Young Mother Starts Hunger Strike in Response to Unfair Treatment by Singapore Authorities

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By Li Qun
The Epoch Times
Apr 29, 2005

Attorney Alfred Dodwell (right) with Huang and Cheng, the two female Falun Gong practitioners. (Epoch Times)

Cheng Lujin is one of two female Falun Gong practitioners who were unfairly arrested and imprisoned charged by the Singapore authorities. To protest this unfair treatment, Cheng has started a hunger strike.
Cheng Lujin began to fast immediately after she was sent to prison. Her husband was called by the jail to urge her to eat food.

The two Singapore Falun Gong practitioners Hua Caihua and Cheng Lujin were arrested for practicing the Falun Gong exercises at Binhai Park and mailing truth-clarifying video discs to the police. Although Falun Gong is legal in Singapore, authorities found the video discs objectionable, probably because the discs contained information critical of the Chinese Communist regime, which has a six-year history of torturing and murdering Falun Gong practitioners.

Around 4:30 p.m. on April 27, they were judged guilty and fined by the Singapore court. The two practitioners found the ruling unfair and refused to accept the verdict. Around 6 p.m., authorities sent them to Zhangyi Women’s Prison.

Before being sent to Zhangyi Women’s Prison, Cheng Lujin expressed the wish to take her six-month-old baby with her. Cheng Lujin came from Mainland China, and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, their six-year-old son and six-month-old daughter. During her imprisonment, her husband will have difficulty caring for both children alone.

Singapore Falun Gong spokesperson Dr. Wang Yuyi said, “The judge simply refused to listen to the defense attorney who provided the statement based on the constitution and human rights, and defied the fact pointed out by the attorney that many charges are not at all supported by any effective evidence. Instead, the judge insisted on punishing the two Falun Gong practitioners with severe fines. In actuality, this is already participating in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.”

The Epoch Times will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Singapore Blogosphere to Become Global Blogopolis

Is this for real. I found it at THE KENTANG. And after almost needing a cardiac ambulance, was informed that it’s a joke. With tongue very firmly lodged in cheek….

Following comments on the prominent blog “Singabloodypore”, the Singapore Government has decided to step in by forming the SBDC – Singapore Blogosphere Development Council, with Ms. Regina Juggs as its newly appointed chairperson.

“What many Singaporeans do not realise,” says Ms. Juggs, “is that their blogs are on the World Wide Web and are thus not only subject to local scrutiny and surveillance, but potentially connect to the rest of the world. The SBDC has been formed to ensure that the content, language and style of Singaporean Blogs reflects a mature, healthy identity that is both Uniquely Singaporean and firmly rooted in Asian Values, while acknowledging and conforming to the New Global Economy.

“Mr Mc Dermott’s post revealed a worrying trend in Singapore Blogs to celebrate frivolousity and infantilism, topics summed up brilliantly in one of the comments as ‘shoes, coffee, toilet paper, catching mosquitoes, or whatever’. One only has to look hard and long at blogs such as Xiaxue to realise that something is very wrong in our community. However, serious social cancers are not our concern. SBDC’s concern is solely to clean up the image we present to the rest of the world, in order to maintain global competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors.

“Thus, the first initiative of the SBDC will be the ‘Blog Good English’ campaign, similar to the ‘Speak Good English’ campaign introduced in recent times. We will send email to the authors of blogs that use excessive Singlish, advising them to revise or delete their posts, and if they do not comply, encourage them to take remedial lessons in English, subsidised by our council. Further campaigns will focus on the content of local blogs, aiming to make them more mature and sophisticated and provide insightful information on elements in our local culture: Food Guides, Examinations (PSLE and GCEs), Issues on Procreation and Marriage, and Reports from ‘The New Paper’, and politics”

When asked to elaborate on the last element, Ms. Juggs Said “Foreigners have perpetuated the belief that Political Discussion is totally non-existent in Singapore. This is merely another example of the misconceptions that Westerners have towards Asians. In Singapore, Political Discussion takes place, but is considered a private affair, usually confined to the bedroom or taxis, at most within an intimate gathering of Uncles at a Coffeeshop. However, since blogs tend towards the personal, political discussion will leak out into cyberspace and we will continue to monitor the situation to continue the current perception of political blogs as dense and of an intellectual bent; in general, boring and irrelevant to local life. We also plan to encourage such political blog owners to have a petty and implausible outburst at stipulated times, to allow the negative view of their personality to completely out shadow any merits within their arguments. Failure to do so may result in threat of removal. This is consistent with our strategy outside Cyberspace.”

How is Singapore Science Really Doing?

By Acidflask…
 Posted by Hello

The Singapore government has been lauding Singapore as a technologically advanced nation and a world-class leader in research and development, especially in recent years with the earmarking of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ funding for encouraging scientific research, particularly in the life sciences. Yet a closer inspection at scientific statistics tells a different tale from the official party line.

