Friday, May 30, 2008

Sentenced to prison or pay a fine in Singapore's kangaroo court

A Nov 07 video from sg human rights,

Singapore opposition leader fined for public speech

SINGAPORE, May 30 - A bankrupt Singapore opposition party leader was sentenced to five weeks in prison or pay a S$5,000 fine for speaking in public without a permit.

Chee Soon Juan, leader of the Singapore Democratic Party, was on Friday found guilty of the offence committed on April 8, 2006. He has six outstanding charges of speaking in public without a license between November 2005 and April 2006.

Singapore has tough laws on public gatherings, and protests are rare. An assembly of five or more people requires a police permit and offences under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act could lead to fines as high as S$10,000 .

Chee, who pleaded not guilty on the grounds of his constitutional right to free speech, was made a bankrupt in February 2006 when he failed to pay libel damages of S$500,000 to former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.

"I continue to maintain that what I have done is well within the law and my constitutional rights," Chee told the court. Chee's lawyer M. Ravi said he will be appealing the conviction.

The state prosecutor had asked for a "substantial fine" to act as a deterrent for other "like-minded" individuals.

The Southeast Asian city defends its strict laws on public assembly citing the need for public order and safety.

The Singapore Democratic Party is one of the more vocal opposition parties in Singapore. It did not get into parliament in the last election in 2006 and 82 of the 84 elected parliamentary seats are held by the ruling People's Action Party which has been in power since Singapore's independence in 1965.

Chee has also been found guilty of defamation in cases filed by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore's high court has yet to rule on the amount of damages.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Jan Dahinten and Sanjeev Miglani)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Amnesty's 2008 state of the world's human rights report

This Amnesty International Report 2008 mini-documentary shows a snapshot of the state of the world's human rights in 2007. Read here about what the report says about Singapore.

Lees only deserved to be awarded a token 50 cents because their reputations were not hurt

So the 3 days special ended yesterday,
Singapore leaders seek 'unprecedented' damages

SINGAPORE (AFP) - - Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew and his son Premier Lee Hsien Loong sought "unprecedented" damages Wednesday as the trial of an opposition leader for defamation came to an emotional climax.

The Lees, stung by two days of cross-examination by Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), asked a Supreme Court judge to punish the pro-democracy activist for his behaviour in court.

Their lawyer, Davinder Singh, said Chee acted like a "hooligan" and exhibited "loutish behaviour" when he grilled the two leaders on the witness stand and ignored the judge's admonitions about his manner of questioning.

Singh said that despite a court injunction, Chee repeated allegations of corruption against the Lees in court and posted them on the Internet, an action that merits an "unprecedented award" of damages.

"The case for substantial damages is very compelling," he said.

Chee, summing up his defence, told the packed courtroom he stood by everything that was written in a party publication at the heart of the case, but added he harboured no personal hatred against the Lees.

"I do not hate Lee Hsien Loong, I do not hate Lee Kuan Yew and I do not wish them ill for what they have done and continue to do to me and my family," he said.

Chee had been found guilty of defamation over allegations of government corruption made in an SDP newsletter ahead of general elections in May 2006.

The SDP and Chee's sister and fellow pro-democracy activist Chee Siok Chin were named as co-defendants.

Defence lawyer M. Ravi, representing the SDP, said the Lees only deserved to be awarded a token 50 Singapore cents (37 US cents) because their reputations were not hurt by what the SDP and the Chees said.

Hearings were held this week to determine the amount of damages and the Lees took the witness stand to press their case, allowing the defendants to cross-examine them.

Chee, acting as his own lawyer, used strong language as he questioned the record of the Lees and the necessity of strict political controls in Singapore, now Southeast Asia's most economically advanced society.

The Lees -- the father was prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and his son came to power in 2004 -- dismissed Chee's attacks and said he further damaged their reputations during the cross-examination.

The Lees and other Singapore leaders have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from lawsuits against members of the country's tiny opposition.

Chee is already bankrupt after failing to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (365,000 US) in libel damages to the elder Lee and another former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, for remarks he made in the 2001 elections.
You won't get to read or hear about Chee Soon Juan's closing submissions through our pro-government print & broadcast media. So here it is in full,
Unlike reputation, character cannot be bought: Chee's closing submissions

This case has been one fraught with acrimony and controversy. Many legal points have been raised, some of which I have understood, others completely bewildered me. But all the points raised centred around one subject: Whether there was malice when we published that NKF article.

Let me deal with this point. It is clear as daylight that the plaintiffs sued not because their reputations were tarnished but that it was a way to stop our campaigning over the issue during the elections.

Instead of letting the public decide, they have dragged the courts in and insisted that the courts adjudicate in a matter where it should not. In the process, they put the courts in an untenable and unenviable position. This is a tragedy that history will not kindly look upon.

