Death Penalty: SONGS FOR SAM


From the Think Centre

SONGS FOR SAM: a benefit compilation for victims of capital punishment. It is a memorial to Shanmugam Murugesu, who was executed in May 2005 for possession of just over 500 grams of cannabis – which qualifies as a mandatory capital offence here in Singapore.

This CD is both a memorial and a celebration. First of all, it is a memorial to Shanmugam Murugesu, who was executed in May 2005 for possession of just over 500 grams of cannabis – which qualifies as a mandatory capital offence here in Singapore. But in a larger sense, this is a celebration of the spirit of Shanmugam and his courageous fight to have the harsh sentence imposed on him reduced.

The CD compiles 12 local original compositions with themes relating to issue of capital punishment. Some of the 12 artistes featured include X’ Ho, Zai Kuning, Six T Nine, The Escapist Theorist and Ila Mitra. It will be selling at SG$10 each and will be officially launched with a concert in August 2006.

We hope that in listening to this CD, you will also feel that spirit of people who joined the fight to save Sam’s life and to prevent any similar miscarriages of justice from taking place again. Part of the proceeds from the sales of this CD will be given to Sam’s family. Before his arrest and subsequent execution, Sam was the sole support of his disabled mother, Madam Letchumi, and his twin teenage sons. (Sam was a single father supporting the family with a series of jobs held simultaneously.)

In buying the CD, you will not only be helping this family so recently visited by avoidable tragedy, but will be supporting a cause that argues for the value of life and fights for that.

For more information contact us at songsforsam@gmail.com

An official website will be online soon featuring a music video for the track “Sam’s Song” by Six T Nine.

North Korea’s Foreign Minister makes official visit to Singapore


Foreign minister of totalitarian state visits authoritarian state. Trying to bring North Korea in from the cold or hoping to get in on a few economic deals? Something tells me it will have more to do with economics.

The totalitarian state also stands accused of systematic human rights abuses. Reports of torture, public executions, slave labour, and forced abortions and infanticides in prison camps have emerged. A US-based rights group has estimated that there are up to 200,000 political prisoners in North Korea [NOT Singapore of course]. BBC

North Korea’s Foreign Minister makes official visit to Singapore

SINGAPORE : North Korea’s Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun, will make an official visit to Singapore from 31 July to 3 August at the invitation of Foreign Minister George Yeo.

A Singapore Foreign Ministry statement says this will be the first official visit by Mr Paek in his capacity as Foreign Minister.

While in Singapore, Mr Paek will call on President S R Nathan, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, and Foreign Minister George Yeo.

The delegation will also visit the National University of Singapore and JTC Corporation. – CNA/ms

Sexier to say "no" to sex, Singapore Malay youth told

It may result in an open debate but the opening salvo and obvious direction that the campaign intends to go in is clear.

“This shows that our community has matured and is now ready to discuss this issue in the open and do something about it collectively.” Just don’t mention safe sex and condoms. The advice reads like a christian campaign you might find in America. Surely young people should be given information about contraception and how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence supporters are up front about their crusade being morality-based — and unpopular.

There is of course more than one approach to this ‘social problem’. But the approach in Singapore will be abstinence aimed directly at the Malay community. Preaching abstinence as the birth rate declines, stigmatising children born to unwed mothers rather than treating all children equally. Blantantly placing the blame of teenage abortion on a group that make up a minor proportion of the over all population while two thirds of all teenage abortions are from other ethnic groups. With over half of teenagers infected with sexually transmitted diseases not Malay.

So ‘Just Say No to Sex’, but when you are older and ‘married’ we want you at it like rabbits in order to overcome the continuing birth rate decline of certain ethnic groups. But by then you might be so terrified and uneducated about sex and sexuality that you have no idea about what to do and how to do it.

Surely a better policy would be to promote ‘abstinence’ with younger children but with teenagers who may already be sexually active promote safe-sex. To assume that teenagers and young people are a single group that can be approached with one singular campaign denies the activities and attitudes of different cohorts in the target community. I also feel that the headlines focusing on Malays is counter-productive and may add further stigma to the group. Was it absolutely necessary to focus on 14% of the population.

Singapore (ANTARA News) – “It’s sexier to say No!”

Singapore’s ethnic Malay teenagers will be given that message in a campaign to curb a disproportionate number of teenage mothers and sexually transmitted diseases, press reports said Monday.

