Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fast at Speakers Corner for Eelam Tamils

Seelan: About 30 people in all came in several groups today to show their support for Mr Thamilmarain's fast for the innocent & helpless children, women & men who are dying in Tamil Eelam Sri Lanka, for peace in Sri Lanka and for peace talks to take place.

Here are two photos fellow socio-political blogger Jacob George took while he was there. Visit his blog for more photos and his report of the event. At the end of this post is a video interview by The Online Citizen.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Protest for Tamil Eelam at Speakers Corner


Seelan: A silent fast on Monday 27 October 2008 from 9am to 7pm at Speakers Corner for those innocent and helpless children, women and men who are dying in Tamil Eelam, Sri Lanka.

Please support this cause for peace and justice by going down and visiting the protester Mr Tamilmaraian tomorrow.

I will be there tomorrow. Let us not only mark festivities such as Deepavali with celebration but also solidarity for the many others around the world who are still suffering.

NONSENSE: MM Lee on “assortative mating”

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew:

“That is the way the world is. I have explained this. I think I lost votes after I explained the awful truth. Nobody believed it, but slowly it dawned on them – especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduate, then you worry about whether or not your son or daughter is going to make it to the university!”




Saturday, October 25, 2008

Singapore's Press Freedom ranking drops to 144

Seelan: The World Press Freedom Index 2008 has ranked Singapore 144 out of 173 countries. This is a 3 point drop from last year. Even Ethiopia beat us by 2 ranks! So much for claiming to be a so-called "first world" country.

Read and view the accompanying report and index here.

And unfortunately my video production One Nation Under Lee still reflects the local press as according to last year's report. Haha.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Police detain Uthaya's niece, 11 others

The six-year-old niece of detained Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar was detained, while 11 others were arrested when they attempted to submit a letter at Prime Minister Department's office in Putrajaya today.

wahthamoorthy daughter memo 220108 w vwaishhnnaviP Vwaishhnnavi (right) is the daughter of Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy who is currently in self-imposed exile in London. Her mother K Shanti was also among those arrested.

Police Watch Malaysia coordinator S Jayathas, who was also held, claimed that they had been told that they were part of an illegal assembly for having gathered near the entrance of the building.

"We were trying to obtain permission from the security guards for Vwaishhnnavi to submit her letter. They said that we were from Hindraf, but we insisted that we were concerned Indians who were accompanying Vwaishnnavi," Jayathas when contacted.

They are currently at the Putrajaya district police headquarters, but police chief Abd Razak Abd Majid declined comment when contacted.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Muhammad Sabtu Osman confirmed the arrest of eight men and three women during the incident. He clarified that Vwaishhnnavi was not arrested and is in her mother's care.

He also said the 11 are being investigated under the Societies Act. (The Home Ministry had imposed a ban on Hindraf on Oct 15, declaring it an illegal grouping.)

Waythamoorthy furious

Contacted on her handphone while waiting for police to record her statement, Shanti said the group was attempting to submit a handwritten letter calling on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release all those detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) .

"The appeal letter (in Vwaishhnnavi's handwriting) asked the prime minister to release her uncle, (and other Hindraf leaders as well as) RPK (blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, among other ISA detainees," said Shanti.

"She said that Deepavali would not mean anything to her, and all Malaysians, if they are not released."

pak lah abdullah ahmad badawi putrajaya malaysiaShanti added that the letter also included a invitation for Abdullah to attend the family's 'open house' in conjunction with Deepavali.

"(Vwaishhnnavi) wrote that she would be waiting with flowers and cakes," she added.

Contacted in London by phone, Waythamoorthy expressed outrage when told that her daughter, wife and supporters had been picked up by police.

"It's ridiculous to arrest a child who has come to deliver a Deepavali card and a letter to the PM asking him to release all ISA detainees," said an obviously incensed Waythamoorthy.

"This only shows that the PM is not telling the truth when he said he is a PM for everyone. He is not!"

On Dec 13 last year, five Hindraf leaders - Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan, V Ganabatirau and T Vasantha Kumar - were slapped with a two-year detention order under the ISA. They are being held at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak.

Letter by Vwaishnavi to PM

Dear Mr. PM,
On the 27th October 2008 Hindus in malaysia would be celebrating Deepavali-a festival to mark victory over evil.
This celebration does not mean anything to us so long as my Lawyer uncles are in prison,uncle RPK and all others are in prison under ISA.
Please release them as Divali Gift for all Malaysians.
Happy deepavali.Please visit my house for Deepavali. I will wait for you with Flowers and cakes.

