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Singapore Activists Face Police Harrassment & Intimidation

Message of defiance from Singapore activists

Resolute in the face of police intimidation
30 May 07

Several activists have been called up for questioning by the police for standing up for their rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly last year.

Fifteen local democracy advocates attended police investigations in the past several weeks to answer questions on their participation in two events: the World Bank-IMF meeting in September and on International Human Rights Day in December.

Despite the harassment, however, these human rights defenders remain defiant. In a signed statement as well as video-taped messages, the advocates reiterated their commitment to establishing their political and civil rights of Singaporeans.

The police have made outrageous allegations that the advocates have committed offences such as “counseling disobedience to the law”, “holding an assembly and procession without a permit”, and even “incitement to violence”.

In Sep 06, seven activists took part in a protest at Hong Lim Park during the World Bank-IMF meeting, calling for freedom of speech in Singapore. They were stopped by the police which turned the event into a 72-hour standoff.

On 10 Dec 06, several advocates conducted a Freedom Walk down Orchard Road to mark International Human Rights Day.

This is the first time that a group of Singaporeans have courageously stood up for their rights and they remain resolute in the face of police intimidation. They responded with dignity by going to the police stations to face the investigators.

They even called on fellow Singaporeans to step forward and join them in their fight against the despotic PAP Government (see video). They also made appeals to the international community to pay attention to the continued repression in Singapore.

The group’s action will shine the spotlight on the PAP which is running out of ideas on how to improve Singapore and resorting to desperate measures to silence a population which is becoming more assertive.

The latest police action signals a regime increasingly at odds with the people it rules and it is a clear indication of a Government that is insecure and lacking in confidence.

One of the activists, Mr Jeffrey George, who is a staunch advocate of democratic values and practices, said: “Singaporeans must not be cowed by this bullying. We must show that our right to democracy and freedom is inalienable, it cannot be taken away from us.”

Mr John Tan, another democracy advocate, added: “I challenge the Government to live up to the pledge our children recite in school everyday, that is, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality.”

Mr Tan questioned how could Singaporeans feel proud when citizens “are hauled up for being patriotic?”

“How can we feel at home when we do not have basic human rights such as the freedom of speech and expression?” he asked. “The freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble are fundamental to the very definition of democracy. They are the elements that either make us a free people or a nation of slaves.”

Express your support for these courageous citizens who have found their voice and are standing up to the PAP. Write them a message of solidarity and encouragement (speakup@singaporedemocrat.org).

It is our duty to speak up, 30 May 07

We, the undersigned, are being questioned by the police for taking part in political activities on 16 September 2006 and 10 December 2006.

We are Singaporeans exercising our sacred rights and speaking up for the rights of our fellow citizens.

We object to being harassed by the Singapore Government and reiterated our stand that as citizens its is our duty and responsibility to speak up and hold our Government accountable. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We oppose the repressive measures of the ruling Peoples’ Action Party which continues to use laws to prosecute citizens for exercising our freedoms of speech and assembly.

We call on democracy defenders to denounce the anti-democratic stance of the Singapore Government and to support the cause of democracy in Singapore.

Signed,

Gandhi Ambalam
Chee Siok Chin (Ms)
Chee Soon Juan
Chong Kaixiong
Jeffrey George
Johnny Hoe
Isrizal
Kirat Kaur (Ms)
Monica Kumar (Ms)
Priveen Suraj
Gerald Sng
John Tan
Charles Tan
Tan Cheng Poh
Teoh Tian Jing
Yap Keng Ho
Francis Yong

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Singapore – Legal Letter from Grand Seasons International

It appears that Tomorrow.sg has received a Legal Letter from Grand Seasons International Lawyers(referring to this entry?).

October 23, 2006
timeshare scam
Gecko said:

I have removed the original content at the request of Gecko.

Link

Submitted by gecko on October 23//10:46am and published by cowboycaleb, shianux :: add new comment | 3833 reads | trackback

Threats of legal action should never be used to quash legitimate and valid criticism on the internet and as well as that they simply draw attention to an issue that would have drifted off into the ether to have been forgotten about. The first point of contact should not be to threaten legal action.

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The letter states….

Our Ref: JSG/1311/07
Date: 23 May 2007

Editor
Tomorrow.sg
Registrar: Vooju Pte Ltd
Registrant: James Seng
[Address]

Dear Sir

GRAND SEASONS INTERNATIONAL – TIMESHARE SCAM COMPANY

We act for M/s Grand Seasons International Pte Ltd.

Our clients instruct that a blog has been published in your Bulletin of Singapore Bloggers at the following url address: http://tomorrow.sg/archives/2006/10/23/grand_seasons_international_ti.html with the heading in bold “Grand Season International-TimeShare Scam Company”.