About one third of all teenage abortions in 2004 occurred in the Malay community, The Straits Times quoted Minister of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim as saying at the launch of the campaign.

Malays make up about 14 percent of the city-state’s resident population.

Almost half of all teenagers infected with sexually transmitted diseases were Malay, and more than half of the 417 teens who gave birth in 2004 were Malay, The Straits Times said.

Yaacob was quoted as saying the data is “worrying”.

The month-long abstinence campaign will involve posters, the Internet, radio talk shows and community volunteers, newspapers reported.

“This shows that our community has matured and is now ready to discuss this issue in the open and do something about it collectively,” The Straits Times quoted Yaacob as saying.

Most resident Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese but there is also a substantial Indian minority as well as Malays. (*)

COPYRIGHT © 2006 ANTARA

Sexier to say “no” to sex, Singapore Malay youth told

It may result in an open debate but the opening salvo and obvious direction that the campaign intends to go in is clear.

“This shows that our community has matured and is now ready to discuss this issue in the open and do something about it collectively.” Just don’t mention safe sex and condoms. The advice reads like a christian campaign you might find in America. Surely young people should be given information about contraception and how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence supporters are up front about their crusade being morality-based — and unpopular.

There is of course more than one approach to this ‘social problem’. But the approach in Singapore will be abstinence aimed directly at the Malay community. Preaching abstinence as the birth rate declines, stigmatising children born to unwed mothers rather than treating all children equally. Blantantly placing the blame of teenage abortion on a group that make up a minor proportion of the over all population while two thirds of all teenage abortions are from other ethnic groups. With over half of teenagers infected with sexually transmitted diseases not Malay.

So ‘Just Say No to Sex’, but when you are older and ‘married’ we want you at it like rabbits in order to overcome the continuing birth rate decline of certain ethnic groups. But by then you might be so terrified and uneducated about sex and sexuality that you have no idea about what to do and how to do it.

Surely a better policy would be to promote ‘abstinence’ with younger children but with teenagers who may already be sexually active promote safe-sex. To assume that teenagers and young people are a single group that can be approached with one singular campaign denies the activities and attitudes of different cohorts in the target community. I also feel that the headlines focusing on Malays is counter-productive and may add further stigma to the group. Was it absolutely necessary to focus on 14% of the population.

Singapore (ANTARA News) – “It’s sexier to say No!”

Singapore’s ethnic Malay teenagers will be given that message in a campaign to curb a disproportionate number of teenage mothers and sexually transmitted diseases, press reports said Monday.

About one third of all teenage abortions in 2004 occurred in the Malay community, The Straits Times quoted Minister of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim as saying at the launch of the campaign.

Malays make up about 14 percent of the city-state’s resident population.

Almost half of all teenagers infected with sexually transmitted diseases were Malay, and more than half of the 417 teens who gave birth in 2004 were Malay, The Straits Times said.

Yaacob was quoted as saying the data is “worrying”.

The month-long abstinence campaign will involve posters, the Internet, radio talk shows and community volunteers, newspapers reported.

“This shows that our community has matured and is now ready to discuss this issue in the open and do something about it collectively,” The Straits Times quoted Yaacob as saying.

Most resident Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese but there is also a substantial Indian minority as well as Malays. (*)

COPYRIGHT © 2006 ANTARA

Singapore – Trust and Risk in the Workplace

If you have a few minutes to spare why not take part in an online survey and help an academic out…

If you are 18 years or over and currently live and work (full time/part time or casually) in Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore, the UK, or USA, you are invited to fill out this survey. Only people who use a computer and/or laptop at work are invited to complete this survey.

A number of surveys have been run on internet usage, yet researchers still know little about how individuals use their work computers. The purpose of this study is to ascertain how individuals in different countries use their work computers and/or laptop computers. It also asks how they protect their work computers and/or laptops from security risks.

The current study is being run by Dr. Monica Whitty at Queen’s University Belfast. If you have any questions about this research you should call Dr. Monica Whitty on 028 9097 5654, (+44 28 9097 5654 outside the UK) or email: m.whitty@qub.ac.uk

Participation in this study is on a volunteer basis. Any information or personal details gathered in the course of the study are confidential. No individual will be identified in any publication of the results. Your responses will be completely anonymous. This survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Submission of the survey is considered consent to participate in the study.

A summary of the results will be published from about November 2006 – December 2006 on the psychology website at Queen’s University Belfast.

