Singapore reaffirms ban on benefit concert

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“The minister has carefully considered the appeal for the licence application for Affect05 and has decided to uphold the MDA’s position that such performances that promote alternative lifestyles are against the public interest,” MDA said.

The couple says their music is about “empowering people to live fulfilled lives, sharing a message of self-acceptance, compassion, love and respect for all people, despite our differences.”

“It is the fact that we are gay that is the reason we have been banned by the government from playing at the benefit,” said Jason and deMarco in a prepared statement.

Some Singapore officials have been publicly critical of gay men in recent months.

Last November a senior health official blamed a recent surge in HIV infections on the “promiscuous and unsafe lifestyle” of gay men. Since then officials have cracked down on popular gay parties that draw thousands of men from other Asian countries.

Singapore law calls for heavy penalties for consensual gay sex, but enforcement of the law has not been strict.

“We are very concerned about the intolerance against gay people that is expressed and enforced by the government of Singapore, and we are asking people to speak out,” Jason said.

Burma Under Pressure to Reform as Singapore PM Makes Official Visit

Gary Rodan, director of the Asia Research Center at Murdoch University in Western Australia, says the visit is an opportunity for Singapore, Burma’s largest foreign investor, to press for reform.
“There is an opportunity here for Lee Hsein Loong to very quickly make a mark in foreign policy,” he said. “It depends very much on how much he sees this as an opportunity to enhance Singapore’s role within the region and its role within ASEAN.”
Malaysia and Singapore appear concerned that ASEAN’s international standing will be hurt if Burma takes the chairmanship. Burma already faces tough economic sanctions and criticism from both the United States and the European Union over its human rights record.
Mr. Rodan says Singapore and Malaysia would be concerned if Burma’s taking up the chair undermined their relationships with the United States and Europe – major trading partners.

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Singapore rejects bid for casino protest march

Click the title to go to the original…
Thu Mar 31, 2005 03:33 AM ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore police have rejected a political activist’s bid to demonstrate against a proposed casino, saying it would have disrupted civil order.
J.B Jeyaretnam, a feisty 80-year-old former opposition leader, had applied to march at city hall on April 17, a day before the government is to announce whether it will go ahead with a controversial plan to build Singapore’s first casino.

“The government is worried about big numbers turning up for the protest,” Jeyaretnam told a news conference on Thursday. “Even if it was just 10,000 to 20,000 people, it would be embarrassing for the government.”

Jeyaretnam, a lawyer and the first opposition politician to break the ruling People’s Action Party’s parliamentary monopoly when he won a seat in 1981, was forced out of politics in Singapore when he was declared bankrupt.

In November, he lost a legal battle to discharge a bankruptcy ruling barring him from standing in the next general election due by 2007 following three libel suits, including one brought by former prime minister Goh Chok Tong.

The government’s proposal for a resort-style casino has divided public opinion but is widely expected to be approved. Religious groups and social workers warn that it would fuel crime and social ills in one of Asia’s safest cities.

Jeyaretnam said his failure to obtain a permit to march shows that, despite the government’s vows to open up and loosen social controls, political freedom remains elusive.

“They have been calling on Singaporeans to come on, stand up and talk, but here is the opportunity presented to them and they turned it down flat,” said Jeyaretnam. “What I want to drive home is that there has been no change at all.”

Police routinely deny applications for street demonstrations in Singapore. Opposition politicians are only allowed to make public speeches in designated places during election campaigning or at an outdoor “Speakers’ Corner” in a city park fashioned after London’s Hyde Park — right next to a police station.

Public protests are rare in Singapore. Public gatherings of more than four people require a police permit. A person convicted of unlawful assembly can be fined up to S$1,000 ($605).

The U.S. State Department, in its February annual report, sharply criticised Singapore for using libel suits to intimidate the opposition, saying the threat inhibits opposition politics and has led to a culture of self-censorship in the media.

The government says a high degree of control over public debate and the media is needed to maintain law and order.

