt I was not allowed to leave the country without getting permission from the official assignee. Even to come to Johor Baru over the weekends, I had to make an application. So there was a complete restriction on my travel. Apart from that, there were all the other little things, like you cannot have a bank account when you are a bankrupt. I was not even allowed to assist other candidates in the elections. They said I was not to go anywhere near an election rally. I was not allowed to go and speak. I was not to go and even assist any candidate because they said that was election activity and as a bankrupt I cannot do that.

How did you raise the final amount to settle your defamation suit?

In the end my two sons bailed me out. The lion's share came from them. There were some small sums from others. This is because Singaporeans, for some reason or other, are frightened to give any money. Because of the climate of fear, Singaporeans did not give me much money although many sympathised with me. Most of the sales of my two books went towards my living expenses. My first book titled Make it right for Singapore is a compilation of all my speeches in parliament. The other, The Hatchet Man of Singapore, was after the 1997 elections. These books kept my body and soul together; they gave me something to do as besides writing them, I also sold them by the five-foot way in several areas three times a week together with a friend who has been with me since my time in the Workers Party.

Many Singaporeans were hoping you would contest in the 2006 elections. How much were you short of settling your bankruptcy amount?

That was my desperate hope. If the courts had agreed to fix the amount, I could have raised it. This is why I was disappointed with the courts. If the courts had fixed the amount and I knew what I had to raise, then I might have raised it through my sons. I do not know for sure whether it was a delaying tactic.

Have you started practising since the bankruptcy order was lifted?

I am doing one or two civil cases at the moment. I am operating on my own from my office off South Bridge Road. The person who was selling books is working with me now. I am here (Singapore) during weekdays.

The first thing you did after paying up your bankruptcy amount was to register a new party, the Reform Party. What was the main aim behind the formation of the party?

The main thing is to restructure the way we are governed in Singapore. Call it a “system” if you like. At the moment, the way we are governed is we have the executive (the ruling People's Action Party) at the top. And it's a law unto itself. The executive makes decisions and policies without any consultation with the people. And what is worrying is that there's no check on the executive, partly because Parliament is in the control of the PAP.

And even now, with just two opposition members in parliament, Parliament passes laws and abrogates the powers of the court. The courts cannot enquire into the merits of anyone detained without trial. A number of decisions made by ministers are kept outside the courts' jurisdiction, especially decisions affecting peoples' lives. So the courts are not protecting the rights of the citizens.

There is this question of freedom of speech in assembly. The constitution grants it, but government says no. Elections in Singapore are not free and clear, as there is no election commission in Singapore. Parliament is no longer a body that is separate, independent and able to control the executive. This is what I think is the urgent priority for Singapore.

Many people retire by the age of 82 but you seem to be eager to get back in parliament this year. Why?

I do expect to get back in parliament. But it's not for personal power but because I genuinely feel sorry for the people in Singapore. I am talking about the dispossessed, the underprivileged people, which make up a huge number. I am not talking about our bankers and wealthy people who are perhaps not interested in human rights. There is quite a bit of poverty in Singapore, even though the world does not seem to think so because of the propaganda machinery of the Government.

So you have no plans to retire soon?

It depends on my health, but I thank God for giving me health and strength. In that sense I owe it to Him to do something.

Are you not tired of being in politics since you started in 1971 with the Workers Party (WP)?

At times I feel tired and say to myself: “Don't you think you should give up now?” But that is only momentary. It is followed by the thought that if I have started on a job and as long as I have the health and strength, I will have to go on with it. And there are people who look to you especially when you walk the streets of Singapore. It is just my conviction that when things are wrong, and if there is anything I can do to put them right, then I should do that. I think every citizen should feel like that. It is a citizen's duty.

Being in the opposition in Singapore all these years has cost you dearly and you even had to sell off your properties. Any regrets?

I did not have many properties but I had to sell a bungalow in a very fashionable area in Singapore to pay the judgement obtained by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Having sold that, three years later I bought a small apartment, and then I had to sell that too. All in, I had easily about 12 to 13 suits to pay off. Some people say I was a fool. All I can say is I do not regret it because, to me, life is not all about making money and acquiring wealth. Life is doing something for the people around you.

What do you think about the recent political tsunami in Malaysia?

It is good that there is a strong opposition in Parliament. This is what I am standing up for in Singapore. I want that for Singapore too.

Do you think such a political tsunami is possible in Singapore?

You never know, especially if Singaporeans take to heart what has happened in Malaysia. It is good to have a strong opposition.

As you can see, former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is widely regarded as the person who united the opposition. Are you planning to play the same role?

This talk about uniting the opposition parties in Singapore is not new. It has been talked about for many years. When I was in the WP, we managed to unite the Barisan Sosialis and another political party into one party. But before you can unite into a group, you must have similarities in ideals, objectives and values. And as I have said, even the WP now does not share my objective. Neither do the other opposition parties. So I do not see how we can really talk about coming together as one party.