We are instructed that the above words are defamatory of our clients and our client’s reputation and goodwill has been disparaged and seriously damage. It is common knowledge that the Internet has millions of users who have free and open access to the words complained of.

In the premises our clients instruct that unless the above offending words are removed from the above url address and from the bulletin board within the next 5 days from the date hereof our clients shall have no alternative but to proceed as they deem fit in the matter.

Our clients also seek your co-operation to disclose the name and address of “GECKO” who has posted comment on 23/10/06 regarding our clients in the captioned matter as our clients intend to pursue their legal rights against the writer.

Yours faithfully,

Jagjit Singh Gill

cc clients

And the offending article which will of course now receive far more attention than it ever would have is available below…

read more…

Singapore – Straits Times Decreasing Traffic

Found On Singapore Election
When The Straits Times started charging for access all those years ago it was the wrong move. Why pay to access the reporting of a mass media outlet that is ranked either 147th or 154th in the world depending on your ranking source. The paper is losing revenue as are so many other newspapers around the world. The 20 – 30 generation are going online to get news that matters to them. Not news filtered by a process of ‘self-censorship’ or by a regime that demands control over all that is written.

Simply no longer charging visitors to view your advertisements and state-controlled press releases is not going to turn the fortunes of the ST around over night. Trying to isolate yourself from the global market of media and cultural production by charging your readers and hoping that they show loyalty to you was mis-guided. But until the Straits Times journalists are able to compete on the global playing-field without the dead-weight of self-censorship and state control – all the technology in the world will not alter the image of the Straits Times as a state owned and controlled propaganda outlet.

FROM Tuesday, visitors to The Straits Times’ (ST) website will not have to pay to read the latest breaking news from Singapore and the world.

They can also post their views – in real time – on the reports they read.

One other major change: The site will drop its 12-year-old name, The Straits Times Interactive, or STI, and go with the cleaner ‘straitstimes.com’.

Since becoming a subscription site in 2005, it has been offering only a small buffet of material for free:

1. ST’s online forum letters;
2. Multimedia features, such as video news reports and podcasts;
3. A restricted selection of 20 reports from the print edition.

All other content, including breaking news and material picked up from the print edition of the newspaper itself, has been available only to subscribers in the past two years.

Explaining the move to open up more free-access content, ST editor Han Fook Kwang said: ‘There’s a great deal more we can do in the website to leverage on the award-winning talent in The Straits Times newsroom of writers, photographers, artists and designers. I think we’ve a good product and we want to make it available to more people in cyberspace, and to use the technology available on the web to make it an even better product.’
Here is the real reason ….

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Singapore – Capitalism without democracy is exploitation

Capitalism without democracy is exploitation – excerpts from A Nation Cheated
28 May 07
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THE only difference between communism and capitalism, it has been said, is that the communists have admitted that they were wrong.

Such an observation, undoubtedly made with tongue firmly in cheek, is nevertheless a serious indictment of the economic system that has enveloped this planet.

The widening disparity between the world’s rich and poor continues to ask questions about the way humanity conducts itself. Poverty brutalises and dehumanises the victims it claims. It is an evil that tears at the very heart of civilisation.

Giving succour to us is the knowledge that people are not defenceless when it comes to combating poverty. The weapon of choice is, of course, democracy. For without it, capitalism becomes nothing more than exploitation in disguise.

And yet, in Singapore the situation is such that while the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) remains alive to the capitalist world, it ensures that democracy is kept dead and buried. Such an arrangement renders the working poor voiceless and powerless, opening them up to abuse and exploitation.

A Nation Cheated addresses the fallacy that Singapore has a well-run, free-market economy system put in place by the PAP that continues to benefit the island’s inhabitants.

In fact, this report clearly demonstrates that there is nothing free or market-oriented about Singapore’s economy. Worse, developmental trends over the last 10 years show how Singaporeans have been economically displaced and socially dislocated as a result of PAP policies.

It documents the subjugation of the labour movement by the Singapore Government during the nation’s formative years which has continued into the present. The official argument is that strong trade unions are inimical to foreign investment.

After nearly half-a-century of uninterrupted authoritarian rule, however, the results are abysmal. Singapore’s economy seems unable to graduate into something more than a service station for multinational companies. The resultant effect has been the emergence of a significant layer of underclass.

The report also demonstrates that this system is actively maintained by an autocratic government whose political philosophy and practice is predicated on Lee Kuan Yew’s idea that state resources should be concentrated on the top 5 percent of the pop-ulation “who are more than ordinarily endowed physically and mentally.”

Most importantly, this essay presents a clear alternative to the course taken by the PAP who has bludgeoned into the minds of the populace that there isn’t, and can never be, one.

It was first published in 2002 under the title First World…For Whom? Much has happened since and this updated version will bring readers up to speed about Singapore’s political-economy, poverty, and labour.

