30 Apr 2007
Mon, Apr 30, 2007
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) stands in solidarity with the workers in Singapore. We are strongly of the view that each and every Singapore workers has contributed tremendously and significantly to the building of this nation. We lament however the lack of sincere treatment by the PAP government towards the hands which toiled to keep Singapore afloat.
The clearest testimony of that affront is illustrated in the PAP government’s unabashed claim that the nation owes its billions in GDP to the “extraordinary” leadership of the PAP, and as such the PAP must necessarily be compensated with “extraordinary” escalating wages. While the GDP of Singapore has grown over the years, the salaries of many Singapore workers have proportionately stagnated, seen tokenish improvement, or sadly even regressed.
Singapore workers have been mercilessly pounded by salvoes of undignified government measures such as non-negotiable hikes in GST, property tax, utility charges, public transport fares, postage cost, medical fees, education costs, and even PAP town councils fees. The PAP government does not pause for an empathising moment from inflicting punishing measures on the workers.
We are painfully concerned that many workers are now unable to accumulate sufficient savings to contemplate a decent retirement at old age, or to meet their medical expenditures. We are equally disturbed that the PAP’s more liberal policy on foreign workers has seen a collapse in salary floor for the lower-income workers. This trend is now rapidly infecting the middle-income workers caught in a hard squeeze of facing cheaper foreign competition and higher cost of living while receiving lesser state subsidies.
It is all the more deplorable that the PAP government now decides to prescribe the “bitter medicine” of urging workers to “work for as long as he can”, and to completely forgo the concept of retirement. It is also painful to see workers, especially those who have lost their jobs through the sordid government policies, literally begging for an increase in state assistance, only to be seen as a liability by the PAP government who wastes no time dismissing the pleas as one stemming from a “crutch mentality”.
The NSP is disappointed that Singapore workers are unable to enjoy the fruit of their 40-years of labour, needing to practically ‘work to their graves’. And to aggravate matters, the workers’ unions in Singapore have evolved from one amplifying the muffled cries of concerns of the workers, to one serving as a mere communication-bridge to disseminate and persuade workers to accept debatable government labour policies.
Nevertheless, the NSP is optimistic that Singapore workers will be steadfast in their quest to seek a fairer alternative for themselves and their future generations. We are hopeful that the Singapore workers will one day regain the sense of respectability and purpose that is enshrined in the original spirit of Labour Day.
We wish all Singapore workers peace and hope.
Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party
As I am writing this, Dr. Chee and Ms. Chee are probably walking along the streets of Hougang or Eunos. On May Day, they will be arriving at the Speaker's Corner at about noon to address gatherers.
Our purpose for this event is to commemorate May Day by highlighting the plight of the workers in Singapore in juxtaposition to the incredulous pay raise the already rich ministers are giving themselves.
Some of you might have wondered what a walk such this can accomplish. After all, many had spoken and blogged on the issue, whereupon the ruling elites, in their usual manner, had chosen to turn a deaf ear to the citizens and bulldozed their self-serving policy through.
It is true that a two-person walk would not add much voice to what had already been said. But a 500-person walk would. The ruling party knows the power of a people united. That is why they use undemocratic laws to curb peaceful assembly.
MAY DAY WALK
Fortunately for us, there is yet no restriction to the number of people who can assemble at the Speaker's Corner. Therefore, I urge all of you, who want to make your voice heard, to be at Hong Lim Park before noon this Tuesday (May Day). There is more than enough space there for 500 people. Make full use of the last remnant of your democratic rights before the day comes when even that might be taken away.
You must have heard this humorous story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but instead Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about this, because it was Everybody's job. When Everybody thought Anybody could do it, Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
The joke might be old and moldy, but its relevance is timeless. If Everybody only wants to stay home and wait for Somebody to put up streaming video clips of the event, guess who will be there at the event? No prize for guessing that trusty Nobody will show up. So, if you are Anybody, I urge you to be there.
Let us shout to force the attention of our uncaring government. Let us rattle their beds in which they slumber while we, the Singapore Workers, slog our lives away.
See you there,
Eric Ellis looks for explanations for Singapore's booming property market.
SINGAPORE'S property market is roaring. And why I know that is because the lease on our apartment will soon expire and our landlady wants 70 per cent more rent than she did in 2004.
No matter that the place leaks like a Canberra cabinet and that its 1970s-wired electricity trips at least once a week: these are details too far for our poco-curante proprietrix. But she has noticed that a private banker from Tokyo has signed, sight unseen, for a same-sized unimproved flat downstairs at 150 per cent more than the vacating lessee paid, and she reckons we are getting a bargain for $6000 a month.
It's all very puzzling as there's no textbook rationale to the sudden real estate boom here. The economy's growing at an unremarkable-for-Asia 6 per cent, much the same as it has for years, save the difficult "Asian Contagion" period of the late 1990s. There's no more government pump-priming than usual, none of the official withholding of land to get prices artificially moving that's much loved in Singapore's rival for city-state hothouse, Hong Kong. And though wealthy enough, with just 4.5 million people Singapore is still 2.4 billion consumers short of being "Chindia", Asia's neologism du jour.
From Sotheby's to shares, Singapore has no shortage of places to park cash. But new luxury apartment blocks are sprouting among the frangipani, touting all manner of metropolitan arcadia - infinity pools, gyms, private clubs. They sport funky names such as Trillium and Botanika, fashioned on hoardings in designer fonts usually seen in Wallpaper magazine. My favourite promises that the elysian towers rising behind it will be "Home to 46 of the Most Luminous Families" - which will presumably take care of electricity bills, also on the rise.
The reasons why it's suddenly salad days for Singapore developers seem to reside in neighbouring Indonesia, a country rated by the graft watchdog Transparency International at 130th of the 163 nations it tracks in its annual corruption survey. TI's first place, ie, the world's least corrupt place, is occupied by Finland, Iceland and New Zealand. Australia ranks joint ninth with The Netherlands.
27 Apr 2007
SINGAPORE: The decision by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts — and its use, for the first time, of the Minister's discretionary powers — to ban a film based on the arrest and detention of a former journalist and politician throws up a number of questions.
Why ban the film, Zahari's 17 Years, when it was passed with a PG rating not once but twice last year, to be screened at the Singapore International Film Festival and the Substation's Asian Film Symposium?
Neither organiser screened the film and it was reported that the Media Development Authority had told the Substation that the film may include defamatory content.
Why ban the film when the memoirs of Mr Said Zahari, a former editor of the Malay language newspaper Utusan Melayu and president of Parti Rakyat Singapura, are available in bookshops here?
As the 77-year-old told AFP: "What I said in the movie I have already said in my book, and much, much more."
Why create unnecessary curiosity and drive people online to watch the film, which has already found its way on to the Internet?
In today's wired world, it is more likely than not, the ban will be ineffective and counter-productive. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said as much recently: Censorship in the Internet age "makes no sense".
Indeed, a movie has a wider and more evocative reach than a book, since voice, motion, drama and images do tend to have a bigger impact on shaping the minds of audiences — which is why different rules must apply to different media, especially on issues that could get the viewers worked up.