In the Malaysian elections, blogs, SMS, and the Internet played an important role in getting the message across to the voters. What do you think?

It goes without saying. We cannot ignore the value and importance of the Internet in Singapore. If you access the blogs in Singapore, you will see the debate that is being carried out. So, of course, it will be foolish of us if we do not resort to the Internet to convey our messages to the people.

Many Singaporeans feel that the PAP has developed the country and, as such, there is no need for an opposition. What do you think about this?

Those who say this have swallowed the PAP's propaganda. No government, anywhere in the world, can be so good that there is no need for an opposition. It is only in dictatorships where one man rules the country without an opposition. And I differ (from the view) that PAP has done a lot for Singapore.

When you come to measure a country, you do not just look at the roads, the buildings, and the services provided. What you will be looking at is the quality of the peoples’ lives, whether they are allowed to live as human beings with dignity.

Singapore ranked at the bottom in a survey carried out to rank peoples’ happiness. The quality of life is poor. It is no good boasting about your efficiency, boasting about your airport, or boasting about anything else when the people are not happy.

Many say you are in constant loggerheads with the PAP and especially with the Lee family maybe because you have a personal grudge against Lee Kuan Yew.

This is a load of nonsense. I am opposed to the PAP policies not because I have something against Lee personally. But he happens to be the head of the PAP, so people try and equate my dissatisfaction with the PAP with some personal animosity against Lee Kuan Yew. I am clearly opposed to all that the PAP stands for. I am against the system, not the person.

Are your sons into politics?

No. They are not joining me and they have not joined any political party. But that does not mean they are not interested in political affairs and at the moment, I do not hope for them to succeed me.

Stampede at Hindu temple kills 145 in India

Sun. Aug. 3 2008
CTV.ca News

At least 145 people have died following a stampede of pilgrims during a religious festival at a mountaintop Hindu temple in India.

R.N. Dhoke, a senior police officer, said Sunday that authorities have taken the bodies to a hospital in the neighbouring state of Punjab. Autopsies will be performed there.

The disaster happened Sunday at the Naina Devi Temple, which is about 250 kilometres northeast of New Dehli, India's capital.

C.P. Verma, deputy police chief of the Bilaspur District in Himachal Pradesh state, said the stampede resulted from too many pilgrims trying to squeeze into a small area.

One news report said more than 3,000 worshippers had gathered at the temple to pray to a Hindu goddess as part of an annual festival.

State police Chief S.R. Mardi contradicted that view, saying the stampede occurred when a railing collapsed on the path leading up the mountain.

Rescue workers used a cable car at the temple to help remove the wounded from the mountaintop.

S. Vankat Narayan of ITN London told CTV Newsnet on Sunday from New Delhi that it's currently the rainy season in India.

The area where the disaster occurred is in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains, he said.

He suggested some people were trying to rush downhill to avoid inclement weather while others were trying to push up to the temple. All this put pressure on the railing that gave way.

Large crowds and a "certain amount of chaos" are a normal occurrence in India, which is home to more than 1.1 billion people, he said.

This becomes worse during religious festivals, Narayan added.

Monday, August 4, 2008

S'pore: Where racism is normal

By Constance Singam
Today online, 02 August 2003

ARE you a racist? We are kidding ourselves if we think we are not. Let's admit it. We are all racist. That's the first step towards change.

In Singapore, racism is institutionalised and we don't even challenge that. It is "normal".


However, racism is a learned social phenomenon. Children learn it from their families, through education, religion, the law and the media.

I recall an incident in which two children, four and six at that time, thought it was fun to mimic a language they didn't understand while watching an Indian programme.

Their father reprimanded them for being rude. "What do you think you are?" he asked them. They were surprised to discover that they were Indians.

Another little boy I know, who must have been four at the time, discovered the notion of race when he was told that he was Indian and that his friend was Chinese.

He then wanted to know what race his friend's brother was!

By the time children go to school, they would have learnt what it means to be "different". They learn it from their parents; they learn it in the playground.

A young mother related a heart-rending experience that her two year-old son faces every time he goes out to play in the playground of her HDB block.

Other mothers in the playground warn their children against playing with this little boy because of his "difference".

Once in school, they learn it in their "mother tongue" classes. They learn it from their teachers. They learn it when they fill forms.

By the time they reach Primary Six, their identity card would forever confine them to their racial group, labelling their "difference" and depending on their experiences, they would have learnt to celebrate that "difference" or be ashamed of it.

A child told her mother recently that she wanted to kill herself because of her dark complexion.

A principal of a school that a little girl I know attended is known for her racial biases. Some of the teachers, as an exercise in empowerment, taught the Indian girls an Indian dance for a school concert.

While the students proudly displayed their skill, the principal's comment was: "They can shake, shake. But they can't study."

In such an environment, they would have difficulties with their studies. Low self-esteem and internalised acceptance of the myth of racial inferiority or superiority are the consequences of racism.