Many have bought the e-copy of A Nation Cheated written by Dr Chee Soon Juan. If you haven’t done so, order a copy today and support the democracy campaign in Singapore!

Option1: You can place your order through Paypal, either through your own Paypal account or directly with your credit card if you don’t have a Paypal account. Click on the ‘Buy Now’ button below.

Option 2: If you don’t want to use either of the above options, please write to speakup@singaporedemocrat.org.

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Singapore – Avoidance of Double Taxation

for Myanmar Citizens living and working in Singapore

To remove unfair and unjust double taxation practice that Myanmar citizens living and working in Singapore are facing despite the fact that there is a Comprehensive Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) signed between Singapore and Myanmar.

Contact
Naing Moe Aung
Mobile: (+65) 9871 0563
Fax: (+65) 6491 5522
Email: naing {at} projectdecision.com

Please download the template, print it out and start collecting the signatures from those around you and return it to the address below by 01 July 2007.
Naing Moe Aung
Block 74, Bedok North Road
#08-108
Singapore 460074

Ka Daung Nyin Thar wants the Myanmarese workers in Singapore to be united and participate in the campaign which would compel Singapore PM to discuss with Myanmar government to respect the agreement.

First spotted on Global Voices Online
Further details are available here.

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REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE – Amnesty International Annual Report 2007

Amnesty International Report 2007 Overview Video

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Annual Report 2007

REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE

Head of state: S R Nathan
Head of government: Lee Hsien Loong
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not ratified

Freedom of expression and assembly came under increasingly close controls. Men arrested in previous years were held without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act amid fears that they were at risk of ill-treatment. Death sentences were imposed and at least five people were executed. Criminal offenders were sentenced to caning.

Background
The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has dominated political life and wider society for nearly half a century, was re-elected for a five-year term in May. The party’s stated commitment to building a more open society did not materialize.

Restrictions on free expression and assembly
Civil defamation suits and criminal charges were used or threatened against government critics, human rights activists, Falun Gong practitioners and foreign news media. Tighter restrictions on several major foreign publications were announced in August, enabling the authorities to take punitive measures more easily.

• Dr Chee Soon Juan, leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, was declared bankrupt in February when he was unable to pay damages of 500,000 Singapore dollars (approximately US$306,000) to two PAP leaders when a 2001 defamation suit ended. As a bankrupt, he was barred from seeking election. He was imprisoned for eight days in March for contempt of court after saying publicly that the judiciary lacked independence. In November he was sentenced to a prison term of five weeks for speaking in public without a permit. On his release he faced further criminal charges for speaking in public without a permit and attempting to leave the country without permission. In August the publisher and the editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review were sued for defamation in connection with a favourable article about him.

• J B Jeyaretnam, former leader of the opposition Workers’ Party, unsuccessfully appealed against the bankruptcy imposed on him in 2001 after a series of politically motivated defamation suits. He remained unable to stand for re-election.

• Writer Lee Kin Mun was suspended by the state-owned newspaper Today following publication of a critical article on Singapore’s living costs.

• Two Falun Gong practitioners were convicted of holding an illegal protest outside the Chinese Embassy and sentenced in November to prison terms of 15 days and 10 days respectively. Nine practitioners were charged with illegally assembling to distribute leaflets. Jaya Gibson, a British journalist and Falun Gong practitioner, was denied entry to Singapore.

• The government restricted both domestic and foreign activism relating to a meeting in Singapore of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in September, provoking worldwide criticism, including from both institutions.

Detention without charge or trial
At least 34 men remained in detention without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act. The authorities claimed the men were involved in militant Islamist groups and posed a security threat to Singapore. Seven detainees were reportedly released after co-operating with the authorities and responding well to “rehabilitation”. In February, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was reported as saying that the treatment of such detainees was not a “tea party” but denied they had been tortured.

Conscientious objectors
At least eight conscientious objectors were imprisoned, and 12 others continued to serve their sentences during 2006. All were members of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group. There were no moves towards offering an alternative to military service.

Death penalty and corporal punishment
At least five people were executed, two in June following conviction for drug trafficking, the others in November after being convicted of murder. Death sentences were handed down to at least five people.

The presence of foreign prisoners on death row raised the international profile of Singapore’s high rate of executions. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions expressed concern about executions in Singapore and called for an end to death sentences for drug-related offences, arguing that the mandatory death sentence is a violation of international legal standards. In January the Singapore Law Society said it intended to carry out “an open-minded review of the legal issues” related to the death penalty.

People continued to be sentenced to caning throughout the year, including a 16-year-old boy convicted of theft and judged unsuitable for reformative training.

Asia Video
Watch Amnesty International’s Secretary General talk about the positives and negatives in Asia over the past year and give her message to the region.

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