BlogDay 2005

BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.

Here are my five recommendations;

C**S**F From Democracy to Deleuze, India and Bombay.

Dan Gillmor Running an appeal for cash and I imagine prayers for those caught up in Katrina’s rage. A promoter of Citizen journalism in the USA.

Here is the truth about Zimbabwe Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Glutter Her somewhat popular blog that is banned in China for its support of the democratic movement in Hong Kong.

Burma Underground The goal is that ‘Ethnic Voices’ will serve as a valuable resource providing news and commentary on issues relating to Burma, particularly the ethnic resistance movement.

Radio Rendezvous with Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan,

Radio Rendezvous with Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan,

Nonviolence International

For those of you who are unaware, Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan was denied entry into Singapore in May 2005. Below is an article that appeared on Forbes. Click here to hear the mp3 file.

Singapore bans US activist for political interference

Forbes
05.16.2005, 02:54 AM

SINGAPORE (AFX) – A US democracy activist has been banned from entering Singapore indefinitely for interfering in the nation’s domestic politics, the government said.

Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, the Southeast Asian coordinator for the group Nonviolence International, was turned away from Changi Airport and sent back to Thailand when he tried to enter Singapore on Friday.

Opposition politician and Singapore Democratic Party secretary general Chee Soon Juan told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Moser-Puangsuwan had been invited to Singapore to give a lecture at a weekend training workshop on non-violent political action.

The Home Affairs Ministry said in an e-mailed statement sent to AFP: ‘Foreigners like Yeshua with no stake in the future of Singapore and of Singaporeans will not be allowed to interfere in Singapore’s domestic politics, much less to instigate, agitate and promote civil disobedience among targeted segments of society, against the laws of the country.’

The statement concluded: ‘The government has therefore decided to bar Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan from entering Singapore indefinitely.’

The Nonviolence International website says Moser-Puangsuwan, a US citizen, is the organization’s ‘main facilitator of training programs in movement strategy and political struggle’ in Southeast Asia.

Worrying Development – Can Someone Confirm This?

The following has yet to be confirmed… I had been reading the exchanges online at the Pilot n Jo site. I however did not realise that Dr Lim might actually be Dr Lim.

Bloggers Niraj and Johal of http://pjshow.blogspot.com/ were warned by a person posting in their comments column of their blog that they may have violated the law because their podcast of an interview with oppoistion leader Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party may be deemed to carry political content.

A certain ‘Dr Richard Lim’ had posted the following comments on
http://pjshow.blogspot.com/2005/08/

imagine_112462795073393621.html#comments

Dear Pilot n’ Jo Show,

I refer you to Section (c) of MDA regulations on “Registration of Internet Class Licensees” – “Content providers who engage in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore on World Wide Web through the Internet are required to be registered with MDA. The objective of registering political websites is to ensure that those who run sites engaging in the discussion of domestic politics are accountable and take responsibility for the content of their sites.”

As a concerned citizen, I advise you to (1) register your website as a political website, (2) cease and desist distribution of all abovementioned and upcoming multimedia content, and (3) delete all unsanctioned comments and follow-ups by the public.

Without prejudice,
Dr. Richard Lim

———————–

Free Speech Singapore has yet unable to determine if ‘Dr Richard Lim’ is the same person who heads Majulah Connection, described on its website as an organisation that connect “Singaporeans and Friends of Singapore (collectively called the Singapore Alumni) with Singapore, and provide platforms that offer business and personal opportunities to this community.”

http://www.majulah.net/about_management.html
http://www.majulah.net/about_us.html

Board of Directors and Management
Board of Directors

Dr. Richard Lim
Chairman

Richard started Majulah Connection in November 2002 and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is based in San Francisco, California.

Richard spent over 16 years in the US where he attended business school and founded several technology companies funded by top US venture firms. He was Chairman and CEO of iMarket, a software company funded by Sierra Ventures, Oak Technology Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures. iMarket was later acquired by Dun and Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB). Richard was also Chairman and CEO of Co-nect, an education technology company that was supported by GE Capital, ICG, and David Mixer, a founder of Columbia Capital. He seed-funded and served as a director of Quickdot Corporation, an internet startup that was financed by Charles River Ventures. Prior to starting his companies, Richard was an executive at Lotus Development Corporation in Boston. He was also a key member of the founding management team for National University Hospital in Singapore before he went to the US in 1986.

As Chairman of the Singapore Overseas Network (SON) (US), he was actively involved in the Economic Review Committee (ERC). He received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was designated as an Arjay Miller Scholar (top 10% of graduating class) and acquired an MBBS from the National University of Singapore on a PSC scholarship.