I saw the film before the ban. It gave an account of Mr Said's arrest and detention days — including his recollection of taking Chinese lessons from a fellow detainee. He said he was not a foreign agent, nor a communist sympathiser. He also spoke critically about Mr Lee, when asked for his take on why he was detained.
Mica said that the film gives a "distorted and misleading" portrayal of Mr Said's arrest and detention and "could undermine public confidence in the Government". The film, it added, was "an attempt (by Mr Said) to "exculpate himself from his past involvement in communist front activities against the interests of Singapore".
Most Singaporeans recognise a good government — and a flat lie for that matter — when they see one. If the authorities were worried about whether the audience would be discerning enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, they could have given the film a higher classification rating.
If the intention was to send an unequivocal message, there are better ways to do so, including a rebuttal of the false accusations.
The Government has every right to take a stand against what it feels is a distorted account. If it felt that an open rebuttal would raise the film's profile unnecessarily — which it has inadvertently already done with the ban — the authorities could impose, as a condition for screening, a "government advisory" at the start or end of the film, to refute any misleading statements.
Actually, this was a great opportunity for the Government to engage Singaporeans on an important part of the country's history.
The tumultuous period from the '50s right through the '70s, with its backdrop of riots and demonstrations, can arguably be described as the defining period of nationhood.
These events, which were openly documented by newspapers, shaped the Republic's relatively short but no less rich history.
Yet, our school children do not get a good grasp of these events from our history textbooks — the same sources that described the '50s Hock Lee bus riots as having been primarily fuelled by dissatisfaction with long work hours and low pay.
Some researchers and historians have offered other possible reasons for the riots, such as anti-colonial sentiments and instigation by pro-communist quarters.
It is not that these accounts are not available here. One can go to the Internet, visit libraries and bookshops, attend forums — like the one held last year by former political detainees Messrs Tan Jing Quee and Michael Fernandez — or even get second-hand accounts from their parents or grandparents, to piece together this important chapter of the Singapore story.
Censorship is a double-edged sword, especially in today's YouTube world, where privacy is constantly under threat.
Allow anything and everything and you are likely to have an uncontrollable situation on your hands. Cut and censor and you will have a population hungry for the forbidden fruit.
So, how do we move forward?
Engage Singaporeans, let contrarian views find their voice and challenge the views of those who have different accounts.
The Government took a rare and bold move to debate ministerial salaries openly in Parliament, although it was not duty-bound to do so. Singaporeans wrote in to newspapers to give their views, not all of them agreeing with the Government.
Censorship deserves a similar airing. I can't think of a better way forward. - TODAY/fa
27 April 2007
SAFE is a group of family and friends who affirm and support gay and transgendered people as persons with equal rights to respect, dignity, acceptance and empowerment in society.
We are writing to express our appreciation and thanks to MM Lee for his recent comments at the dialogue with Young PAP and the interview with Reuters.
We appreciate the two cogent points he made,
1. That homosexuals are born with this propensity and not by choice. It is a genetic variation, not an aberration.
2. That the existing criminal law against homosexual acts in the Penal Code is outmoded.
We at SAFE fully agree with and support these points and are hopeful that the law that criminalises homosexual acts will be abolished in the proposed amendments to the Penal Code. We see this as a logical and responsible next step.
As with all complex human traits and behaviours such as intelligence, homosexuality is probably a result of many factors. Rather than arguing about whether particular genes can be found for these traits and behaviours, we should continue to accept our fellow Singaporean citizens and residents who deserve the same rights to respect, dignity, acceptance and empowerment as everyone else, and to be treated equally under the law.
We cannot agree with a law that proclaims our sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, uncles, relatives and friends are criminals for a propensity that is not of their volition, is innocuous and part of their private lives. For far too long our gay loved ones from a young age, have suffered deep internalized oppression, often resulting in the disintegration of family, compromised relationships, low self-esteem, stunted maturity and unavoidable deceitfulness.
We therefore support the proposed decriminalisation of oral and anal sex as proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs this past November, and ask that it apply equally to all consenting adults.
Since the 1970s, the law has been used in Singapore as an educational tool; we implore the Government to use it again for the same purpose. This will be a first step in educating the public on the nature of homosexuality, educating them to become more understanding, respectful and accepting of our human diversity.
The homosexual community is an essential element in the tapestry of peoples that make Singapore such a unique and cosmopolitan community. Homosexual men and women enrich our lives through their participation in business, the professions, the arts, and government. They are our sons and daughters, colleagues, neighbors, and friends.
Legal discrimination against homosexuals is unfortunate, outdated, and regrettable. It tells them that they are less than fully welcome; that their participation in Singapore life is subject to government forbearance. It diminishes the entire Singaporean community by allowing laws to stand that criminalise many of our fellow citizens. While contributing to intolerance it leaves the government and legal authorities open to the charge of being hypocritical for not enforcing a standing law.
As we focus on the richness gay people bring to our lives and our love and support for them, we not only liberate them, we also become a society committed to the Asian values of real family – strong, whole and committed to love against all odds.
Read the Reuters article: Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew questions homosexuality ban
Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin will be walking the above route for the May Day Walk for Workers.
Starting at Hong Lim Park (Speakers' Corner) at 6am on Sunday, 29 Apr 07, the two will proceed westward towards Jurong and then work their way north to Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands before journeying south to Yishun and then Ang Mo Kio.
The walkers expect to reach the Yishun/Ang Mo Kio sector by Sunday evening.
After some rest, they will continue to the eastern part of the island and hit Pasir Ris and Tampines before heading south towards downtown Singapore and, finally, ending back at Hong Lim Park on Tuesday, 1 May, at around noon.
The Walk is intended to focus attention on the plight of workers in Singapore who have been exploited by the PAP, and left voiceless without independent trade unions to represent their rights and interests.
Rest stops and meal breaks will be announced on this website during the walk itself. There will be updates on the progress of the Walk and video messages will be posted to keep Singaporeans informed.
Supporters are encouraged to come by and encourage the Chees in their attempt to cover the distance of 150 km.
So tell your family and friends of this event, and help spread the message that Singaporeans need to become active citizens and assert their rights. On this May Day, people need to know that they need not suffer in silence while the PAP and its ministers grow rich on the back of these workers.
Remember, workers made Singapore rich, not the PAP.
If you want to help make this event successful, contact the Singapore Democrats at email@example.com.
26 Apr 2007
From People Like Us
According to the Straits Times, Lee was speaking in answer to a question from Young PAP activist Loretta Chen, who had asked where censorship was headed in the next two decades. Young PAP is the youth wing of the People’s Action Party. The event was a gathering of this youth group at the St James Power Station, a trendy night spot, on 21 April 2007.
Especially as these comments were made extemporaneously, their meaning is open to interpretation. There remains considerable uncertainty as to what Lee had in mind when he spoke of taking a “practical, pragmatic approach” and not upsetting anti-gay groups’ “sense of propriety and right and wrong.”
People Like Us has long argued that equality for the GLBT minorities is more than just a matter of being practical. Fundamental rights are at issue. It is detrimental to fundamental conceptions of justice and equality as well as the constitutional development of Singapore not to respect these rights, whether with regard to GLBTs or other minorities.