If you want to take part click on the button below, and thanks in advance.

http://tinyurl.com/m2rml

Chees’ case against the Lees: Part II

From Singapore Democratic Party
30 Jul 06

Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin filed their affidavits for the summary judgement hearing on 3 Aug 06. The affidavit which presents the case against the Lees will be posted on this website in separate instalments. Part B is presented below:

B. The meaning of the words in Article

1. Essentially the Article makes the argument that the NKF scandal “is about greed and power.” This greed and power of T T Durai and the other officials in the NKF is borne out of a political culture bred by the PAP.

On greed

2. The Government insists that its ministers be paid millions of dollars in salaries in order to attract and retain talent in its ranks. Without this kind of pay, the Government insists, many of the individuals now serving as ministers will quit public service and join the private sector, thus depriving Singapore of talent and capability. Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong said that if “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” to justify their salaries. Also, the Government says that it is important for the ministers to be paid their current salaries so that they will not be tempted by corruption.

3. On the first point about retaining talent through high pay, the Government forgets that it is not a corporation where profit-making and the increment of shareholders’ values are the prime objectives. Public-service and working for the common, greater good of society are the overriding objectives of public servants in government (especially ministers and lawmakers). To be in positions of power and using that power to enrich themselves financially is to indulge in the politics of greed.

4. The Defendants are not saying that ministers should not be paid their worth but when the rationale is that their salaries should be pegged at those at the top levels of the private sector, monetary gain (instead of public-oriented, public-minded type of service) becomes the main motivating factor. And when money becomes the main motivating factor, greed surfaces. Our nation’s ministers must have the wherewithal to want to be leaders of the country and that includes have the vision and passion to lead. True political leaders don’t need to be enticed and retained by unseemly large amounts of money.

5. As for the reason that high salaries are a deterrent against corruption, a nation’s leaders must be of such character that they should be able to resist wrongdoing without being enticed by money. Ministers who are enticed by money do not make good leaders for the country.

6. An extension of this type of thinking can be found in the NKF when it was revealed that T T Durai was paid $600,00 a year. This caused a public uproar. Mrs Goh Chok Tong uncannily also used the same word that her former prime minister husband did when talking about salaries – that paying TT Durai $600,000 is “peanuts.”

7. The public outrage caused Mr Goh Chok Tong to apologise on his wife’s behalf. The public was angry because NKF was not a profit-making entity but a charitable organization set up to help those with severe medical problems. More importantly it relies on the goodwill donations from the people. To draw salaries as much as top earners in private business corporations was seen as greed and unacceptable.

8. Similarly, the Government of Singapore is not a profit-generating body and is not meant to be one. It derives its “wealth” through taxes, fees, levies, forced savings and acquisitions on the people. To pay ministers salaries comparable to business executives is also seen by many to be motivated by greed and is unacceptable.

9. It is this idea from the Government that people of “talent” must be paid salaries of private business executives, regardless of the fact that they serve in non-business capacities that allowed the thinking in the NKF that its executives must also be paid market rate. Mrs Goh’s “peanuts” comment testifies to this type of thinking.

10. This was not an opinion formed exclusively by the Defendants. The Yawning Bread website also wrote:

“Durai’s high salary and perks.

There were audible gasps in the courtroom when, in July, Durai revealed that his annual salary and bonuses amounted to $600,000 a year. Did he forget that he was running a charity? people asked.

Did he forget that the money for NKF came from the pockets of ordinary citizens, almost all of whom earned less than he did?

To compound matters, Mrs Goh Chok Tong, the wife of the former Prime Minister, and then-patron of the NKF, remarked to the press that Durai’s $600,000 pay was “peanuts” for someone who ran a multi-million charity with a few hundred million in reserves.

She would later publicly express regrets for those words, but the damage had been done. The public would see the PAP elite as completely out of touch with the average Singaporean’s feelings.

The additional revelations from KPMG’s report on 19 December 2005 only makes things worse. The report documented how Durai was given backdated salary increments, paid extra for “overtime” work, and how he was given extra days’ leave, only to convert those days into cash.

He also charged an average of $32,952 a month to his corporate credit card in 2004.

Singaporeans have never stopped grumbling about high salaries for ministers and senior civil servants. A case like this only keeps the grumbling alive.