So, we should not be surprised by the results of the recently-published study by the National Institute of Education which revealed that children of different races are not mixing with one another.

But it doesn't end there at the school level. A young woman, proficient in Mandarin and English, was not picked for a job because she was not Chinese.

She applied for the job at a career exhibition, the requirement of which matched the qualifications she had, including proficiency in Mandarin.

But she was told that the company was looking for a Chinese. These examples may be countered by the argument that that there is racism in every country — which is true.

But racism is racism wherever it takes place. It threatens humanistic values and undermines the moral development of the whole society.

The biggest problem we face in Singapore is that racism has been normalised. It is normal to describe people in terms of race, for instance.

It is normal for the media to identify people in terms of race; it is normal to compare the achievement of various groups (for instance, examination results) of school children along racial lines; it is normal to divide people in HDB housing estates according to their ratio in the population; it is normal to limit the learning of language to "mother tongue".

These practices are racist and the tendency towards sticking together and preferring the values and personal beliefs of one's own group perpetuates racism.

And so, a society may live in peace together but they do so in a state of mutual isolation, suspicion and incomprehension. And no wonder! In our system we are taught "racial harmony" with a narration of the history of racial riots.

That is "normal".

Yet, there are signs of tolerance everywhere.

For instance, there could be a Chinese funeral in one void deck while a Malay wedding is celebrated in another. Churches and temples stand side by side, in amicable co-existence.

The Buddhist temple, the Christian church and the Sai Baba Centre located next to each other in Moulmein Road, is an amazing testimony to this high degree of tolerance.

The most positive affirmation of the triumph of a common humanity is seen in the ever increasing number of inter-racial marriages.

And who among us has not experienced the wonder of cross-cultural friendships, occasions of kindness and generosity across racial and, sometimes, even language barriers?

My own experience in civil society supports my optimism in the ability of Singaporeans to suspend their individual prejudices, racial and class differences, and work towards common values and goals.

However, for all that optimism, the level of racism will not diminish if we continue to assume that group differences are biologically determined and, therefore, inherently unchangeable.

We will then remain a nation of racists. Study finds children of different races are not mixing. Should we be surprised?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

OH! (A play on local social and political issues)

By Singapore's most controversial playwright, Elangovan. Please attend and support this weekend. Tickets sold at the door. I will be attending on Saturday, Aug 2nd.


OH!
presented by AGNI KOOTTHU (THEATRE OF FIRE)
written & directed by ELANGOVAN
performed by Ahamed Ali Khan, Dew M. Chaiyanara, Gillian Tan, Hemang Yadav, Lee Gao Ju, Max Ling & Shaiful Risan
music by Lee Gao Ju
Production Manager: S Thenmoli
Sat 2 & Sun 3 Aug 2008 8 pm $20 Guinness Theatre, The Substation
Tickets available at the door from 7 pm
R 18 (Adult Themes / Strong Language)

Extract:
Tung-tung chiang. Tung-tung-chiang. I saw the police and all the RC members They lined up to welcome the new chief. I also joined the line. Nobody noticed me in the crowd. It was so exciting. Everyone thought I was also an official. The chief was shaking everyone's hands. When he shook my hand, I kneeled and kissed his hand. He was shocked but appreciated my gesture. I then asked him, "Boss, how do you feel about getting three million dollars when the rest of us are struggling to make ends meet?" He stared at me and said, "Oh! It is a honest mistake. What to do? We'll talk about it. Don't forget to vote for me in future." He is sincere. I sure vote for him. Tung-tung-chiang. Tung-tung chiang. Tung-tung-chiang.

Writeup:
I love Singapore. It is an honest mistake. What to do?
Do you think I, a magician have gone mad? You belief you are normal because you think you are mentally organized? You are proud that you are cultured and refined as your behaviour is deemed socially acceptable by other monkeys around you? You have joined the tribe that listens, thinks and excretes the same and forms the majority segment of this society? You are sane and only your dominant group will define insanity for those like me who dance to a different beat? What will happen to your world when I get an opportunity to re-define your sanity with my magic wand at a convenience store? Have you ever been possessed by a chatty ghost before? Have you ever helped your senile mother to slice her jugular vein? Have you heard voices ringing non-stop in your head telling you to terminate those who: - do not sing the national anthem because it is the language of a race you can't stand; switch off the life-support system of the local braindead soldier for organ transfer to save a foreign dictator; blackmail and molest the pizza-delivery boy for being late; interrogate the idealistic reporter for telling the truth; stab any foreign talent for refusing to appreciate your magic at the hawker centre? My home-visit is due. I tak boleh tahan (cannot take it) anymore. Can I, a schizophrenic, I mean an 'urban shaman' kill someone with kindness please?

ELANGOVAN, bilingual poet, playwright-director, screenwriter, literary editor, transcreator, and pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and Tamil experimental theatre in Singapore, obtained a BA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) and a MA (Middlesex University, UK) in Theatre Directing.