But a court case is what we have and court cases are about seeking the truth and allowing that truth to surface.

As I pointed out, the question centres around whether there was malice on our part. I cannot deny that I get angry and even bitter with Mr Lee Kuan Yew over the things that he has said and done to me and others.

But through the years, I have seen the bigger picture and developed a sense of calm and equanimity that comes with knowing my role in society.

And because I feel at ease, I don't hate Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong. I don't wish them ill in anyway despite all that they have done and continue to do to me and my family.

I harbour no hatred towards Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong, much less any malice.

To hate my opponents would drag me down to their level of rancour and deceit which has no place in what we're trying to achieve for Singapore. More so I find it too draining and distracting to harbour those emotions.

My Christian faith guides me and it is a faith that compels me to fght for justice and to treat my fellow men and women with compassion.

Mr Lee tempts and taunts me to get out of bankruptcy and get back into the stream of political life that he sits as lord and master. Believe me, in such an environment it is a temptation that can be overpowering.

That I said to Mr Lee Kuan Yew during the cross-examination is exactly where I stand. I feel sorry for him but I don't hate him.

But I also told him that ultimately it isn't about him. Neither is it about his son, and it most certainly is not about me. It is about this country and the people who live in it.

It is about what is just. It is about compassion and how we treat our fellow men. It is about freedom and human dignity.

A society stripped bare of these virtues is a society unable to embrace humanity. But what is society without humanity is a thought too frightening to entertain.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew kept on repeating how he built up this country and how much he has stored in the reserves. That is the tragedy of the man. For all his intelligence, he does not possess the wisdom of life.

Because unlike reputation, character cannot be bought. A true statesmen will not need to fight for his reputation, for that will shine through even after he takes his final bow and leaves the stage of life. His name will linger on and be writ large fondly in the hearts of many for generations to come.

Many lies have been spread about truly great leaders. And yet these lies have never been able to snuff out the greatness in these individuals. On the contrary, their legacy grows in size and intensity.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew fights all his demons within himself to try to shore up his reputation. In the process, however, he destroys the very legacy that he so desperately desires to establish.

Then he pulled out the citation from Transparency International Malaysia (TIM) and tried to use it as an endorsement of his integrity it, frankly, surprised me because it showed me how empty Mr Lee's life has become.

Such an intelligent man and yet so utterly devoid of wisdom. Can he not understand that no paper, no award, no citation can ever hope to still the voices of those who see the truth behind the propaganda?

I take no joy in pointing out to him how TIM is not an established, well-grounded institution on which one can take pride in being awarded a citation especially on the subject on integrity. In fact, I felt bad to point that out because it seemed that it was all the MM was clinging to.

Mr Lee must understand that integrity cannot, and does not, come from the grandiloquence of one's speech, it must shine forth from the righteousness of one's heart. If that light of righteousness is dim, no amount of persuasion will change reality.

Can he not grasp the fact that no amount of wealth and power can hold back the silent voices forever? When he is no longer with us in this world, no amount of suppression can hold back the vehemence of his critics.

I hope he takes the little time that he has left to ponder what I have said and to turn from his ways. It is not too late.

Over the last couple of days in court I have observed, as have many here, how those around him treat him with such servitude that made my hair stand on end. For whatever reason, they go out of their way to show him their subservience.

They are doing him a disservice by not telling him that he needs to amend his ways if he so desires to uphold his integrity. Maybe he has chosen to surround himself with these yes-people. Either way Mr Lee is moving in life's wrong direction.

Which brings me to the damages. I stand by everything I have written in the article in The New Democrat about the NKF as it relates to the running of this country because it is the truth and Mr Lee and the rulers of this country must always hear the truth no matter how inconvenient that may be.

I know what I say at now will not make a difference in terms of damages because I know it will not make a difference.

I willingly assume the position in this life because if this is the path that God has chosen for me then I cannot run away.

I can leave this country or I can capitulate and join what others have done in politics under the PAP. I will do neither. For to me my own integrity is at stake and that cannot be paid for in dollars.

Mr Lee may try to tempt me out of bankruptcy but it will not work. I may remain a bankrupt for the rest of my life as a result of my obstinacy.

It is not a position one aspires to but it is a cause I find worthy of battle and a call, though sometimes I may resist, I will ultimately trust and obey.

So, Your Honour, we have come to the stage where all of us will be held to account for what we do today. It is said that as we make our bed, so shall we lie in it.

That we do today will live on in history forever. I do not envy your position. I ask that you forgive me if I have offended you in a personal way. I had no intention of doing that. In another place and time, we would be perhaps be good friends.

But I have to take issue with your position as a Judge and what you have done as well as the decisions you have made in this courtroom. To that extent I will fight you with every fibre of my being for the sake of justice.