Nonetheless, if the government thinks that it can sell the idea of decriminalisation – if indeed that was what Lee had at the back of his mind – through reliance on the argument of pragmatism, then so be it. The important thing is for the government to act. For many years now, it’s been one minister after another muttering words that have so far not translated into any meaningful change in policy or legislation. Enough.
In the lead up to May Day next week, SDP leaders and activists will conduct a series of activities to commemorate International Workers' Day.
One of the main events will be the Walk for Workers in Singapore where Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin will attempt to walk across the island of Singapore.
Starting from the Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park, the two will walk west to Jurong, then head north to Woodlands, proceed to Pasir Ris in the east and then finish back at Hong Lim Park.
The entire journey is expected to take approximately 55 hours with rest and meal breaks. It will cover approximately 150 km. The walkers will begin at 6 am on Sunday, 29 Apr, and finish on May Day, Tuesday, 1 May.
The Chees ran a marathon in 2000 to mark International Human Rights Day. The 26-mile run marked the numbers of years Chia Thye Poh was imprisoned by the PAP. For details of the occasion see http://www.singapore-window.org/sw00/001209sc.htm.
The aim of the walk is to focus attention on the exploitation of Singapore's workers by the Government and recent raising of the GST adding to the financial burden of the working class.
The walk will also be part of the continuing rebuke of the ministers increasing their salaries to unconscionable levels despite the poor getting poorer in this country. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pays himself $260,000 a month while workers make as little as $400 monthly.
Logistical support is needed for this exercise. Anyone and everyone who wants to help out can contact the Singapore Democrats at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of the walk will be announced over the next few days.
The second activity will be the launching of an online SDP report on poverty and labour in Singapore which exposes the PAP's inept handling of Singapore's economy.
Democracy activists will also attend a seminar to be held in the next few days where the development of leadership skills for NGO leaders will be discussed.
Finally, SDP leaders will be at Speakers' Corner on May Day (next Tuesday) starting at 12 noon to welcome Dr Chee and Ms Chee on the completion of their walk as well as to speak on the hardships faced by workers in Singapore.
So keep your eyes and ears open for details and join us in our continued endeavour to empower Singaporeans and to restore the rights of our workers.
And the MrBrown affair gets yet another mention.
By Claudia Blume
25 April 2007
Blume report - Download 717k
Listen to Blume report
Asia's blogging community is growing rapidly, as more people get access to the Internet. In countries with a controlled media environment, blogs promote free speech and offer alternative sources of news and information. But some governments in the region try to limit access to the new media. Claudia Blume reports from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.
Millions of people in Asia have taken to blogging in recent years, creating personal Web sites that often take the form of an online diary. The word blog derives from Web log. China alone is estimated to have up to 30 million bloggers.
As elsewhere in the world, the region's collection of blogs on the Internet is diverse and amorphous. But in Asia, a survey by the U.S. software company Microsoft estimates that nearly half of those who are online have a blog, compared to just eight percent of U.S. Internet users.
Most people create blogs to share their lives and interests with friends, family and a few strangers. Many use text and photos, but also sound and video. Others blog to exchange information, create networks or express opinions about a wide range of issues.
In this music video, posted on the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube, two young Malaysians say an ironic 'thank you' to Indonesia for being responsible for last year's haze, the pollution that spread from Indonesian forest fires. The bloggers' criticism is an opinion that their governments would not express.
For some people, blogging has become a powerful tool for freedom of expression. Rebecca MacKinnon, an expert on online media at the University of Hong Kong, says a small percentage of people in the region create blogs to tell a wider audience what the mainstream media are not reporting.
"Some of these people who are creating media such as Jeff Ooi in Malaysia, a number of bloggers in China, basically there are people one could cite in any given country around the region, who are developing rather large audiences because they are saying something fresh or more direct than [what] people are getting from their traditional media sources," said MacKinnon.
News of the famous nail house in the Chinese city of Chongqing, where a couple tried to block the destruction of their home earlier this year, was first spread on blogs. When mainstream media were told to remain silent on the case, a Chinese blogger who calls himself Zola traveled to Chongqing and continued to report about it.
Isaac Mao, a well-known Shanghai-based blogger and software architect, says Zola's action was a milestone for Chinese bloggers.
"So it means once the traditional mainstream media, if they fail to work, grassroots media can take over the niche or they can take another role - to report some social events from different angles," said Mao.
In countries with a highly restricted and regulated media environment, such as China, Vietnam, Burma and Singapore, blogs can provide different, independent information and viewpoints. While the quality and trustworthiness of blogs varies greatly, they are becoming popular sources of information in places where the mainstream media lacks credibility.
"People may now welcome this diversity of news but that's precisely because I think one thing to remember is a lot of people are already very skeptical of mainstream media in their own countries, precisely because they are aware that most mainstream media in their countries are [one] either owned by the state or they are highly restricted and therefore are not really free to provide independent and diverse news," said Roby Alampay, the executive director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
Alampay says some blogs are created by professional journalists who post online what they are not allowed to publish in their day-jobs. Last year, for example, a Singaporean journalist whose column in a government-controlled newspaper was suspended after he criticized high living costs in the city-state was able to post the controversial story on his blog.
A number of Asian governments view bloggers as a threat. The Malaysian government has announced plans to set up a unit to monitor and counter what it calls lies and slander being spread on the Internet. Roby Alampay says governments across the region try to block, filter and monitor cyberspace.
"Censorship is becoming an issue all over Southeast Asia and I think it's safe to assume that most countries exercise some form of blocking and censorship or harassment of websites," Alampay added.
In Thailand, the military government recently blocked access to YouTube when an offending video clip of the Thai king appeared on the video-sharing Web site. It also suspended a popular political online chat room in April. In Malaysia, the government-linked New Straits Times newspaper recently filed defamation suits against two well-known bloggers.
Vietnam and China are particularly notorious for censoring the Internet. MacKinnon says that's why it would be impossible for anyone to create an opposition press through blogs there.
"You are not going to see a pro-democracy, anti-communist party-press emerging through the Chinese blogosphere. The Chinese government is able to prevent that from happening," said MacKinnon.
She said it would be over-simplistic to assume that the existence of blogs will suddenly bring about a democratic revolution in countries such as China.
Isaac Mao, for example, describes the cat-and-mouse game involved when bloggers want to outwit technical blocks imposed by government censors.
But MacKinnon says blogs offer the potential to open up the media in ways not possible before the spread of Internet access.
25 Apr 2007
The WAR and destruction of Iraq and the WAR in Afghanistan are a 'multinational reconstruction effort'.
By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
Singapore's Air Force has deployed another KC-135 tanker aircraft detachment to the Gulf.
The SAF's Chief of Defence Force, Major-General Desmond Kuek was at Changi Air Base on Wednesday morning to send off the team.
The Defence Ministry says this is Singapore's latest contribution to support the multinational reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The KC-135 detachment will conduct air-to-air refuelling missions during its three-month deployment.
Since 2003, the SAF has made deployments of Landing Ships Tank, KC-135 tankers and a C-130 aircraft to the Gulf. - CNA/ch
Whatever you do 'don't mention the war'. It might upset our neighbours in the South East Asia region and undermine our attempts to generate closer ties with Iran, if they all realise that we are providing physical support to the US led war.