Your loving daughter

Vwaishnnavi (signed)
6 years old

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What we must reclaim: Seelan Palay

Seelan: A statement by me written for http://yoursdp.org

Since I began to read actively in my teens, I have been keeping myself aware of civil disobedience and how it is effectively used by people all over the world. In relation, I could always see the merit, reason and rationale in the actions of Dr Chee Soon Juan. Meeting and befriending him a few years ago helped assure my opinions.


I found that we shared a vision to see a freer, fairer, more compassionate Singapore. But there was a burden to carry for that, which Dr Chee definitely carried more than me. And so I decided that I must help him as much as I can, because I could not just stand by and watch the Singapore government try to ruin this honest man.

We mostly worked together from then on and then came March the 15th – a day I knew was going to be different. On that day, we were going to send a strong and clear message to the authorities that we've had enough.

Almost everyone was arrested, myself being dragged on the road by police officers who refused to tell me what I was being arrested for. This Thursday all 18 of us will be tried in court, and after that, probably jailed.

But I will continue participating in protests and demonstrations. My experiences in Malaysia and Indonesia have taught me that protests are important because they give people a sense of belonging, community and hope. And through my participation in protests here I want to prove these values to be true.

In the years to come, I hope for you and I in Singapore to reclaim the term "nation building" from the government, its institutions and its media. And in doing so, open the way for Singaporeans to participate more actively in all facets of life so that we may together build a future that we can call our own.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Uthaya's sedition trial moved to February

S Pathmawathy | Oct 20, 08 11:42am

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P Uthayakumar's sedition hearing has been fixed for Feb 3-5, when the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court will hear further arguments on alleged bias by the attorney-general (AG)

uthayakumar sedition trial 201008 01The proceedings today were adjourned after lead defence counsel M Manogaran contended that there is an "element of bias" in the charge sheet and consent form which were signed by AG Abdul Gani Patail.

The consent form is issued under Section 5 of the Sedition Act 1948, which states that "no person shall be prosecuted for an offence under section 4… without the written consent of the Public Prosecutor".

Manogaran cited a court case on Dec 5, 2007 when Uthayakumar and the AG shouting at one another over a charge of ‘attempted murder’ levelled against 31 Hindraf supporters who had gathered at the Batu Caves temple grounds the night before a mass rally on Nov 25, 2007.

Manogaran claimed that there was "bad blood between them" because Abdul Gani had accused "some Hindraf members of meeting with LTTE” (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – a Sri Lankan separatist group).

However, Sessions Judge Sabariah Othman interjected, asking Manogaran the relevance of objecting to the charge.

"Consent is necessary (as it is the) integral part of the charge… (but) he (the AG) himself has released the charge sheet," said Manogaran.

"Gani Patail appears to have a personal interest in this case. He wants Uthayakumar to be prosecuted and convicted. I think it is very pertinent. The consent and charge sheets were filed and signed by the same person."

uthayakumar sedition trial 201008 raja rozela raja toranDeputy Public Persecutor (DPP) Raja Rozela Raja Toran (right) said "whether the consent form is valid or not or whether there it is bias or not should have been addressed on Dec 11, 2002".

"The AG was there at that time and he could have answered your queries," said Raja Rozela.

"This is an application that is an ambush… this a delaying tactic by the defence counsels. We have been ready since this morning and our witnesses are ready."

The judge said she would decide on the issue of bias when the hearing resumes in February. Manogaran told her that the defence would raise further objections then.

uthayakumar sedition trial 201008 03Uthayakumar (left) has claimed trial to the sedition charge, based on a letter he had posted on a website. Dated Nov 15, 2007, it was sent from Hindraf’s main office in Seremban.

The letter, addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, highlighted alleged marginalisation of Indian Malaysians. It also sought the British government’s help to move an emergency UN resolution condemning ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Malaysia.

Uthayakumar has been held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since Dec 13 last year for organising Hindraf activities.

He had been charged with sedition on Dec 11 and was on RM50,000 bail before being arrested two days later under the ISA, which provides for detention without trial.

Section 4 (1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or a jail term not exceeding three years, or both for a first offence.

Apart from Manogaran, the defence team comprises N Surendran and AS Dhaliwal.