We all have decisions to make in life. I have made mine and I am at ease with it. You have yours to make. I wish you wisdom and honesty.

Thank you.

Chee Soon Juan

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Video of tak boleh tahan event on 25 May at Toa Payoh Lorong 1

SDP was back in Toa Payoh for another tak boleh tahan (can't take it, unbearable) campaign event. A follow-up to the one they had on labour day.

Seeking justice in a kangaroo court...duh!

A photo by Reuters. See here for description. I've been "following" the case through SDP's twitter updates and reports from their website. These guys, in front of the supreme court, convey what's happening in the courtroom.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SDP's lawyer M. Ravi to PM Lee: Would you agree that your family controls Singapore?

And its only the first day! We can be sure the local print & broadcast media will be in their element, and in full swing, to put the best possible positive spin on the Lees getting a much-deserved drubbing in court. Apart from blogs, websites & foreign news media, you can also get updates & follow-up reports from SDP's website or via their twitter.

And now for this Reuters report,
Singapore PM faces opposition in court showdown

SINGAPORE, May 26 - Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took the stand in court on Monday to be cross-examined by opposition leaders, in a case to determine defamation damages against an opposition party.

Lee and his father, former premier Lee Kuan Yew, are expected to ask for aggravated damages against the Singapore Democratic Party , its leader Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin, for articles in the party's newspaper in 2006 that were found to be defamatory.

The SDP's lawyer M. Ravi said this would be the first time the Lees will be cross-examined by political opponents in court.

"The lawsuit was brought to clear my name and establish the facts," Lee Hsien Loong told Ravi in court. "This case is not about money, this case is about establishing the facts and putting a stop to poisonous lies," Lee said, when asked why he was sueing two bankrupt people.

Chee Siok Chin was declared bankrupt last year for failing to pay legal costs in a lawsuit involving a protest. Chee Soon Juan was also declared bankrupt last February after failing to make libel payments of S$500,000 to Lee Kuan Yew and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong.

Lee Kuan Yew, 84, is credited with policies that have been critical to making Singapore one of the region's most prosperous countries, but has been criticised by human rights groups for his use of lawsuits against political opponents and the media.

"Would you agree that your family controls Singapore?" Ravi asked Lee Hsien Loong, to gasps from a packed audience in Singapore's Supreme Court. Lee's lawyer objected to the question and the objection was upheld.

Singapore's political landscape has been dominated by one party -- the People's Action Party -- since its independence in 1965. Its past two prime ministers still retain loosely defined cabinet posts, namely "minister mentor" and "senior minister".

The lawsuit could see the winding up of the 28-year-old opposition SDP party if the defendants are not able to pay the damages, said Gandhi Ambalam, a senior SDP member.

The hearing is expected to last three days.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lees vs SDP, Court 4B, 10am, 26-28 May

Its called the 3 Days Special. That's what the law notice calls it.

Click here for details and follow-up reports about the case.

Read my previous post about this case here.

Malaysia's Indian uprising

I have close relations in Malaysia. I've not really talked to them about this. I probably will one day. I've visited them numerous times when i was younger. But of course i was too young then to know about all this back then.

As i grew older, i did hear about all the dissatisfaction, anger and frustration from meeting and talking to Malaysian Indians especially those who work here in Singapore.

You might already be wondering about what i'm talking about. WATCH this news report from Australia's Special Broadcasting Service's Dateline programme.

My friend Seelan has been writing about all this on his blog. Seelan of course welcomed the new year in a unique way by fasting.

Btw, thanks to raajarox for the heads-up about the Dateline report.

9 out of 10 times i lost but i still love Scrabble!

I may not be championship material but i love playing Scrabble!

Its been an extremely long time since i've played. Years ago, i used to play the game with a good friend of mine. The bugger was bloody good! He should still be. I lost to him countless times but i kept on playing whenever the opportunity came up! In fact, we made the opportunities. You could say we made them so that i could lose....and come back for more!!! The thing is, it was FUN. Didn't matter an iota to me if i won or lost.

Nowadays you have Scrabulous, a game based on Scrabble, in keeping with the times. But nothing beats playing the board game, face to face, with friends, family or even a total stranger. A word of advice: just have fun, don't get uptight and pissed. It just spoils the game. :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Singapore Matrix: A collection of videos

This is a playlist of videos i put together. Here are a few things for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the workings of how a playlist works: Click on the button next to the play/pause button to bring up or hide the list of videos in the playlist; clicking the arrows < > in this list brings you to the next set; you can choose the video you want to watch by just clicking on it. You can also bring up the list and navigation tools by just moving the cursor over the video while you're watching.