24 Apr 2007
“Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s government has used an archaic film law to impose another authoritarian measure violating press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The ban on See’s film must be lifted. This act of censorship is all the more inappropriate and ridiculous as his films are available on websites such as YouTube and GoogleVideo. We call for the liberalisation of the censorship and internal security laws that deprive Singaporeans of an environment favourable to free speech.”
Since 12 April, anyone suspected of possessing or disseminating a copy of “Zahari’s 17 years” can be sentenced to two yeas in prison and a heavy fine. See was forced to surrender all of his own copies of the documentary to the ministry of information, communication and arts on 11 April.
The film consists of a 49-minute interview with Said, the former editor of the newspaper Utusan Melayu, about the reasons he and several colleagues were arrested under a draconian internal security law in 1963, when the government was headed by the current prime minister’s father. Two years before his arrest, Said led a strike by the staff of Utusan Melayu in protest against the government’s takeover of the newspaper.
In a letter sent to See’s home on 10 April, the information ministry notified him that the documentary was being banned under article 35 (1) of the Film Act because the authorities would “not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the government.” The documentary could “undermine public confidence in the government,” the letter added.
The documentary can be viewed at http://singabloodypore.rsfblog.org/archive/2007/04/12/singapore-zahari-s-17-years.html
You can keep up to date with Martyn See's situation by visiting his blog here.
Podcast: the mrbrown show 19 April 2007: Bak Chor Mee Man 2 (MP3, file size: 2mb, Time: 00:04:05)
You must pay top dollar for top talent. You must pay top dollar for top talent. Did I mention, you must pay top dollar for top talent?
23 Apr 2007
Sex scenes showing the homosexual relationships between teacher and his 18-years-old student became the reason to remove movie from a local Singaporean film festival after government censors said sex scenes from the film had to be cut.
Organizers of the Singapore International Film Festival and producers of "Solos" said Monday the film would be withdrawn from public screening in line with the festival's policy of only showing uncensored films.
The festival opened April 18 and runs through April 30. "Solos" was originally scheduled to be screened on Wednesday.
The film received an R21 rating - which restricts it to audiences over age 21 - with three cuts from the Singapore Board of Film Censors, said Florence Ang, the film's producer.
The board said in a statement that the film contained "prolonged and explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes including scenes of oral sex and threesome sex" which had to be removed.
The cuts make up about five minutes of the 77-minute film, Ang said.
BANGKOK: Thailand's military-appointed legislature will debate this week proposed changes to foreign business ownership rules that are still making foreign firms nervous despite government efforts to soothe their fears.
Business chiefs fear foreign companies will be driven away by the new rules, which emanate from the furor generated by the takeover of Shin Corp., the telecommunications giant founded by the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, by Temasek, the Singapore government investment firm.
At the least, the changes could stifle foreign investment in the export-dependent economy, business executives said.
"While other Asian countries, with less political and economic worries and larger markets, are opening up the doors for foreign investment, Thailand is doing the opposite," said Paul Strunk, head of the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce.
to continue reading and comment
16 Apr 2007
BANGKOK - Singapore's economy is booming, with gross domestic product (GDP) on course to expand 7.2% this year after racing ahead 7.9% last year. But the strong economic-growth figures mask a structural weakness in the island state's economic-policy mix, one that threatens its long-term international competitiveness, and one that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) clearly has no intention of amending.
This week, the PAP-led government rewarded itself with a 60% pay increase, boosting ministers' annual base salaries to about S$1.25 million (US$823,000), the highest pay scale for government officials anywhere in the world. Big budget surpluses provide the financial power behind the PAP's political monopoly, which steers the national economy and maintains a strict system of social controls.
To generate that largesse, the PAP maintains a highly austere fiscal policy, taxing more and spending less than perhaps any other government in Asia. The government contends on its official website that fiscal policy is directed primarily at promoting long-term economic growth rather than cyclical adjustment or redistributing income through "fair" tax policies and "prudent" expenditure programs. It contends an "ethos of fiscal rectitude" extends throughout the public sector to help ensure price stability and confidence in the local currency.
Beyond the official jargon, Singapore's fiscal policy consistently generates outsized surpluses, which come largely at the expense of the island state's private consumers and businesses through a complex web of income and various other hidden taxes. As a percentage of GDP, Singapore's domestic consumption historically ranges between 10% and 20% less than that of Hong Kong, where average per capita salaries are comparable. Anemic consumption coincided with Singapore running a current-account surplus of 28% of GDP last year - far and away the highest such ratio of any advanced economy in the world.
According to independent financial analysts who spoke with Asia Times Online, Singapore's outsized surpluses are habitually hidden away off-budget, often through the use of accounting gimmicks that diverge from internationally accepted norms. They note that government-linked companies and investment corporations buy and sell among themselves at undisclosed transfer prices, obscuring their profit and loss profiles. Nor, they note, does the government publish statistics related to its share of overall national savings.
We discuss the case of Amue Athu in a Singapore prison going to the Singapore supreme court and other issues.
I have reposted the following article as it is related to the video above. Also takes UNESCO to task and the sending of missionaries to Thailand.
From Akha Heritage Foundation
Ms. Meitinee Wongsa, an Akha woman from Thailand, was trafficked into Singapore. She was sent out of the country without due process and when she returned legally she was arrested. Now her case goes to the Singapore Supreme Court. Activism Works.
Ms. Meitinee Wongsa, an Akha woman from Chiangrai province in Thailand, was trafficked to Singapore under cloudy circumstances. She was quietly sent out of Singapore without due process when she didn't "work out".
Later when she chose to marry a man from Singapore, and set a date for marriage and returned to Singapore, the Immigration of Singapore arrested her and sentenced her to one year in prison for illegal entry.
Her fiance fought for her defense, and it was determined that highly irregular events happened in the handling of her case. How was she sent out of Singapore the first time with no arrest? Who signed what papers? Who was the translator? Why did they make her sign papers which said her real name was not in fact her real name? Why is there no record of her "arrest" with Singapore Immigration?
Now all of this is coming to light, and her case has been admitted by the Singapore Supreme Court.
In a day or two it will be listed on this site:
Supreme Court" under "Criminal Revisions".
This case has been very important to the freedom of Ms. Wongsa who is now in Portdown prison for many months.
It is also important because the Thai Embassy has had to admit she is there and confirm that she is a Thai citizen, which they did not want to do, (first they said her passport is false) and that her Identity card and passport are genuine. In the past Thailand has disowned Akha women trafficked to places like Japan.
You can contact the Singapore Consul in San Francisco to ask them about this case and for the immediate release of Ms. Wongsa. Her prison number is S12369.
595 Market Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Tel: (415) 543-4775
Fax: (415) 543-4788
Singapore citizens who need emergency consular assistance can call: (415) 595-4346
Use the last number, they actually answer the phone.
This case is also important in that it gives lots of light to how the Akha are treated, and the trafficking of Akha women by the Thais. The brothel owner in Hatyai has not been arrested at this time.
NGO's in Thailand have proved nearly totally useless in getting one of "their own" arrested for a crime.
Thank you for supporting Akha Human Rights.