'Stronger despite detention'

Uthayakumar, who now sports a beard, appeared in good spirit and told reporters that he has become stronger since being held at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak.

“I’m okay; I’ll fight to the end… I have had enough time to think of the struggle, to analyse and to think deeply. And I still feel our struggle is a legitimate struggle,” said Uthayakumar.

He was referring to an 18-point resolution on the rights of Indian Malaysians, which had been submitted to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in July last year.


Uthayakumar described that the sedition charge as “malicious persecution” by the government and said: “They can keep me as long as they want but I shall keep on fighting.”

uthayakumar sedition trial 201008 as dhaliwal indra devi and s jayathas

His fiancee Indra Devi (in white), 47, was in court with his mother K Kalaivany, 65, and his sister Waytha Nayagi, 42.

A small commotion in the courtroom preceded today's hearing when the case was moved to another court, but before the same judge.

Hindraf supporters were unhappy when they were not allowed into the new courtroom. A shouting match ensued between the supporters and the police, with Uthayakumar - wearing a white shirt and tattered blue pants - joining in.



Kapar MP S Manikavasagam was among those shouting, insisting that the police should stop "harrassing the supporters".



A woman fainted in the ensuing disorder and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance. Surendran claimed she had been “elbowed” by a police officer.



However, the commotion died down after 20 minutes, when more supporters were allowed to enter the courtroom where they sat on the floor.



More than 100 Hindraf supporters - clad in orange T-shirts with slogans like ‘Abolish ISA’, ‘Keep walking’ and ‘Makkal sakthi’ - had gathered at the court complex since early this morning.



Asked to comment on the banning of Hindraf since last Wednesday, Uthayakumar said: “The tenth most important point in our federal constitution guarantees the people's rights to form an organisation… (the government is) doing this because we have the support of the people.



“You can suspend the organisation but you cannot stop the people… by having me detained, the people are becoming more encouraged and I (myself) am prepared for the worst."



Before leaving the court, Uthayakumar urged his supporters to “stay strong and keep to the goal”.



BN parties must speak out


On a related matter, Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy urged all BN component parties to make their stand on the banning of Hindraf and the real problems facing the Indian Malaysian community.

hindraf london demo 060208 waythamoorthy"Hindraf urges component parties within BN to come out of their cocoon and speak the truth on the real situation facing the Indians and the impact of the Umno repression on Hindraf which is causing great uneasiness amongst the people," Waythamoorthy (in coat) said in a statement today.

He said that the Umno-led government "cannot go on forever silencing all legitimate voice of democracy in the unfounded and malicious allegation of national security".

He said the BN component parties have a moral duty to speak the truth in the larger national interest and to protect and uphold the rule of law.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Uthaya in court to face sedition trial


Oct 20, 08 11:42am

ISA-detained Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar is in Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court this morning for his sedition trial over a letter which he posted on a website.

The letter, addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, highlighted the alleged marginalisation of Indians in Malaysia.

In the letter, Uthayakumar also sought the help of the British government to move emergency UN resolution condemning ethnic cleansing in Malaysia.

The letter was dated Nov 15, 2007 and sent from Hindraf main office in Seremban.

Uthayakumar, in ISA detention since Dec 13 for undertaking Hindraf activities, was charged on Dec 11. He pleaded not guilty and is out on a RM50,000 bail before he was detained under the detention-without-trial Act two days later.

He was charged under Section 4 (1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 which carries a fine of not exceeding RM5,000 or a jail term not exceeding three years or both for a first offence.

Prosecution is led by deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozeela Raja Toran while N Surindran and M Manoharan represent Uthayakumar.

Commotion in court

Hearing is before Sessions judge Sabariah Othman but the trial today was preceded by a small commotion in the courtroom when the case was moved to another court, but also before the same judge.

Hindraf supporters were unhappy when they were not allowed into the new courtroom. A shouting match ensued between the supporters and the police, with Uthayakumar - wearing a white shirt and a blue pants - joining in as well.

He was brought from Kamunting detention centre for the trial yesterday.

A woman fainted in the ensuing disorder and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance.

More than 150 Hindraf supporters had gathered at the court complex since early morning for the case.

The government had banned the organisation last week for playing up sensitive issues.

BN parties must speak out

On a related matter, Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy urged all BN component parties to make their stand on the banning of Hindraf and the real problems facing the ethnic Indian community.