Finally, i would like to thank all those who shot, edited & uploaded these videos. Without you guys i wouldn't have this playlist in the first place!! But more importantly, without your efforts, Singaporeans and the world at large, will just be stuck with the local print & broadcast media's hunky-dory propaganda.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights animation

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1988, award-winning director Stephen Johnson brought together 41 of the most talented international animators, musicians and producers to produce this unique work. The 20-minute video brings to life the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in brilliant colour. Even after 20 years, the UDHR animated video continues to be a highly effective basic tool for the defence and advocacy of the UDHR and for general work on the indivisibility and universality of human rights and human rights education ==> Amnesty International 60 Years of UDHR

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Here we go again

Will we be seeing a replay of what happened to singapore rebel,
From Reuters today.....Singapore probes political film on Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's media regulator is investigating the screening of a political film that an opposition party said critically examines the city-state's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

The film, "One Nation Under Lee", was made by a group of political activists and looks at the rise of Lee and his relationship with the media, Chee Siok Chin, a senior member of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), told Reuters.

It was screened to an audience of about 70 at an opposition party fundraising event last week, before Singapore's media regulator interrupted the showing and took the film, said Chee, the event organiser.

"After investigation, the Board of Film Censors (BFC) proceeded to serve a notice to the appropriate person that it would be an offence to screen a film that has not been submitted to the BFC for classification and that is not approved for exhibition," Tan Chiu Kee of the BFC said in a statement late on Tuesday, adding that a copy had been handed to officials.

Singapore, which has been ruled by the People's Action Party (PAP) for over 40 years, bans the production and screening of all political films, imposing a maximum fine of S$100,000 ($73,260) or a jail term of two years on those caught.

Lee Kuan Yew, 84, is credited with policies that have been critical to making Singapore one of the region's most prosperous countries, but has been criticised by human rights groups for his use of lawsuits against political opponents and the media.
The singapore rebel "investigations", with all the harassment and intimidation, was ludicrous and paranoid enough. Doing it again for one nation under lee, which basically shows one the truth, the authorities might want to consider checking themselves into a mental institution for a psych evaluation. Having too much power and control affects one's brains.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Video of Singapore government officials' attempts to disrupt & stop screening of film on LKY

I was invited for this event, which was billed as a private event, but i couldn't make it. But i was getting updates during the screening as to what was happening. :-)

Its a good thing there's technology and the internet. If not, we would have had to depend on our local press, which is so famously biased. Watching these actions by Singapore's government officials, trying to disrupt & stop the screening, you'll be forgiven for thinking that a terrorist training video was being shown by a sleeper cell!

SDP has written an account of how government officials disrupted the private screening of a flim on Lee Kuan Yew; Martyn See's account of censorship enforcement in Singapore sinking to a new low; and theonlinecitizens' film on Lee Kuan Yew seized by MDA.

And we also have these videos from tysploevil,

may 19, 12.30pm update: my latest post features the film

Friday, May 16, 2008

Common forms of racism that Singaporean Indians experience in their daily lives

Some excerpts from an article mentioned in a blogpost i read recently. The article was written by Dr Selvaraj Velayutham,
In this paper, I outline some of the common forms of racism that Singaporean Indians experience in their daily lives. Though other racial minority groups such as the Malays and Eurasians also experience racism within the Chinese dominated Singaporean society, I am limiting my focus to the Indians as my research is based on this community.

It should be pointed out that the experience of racism among the Malays has been well documented (see Tremewan 1996 & Rahim 1998). Moreover, because the Malays are often singled out as a “socially and economically underachieving” community in Singapore which in turn has generated critical response and resentment from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, racism towards the Malays is also well publicised.

However, racism towards the Indians has received little public attention. Even though Indians face racial discrimination in their everyday lives, their high socio-economic standing relative to their population size puts them as a prosperous and successful community in Singapore. As a result, racism has been become a non-issue for the India community and effectively ruling out the possibility of articulating experiences of racism discrimination in any official capacity.

In this paper, I seek to document some of the everyday experiences and practices of racism in Singapore. Using empirical material and research field notes, I will outline a range of subtle to explicit forms of racism that manifest in different social spaces in Singapore (indeed, there are more research that needs to be done in studying structural and institutional racism). I argue that while the city-state actively engages in activities targeted at 'fostering social cohesion' and is ever vigilant at suppressing overt racist provocations, with few exceptions it has effectively silenced the voices of people who are at the receiving end of everyday racism.

Russian roulette with The Lift

I wish this was some asian horror movie but it isn't. This here is the new lift in my block which started operating in June of last year,

I live in one of those old 4-storey blocks built 25-30 years ago. Its so old even this new lift fits in with the age of the block! This lift was built from scratch, as part of the lift upgrading programme, since the old 4-storey blocks did not have existing lifts when they were constructed back then. Till it was built, everybody, especially the elderly and disabled, were having a "healthy lifestyle" going up and down the stairs!