Mrs Goh’s now-withdrawn remarks also reveal the tendency to measure the appropriateness of salary levels as a ratio to how much money is in the kitty, while the common man may think in terms of what is morally right for the job.

The government has always argued that however big the topline figure is, total ministers’ salaries are just a small percentage of the government budget, and that given the heavy responsibility to run an economy of billions, high salaries are justified. That’s the ratio justification. Mrs Goh’s remark basically runs along the same vein.

Few have bought that kind of argument, and now the depravity of it all as seen from the NKF saga, have once more turned people against it.”

11. Another similarity between the salaries of ministers and that of NKF officials is that they are not made readily available. When asked by Nominated Member of Parliament Braema Mathi during a Parliamentary sitting on 19 April 2004 to reveal T T Durai’s salary, Second Minister for Finance Lim Hng Kiang replied: “…this is a decision by NKF whether to disclose the salaries of the CEOs. Here, I have some sympathy for their dilemma. If they do not disclose, then there will be critics who say they are not transparent. If they disclose, there will also be critics who will say that whatever they pay are too high.” In a similar way, ministerial salaries are not made public as a matter of course. This is especially troubling when the levels are, by far, the highest in the world.

On Power

12. Greed cannot exist without power. It is power that enables those in top positions to indulge in greed by paying themselves astronomical sums of money. More importantly, power also enables the powerful to silence their critics through punitive action as well as to manipulate systems and people so that they can retain their positions. In other words, the greed can only be fed if the individuals indulging in greed remain in positions of power.

13. When volunteers criticised T T Durai’s practices at NKF, they were sued by Durai and were silenced even though they were clearly justified in their criticisms. Because they could not afford to fight the suit due to limited financial means, they had to agree to pay Durai and settle the matter out of court. This has the added advantage of ensuring that other critics also keep their views to themselves.

14. Again, this notion was not exclusively held by the Defendants. The Yawning Bread website wrote:

“The use of defamation suits

The moment Durai’s and NKF’s suit against Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and journalist Susan Long collapsed on 12 July 2005, the point was not lost on Singaporeans. Here was proof, if they ever needed it, that defamation suits can be used for dishonourable purposes.

The Straits Times’ article was not the first time allegations of impropriety at NKF had been aired. In August 1997 and December 1998, two volunteers at the NKF had also been sued for loose talk about misuse of funds at the charity. One of them, Archie Ong, made a casual comment to Alwyn Lim, another volunteer at NKF, that the NKF management squandered money meant for patients. He also said that Durai “jets about here and there in first class”.

Alwyn Lim reported this comment to Durai and the next thing Archie Ong knew, he was faced with a lawsuit. Lacking the means to prove his allegations, he settled out of court. He had to pay a “five-figure sum” in damages and legal costs.

Later, Alwyn Lim would be a board director and head the Finance Committee at NKF, flying first class alongside Durai.

In May 1999, the same thing happened again. This time, Tan Kiat Noi had to pay $50,000 in damages and legal costs for sending an email to 48 persons on 5 April 1999. Acording to news agency DPA, in her email, she alleged that the NKF did not help the poor and needy and paid its staff unrealistically high bonuses. She also urged members of the public not to donate money to it.

DPA news agency quoted Matilda Chua, speaking for the NKF, as saying, “NKF employees were paid an average bonus of 1.4 months last year [i.e. 1998] and were not given a 13th month bonus.”

Chua herself received a bonus in 1998 equivalent to 14 months’ salary.

But things were different with the 2005 case. Probably because SPH could afford high-powered lawyers, they could contest their suit where the volunteers and Tan Kiat Noi had not felt confident doing the same earlier. SPH’s high-powered lawyers could demand from NKF the information they needed. What this information showed was not only that the Straits Times’ article was well-founded, but also that the volunteers and Tan had been right all along.

The Singapore public now feels it was extremely perverse that the law had been used to shield wrong-doers from the “little guy”. Only in the rare case of the NKF taking on a “big guy” – the Straits Times – was justice obtained.

As everyone knows, People’s Action Party (PAP) ministers have regularly taken their political opponents to court for defamation, always against the “little guy”. The Straits Times is unlikely to pick up this thread, but that’s not to say it won’t be a question asked around in coffeeshop talk: what’s the difference between Durai’s defamation suits and the PAP’s?

Will the public recall the NKF scandal the next time the PAP sues someone for defamation? And then, if the court finds for the PAP, will respect for the judicial system go down the same chute?”