"Hindraf urges component parties within BN to come out of their cocoon and speak up the truth on the real situation facing the Indians and the impact of the Umno repression on Hindraf which is causing great uneasiness amongst the people," he said in a statement today.

He said that the Umno-led government "cannot go on forever silencing all legitimate voice of democracy in the unfounded and malicious allegation of national security".

He said the BN component parties have a moral duty to speak up the truth in the larger national interest and to protect and uphold the rule of law.

TBT 18 trial begins on Thursday

Seelan: The trial of the TBT 18 (which includes me) will begin this Thursday. Like most of us, I will be defending myself because only a handful of lawyers in Singapore were brave enough to come forward. Dear friends and readers, if you're keen come down and witness the trial.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Singapore Democrats

The trial for the 18 activists charged for protesting outside Parliament House in March this year will begin this Thursday in the Subordinate Courts in Court No. 5. It is scheduled to last till 7 Nov 08.

The hearing is the first in the history of Singapore where a group of activists defied the law prohibiting the gathering of 5 or more persons in public. The protest was part of the Tak Boleh Tahan! campaign to highlight poverty in Singapore and the Government's greed in continuing to raise fees and prices even as wages of the people shrink.

The protesters had gathered outside Parliament House on 15 Mar 08 which is also World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). They were confronted by the police outside the Funan Centre on South Bridge Road whereupon 12 persons were arrested. They and six other were subsequently charged on two counts:

i. under Section 5(4)(b) Chapter 184 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public and Nuisance Act) for participating in an assembly outside Parliament House on 15 Mar 08,

ii. under Section 5(4)(b) Chapter 184 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public and Nuisance Act) for participating in a procession outside Funan Centre on 15 Mar 08.

The activists are not only challenging the constitutionality of the law but also the selective enforcement of it. The Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) also conducted protests on the same occasion in 2007 and 2008 outside Parliament House. CASE is headed by PAP MPs Mr Yeo Guat Kwang (Aljunied GRC) and Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang).

CASE is a member of the Consumers International which celebrates WCRD every year. This year the CASE held a march, which involved thousands of people, to protest against the marketing of junk food.

But while the police cracks down on TBT protesters, it turns a blind eye to CASE's protest.

Below are the 18 who will stand trial this Thursday:


The activists:


1. Gandhi Ambalam







2. Chia Ti Lik








3. Chong Kai Xiong








4. Jeffrey George








5. Jaslyn Go








6. Chee Siok Chin









7. Govindan Rajan







8. Chee Soon Juan









9. Jufrie Mahmood








10. Jufri Salim








11. Surayah Akbar








12. Ng E-Jay









13. Seelan Palay







14. Shaffie








15. Carl Lang








16. John Tan







17. Francis Yong








18. Sylvester Lim







“In every era, there are always those who will struggle for freedom.

These people play a difficult role, their paths are paved with pain and loneliness. Their own generation will not accept them. In fact, they will be rejected, bullied, humiliated, imprisoned and even killed.

These freedom fighters plod along a narrow path. But in the end, those who follow will widen the path into a broad avenue.

Freedom fighters may suffer physically, financially and even psychologically, but their courage and commitment will enhance human civilization and last forever. Freedom fighters don’t belong to today, but they will live on tomorrow.”

Shih Ming-teh, former Taiwanese political prisoner who was imprisoned without trial for 25 years and eventually led Taiwan to democracy

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

ALAMAK! an upcoming play by Agni Koothu

Seelan: Singapore's most controversial playwright, Elangovan, is back with a new theatrical offering that is set to be as edgy, critical and hilarious as ever! I will surely attend either or both nights. I hope you would all go to support Agni Koothu and share the experience.



ALAMAK!
Presented by AGNI KOOTTHU (THEATRE OF FIRE)
Written & directed by Elangovan
Performed by Ahamed Ali Khan, Dew M. Chaiyanara, Faizal Abdullah, Gloria Tan, Hemang Yadav & Shaiful Risan
Production Manager: S Thenmoli
Sat 15 & Sun 16 Nov 2008, 8pm, $20, The Substation Theatre
Tickets available at The Substation box-office


SYNOPSIS: One night, the Police Coast Guard detects an unknown person swimming towards the direction of Singapore coastline with the aid of an inflatable trash bag. They fish him out of the sea. He has no valid travel document and is placed under arrest for attempting to enter the country illegally. It is explained to him that he will be charged for unlawful entry into Singapore and if convicted, he will face jail up to six months and liable to not less than three strokes of the cane on his 'royal arse', or fined up to $6,000.