Since the new lift started operation, it has broken down so many times that i've lost count! I've gotten stuck many times and so have most of my neighbours. Each time doesn't go beyond a minute or less because the lift gets jammed and goes to one of the floors, opens its doors and spits us out. Its a game of russian roulette when one wants to use the lift.

I've called the Essential Maintenance Services or EMSU many times, and to their credit, their guys have been dispatched immediately to fix it...till the next time. EMSU is the 24hr service by HDB and the town councils to attend to such matters.

Its been a few weeks since we last lost the game of russian roulette. We just keep our fingers crossed till then.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ASEAN talkshop to meet more then two weeks after cyclone Nargis hit Burma

Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN will be meeting NEXT Monday 19 May in Singapore to talk about helping Burma which was hit by cyclone nargis more THEN TWO WEEKS AGO,
ASEAN aid meeting on Myanmar seen offering little

By Neil Chatterjee

SINGAPORE, May 13 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian nations will meet next Monday in Singapore to discuss help for cyclone-hit Myanmar, but analysts say the group will not commit to a regional aid package or apply much pressure to speed up relief efforts.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations said on Tuesday it was sending an emergency rapid-assessment team to Myanmar, which will report to the meeting, but critics said the group was moving too slowly given Cyclone Nargis struck the country on May 2.

So far, members Singapore and Thailand are among countries to give assistance, including food, medicine and offers for rescue teams, but there has been no coordinated regional response from a grouping that aims to maintain peace and integrate economically.

ASEAN has a long-standing policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of member states.

"ASEAN normally doesn't give as an organisation because it doesn't have the assets -- there may be an increase in individual contributions," said Rodolfo Severino, ASEAN Secretary-General from 1998-2002 and research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies in Singapore.

Ngurah Swajaya, director for ASEAN political and security affairs at Indonesia's foreign ministry, told Reuters Myanmar's foreign minister Nyan Win will brief the other foreign ministers at the meeting, to assess needs for relief and reconstruction.

Between 1.2 and 1.9 million people are struggling to survive in Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta, where delays by the military government in admitting large scale aid are threatening a massive humanitarian disaster [ID:nBKK297260].

Up to 100,000 are dead or missing.

"It's shocking that it has taken ASEAN nearly 3 weeks to organise a meeting to deal with the biggest humanitarian disaster to hit ASEAN since the tsunami," said Debbie Stothard, co-ordinator for the NGO Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma.

"This is the time when ASEAN has to prove itself -- it has the potential to take leadership of this situation," she said. "ASEAN has got to bring the Myanmar regime into the 21st century -- not a medieval approach to natural disasters."


Myanmar's military rulers have come under criticism from the United States, which already imposes sanctions on the junta, for being slow in allowing in aid workers.

Severino said ASEAN members had not faced difficulties in getting aid to Myanmar, other than destroyed infrastructure. He said ASEAN was unlikely to use a carrot and stick approach in offering assistance in exchange for greater openness or moves towards democracy.

"I don't think ASEAN does things that way...People are dying and countries should not make political points," he said.

ASEAN foreign ministers signed a regional agreement on disaster management and emergency response in Vientiane in 2005. She said ASEAN would bear the brunt of a relief effort that is only delivering an estimated one tenth of the supplies needed, since a social and economic crisis would increase the likelihood of refugees or illegal migrants heading to Thailand and beyond.

"The long delay in having the meeting indicates that, like the regime, they are not taking this crisis seriously, and so we are not at all hopeful that anything positive will come out of it," said Mark Farmaner of the NGO Burma Campaign based in Britain.

"ASEAN's engagement policy has completely failed. They have not elicited a single democratic reform from the regime."

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Pathoni in JAKARTA and Koh Gui Qing in SINGAPORE)
During the saffron revolution last year, altsean-burma issued a briefer called ASEAN SHOULD STOP PASSING THE BUCK ON BURMA,
The briefer asserts that ASEAN countries must exercise their substantial influence on Burma’s military leaders to secure the delivery of genuine political and economic reforms, instead of using China as an excuse for inaction. The briefer reveals that:

* Burma relies on petrol and diesel supplies from Malaysia and Singapore to keep business running and military vehicles on the road. The military is the biggest consumer of fuel.

* Burma relies on trade with ASEAN for 51.3% of foreign exchange revenue, with gas sales to Thailand alone accounting for 48.4% in 2005/06.

* Burma relies on Thailand and Singapore as their biggest sources of new Foreign Direct Investment, constituting a total of 98.61% of FDI in the past 2 years.

* Burma relies on Singapore’s financial services to store and move the wealth that they drain away from Burma.