Singapore’s PM arrives in Myanmar

YANGON, March 30 (AFP) – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday, amid rumblings over whether the military-ruled nation should be allowed to become chairman of ASEAN as scheduled next year.
Lee, who became leader of his city-state in August, is on a three-day visit to Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia as part of a new leader’s traditional visits to fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
He was set to meet Prime Minister Lieutenant General Soe Win and later Wednesday have talks with the junta leader Senior General Than Shwe, before having dinner with Soe Win.
The meeting with Soe Win was to take place at a military guest house run by the State Peace and Development Council, as the junta is known.
Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, who is travelling with Lee, said this month ASEAN leaders were worried that its international reputation would be tarnished unless Myanmar implements democratic reforms.
Unless Yangon demonstrates some changes, ASEAN leaders would have to convey “hard messages,” Yeo said.
Politicians in Malaysia and the Philippines are putting pressure on the reclusive country, which has been ruled by the military since 1962, to implement democratic reforms.
The politicians are trying to stop Myanmar assuming ASEAN’s alphabetically rotating chairmanship in late 2006 after Malaysia.
Filipino lawmakers are trying to get the issue discussed at an April 3 meeting in the Philippines involving 1,500 legislators from Asia, Europe and America.
But Malaysia’s government this week distanced itself from moves by lawmakers to introduce a motion in parliament urging that ASEAN deny Yangon the chairmanship until it releases detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
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‘Dr Balaji, Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts

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8) In 1997, two Singaporeans received donor platelets and red blood cells from SGH. These were later discovered to have been HIV-contaminated. What did the government do? Instead of trying to explain how such a serious procedural fault could have happened, they went on a witchhunt. They traced the donated blood products to a man whose name and face was published in the papers. And there it was, the public execution to deflect consciousness from the failings of the public health system.

9) Balaji, we don’t need you to be sad.

10) We need you to do something about the epidemic. And the solution is not in passing legislation that will continue to stigmatise PWH’s (people with HIV), PWA’s (people with Aids) and gay men. We need you to start spreading the message, alarmist or otherwise, to straight people too, because your recent comments can easily lull them into a sense of complacency. We need you to provide a better environment for those stricken with the disease to lead productive and dignified lives. We need you to try to provide better treatment to PWH’s, and for the record your much vilified northern neighbour, Malaysia, has introduced free treatment of generic frontline drugs to PWH’s. We need you, ultimately, to tell PWH’s that they are not lesser human beings because high risk behaviour is often linked to issues of self-worth. We need you to start thinking of how terrified a sexually active 18-year-old boy is to take a HIV test because if he’s branded positive in his community it’s the end of the world for him and he can’t afford that, not when he’s never really been in love before. We need you to start thinking of that man who goes around fucking without a condom because in the society he lives in, having HIV is a shameful thing and who sees infecting other people as revenge against that society. We need you to start thinking long and hard about the prostitute who doesn’t insist anymore on her clients using protection because in the country she lives in, a Minister has given her an expiry term of ‘four to five years’.

Climate control in the Singapore Press

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by Eric Ellis

The Australian, June 21, 2001

Part of the challenge, Chua says, of being a journalist and possibly even being a Singaporean is testing boundaries that are “not clearly defined” by the Government, “perhaps on purpose”.

“It’s part of our culture, part of our maturing as a nation.”

That means little campaigning journalism and no established culture of investigative reporting. An underground press is virtually non-existent, in large part because of the Government’s restrictive press laws.

The system functions like a big corporation, designed to maximise profit. The Government maintains an upbeat information department, frequently holding press briefings lauding economic achievements but rarely or publicly discusses substantive matters of policy and politics.

“Government press control might shock one’s liberal western mindset, but this is now a well-entrenched part of national culture,” says Roland Rich, a former Australian ambassador to Laos and co-author of the book Losing Control, which analyses press freedom across Asia. “You get the government you deserve and in Singapore you also get the press you deserve.”

To read the entire article click the title or click here.

Real Reform is ALWAYS better than Revolution

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The tightly controlled media in Kyrgyzstan had – until Thursday – refrained from mentioning the weeks of protest that have shaken the south of the country.

As the demonstrations reached the capital, Bishkek, and protesters dramatically stormed the main seat of government, state-run TV showed nature programmes and a report about a circus.

At the same time, the private Pyramid TV channel chose to air Euronews instead of its scheduled local news. It then continued its programming with Russian soap operas.
But this all changed when a group of opposition supporters entered the state television headquarters.

Well I suppose comparing Singapore with Kyrgyzstan is rather erroneous. I mean Kyrgyzstan’s media was controlled by the rulers, and Kyrgyzstan’s leaders were accused of nepotism and corruption. Poverty may have pushed the Kyrgyzstan population over the edge. So the PAP are safe.