During the interrogation, he confesses that he is actually the mythical figure Sang Nila Utama, the founder of Singapore in the 11th century AD. He further claims that he was returning from the Riau archipelago after visiting his subjects and had unfortunately entered a vortex at sea and was subsequently teleported into modern Singapore. The powers-that-be identify him as a potential global branding image for the Foreign Talent scheme and offer him immediate citizenship. But he demands that he be released first to understand his subjects better before accepting the citizenship. The authorities release him and give him free access to meet-the-people of modern Singapore.

Sang Nila Utama meets characters from all walks of city-life and unravels the discrepancies and incongruence that exist between the dominant official viewpoint and the articulations of the disenfranchised subalterns. Nila Utama has mixed feelings about acquiring citizenship but is surprised when he is accorded the highest honour and given an official position. He reiterates what he had uttered centuries ago: "If the animals here are as fine and as fierce as lions, this would be a good place to start a new kingdom."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hindraf declared an illegal organisation

Seelan: Sure, they can declare Hindraf "illegal", but since the ISA arrest of the 5 leaders, the Malaysian "Hindu-Indian movement" (I would call it) has been operating through various splinter groups that formed thorough common interests, affinity and necessity.

This declaration by the Malaysian ministry is in fact only going to make the movement feel that they really made an impact and fuel them to carry on.

Syed Hamid said if left unchecked, Hindraf would continue to pose a threat to, among other things, "the prevailing racial harmony". Has the Malaysian public been consulted for their opinions on this? Isn't the entire political system in Malaysia itself based on racial segregation? Perhaps Barisan Nasional should be declared illegal because it poses a threat to ANY racial harmony that exists and can exist in Malaysia.

Hindraf declared an illegal organisation
Bernama, 2008/10/15

KUALA LUMPUR, WED:

The Hindu Rights Actions Force (Hindraf) has been declared an illegal organisation from today, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

In a statement issued here, Syed Hamid said the decision to declare Hindraf as an illegal organisation was made following the ministry being satisfied with facts and evidence that showed Hindraf had and was being used for unlawful purposes and posed a threat to public order and morality.

"Based on powers vested under Section 5(1) of the Societies Act, Hindraf from today is declared an illegal organisation," he said.

He said the order was being made as a result of monitoring and investigation on the organisation's activities by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and Home Ministry, since Hindraf's inception.

Syed Hamid said if left unchecked, Hindraf would continue to pose a threat to public order, the security and sovereignty of the country as well as the prevailing racial harmony.

"The decision to declare Hindraf an illegal organisation is not based on one or two of its activities that are in contravention of the law but covers all the actions it has taken since being formed," he said.

Syed Hamid said Hindraf had all the criteria of an organised movement because it had filed for registration with the ROS on Oct 16 last year.

The application had yet to be approved but Hindraf had actively exploited the Indian community to organise illegal assemblies and street demonstrations without permits to the point of causing a segment of the community to rise up against the government and also hatred among the Malays and Indians in the country, he said.

"Hindraf has also tried to secure support from foreign countries for the purpose of pressuring the government to bow to its demands," he added.

Syed Hamid advised the public to distance themselves from Hindraf and not participate in any way in any of its activities.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Singapore Bankrupts the Singapore Democratic Party

Seelan: If you haven't heard already, High Court Judge Belinda Ang, the same judge that was involved in the 3 month jail term that blogger Gopalan Nair is serving now, has ordered the Singapore Democrats to pay Lee Kuan Yew and his son Lee Hsien Loong $610,000 in damages.

The Lees can now apply for a bankruptcy petition, making SDP bankrupt and de-register the party. You can read updates on the SDP website, accessible from the SDP Newswire that I've recently added to the right-hand side column of this blog. And featured below is a good writeup on this event by Asia Sentinel.

Singapore Bankrupts the Singapore Democratic Party
Asia Sentinel
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Lee family again uses its tame courts to wipe out political opposition.

Singapore's dynastic Lee family has again put an opposition party out of business, this time with an order from the Singapore High Court to the leaders of the Singapore Democratic Party to pay S$610,000 in damages for defaming Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean Minister Mentor.