The briefer recommends an ASEAN freeze or even a slowdown on economic, material, and diplomatic support in order to shepherd the regime to political dialogue and the achievement of genuine reforms. Action should include a temporary freeze on large Burmese-held bank accounts and other financial assets in Singapore as part of a money-laundering review.
I have to agree with JOTMAN when he wrote,
Perhaps that is the whole point. This way the focus of the meeting can be how to profit from reconstruction after the disaster.
It'll be deja vu when the talkshop meets in Singapore next week. End result will be the same as before, the Burmese people will continue to suffer under the bastard generals and business will go on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

These defamation lawsuits are "scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process"

The lawyers for the Lees have been quoted as saying that the SDP's Affidavit Evidence In Chief (AEIC) is scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process.

I laughed till i had tears when I read that because I was wondering if the lawyers were from!

These politically motivated defamation lawsuits are the ones that are scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process. And i'll add cowardly to this heady brew. Cowardly because they have all the power and control and they use it to intimidate, bully and destroy lives. Apparently they're so high up the ladder that they can't bring themselves down to use just counter arguments and have a debate about the issues but instead go for the jugular.

Ask most Singaporeans, even those who are not as politically engaged in any way, you're likely to get a response like aiyah, they always win lah! but most may not say so publicly but in private conversations and thoughts. They'll win the cases but they'll continue to keep losing the hearts and minds of the people.
From the SDP.......I won't recuse myself: Judge Ang

Parties spent the entire day in Judge Belinda Ang's chambers today exchanging legal arguments. The Judge had refused to hold the session in open court.

The defendants comprising of the SDP, Ms Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan had wanted two preliminary applications heard in open court.

These were: One, the application by the defence for the Judge to recuse herself and, two, the plaintiffs' application to strike out the defendants' Affidavit Evidence-in-Chief (AEIC). The AEICs spell out the defence's case.

Justice must manifestly seen to be done

Dr Chee said that the Singaporean public and international community had misgivings about the Judiciary especially when it came to defamation cases involving the PAP and opposition. Conducting the sessions in chambers would not help to improve the situation.

"If the legal arguments are sound and the judgment is sound, there is no reason why the proceedings should not be held in open court," Dr Chee argued.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Davinder Singh contended that the arguments are "private" and that there was "nothing exceptional" about the case.

Ms Chee Siok Chin countered that the plaintiffs' attempt to strike out the defendants' AEICs would "chop off the legs" of the defence case, as these affidavits formed the heart of the SDP's defence.

In such an important matter, Mr Singh's arguments should be heard by everyone in open court.

Dr Chee added that for the sake of transparency and to allow justice to be manifestly seen to be done, it is imperative that the applications be heard in open court.

No, said the Judge.

No confidence in the Judge

The defendants then proceeded to present arguments on why Judge Ang should disqualify herself from hearing the case.

The judge had agreed with Mr Singh when he repeatedly used words such as "ploy", "ruse", "manipulation" to portray Mr Ravi's absence in court during the summary judgement hearing in 2006.

This was proved to be completely false when Mr Ravi's physician provided a written report tesifying that the lawyer was indeed ill and unable to attend court.

And yet Judge Ang allowed Mr Singh to freely cast aspersions against Mr Ravi when she should have noted that it was not proper for Mr Singh to make such prejudical remarks when Mr Ravi was not present to defend himself.

Mr Singh had also noted that the initial medical certificate that Mr Ravi produced had the date written in blue ink but signed in black ink, questioning the genuineness of the MC.

"To make insinuations that Mr Ravi had tampered with evidence or forged a medical certificate is a very serious matter," Dr Chee charged.

Without a shred of evidence to back himself up, Mr Singh had recklessly piled on one wild allegation after another to the extent that he was implying there was a conspiracy by the defendants and their counsel to defraud the Judge.

Again, why did Judge Ang allow such serious allegations to be made by Mr Singh when his counterpart was not present to defend himself?

The Judge allowed her mind to be poisoned, willingly or not, by Mr Singh's horrendous accusations which were all subsequently shown to be lies.

Ms Chee Siok Chin weighed in: "At that summary judgement hearing, it seemed to me as though we were up against not one but two parties."

Based on these, as well as other, observations, would Ms Ang recuse herself? No, said the Judge.

Observing the trial

Since she would not hold the hearings in open court, would the Judge allow a lawyer from Malaysia, Mr Saha Deva, into the chambers to witness the proceedings as an independent observer?

No, said the Judge.

Mr Saha is one of the lawyers for the five Hindraf leaders who have been detained without trial under the ISA by the Malaysian government.

Why so late?