We hope that her case is overturned and that she is released and allowed to marry and stay in Singapore as a FREE Akha woman.
to post a comment
Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking? 3
Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking? 2
Why Does Singapore Imprison the Victims of Trafficking? 1
Apr 16, 2007, 11:17 GMT
Singapore - The Danish animated film Princess has been withdrawn from the Singapore International Film Festival after censors ruled that it denigrated a religious symbol, a cross, organizers said Monday.
The production, the first animated feature from Danish director Anders Morgenthaler, focuses on a missionary priest who seeks to erase his dead sister's past as a porn star. It had been selected to open the prestigious Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
The Board of Film Censors said it contained a scene in which 'a cross is displayed in an objectionable way' in the lower half of the body of a woman in a nun's habit.[00:50 secs. in trailer]
Board guidelines prohibit 'films with content denigrating a religion or a religious symbol.'
Solos, a Singapore production, was also found objectionable. The board said it contained 'prolonged and explicit homosexual lovemaking scenes, including scenes of oral sex and threesome sex.'
It was one of 11 films selected to participate in the competition for the festival's Silver Screen Award for best Asian feature.
Hundreds of films are scheduled to be shown during the festival starting this week. While firms are regularly shown in Singapore with cuts of scenes and language, the festival only shows uncut productions.
Due to his sister's death, the 32 year old August returns and consequently abandons his profession as a missionary priest. His beloved sister Christina, who went from greatness to decay as the famous porn-star The Princess, is dead after years of drug abuse. She leaves behind her 5-year old daughter Mia, whom August feels obliged to take care of. Weighed down by grief and guilt he decides to revenge the dead of Christina - and takes Mia on a mission to destroy all existing pornographic material featuring The Princess. The mission escalates into a brutal and violent rout, where August is desperately trying to protect the only precious thing in his life, Mia, why he is forced to make a fatal decision. Written by Martin Stoltenborg Christensen
15 Apr 2007
This internet journal aims to fill the gap that exists, with youths unable to seek information anonymously on matters related to sex and sexuality. We aim to provide a constant flow of information necessary to protect yourself, and thought-provoking articles on this controversial issue.
HIV and youth is a thorny issue today, weighed down by immense political and sociological issues. Much as people would like to pretend it does not happen, it does. Much as people would like to pretend abstinence is the cure for all this, it does not work in practice, and it would be foolish to continue burying our head in the sand and continue pursuing ineffective programs for the sake of political correctness.
AFA Youth Outreach Programme is a bold new initiative, led by Indu and Sarah, to push the boundaries of political correctness and social limits, to find innovative ways to rectify an age-old problem. This internet journal is part of the online component of the multi-pronged approach to making safer sex a lifestyle choice. Our other programs are as follows:
1. Grassroots outreach to at-risk youths through distribution of condoms at youth hang outs
2. Online outreach in forums and internet spaces, and through strategically placed safe-sex adverts
3. Information collection through surveys on teens
4. Talks/workshops conducted at regular intervals to educate teens on safer sex
If you wish to contact us, in relation to participating, volunteering or enquiring about our programs, please send an email to email@example.com. You can also direct your personal questions on sex and sexuality to that address. We will do our best to answer all emails.
Be Aware, Be Safe
14 Apr 2007
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) held a public forum to a packed audience of between 160 to 180 people at the Sheraton Towers hotel on friday.
The Singapore Police and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) had earlier rejected the SDP’s application for professional visit passes to be given to its overseas speakers to speak at the forum on the grounds of “public interest”. (Channelnewsasia) The authorities had only informed the SDP of the decision the evening before the event, although the application was made 2 weeks prior, according to Ms Chee Siok Chin who was the host of the evening’s conference.
The overseas speakers were from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which included members of the European parliament and the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD) which included a Cambodian and a Congresswoman from the Philippines.
The SDP is a member of the CALD.
In her opening address and expressing her “utter disappointment and dismay” at the government’s ban on the foreign speakers from speaking, Ms Chee told the audience, “Clean, affluent, efficient and modern Singapore is probably the only country in the world that professes to be democratic but prohibits international democrats from addressing the Singapore public.”
to continue reading
The link is to the online citizen. It contains more pictures.
A real most see though has to be Expat@Large's take on the evening. Really makes me laugh out loud.
Our Silence Says All That We Need To Say
The Development of Democracy in Asia And Europe
13 April 2007
Sheraton Towers, Opal Ballroom
Organised by ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) & CALD (Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats)
Aside from the refusal to permit the European Parliamentarians to speak at the forum, which generated bad publicity for the PAP government on an international scale, (as the gag order resulted in the news even on the BBC website); it proceeded without a hitch, as promised by the organisers.
Dr Chee, the Secretary General of SDP, of which the party is a member of CALD, spoke on the failures of the PAP leadership, focusing on the economic front. After flashing out certain quotes by Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and relating life stories on how the poor in Singapore survived on miserable amounts of salaries, Dr Chee brought out an array of statistics from various sources to support his validations on the failures of the PAP economic strategies.
They include (but not limited to):
· Monthly wages for low skilled workers decreased by 34% from $746 in 1998 to $492 in 1999. In 1999, 14,700 earned less than $200 per month and 2000 age eligible children did not attend school, as parents were unable to afford their education in 1999.
Inter-country comparisons between Singapore and Hong Kong were also made to reflect the dire situation in the former.
While foreign exchange reserves in Singapore and Hong Kong are impressive, the former at 134.6 US Billion Dollars and the latter at 132, the similarities ended there:
· The public debt ratio as a % of Singapore is 100.6% (9th out of 120 countries) while Hong Kong is only 1% (120th out of 120).
· Singapore's consumption share of GDP is 20% below Hong Kong and its household debt as a % of disposable income is 174%, higher than Britain at 116%, Japan at 100% and US at 90%. Clearly, the average Singapore Household is one of the most indebted in the world.
Quotes from academics about the PAP's economic strategy were more indicting. For example, Dan Fineman, in an article for FEER, said their economic strategies, "... hurt Singapore more than possibly any country on the planet." while Professor Greenway, NUS, commented that it, "... is creating significant inequalities to relative poverty..."
Dr Chee went on to cite more pessimistic statistics on how the nation building efforts of the PAP has resulted in citizen's apathy. He said that survey results revealed that more than 50% of young Singaporeans, between the ages of 15 to 30, indicated that they wanted to migrate to another country with 37% of them claiming that they were not patriotic. 50% of them did not care which country they were a citizen of, as long as they attained wealth. The average outflow per 1000 citizens is 26.11 in Singapore, the second highest in the world, lagging behind only East Timor.
Close to an hour's presentation, the forum managed to pinpoint the deficiencies of the PAP's leadership - that it has not only failed to bring economic prosperity to the majority of the population, but instead increased the relative wealth gap between the haves and the have nots. At the same time, they have brought the nation into spiritual degeneration by inculcating fear, apathy and an obsession with material achievements into its citizens.
On a side note, Singaporean's displeasure with the recent increase in ministerial salaries can be seen by the outpour of letters to the local newspapers and the largely justifying opinion pieces and news reports from other ministers and the nation building press. While the public rage was focused on how Ministerial Salaries should be set, the forum presents the perspective that the PAP government would not want the public to understand. In essence, they have failed to deliver what it has promised.