———————————–

http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/devnpolicies.aspx?sid=161#5

Who Needs to Register:
(a) Internet Access Service Providers, Localised and Non-localised Internet Service Resellers providing computer online service;
(b) Political parties registered in Singapore, providing any content on the World Wide Web through the Internet;
(c) Individuals, groups, organisations and corporations engaged in providing any programme for the propagation, promotion or discussion of political or religious issues relating to Singapore on the World Wide Web through the Internet; and
(d) Internet Content Providers who are in the business of providing through the Internet an online newspaper for a subscription fee, or other consideration.

In 2001, political chatsite Sintertcom was forced to shut down following governmental pressure to regsiter as a political website. Its owner Dr Tan Chong Kee told Straits Times that SBA (predecessor of MDA) gave him 14 days to provide details such as his salary, employer’s name and particulars. And sign an undertaking that he would be fully responsible for all Sintercom content. “It gave them a contractual right to sue me. That’s very serious,” he said.

http://www.yawningbread.org/arch_2001/yax-244.htm

http://it.asia1.com.sg/newsarchive/08/news007_20010816.html

Six Recommendations to Ensure Freedom of Expression on the Internet

Something I should have posted a long time ago.

Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE make six recommendations to ensure freedom of expression on the Internet.

This declaration by Reporters Without Borders and the representative of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) on Freedom of the Media aims to deal with the main issues facing countries seeking to regulate online activity. Should the Web be filtered ? Can online publications be forced to register with the authorities ? What should the responsibility of service providers (ISPs) be ? How far does a national jurisdiction extend ?

Reporters Without Borders thinks the six recommendations go beyond Europe and concern every country. It hopes they will provoke discussion in the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Full text of the Declaration :

1. Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the right to freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. In a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what they wish to access and view on the Internet. Filtering or rating of online content by governments is unacceptable. Filters should only be installed by Internet users themselves. Any policy of filtering, be it at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of information.

3. Any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is not acceptable. Unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not justify official assignment of licenses. On the contrary, mandatory registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on the Internet.

4. A technical service provider must not be held responsible for the mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses to obey a court ruling. A decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. Such proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.

5. All Internet content should be subject to the legislation of the country of its origin (“upload rule”) and not to the legislation of the country where it is downloaded.

6. The Internet combines various types of media, and new publishing tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy and protection of sources.

Singapore police asks filmmaker to turn in camera

From Reuters

SINGAPORE, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Singapore police have asked a filmmaker to surrender a video camera and tapes he used to make a documentary on opposition figure Chee Soon Juan as part of its investigation for possible breach of film laws.
Martyn See, a 36-year-old Singapore filmmaker, told Reuters the demand was made after he had been questioned for three hours at a police station on Thursday in connection with his film “Singapore Rebel“.

See said on Friday it was the second time Singapore authorities interviewed him about the 26-minute documentary he withdrew from the city-state’s annual film festival in March under pressure from government censors, who told festival organisers the work violated the Films Act.

“The questions were more political than last time and I think they were intended to find out about my political affiliation,” he said, adding that while the talk took place in a relaxed atmosphere he would object to the request to hand in his camera.

“I don’t mind them inspecting the camera but I need it back to do my work,” he said.

See said the police officer had offered no explanation as to why they wanted the video camera.

A police spokesman declined to comment.

Under provisions introduced to the Films Act in 1998, anyone involved in producing or distributing “party political films” — including those containing commentaries on government policies — can be fined up to S$100,000 ($59,840) or jailed up to two years.

The film at the heart of the controversy focuses on the life of Chee Soon Juan, who lost in January a three-year legal battle against defamation charges brought by Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and his successor.

In 2002, a documentary about veteran opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam was pulled from the film festival after its filmmakers were told it breached the act.

Opposition politicians have said the Films Act stifles political debate in the city-state, which has been ruled by the People’s Action Party since independence in 1965. Its 84-member Parliament has only two opposition members.

Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, took over as the island republic’s third prime minister last year, promising greater openness and saying Singaporeans “should feel free to express diverse views…or simply be different”.

International free-press advocates have repeatedly criticised Singapore for its tight media controls, such as a government ban of non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes. Films and TV shows are routinely censored for sex and violence.

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

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. ($1 = 1.671 Singapore dollar)

Update from Martyn See:

My tapes and camera were handed over to the police at the Police Cantonment Complex at about 6.45 pm this evening. When asked if I can get my camera back soonest, ASP Chan said “No promise.”

Police to confiscate camera and tapes relating to ‘Singapore Rebel’

From SingaporeRebel. The links will take you to the documentary in question.

This evening, I was again interviewed by the police regarding the making of my short video Singapore Rebel. The interview lasted about 3 hours and was conducted at the Cantonment Police Complex. The officer interviewing me was Assistant Superintendent Chan Peng Khuang. Again, the mood was relaxed until near the end of the interview when I felt many questions were totally irrelevant to the making of Singapore Rebel and I threatened to walk out. ASP Chan told me it is alright to refuse to answer questions which I deemed to be irrelevant. At the end of the interview came the cruncher that I was to surrender all tapes, courier invoices and even the video camera that were used for the filming of Singapore Rebel. I agreed to surrender them to him on Monday 29 August 2005.