The next issue that was argued was the striking out application made by the plaintiffs. Mr Ravi said that he was served a two-volume, 800-page bundle of authorities on Friday night last week and then expected to come in to court on Monday morning to make counter arguments.

The SDP's lawyer said this was unfair and asked for some time to prepare his arguments.

Mr Singh countered that he had informed the defendants as early as Nov 07 that the plaintiffs would be objecting to the defence AEICs.

Dr Chee then asked why, if the plaintiffs had known that they were going to object to the AEICs as early as November last year, did they wait until just a few weeks before the hearing today to make the formal application to strike out the AEICs.

Mr Singh did not reply to the question but instead said that the contents of his application were "uncontroversial."

"To you maybe," Dr Chee pointed out. "But to non-lawyers such Ms Chee and I, we don't even know where to begin. But you haven't answered my question: Why did you wait until April this year to file your application when you knew since November last year that you were objecting to our AEICs?"

Again, Mr Singh avoided the question and Dr Chee had to ask a third time.

The Judge then interjected and said that she would allow the defendants time to prepare their counter-arguments.

The case was adjourned to 22 May 08 to hear the Lees' application to strike out the defendants' AEICs. This will be heard in chambers.

The hearing for damages assessment during which the Lees will be cross-examined will take place on 26-28 May 08. This will be held in open court.

There will be more updates on scenes from inside the Judge's chambers. You will not want to miss these. Log in again soon.
From the Straits Times....Hearing delayed by two weeks on Chees' request

THE High Court hearing to decide the amount of damages the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and its two leaders have to pay for defaming the Prime Minister and Minister Mentor has been postponed by two weeks.

The three-day hearing is now slated to start on May 26.

It was to have started yesterday, with PM Lee Hsien Loong and MM Lee Kuan Yew expected to take the stand.But the opposition party leaders asked for more time to prepare for a related case and Justice Belinda Ang agreed.

The request was among four issues that dominated the legal tussle yesterday, which was held behind closed doors in the judge's chambers.

From 10am to 6pm, lawyers for the Lees - led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh from Drew and Napier - and SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, his sister Chee Siok Chin and SDP lawyer M. Ravi argued on various issues.

Justice Ang settled at least four of them.

First, the Chees wanted all the matters raised in the judge's chambers yesterday to be heard in open court.

Second, they wanted Malaysian lawyer Saha Deva, a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council, to be allowed to sit in on the hearing in chambers as a trial observer.

Third, they asked Justice Ang to disqualify herself from hearing the case on the grounds that she had awarded the Lees a summary judgment in 2006, after the Chees walked out of her chambers.

She rejected all three applications. But she agreed to their final request: more time to respond to the Lees' application to strike out the affidavits of the Chees and former solicitor-general and opposition politician Francis Seow, who lives abroad.

Lawyers for the Lees had applied to strike out the affidavits on April 7, arguing that they were scandalous, irrelevant and an abuse of process.

But the Chees asked for a seven-day adjournment, as they were given an 800-page bundle of documents on the matter last Friday, a collection of past court cases to which the Lees' lawyers will refer for their arguments.

If their affidavits are struck out, they will not take the stand to be cross-examined by the Lees' lawyers.

It would be like going into the hearing 'naked', SDP lawyer M. Ravi told reporters later on the importance of preserving the affidavits.

But lawyers for the Lees told reporters that it was quite normal for these documents to be given to the other party on the day of the hearing.

Justice Ang, in agreeing to the adjournment, set May 22 for the hearing on the issue in her chambers.

As a result of the change, the hearing to assess the defamation damages had to be pushed back.

The Lees are seeking aggravated damages following a High Court ruling that the SDP and the Chees had defamed PM Lee and MM Lee in articles published in the party's newsletter in 2006.

Nearly 50 people, including SDP members and supporters dressed in black, turned up at Court 4B yesterday to witness what would have been a first: the Lees being quizzed by their political opponents in open court.

The public gallery was packed. So was the media's. All waited patiently as the two sides slugged it out in the judge's chambers. Some returned after lunch to continue the wait.

Officers from the Police Security Command, the unit responsible for guarding political leaders, did a security sweep of the courtroom, heightening the anticipation that PM Lee and MM Lee would turn up.

It did not happen.

As Mr Ravi put it: 'We've to cancel the show today.'
From TODAY......SDP, Chee hearing delayed another two weeks

Prime Minister, Minister Mentor not taking the witness stand just yet

Tuesday • May 13, 2008

Derrick A Paulo

THE High Court hearing of the defamation suit against Dr Chee Soon Juan — one that has been two years in the making — did not even come close to getting off the ground yesterday.

As lengthy discussions on a number of outstanding issues took place throughout the day in the judge's chambers, it eventually became clear that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew would not be taking the stand just yet.