Chee Soon Juan, the SDP's leader, told reporters the party is bankrupt after failure to pay libel judgments and legal costs from a marathon series of lawsuits and other court actions brought by Lee pere et fils, the latest in June when Chee and his sister, Chee Siok Chin, were sentenced for having "scandalized the court" and "obstructed the administration of justice" during a contentious three-day hearing to decide on damages to be awarded to the prime minister and his father.

The Chees, the court said, had issued "serious allegations of corruption, dishonesty, nepotism and financial impropriety which the defendants persisted in maintaining without foundation to the end." The two went to jail on the contempt charges because they didn't have the money to pay their fines after having been driven into bankruptcy.

It was the seventh time Chee Soon Juan has been jailed in Singapore, four for speaking in public without a permit, once for attempting to leave the country without a permit after being invited to a conference in Istanbul for the World Movement for Democracy's Fourth Assembly in April 2006, and once before for "scandalizing the judiciary."

Chee told Reuters the damages were "not unexpected." But, he said, "it's not going to deter us from doing what we have been doing, and that is speaking up for issues that Singaporeans should know about."

It isn't the first time the Lee family had bankrupted a political party, and it calls up memories of lawyer Joshua B. Jeyaretnam, who died on September 30 at 82 after more than three decades of jousting with Lee Kuan Yew, almost unanimously unsuccessfully. . In an utterly graceless letter of condolence to Jeyaretnam's sons, Lee Hsien Loong accused the deceased of helping "neither to build up a constructive opposition, nor our parliamentary tradition."

In 1981, on his sixth attempt at public office, Jeyaretnam became the first politician ever to win an election against the formerly impregnable People's Action Party, which has run Singapore since its founding as an independent nation. The government promptly responded by redistricting his Anson constituency out of existence, and then bringing a long series of lawsuits that, by Jeyaretnam's calculation, cost him more than S$1.6 million in damages and costs.

Unable to get the voters oust Jeyaretnam from Parliament, the government went after him on accusations of misstating the Worker Party's Accounts. However, Senior District Court Judge Michael Khoo acquitted him of making a false declaration, which resulted in Khoo's unceremonious removal from his job and a transfer to the attorney-general's chambers, widely considered to be a much lower posting. The Jeyaretnam episode is the last time on record that a high-profile case ever went against any members of Singapore's ruling Lee family or the government.

Jeyaretnam was ultimately jailed for perjury in 1986. He took the case to the Privy Council in London, which ruled that he was the victim of a "grievous injustice," only to have Singapore abolish the right of appeal to the body, the ultimate legal authority for Commonwealth nations.

Jeyaretnam didn't give up. Fined, sentenced to a month in jail and barred from politics for five years, he ran again in 1997 and was returned by the voters to office, leaving it in 2001. After having got out of bankruptcy, he founded a new political party but, weakened by ill health, he never ran again.

In the meantime, the Lee family continues its crusade on anybody who disagrees with them, filing a long string of lawsuits against the foreign press in particular. The most recent was in September when contempt charges were filed against the Wall Street Journal/Asia for three articles published in June and July that "impugn the impartiality, integrity and independence of the Singapore judiciary," according to the complaint. "These allegations and insinuations are unwarranted."

On September 24, another Singapore judge, Woo Bin Lih, awarded the Lees damages in a suit against another Dow Jones publication, the Far Eastern Economic Review, ruling that he had been defamed by the FEER's editor, Hugo Restall, for a 2006 interview with Chee Soon Juan which stated, in part, that Lee Kuan Yew had been using libel actions to suppress opponents.

Lee Kuan Yew has sued the FEER repeatedly, as well as bringing other legal actions against Time Asia, the Asian Wall Street Journal, as it was then known, the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times – which once capitulated for a story in which there was no apparent libel – the Economist and the Bloomberg News Service, among others. The media watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders ranks Singapore 140th of 167 countries surveyed in terms of freedom of the press. The country has been kicking foreign journalists out for writing critical articles about the republic since the early 1970s and has an inordinately long memory about ever letting them back in.

While the mainstream press has universally capitulated to the Lee family and largely ceased criticism of the island nation, however an increasingly vitriolic cadre of Internet bloggers has taken over, indefatigably denouncing the government at every turn. So far, there is no evidence that the government has taken notice of them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

5,000 MIC members set to join PKR

Fed up with S Samy Vellu's authoritarian style, some 5,000 MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) members are set to close down their party branches and join PKR in Penang this Saturday.