Oh yeah they all appeared before the general election.
From the BBC
The MEPs had been invited by an opposition politician
Singapore has been accused of acting like an "authoritarian state" after refusing to allow European Parliament members to speak during a visit.
The seven MEPs, as well as a Cambodian and a Philippines congresswoman, were denied permission to speak at a forum on democracy in Europe and Asia.
One MEP likened the Singaporeans' to repressive regimes such as North Korea.
The Singapore government said foreigners did not have permission to address the event.
The seven MEPs, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), came to Singapore after earlier speaking at a forum in Indonesia.
"I fear that, in this sense at least, it puts Singapore in a league with North Korea, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China," MEP Graham Watson was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
"What has happened today proves that Singapore is an authoritarian state," said Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish MEP.
The MEPs had been invited to speak by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) led by Chee Soon Juan, opponents of the People's Action Party which has ruled the island state since 1959.
"Singapore's politics are reserved for Singaporeans. As visitors to our country, foreigners should not abuse their privilege by interfering in our domestic politics," Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.
13 Apr 2007
Friday 13 April 2007 from jurnalo
European Union lawmakers banned from speaking at a public forum in Singapore warned Friday they intended to take up the issue in the European Parliament.A statement by the EU assembly's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, whose members were banned from speaking at the public forum, warned that the "unprecedented situation. throws into question democratic co-operation with Singapore. "
A spokesman for the group told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa the incident raised questions about Singapore's commitment to human rights and democracy.
As such, the liberal group would "consider withholding approval" of a new EU-Singapore cooperation agreement being negotiated by the two sides, the spokesman said.
The European Parliament must ratify all EU pacts with foreign countries. The EU assembly has held up several EU agreements in past years because of human rights concerns.
to continue reading
From EUbusiness online site.
13 April 2007, 14:00 CET
(SINGAPORE) - Singapore acted like an "authoritarian state" by gagging members of the European parliament in a move that could hinder efforts to reach a partnership and co-operation agreement, the MEPs said Friday.
The seven MEPs along with a Cambodian and a Congresswoman from the Philippines said Singapore denied them permission to speak Friday night at a forum to discuss the development of democracy in Asia and Europe.
"I fear that, in this sense at least, it puts Singapore in a league with North Korea, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China," Graham Watson, a United Kingdom Member of the European Parliament, told a press conference.
"Now that is not where I believe Singapore is, or where I believe Singapore should be."
Watson, who leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said they were conducting a parliamentary mission to Singapore and had come from Indonesia where they spoke at a forum without any interference.
"What has happened today proves that Singapore is an authoritarian state," said Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish MEP.
The Cambodian and Philippines delegates represented the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD).
The ALDE-CALD delegates were invited to address the forum organised by their sister party, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) led by Chee Soon Juan, one of a few in Singapore to have spoken out against the People's Action Party (PAP) which has ruled since 1959.
Chee has had numerous battles with local authorities.
Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said the SDP applied to police for a licence to hold the public forum, and asked the ICA for professional visit passes "for several foreigners" invited to speak at the event.
"The police and ICA respectively have rejected the SDP's applications for a permit to conduct this public forum and for professional visit passes for the foreign speakers on the ground of public interest," the ministry said in a statement.
"Singapore's politics are reserved for Singaporeans. As visitors to our country, foreigners should not abuse their privilege by interfering in our domestic politics."
On its website, SDP said the forum was to "register your disgust" at pay hikes for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, cabinet ministers and civil servants.
The pay rises have sparked rare public fury in the conservative city-state.
But the MEPs said they did not come to discuss Singapore's internal affairs.
Watson said Singapore's decision "will not help with the difficult task" of finalising a partnership and cooperation agreement which both sides began discussing about two years ago.
Such agreements provide rules that govern trade, exchange of criminal suspects, return of refugees and other issues while including clauses about respect for human rights, he said.
"The refusal to allow a basic political dialogue on issues of common concern clearly makes it more difficult to negotiate any such agreement," he said.
Ambassador Holger Standertskjold, head of the European Commission's delegation to Singapore, said the EU "regretted" that the MEPs could not speak at a public meeting organised by another legally recognised political party.
The forum was to proceed with speakers from the SDP, while the foreign delegation vowed to remain silent, and would return to Europe Friday night.
"We are not terrorists. We are not dangerous radicals," Watson said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said Chee's party is free to organise public meetings "provided they do so lawfully."
Since independence in 1965, Singapore has grown from a third-world country to an Asian economic powerhouse.
But critics say this has come at a price, in the form of restrictions on freedom of speech and political activity.
Yes, I was there at 7pm......the forum want on quite smoothly without the speeches of the foreign democrats.They were not even allowed to respond to questions from the floor. 3 SDP speakers including the chairperson Chee S Chin took the floor.Newcomer John Tan a masters grad from USA spoke first followed by Dr CSJ. The Opal Room was full house with many standing behind....maybe 100+ audience. The forum ended at 9.30pm. Watch www.singaporedemocrat.org for further reports on the forum the PAP Govt tried to kill with a misleading report in the ST today to prevent people from going....What a shame!
Other are saying that the forum attracted maybe about "50 including 20 or so journalists and SDP members". Via email.
I am trying to get information on how the forum went. Hoping that someone somewhere has recorded the proceedings. So far all I can find is this...
By Gregers Moller
A Danish politician, Anders Samuelson visiting Singapore has been told that if he speaks at a meeting promoting demoracy in Singapore he will be arrested. The same goes for seven other members of the EU parliament who are visiting Indonesia and Singapore this week.
Anders Samuelsen has complained about the restriction placed on him through a press release issued in Danish in Denmark. If this will land him in trouble in Singapore remains to be seen.
"It is indeed proof that the fight for democracy in Singapore is still on, when you can prohibit someone to speak at a public meeting," Samuelsen is quoted by the his party's press release.
Samuelsen and the seven EU parliamentarians are members of the liberal group in the EU parliament (ALDE).
The meeting is with the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD).
"I am shocked. This is state control of the worst kind and ought to be a black spot on the democratic conscience of the government. Jeg have along with the other participants objected to the foreign committee of the Singaporean parliament, but the decision stands. Also the EU ambassadors have had no luck in trying to influence the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore," Samuelsen says.
Still Samuelsen and his colleagues have decided to stay in the meeting.
"We have decided to participate anyway, but we have been issued a clear message that we will be arrested if we say something. It is absurd but then again it comes as no surprise when you consider the government of Singapore," he adds.
According to the press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sinagpore issue on Tuesday a statement saying that Singaporean politics were for Singaporeans only to debate and that foreigners who involve themselves in domestic Singaporean affairs are not welcome in Singapore.
Anders Samuelsen may while in Singapore be reached for additional comments on his mobile phone +45 5126 7616
13 Apr 07
Given that the police have banned the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) from speaking at tonight's forum, the speakers will not address the audience.
However, Dr Chee Soon Juan and other SDP leaders will go ahead with their talk as no permit is required for locals to speak at a public forum.
Therefore, event will go ahead and we call on Singaporeans to attend as the issue of the ministerial salary increase will take centre stage. Dr Chee will show how the PAP's political-economic strategy is harming the future of the nation.