The statistics in question are Thomson ISI ‘s Essential Science Indicators. ISI publishes the Web of Knowledge , one of the world’s most important citation databases. (One can think of it as a giant database of academic trackbacks.) Many scientific journals that are deemed of suitable quality for inclusion are indexed back to 1945, the year after WWII that saw a surge in research ouput. Conventional wisdom claims a strong correlation between the number of citations and the relative importance of a paper in that particular field, particularly when compared to the field’s average. Hence in academia, where collaboration and building upon the work of predecessors (and the “shoulders of giants “) is critical for progress, citations are one of the most powerful forms of evaluation in terms of what peers think of one’s work. ISI’s database, being the largest, is therefore arguably one of the most reliable sources of information.

In terms of ISI’s citation statistics, Singaporean academia sucks big time. In the years 1999-2003, Singapore scored below average in terms of impact factors in 19 out of 21 fields tracked by Thomson ISI. The only above-average disciplines were mathematics (10% above the global average) and oddly enough, agricultural sciences ( +48 ). In contrast, engineering and physical sciences, which Singapore boasts as its strengths, perform miserably: materials science ( -5 ), chemistry ( -11 ), computer science( -18 ), engineering ( -18 ), physics ( -38 ), and geosciences ( -52 ) were all below average. This contrasts with statistics suggesting prolific scientific output in computer science, engineering, materials science, physics, and mathematics in particular, in terms of sheer numbers of papers published.

Even in the life sciences, the skew toward trendy disciplines is obvious. Consider these two categories and judge for yourself:
hot: agricultural sciences ( +48 ), plant and animal sciences ( -2 ), microbiology ( -5 ), biology and biochemistry ( -14 ), molecular biology ( -19 )
cold: immunology ( -33 ), neurosciences (-36), clinical medicine ( -36 ), ecology/environmental ( -37 ), pharmacology ( -40 ), psychology/psychiatry ( -50 )

Although I am no expert in the life sciences, the preceding dichotomy suggests that pumping money into the life sciences has developed a chasm between the “hot” (easily commercializable) life sciences and the “cold” (traditional and/or non-commercializable) life sciences.

One comment on the methodology: scientific contributions are attributed to Singapore if at least one author’s address is reported to be in Singapore. Thus the data do not discriminate between the output of true-blue Singaporean researchers and the output of luminaries who were encouraged financially to grace Singapore with their presence but otherwise have no interests in Singapore as a nation-state. Note also that money is being pumped preferentially into disciplines that happen to have the highest average citations in the field, in particular molecular biology. Considering the bureaucrat’s affinity for numbers, is there some statistical gerrymandering to pull up Singapore’s ranking in citations statistics?

Most worryingly, clinical medicine ( -36 ) and education ( -54 ) both fare extremely badly in the citations game. Most academics believe that good teaching goes hand-in-hand with good research, because only a good educator will be able to practice what he preaches and only a good researcher, current with the latest happenings in the field, will be able to provide the most relevant education. The connection between good researcher and good doctor is even more obvious. So given the absymal relative lack of research, how is it possible to maintain our “world-class” education and health-care systems? Or unless one is willing to stretch the idea of being “world-class” to include even being far below the world average, were they even “world-class” to begin with?

The conclusion is crystal-clear: we are very good at producing unstimulating scientific research. In other words, we are good at wasting trees. A conclusion that is bolstered by considering that in the years 1993 – 2003, Singapore was ranked 36th in prolificity (i.e. number of papers published in all disciplines) out of 145 countries, but only 92nd in terms of relative impact (citations per paper).

Apologists for the current régime are quick to invoke the usual arguments that Singapore has limited human resources and no natural resources, and is also starting relatively late in the game, and hence such comparisons are biased against Singapore and should not be taken seriously. But comparing Singapore’s statistics with other countries quickly debunks such entrenched self-pitying beliefs. Israel, for example, has a population of slightly over 6 million people. It has arguably the fewest natural resources of any Middle-Eastern country, and on top of that has been embroiled in strife and violence since time immemorial. By the preceding arguments, Israel should be one of the world’s most ill-developed countries technologically, if for nothing else for having to spend huge gobs of resources just to survive, yet it is not. The citation statistics back up Israel’s reputation for high technology: it is ranked 16th in productiveness and 24th in relative impact. South Korea is now by far the most scientifically prolific of the Five Asian Tigers. Belgium , a relatively small country with only 10 million people, has 9.5 papers per 1000 capita and 9.43 citations per paper (ranked 19th). In comparison, Singapore’s statistics are 8.6 papers per 1000 capita and 4.58 citations per paper. Even Lebanon , still recuperating from a 16-year civil war that only ended in 1991, managed to beat Singapore in terms of relative impact of papers in computer science (1.12 v. 1.03), a field which Singapore considers among its greatest strengths. The consensus across various statistics speaks for itself.