Former Bayan Baru MIC division chairperson M Nganasegaran, who was sacked from the party yesterday, is expected to lead the exodus and officially handover their membership forms to PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim at the Bayan Baru PKR service centre.

Anwar and his wife, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail are scheduled to be at the centre after hosting their Hari Raya open house in Cerok To’Kun, Bukit Mertajam in the morning.

With the exodus, MIC, in Bayan Baru as well as in the state, is set to be maimed politically as the division’s present 13 branches of 3,000 members would shrink to mere two branches with 200 members.

Besides MIC Bayan Baru, members from the nearby Bukit Bendera, Jelutong, Bukit Gelugor and Balik Pulau divisions are also expected to close down their branches and join forces with Nganasegaran.

MIC lost its political footing in Penang after both its candidates lost in the Bagan Dalam and Prai state seat contests in the March 8 general election.

The latest exodus would be a kind of revenge by the ex-Bayan Baru chairperson, who was sacked from MIC by its president Samy Vellu on Oct 8.

A copy of the letter which was couriered to Nganasegaran stated that he had been expelled from the party due to his involvement with opposition parties during the last general election.

'Judged by a kangaroo court'

Sources said Samy Vellu had particularly taken offence with the Bayan Baru division's endorsement of the Pakatan Rakyat state government’s joint anti-Internal Security Act conference on Sept 14.

samy vellu exclusive on tamil schools 080708 02The president had raised the issue at the party national central working committee meeting last week and called on party leaders to support a firm action against Nganasegaran.

The meeting then decided to refer the matter to the party disciplinary committee.

However, before the committee could decide on the issue, Samy Vellu apparently invoked the discretionary power vested in the president under Article 61.2 of the party constitution to expel Nganasegaran, who was once close to the former cabinet minister.

The sacked leader was given two weeks to appeal against the decision.

Nganasegaran, who has been the Bayan Baru division chief since 2003, slammed Samy Vellu's arbitral decision. "It's like a verdict from a hanging judge in a kangaroo court," he said.

He was not issued a show cause letter or suspended but suddenly found himself expelled 'out of the blue' from a party that he had loyally served for 18 years.

"Is this how Samy Vellu is going to re-brand and re-position MIC as a relevant political entity for Indians?" he asked.

"He can dream on," said Nganasegaran, who was once an influential political player in Penang MIC.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vaiko arrested in Chennai for Eelam rally

TamilNet, Friday, 10 October 2008


"In the name of safe-guarding Sri Lanka's sovereignty,
don't lose India's sovereignty and national integration"


Tamil leader Vaiko, General Secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and a staunch supporter of the cause of Eezham Tamils, was arrested Friday along with thousands of his cadres in Chennai while staging a demonstration to condemn Indian involvement in the Sri Lankan military. He called upon the ruling DMK government in Tamil Nadu, headed by Kalaignar Karunanidhi, an important ally of the Central Government in India, to take the blame for every Tamil being killed in Eelam. "In the name of safe-guarding Sri Lanka's sovereignty, don't lose India's sovereignty and national integration," warned Mr. Vaiko in an emotional, vociferous speech, said media sources in Chennai.

More than two thousand cadres of the MDMK decided to take out a procession towards the Shastri Bhavan in the capital city. However, because the state police force refused to grant permission for their rally they courted arrest.

While addressing his cadres, Vaiko lamented that the Indian army was behind the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. "Ever since the United Progressive Alliance formed the Government in India, the Sinhalese were eager to ink a pact with New Delhi. However, opposition from Tamil Nadu ensured that the military pact could not be signed. In spite of this, the contents of the military pact are being secretly implemented."

He blamed the Indian Government for supplying radars to Sri Lanka and for providing military training to the Sri Lankan army.

The MDMK leader expressed disappointment over the fact that the Indian Prime Minister, who had assured him that the Indian military would not act against the Tamils, had betrayed his word.

Vaiko added that 265 Indian military personnel were currently serving in Sri Lanka. Vaiko has charged that the Indian Government is responsibile for the genocide in the island.

He described the lived reality of Tamils in Sri Lanka: how school-children died in bomb-blasts, and how Tamil people went without food or medicine. He declared that the people of Tamil Nadu would always rally behind the Eezham Tamils.