So if you are have been unhappy with the issue of the pay hike, come down to Sheraton Towers Hotel, Scotts Road, at 7 pm at the Opal Ballroom and register your displeasure with the PAP.
This is also a chance for you to interact with the MEPs on an individual basis at the reception who will be present.
In the meantime, the delegation will be meeting with the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ms Indranee Rajah, and other PAP MPs, this afternoon and will discuss this matter.
The Ambassador of the European Commission in Singapore has also been alerted to the situation.
It is ironic that today marks the 10th anniversary of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). Minister S Jayakumar is the guest-of-honor at a reception tonight. ASEF will be notified of the ban on the European speakers. It is understood that the European Parliament in Brussels will also be informed of the developments.
The MEPs will conduct a press conference at 6 pm this evening also at the Sheraton Hotel before the public forum. An official statement will be released from the delegation.
The SDP will issue a separate statement on the matter and reply to the propaganda put out by the Ministry of Home Affairs in its press release this morning.
12 Apr 2007
And this time I know who uploaded it.
The story has also been covered by More4 News in the UK.
More4 News: Singapore bans "Zahari's 17 Years"
11 Apr 2007
Mr. Low Thia Khiang (MP for Hougang)
Good governance needs an effective parliament and Judiciary and Singapore has established since her independence till to day. In the modern world, states derive from the concept of "public." They are defined as entities that effectively and rationally fulfill their tasks and govern public affairs.
However, in Middle East, Africa, some part of Asia, South East Asia states are essentially privately owned and controlled by their leaders, whereas public is defined as that which is subject to the influence of the social groups or communities from which those leaders arise.
Political leaders in Middle East, Africa, Some part of Asia & South East Asia are abusing the power and status, thus work to protect the interests of the social groups to which they belong. In so doing these leaders are able to maintain their status and position and remain corrupt & evil.
I was reading an article "Ministerial & Civil Service Pay" and your view it's seems not appropriate to you and you said Singaporean should not give the government a blank cheque to do so.
But my view is that the Singaporean should not wonder why it is been done rather they should consider it as a performance bonus for their civil servants those who generate revenue for them to secure theirs and theirs next generations future to save them from a poverty trap.
You don't have to go so far up-to USA or to Europe to find out why it's important to pay Singapore Civil Servant a reasonable amount and in return how much Singaporeans are benefiting from this payroll.
Bangladesh has 150 Million People with natural resources such as gas, oil, arable land, timber, coal and we don't purchase water from any other country to drink.
If you just study the present political situation in Bangladesh. You will know how important it is to pay the right prices for the good people those who honestly & devotedly bringing the country forward and giving a gift of such unique democratic system to the nation.
We have never paid well to our civil servants & have never practice such system in Bangladesh. So, over the last 35 years, we had some incompetent, dishonest & evils those who created the country is one of the top most corrupt country in the world.
At present, the two former prime ministers and some of their former ruling government members and opposition party's top political leaders, MPs, Ministers has escaped in order to avoid their numerous allegations of corruptions & extortion charges. The rest of them are in jail. They have transferred the government funds of hundreds of millions of dollars to their personal account in overseas.
Do you think we really ever had a good democratic system in Bangladesh?
Do you know why we have failed to provide simple three democratic rights as a human?
In last 35 years, our all former ruling government and their oppositions leaders has failed to ensure to provide
- a simple shelter on the head
- three simple meal a day for their hunger and
- a simple cloth for them to cover their shames
Having plenty of natural resources what have we achieved? I don't need to mentioned about other the modern Telecommunications, Transportation, Health Care, High Standard Education systems which you have to-day in Singapore.
Our all former ruling government literally has looted the countries resources rather than the proper distributions of the wealth for the people.
An opposition party also can contribute to a good democratic system by providing constructive, reasonable & logical feedback or suggestions in order to progress and to value add to what the present ruling government adopted not just the criticism of everything what the government does..
Please take my apology if my words are not right as you desire and probably I don't have any rights to voice my views on this issue as an alien but as a citizen of the Net.
With Best Regards
10 Apr 2007
Filmmaker Martyn See, who was under investigation last year for a documentary about an opposition leader, said he was surprised by the ban. He said the film, produced at the end of 2005, had been approved twice last year with a PG rating. When it was not shown at the 2006 Singapore International Film Festival, as he expected, See applied for an exhibition license to screen it publicly.
"I don't know what changed. Maybe different people with different views watched it this time," See told The Associated Press. "I based my questions to Said on his first book [Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir], which is sold in Singapore. So what is in the film is not something the government didn't know."
He said he had been ordered by the censorship board to surrender all copies of the film by Wednesday afternoon.
See said that Said is the only one of those detained in the 1960s under the Internal Security Act who is willing to speak publicly about his experience.
"I wanted to show another side of Singapore's history," See said of his reason for making the film.
Said Zahari's 17 Years Trailer
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is banning a film about a former political detainee held for 17 years without trial, the government said.
The film "Zahari's 17 Years" about former journalist Said Zahari -- arrested in 1963 for suspected subversive political activities, including communist sympathies -- will be banned because it is "against public interests," the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said on Tuesday.
"The film gives a distorted and misleading portrayal of Said Zahari's arrest and detention under the Internal Security Act," the ministry said in a statement.
"Zahari's 17 Years" is directed by Singapore film director Martyn See, who had several run-ins with the Singapore police last year after he produced a documentary about opposition leader Chee Soon Juan in 2005.
Singapore, frequently criticized by human rights groups for its restrictions on the opposition and media, bans political films that contain "biased references to or comments on any political matter."
The Ministry said "Zahari's 17 Years" was an attempt by Zahari "to exculpate himself from his past involvement in communist united front activities against the interests of Singapore."
"The government will not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the government," the ministry said, adding that this may "undermine public confidence in the government."
If you wish to gain access to the events you will need to first of all register.
update Thursday 12th April 2007 - the event will now be held in New York City’s Wollman Rink in Central Park on APR 21 ]
Hi - have you heard about Singapore Day in NYC on APR 21? It will be at Bryant Park.
I plan to be there and protest Singapore's censuring of the Far Eastern Economic Review, by handing out copies of articles. I hope you will publicise this event and encourage people to come and ask some tough questions to the Singapore government heads that will be there.
I will help to coordinate if anyone else would like to join me. Please note this will be a peaceful, non-violent protest meant to educate people about free press and free expression rights in Singapore.
I want to thank you for the information you post on your site. You are quite courageous to challenge the structures of power in Singapore.
FEER and Singapore
Reporters Without Borders' 2007 Singapore Annual Report
The Geopolitics of Asian Cyberspace
Feer to appeal against court decision to proceed with suit
FEER fails in attempt to move defamation case out of Singapore
Magazine, prime minister face off in court
The FEER Article that Caused Offence
Image from My Sketchbook
Dr Chee Soon Juan will speak at the Public Forum to be held on 13 Apr 07, Friday, at the Sheraton Towers Hotel (see below). He will address comments Mr Lee Kuan Yew made in yesterday's Parliament session, defending the pay increase for ministers.
The Minister Mentor said that Singapore's external trade is 3 1/2 times that of our GDP, surpassing that of even Hong Kong. Because of this, he says, the Prime Minister must be paid $3.1 million and the Ministers $1.9 million annually.