In conclusion, Singapore’s quest for world domination in the scientific sphere must address the grim reality painted by this (admittedly limited) analysis:
That the top 20 countries are leaps and bounds ahead of Singapore, if for nothing else for the sheer availability of resources. So by definition it will be very difficult for Singapore to match up against these truly world-class countries.
We can write many papers, but obviously not many people care about them.
Singapore is not a major contributor to the physical sciences, even in per capita and per paper terms. Even in the life sciences, she is not doing well consistently across the board.
Comparisons with similarly-sized countries show that we are simply not holding the fort even in our own middleweight class.

If this is what a quick look at a few numbers can reveal, how many more ugly truths need to be dug up from more in-depth analyses before Singapore will heed this sobering wake-up call?

Student forced to shut down blog after libel threat

Reporters Without Borders today expressed support for a student in Singapore forced to shut down his blog on 26 April for fear of a libel action by the head of a government body and warned that “such intimidation could make the country’s blogs as timid and obedient as the traditional media.”

“Threatening a libel suit is an effective way to silence criticism and this case highlights the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in our worldwide press freedom index,” it said. “We especially support bloggers because they often exercise a freedom not seen in the rest of a country’s media.

The threat of prosecution came from Philip Yeo, chairman of the government’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), which grants research scholarships, who claimed it was libelled in a blog (www.scs.uiuc.edu/~chen6/blog) by Jiahao Chen, a Singapore student finishing his studies in the United States. Writing under the pseudonym of Acid Flask, he criticised Yeo and the A*STAR scholarship system. He also agreed to his remarks being reproduced in the online Electric New Paper (http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg). Yeo sent him several e-mails demanding that he delete all blogs mentioning him or A*STAR and threatening legal action if he did not.

A few days later, Acid Flask shut down the blog and posted a message of apology to Yeo in its place. Other Singapore blogs that had reproduced the remarks quickly afterwards posted apologies or themselves closed down.

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How to be An Anonymous Blogger

Click the link to go to a guide that I found on Global Voices.

Good Luck.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation posted an excellent guide to safe blogging a few days back. While the guide is quite rich in tips to ensure you don’t reveal too much personal information while blogging, it doesn’t look very closely at the technical issues associated with keeping a blog private. I decided to write a quick technical guide to anonymous blogging, trying to approach the problem from the perspective of a government whistleblower in a country with a less-than-transparent government. What follows is a first draft – I’ll be posting it on the wiki as well (in a day or two) and will be grateful for comments, corrections and input.

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Sarah works in a government office as an accountant. She becomes aware that her boss, the deputy minister, is stealing large amounts of money from the government. She wants to let the world know that a crime is taking place, but she’s worried about losing her job. If she reports the matter to the Minister (if she could ever get an appointment!), she might get fired. She calls a reporter at the local newspaper, but he says he can’t run a story without lots more information and documents proving her claims.

So Sarah decides to put up a weblog to tell the world what she knows about what’s happening in the ministry. To protect herself, she wants to make sure no one can find out who she is based on her blog posts – she needs to blog anonymously.

To read on click here…

Blog Down Blog Down!

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Thanks to S.T. for the heads-up.

Goodbye everyone. It was short, but it was fun.

Why am I closing down SLMJD? No, I have not received any threat of legal action from any head of any statutory board or from any business tycoon.

Earlier I had promised that I would write a post providing practical tips on how bloggers can minimise their risks of defamation lawsuits. Last night, while thinking about what practical advice I should give, I realise that I have failed, in SLMJD, to apply a key piece of my own wisdom.

This piece of wisdom is, of course, anonymity. No one can sue you if they don’t know who you are.

Well, I’ve made my real identity known in this blog. It’s probably a fairly serious error. In the future, this error will probably hamper me from saying what I really want to say, on current affairs and issues in Singapore.

Sex trafficking growing in S.E.Asia

By Fayen Wong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Human rights activists called on Southeast Asian governments on Tuesday to crack down on sex tourism and child trafficking, saying the problem was becoming more rampant.

Experts and rights workers said more women and children in Southeast Asia were being trafficked to feed the appetite of sex tourists.

“There must be a co-ordinated and co-operative effort if we are to succeed in eradicating human trafficking, especially child sex trafficking from this region,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on child prostitution.

“It is most timely for ASEAN countries to tackle the issue in view of its recent declaration against trafficking,” Muntarbhorn told Reuters.

ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ECPAT, an international non-governmental organisation working to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children, said there were more than 1 million child prostitutes involved in sex tourism in Asia, of which 300,000 were in Thailand, 100,000 in the Philippines and Taiwan and 40,000 in Vietnam.

“Many of them are tricked into the trade, it is easy to do so because the women and children are young, illiterate, vulnerable and gullible,” Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation fighting against human trafficking, told Reuters.

to continue reading this article click here…
Trafficking in Persons Report: Singapore