Tamil Nationalist leader Pazha Nedumaran and AIADMK Organizing Secretary Muthusamy extended their support and congratulated Vaiko for organizing the massive protest.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Two good writings on JBJ and photos from vigil

Just in case you haven't read them yet. Click here for a widely-appreciated, personal account of JBJ by Chee Soon Juan of the SDP. And here for an article that was published in the printed version of The Guardian.

Click here for more photos taken by Jacob George from the vigil that was held for JBJ at Speakers Corner.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tamil Nadu exerts pressure on New Delhi against Sri Lanka's war

Please intervene in Sri Lanka to the save Tamils from state sponsored genocide and sign the online petition.

TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 October 2008
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state in Southern India, Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, on Monday indirectly declared that his government would no longer tolerate Indian Central government aiding the Sri Lankan government against the Eezham Tamils, even if it aided Colombo "unwittingly".

The move comes after the veteran DMK leader urged his party members to telegram New Delhi to convey their displeasure with the attitude of the Central government. He has issued a veiled threat to New Delhi implying that he would not hesitate to withdraw his support to the ruling UPA alliance, if Sri Lanka continued its war against Eezham Tamils, media reports in Tamil Nadu said.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi Following thousands of telegrams and a letter sent by him to Indian Prime Minister with four demands, the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh discussed with Mr. Karunanidhi over the phone Monday morning. Later, Mr. Karunanidhi addressed the people of Tamil Nadu in a public meeting called on to declare his support to Eezham Tamils in Chennai. Thousands attended the rally.

The four demands, which Kalaignar said he read out to the Indian Prime Minister, when the latter contacted him over the phone, were:
  1. The Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Delhi should be called on the carpet by the Indian Central Government against the killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka
  2. Put an end to the military offensive and the killings by the Sri Lankan government
  3. Sri Lankan Government should enter Peace Talks
  4. There should be no hardships imposed on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy
Stating that Dr. Manmohan Singh responded in a sympathetic tone in saying that he had already conveyed the concerns coming from Tamil Nadu to the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi, Kalaignar went on saying that he urged Indian Prime Minister to come forward to the struggle with him if Sri Lanka continued its war against Tamils ignoring the request already conveyed by the Indian Prime Minister to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner.

"I am urging the Centre, peacefully and decently, that we would be forced to find an answer to the question whether this [DMK] government is needed if our requests go unheeded. I have to remind that I am foremost a Tamil. I also happen to be the Tamil who is ruling the Tamil Nadu state with the responsibility as a guardian to the people of Tamil Nadu."

The above statement was viewed as a veiled threat to the Centre by analysts in Chennai. "It counts the same whether a Tamil gets killed here or in Sri Lanka. This rally is held to express publicly that we urge the Indian government not to give up us [Tamil Nadu Tamils] in our struggle to safeguard them [Tamils in Sri Lanka]."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Students protest university censorship at Speakers Corner

Seelan: I was present at the protest earlier today. It was heartening to see younger Singaporeans gathering together to boldly express their opinions. The next generation is not afraid of you, Old Man. In time to come, both your days and your ways will be over.

Students protest university censorship
AFP
05 October 2008

A group of students staged a protest in Singapore on Sunday against their university’s censorship of a campus newspaper article.

Fronted by a black banner with the slogan ‘Responsible Press For Students,’ the four protesters made speeches in front of about 40 students at a park designated for limited free speech and demonstrations.

The four were protesting against the decision by the Nanyang Technological University to pull the plug on a recent article about the visit in August of secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, Chee Soon Juan, to the campus.

‘Let us again be reminded that this incident is not about Dr Chee’s visit but rather about the censorship of the news… We are proposing responsible editorial independence,’ Scott Teng, one of the four, said in his speech.

Mr Teng said the article was initially given the go-ahead to be published in the campus newspaper last month before being axed suddenly.

It was about Mr Chee’s visit to the school and carried nothing about his political views, he added.

According to Mr Teng, the university’s reason for axing the article was they did not want the campus newspaper ‘to be used as a platform for unsolicited guests to air their views’. — AFP

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Updates on JBJ's passing

News of Jeyaretnam's death on CNN and BBC.

JBJ's funeral wake will be held at Mount Vernon Funeral Parlour No.1, 121 Upper Aljunied Road from 30 Sep 2008 (7pm onwards) to 4 Oct 2008.

There will be a funeral service at the St Andrew's Cathedral on 4 Oct 08, Saturday at 2:00 pm. The cortege will leave for the Mandai crematorium at 3:30 pm.