On Friday, Dr Chee will debunk this simplistic statistic and show how misplaced Mr Lee's observations are. Dr Chee will present the complete picture of Singapore's economic performance in recent years and show how bleak Singapore's future will be if we continue down the PAP's path.
In other words, not only are the ministers not indispensable as they would have Singaporeans believe, their inability to tear themselves away from groupthink will lead Singapore down the road to ruin.
It is stunningly disingenuous for the PAP to claim that its economic policies are working and, worse, use them to justify the outrageous pay increments for their ministers.
In addition, MM Lee again made some rather unsavoury remarks about certain governments, in particular, those of Denmark, Switzerland, and Finland. Europe also came in for mention.
With the delegation of European Parliamentarians speaking at the Forum, come and hear for yourselves what the speakers have to say, in particular, Mr Anders Samuelsen, who is an MEP from Denmark.
Do the Europeans need to pay their ministers million-dollar salaries in order for them to lead their countries? Is it true that Denmark can fail and yet be saved by other European nations?
What about Luxembourg? A landlocked country with a population of only half-a-million, the GDP income per capita of that nation is the highest in the world! Did Lydie Polfer, former deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, make the PAP argument that she had to be paid $3 million a year? How did the tiny nation in Western Europe prosper without the type of PAP-dictatorial system?
Don't miss this opportunity to see and hear firsthand what politicians from (genuinely) First World countries think and how they practice democratic politics to achieve prosperity for their peoples, not just for themselves.
So pass the word around and encourage your family and friends to come. Admission is free. See you on Friday!
Development of Democracy in Europe and Asia
13 Apr 07, Friday
Venue: Sheraton Towers, Scotts Road
(Newton MRT Station)
Ignasi Cambo Guardans
Chee Soon Juan
The parliamentary visit is part of the annual meetings held by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD) to discuss the promotion of democracy as well as to foster greater cooperation between parliamentarians and democratic parties in Asia and Europe.
Make a date with the speakers. Come and express your views.
All are welcome.
9 Apr 2007
Error-strewn, insular and parasitic, political blogs tend not to enhance but poison healthy debate
Monday April 9, 2007
Political blogging has come of age. At least, that was the idea behind the BBC's Newsnight screening of a report by a high-profile blogger who writes under the pseudonym Guido Fawkes. His film argued that blogs provided more acute and independent political analysis than traditional journalism, owing to the absence of an editor, proprietor or regulator. Theatrically insisting on being filmed in darkness to maintain his supposed anonymity, "Fawkes" debated his thesis with Michael White of this newspaper.
It was a catastrophic performance, mainly because the blogger required continual correction on points of fact. He thereby illustrated blogging's central characteristic danger. It is a democratic medium, allowing anyone to participate in political debate without an intermediary, at little or no cost. But it is a direct and not deliberative form of democracy. You need no competence to join in.
To some, that is a virtue. In a recent lecture, the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, pointed to the proliferation of blogs and enthused: "In politics and in the media we've both assumed that we do the talking and the people listen. Now the people are talking back. It's exciting, liberating, challenging and frightening too."
Such is the ideological chaos of modern Conservatism. Osborne invoked the notion of the wisdom of crowds: knowledge emerges in a collaborative process rather than being dictated by experts. But political bloggers are not the required type of crowd. They are, by definition, a self-selecting group of the politically motivated who have time on their hands. In his speech, Osborne commended the work of Conservative-supporting bloggers. The notion that a political party becomes credible by being responsive to its activists is an error that Labour disastrously adopted in the 1980s. Political blogging is a new vehicle for an enduring force: what James Madison, in the Federalist Papers, termed "the mischief of faction".
Blogs are providers not of news but of comment. This would be a good thing if blogs extended the range of available opinion in the public sphere. But they do not; paradoxically, they narrow it. This happens because blogs typically do not add to the available stock of commentary: they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide. If, say, Polly Toynbee or Nick Cohen did not exist, a significant part of the blogosphere (a grimly pretentious neologism) would have no purpose and nothing to react to.
The great innovation of web-based commentary is that readers may select minutely the material they are exposed to. The corollary is that they may filter out views they find uncongenial. This is a problem for a healthy democracy, which depends on a forum for competing views.
In its paucity of coverage and predictability of conclusions, the blogosphere provides a parody of democratic deliberation. But it gets worse. Politics, wrote the philosopher Michael Oakeshott, is a conversation, not an argument. The conversation bloggers have with their readers is more like an echo chamber, in which conclusions are pre-specified and targets selected. The outcome is horrifying. The intention of drawing readers into the conversation by means of a facility for adding comments results in an immense volume of abusive material directed - and recorded for posterity - at public figures.
The blogosphere, in short, is a reliable vehicle for the coagulation of opinion and the poisoning of debate. It is a fact of civic life that is changing how politics is conducted - overwhelmingly for the worse, and with no one accountable for the decline.
· Oliver Kamm is the author of Anti-Totalitarianism: the Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy. His blog is at oliverkamm.typepad.com
7 Apr 2007
He said: “We might follow some other countries who register bloggers as well. That’s what Singapore is doing as well. It’s much better if we can have a list of active bloggers … We want to know who are the bloggers.” TechWack
Now either he has been in touch with the Singapore authorities and has access to information that we are not yet privy to or he is simply telling a lie. As far as I am aware no blogger in Singapore has been asked to register with the government. Yes the law exists to make those engaged in political activity register during the elections but I am not aware of anyone being asked to do so. Well not since sintercom a number of years ago.
Government plans to force bloggers to register
Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about a statement by the deputy minister of energy, water and communications, Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor, on 4 April that, in order to prevent the spread of "negative or malicious content," bloggers will soon have to register with the government.
While claiming they do not intend to censor bloggers, they have warned that bloggers are not above the law when they "disturb peace and harmony" in Malaysia.
"This measure could jeopardise online free expression," Reporters Without Borders said. "It could push many bloggers to opt for anonymity or censor themselves out of fear of reprisals. The deputy minister's statement once again demonstrates the government's desire to exercise improper control over the online flow of information inside Malaysia. The obligatory registering of blogs is a measure that so far has only been adopted by countries such as China that violate Internet users' rights."
The political parties and the government control most of the media in Malaysia. The most popular blogs serve as a counter-weight, offering political comment that is often critical of the government. Science and technology minister Kong Cho Ha said on 4 December that he wanted to "create strict laws to control abuses on the Internet" and to dissuade "bloggers from advocating disorder and chaos in society."
On 19 January, Reporters Without Borders took up the cause of two Malaysian bloggers who are the target of libel suits by members of the staff of the New Straits Times, a Malaysian newspaper. Jeff Ooi, who writes one of the country's most popular blogs, Screenshots (http://www.jeffooi.com), has been sued for refusing to take down 13 posts which the newspaper's staffers consider to be defamatory.
Ahiruddin Attan, who produces a blog called Rockybru (http://www.rockybru.blogspot.com/), says he is being sued over a post in which he accused some of the newspaper's journalists of being agents of the Singaporean government.
Read our weekly "blog review" and create your blog with Reporters without borders : www.rsfblog.org