15. In the PAP’s case, the officials have the power to amend the rules and laws governing elections so that they are returned to power. These undemocratic measures help the PAP to retain power and it is this power that enables them to indulge in greed and to silence their opponents. Freedom House reported in its annual report in 2005:

“Citizens of Singapore cannot change their government democratically. Singapore’s 1959 constitution created a parliamentary system of government and allowed for the right of citizens to change their government peacefully. Periodic elections are held on the basis of universal suffrage, and voting is compulsory. In practice, however, the ruling PAP dominates the government and the political process, and uses a variety of indirect methods to handicap opposition parties. The head of government is not chosen through elections; the prime minister, like the cabinet, is appointed by the president…Though general elections are free from irregularities and vote rigging, the PAP’s manipulation of the political system means that they cannot be termed fair. Opposition parties are constrained by the ban on political films and televised programs; the curtailing of expressions of political opinion by the threat of libel or slander suits; strict regulations and limitations on associations, including political associations; and the PAP’s influence of the media and in the courts, among other things. The net result is that there is no effective opposition.”

Chees’ case against the Lees: Part I

From Singapore Democratic Party

30 Jul 06

Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin filed their affidavits for the summary judgement hearing on 3 Aug 06. The affidavit which presents the case against the Lees will be posted on this website in separate instalments. Part A is presented below:

A. Test of what is defamatory

1. In the Halsbury Laws of Singapore, the test of whether a statement is defamatory or not, the Courts must consider:

a. What meaning the words would convey to the ordinary person.

b. Whether the reasonable person would be likely to understand them in a defamatory sense.

c. The views of the community as a whole, and not just that of a limited class.

2. It is therefore important to show that the ordinary, reasonable person in the community had formed the same views following the scandal of the National Kidney Foundation (“NKF”). This is because if such persons had formed similar views, the words in The New Democrat article “The Govt’s role in the NKF scandal” (“the Article”) would not be deemed defamatory. The following sentence in the Article formed the main thesis: “It is impossible not to notice the striking resemblance between how the NKF operated and how the PAP runs Singapore.”

3. In December 2005, four months before the Article was published Yawning Bread, a website published by Alex Au, posted an article entitled “The political parallels to the NKF scandal” in which the author also compared the resemblance between how the NKF operated (under NKF CEO TT Durai) and the way Singapore was run by the Government:

“I can see five aspects of the NKF scandal that parallels features of Singapore’s political system, and now that the systemic failings of the NKF are being brought to public attention in such an ignominious fashion, they may cause longer-term complications for the ruling party. They are:

– The use of defamation suit
– Durai’s high salary and perks
– Incompetence in government
– Oversight of executives
– Dollars and cents as the criterion of success”

4. The community at large also compared the operation of the NKF with the running of Singapore. The Straits Times (6 Jan 2006) published reporter Li Xueying’s statement:

“Some people have drawn parallels between the NKF and the Government, namely the use and justification of high salaries to draw talents, the use of libel suits to silence critics and the political patronage.”

5. Discussions commenting on the similarity of the operations of the Government and the NKF in the Internet was rife:

Publish the salaries of PAP ministers for all to see
http://omekanahuria.blogspot.com/2005/07/publish-salaries-of-pap-ministers-for.html

T T Durai, Defamation Lawsuits, And The PAP Government
http://www.myapplemenu.com/singapore/2005/12/22/

Be Open on HDB Flat Pricing — Open Letter to PM Lee
http://forums.hardwarezone.com/showthread.php?t=1235459

NKF Saga III: Transparency & Accountability?
http://singaporealternatives.blogspot.com/2005/07/nkf-saga-iii-transparency.html

Where’s the defamation?
http://singabloodypore.blogspot.com/2006/04/wheres-defamation.html

The Similarities Between Durai’s NKF & the PAP
http://www.talkingcock.com/html/viewtopic.php?forum=6&topic=1439

Singapore’s Greedy Ministers Compared With Other World Leaders
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/1826

NKF Scam Places Spotlight On Rediculous Minister Salaries
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/1811

Understanding Legitmized Corruption – The NKF Scam
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/1808

The Board Behind The NKF Scam
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/1802

NKF=PAP=CPF
http://search.blogger.com/?as_q=NKF&ie=UTF-8&ui=blg&bl_url=xenoboysg.blogspot.com&x=61&y=4