Before the interview began, I asked ASP Chan : So I am here to answer further questions about the making of Singapore Rebel. Right?

ASP Chan : Yes

Here are a sample of some of the questions which totalled about 60.

When asked what inspired you to make this film, you claimed that political opposition in Singapore is marginalised. What do you mean by “marginalised?”

What in your opinion should the media do?

So you mean that the Singapore media is being unfair to political opposition?

You claimed that you took two and a half years to make the film. So is it normal for filmmakers to take such such a period to make a 26 minute film?

What sort of activities of Chee Soon Juan were you waiting that you think was worth shooting?

You mentioned that a friend of yours named Peter did the voiceover for the film? Is he contactable?

You mentioned that you edited the film on a friend’s Macintosh laptop. Is he contactable?

How was the item (laptop) passed to you and how was it returned to him?

Did you save any of the footages in his computer?

Do you own a computer now?

There were some newspaper articles on your blog? How did you secure those articles?

In your film, there were footages of Chee Soon Juan making speeches at a election rally. Where did you secure the footage?

Did you duplicate the video before returning?

Why was the election rally audio muted?

When did you know that Singapore Rebel was classified a party political film?

I am informing you that Lesley Ho’s (of Singapore International Film Festival) email dated March 2005 had mentioned that Philip (co-director of SIFF) was told that Singapore Rebel was objectionable pertaining to party political films. You were told that if you did not withdraw the film, the “full extent of the law” will apply. What do you have to say to that?

So you agree that at this stage when you read Lesley’s email, you knew that Singapore Rebel was classified as a party political film?

Since you knew that the film “may have been” a party political film at that stage, why would you want to circulate the film to overseas film festivals?

Can you recall participating in any activities organised by any political party in Singapore?

(Somewhere at this point of the interview, I told ASP Chan that I would walk out if questions continue along this line).

Did Chee Soon Juan direct you to do the filming on May Day (arrests of 2002)?

On 19th July, 2005, Chee Soon Juan and some members was speaking at Speakers Corner? Were you there to film the event? Who directed you to film the event?

On August 11, 2005, were you present in front of CPF Building when Chee Soon Juan and other SDP members gathered for a protest?

Did you contact Chee Soon Juan after the video interview on Singapore Rebel?

Are you still in contact with Chee Soon Juan now?

I do not want to go to your house. Are you able to produce to the police the following items?

1) Two remaining copies of Singapore Rebel
2) Receipts from courier services of you mailing the film to New Zealand and USA (as mentioned in your earlier statement)
3) The Samsung mini-DV camera you used to make Singapore Rebel, and
4) Any raw footages of Singapore Rebel before the editing.

I ask : When are you going to return them to me?

ASP Chan : On completion of the case. Won’t be too long.

Female prisoners work in call center behind bars in Singapore

Working a twelve hour shift is bad enough, but are these people being paid? “Chan also declined to say whether the prisoners are paid for their work, or to give any other details about the program’s finances.” Working without monetary remuneration is slavery.

Simply because someone has commited a criminal offence does not mean the state has the right to deny the individual of their human rights.

The fact that the “clients did not want to be named due to concerns that links with a prison could hurt their business,” is indicative of a wider issue. If the conduct of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises is adherring to human rights and proper treatment of inmates then surely the clients have nothing to fear.

Is the policy put in place to make money for Changi prison or rehabilitate offenders? What evidence is there that working 12 hours a day as a telemarketer will rehabilitate?

Questions need to be answered.

24 August 2005

khaleejtimes

SINGAPORE – Female inmates at a Singapore prison are working 12-hour shifts as telephone call-center operators and telemarketers in a state campaign to rehabilitate lawbreakers, an official said on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty much the same as a commercial call center, except it’s behind bars,” said Vincent Chan, a senior manager at the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises.

“It’s our way of upgrading the old prisons’ industries and enhancing the inmates’ employability,” Chan said.

He said the call center is a cubicle-filled room about the size of a basketball court at the Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Center.

The duties of the 38 inmates working there include answering questions about prepaid mobile phone cards and consumer products, he said, adding that supervisors monitor the calls to make sure they are limited to business.

The operators are trained to speak clearly and to soothe difficult customers.

The call center operates around the clock and has 10 clients, including a telecommunications company, Chan said. Clients did not want to be named due to concerns that links with a prison could hurt their business.

Chan declined to say whether the prisoners are paid for their work, or to give any other details about the program’s finances.

“I was a workaholic before, and not having anything to do in jail made me feel down,” Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper quoted a 32-year-old operator, who identified herself as Aris, as saying. “Being in this program helped me to be myself once again because I feel useful.”