The two People's Action Party (PAP) leaders have agreed to be cross-examined by Dr Chee to determine damages owed for defamation. It would be the first time a PAP leader is to be quizzed in open court directly by a political opponent.

But history will still be made in two weeks' time, after Justice Belinda Ang set May 26 to 28 as the new dates for the hearing.

Legal counsel for the two leaders told reporters they had been hoping to proceed immediately, as there already have been several delays in the case.

But, the defendants — the Singapore Democratic Party, represented by lawyer M Ravi, and two of its leaders, secretary- general Dr Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin — made three applications before the court that had to be heard first.

Chief among these was the request for Justice Ang to disqualify herself from hearing the case. The defendants are claiming bias against them — for example, on the basis that Justice Ang had awarded the Lees a summary judgment in 2006 in this same case on whether the SDP had defamed the Lees by drawing parallels between governance in the National Kidney Foundation and the Singapore Government.

But the defendants' arguments were not accepted and Justice Ang, who said it was her duty to hear all cases presented to her, will hear the case when it goes to open court.

Mr Ravi, Dr Chee and Ms Chee all presented arguments yesterday and tried to have the rest of the day's hearing held in open court "as a matter of public interest", Mr Ravi told reporters.

They wanted the Lees' application to strike out their affidavits to also be heard before the public. This was denied. Instead, this matter will be heard in chambers on May 22.

If successful, the application would mean the defendants would have to rely more heavily on the cross-examination of the Lees for their case, said Mr Ravi.

"But we were told there will be latitude to cross-examine. At least, that gave us more confidence in our case," he said after proceedings were adjourned at about 6pm.

Dr Chee told reporters he would put his comments on the SDP website, including shedding light on his third application — which was also denied — to ask for a lawyer from the human rights committee in the Malaysian Bar Council to sit in for the hearing in chambers. But there was no update as of press time.

The last time a PAP leader was cross-examined in court was in 1997, when the Queen's Counsel for Mr JB Jeyaretnam questioned then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's motives for bringing a defamation suit against the opposition veteran.

Earlier that same year, then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew was cross-examined by the lawyer for the wife of exiled opposition candidate Tang Liang Hong.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"LIVE" twitter updates from PM, MM vs SDP hearings

Go here for twitter updates of the court hearings. Go here to find out how you can get updates sent to your mobile phone. Don't you just love technology! ;-)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

PM, MM vs SDP, Court 4B, 10am, 12-14 May, Supreme Court

Here's the weekly law notice from the supreme court website.

See page 11 for more details on the hearings to assess the amount of damages in another one of those infamous defamation suits. All of us know how that's going to turn out. Visit SDP for more about this case.

And on page 13, ANOTHER one of those infamous defamation suits. And this time asking for summary judgment against the far eastern economic review. The hearing is in Chamber 6D, 10am, 15-16 May. Again, we all know how this will also end up. This youtube video shows a cnn report,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Be prepared to use hand gestures unless you can speak the chinese language

Came across this Forbes report yesterday,
Singapore's Unloved Chinese Labor Boom

Low-skilled workers from China are ubiquitous in Singapore these days: in the shiny new terminal of Changi Airport, in coffee shops, in shopping malls, in supermarkets, at gas stations, at construction sites and populating the much-loved open-air food courts called hawker centers.

They also make their presence felt in five-star hotels, where one recent encounter found a Mandarin-speaking maid who could not comprehend a word of English. Most recently, Singapore's two bus companies began hiring drivers from China.

Chinese workers are just one constituency in Singapore's fast-growing foreign population, but they are the largest component of an expatriate contingent that crossed the 1 million mark in October, helping boost the overall population to 4.68 million in an otherwise chronically aging society. Foreigners make up about one-third of the national workforce. The country set a goal to raise its population total to 6.5 million within two decades, rejuvenating itself mainly through immigration from India and China.

But the sudden influx of workers from China appears to have taken ordinary Singaporeans by surprise, as the low-skilled and the elderly start to find themselves losing jobs to the newcomers. The tidal wave of mainland Chinese workers began last year, when Singapore relaxed its rules to allow more immigration to staff its service industries, part of its measures to address an acute labor shortage resulting from a boom in the construction, marine, manufacturing and services sectors. Beginning this year, Singaporean companies were allowed to draw on foreigners for up to 50% of their labor force; 10% can be Chinese nationals. Previously, the respective figures were 45% and 5%.

The government last year reckoned 450,000 jobs will be created in the next five years; the country's annual birth rate is only 30,000.

As Chinese workers with distinct and varied provincial accents proliferate, so do natives' complaints about their loudness and lack of mastery of English. Their popularity with the city-state's employers, who like their work ethic and low wage expectations, further fuels resentment.

They threaten the job security of Singapore's most unskilled, the low-wage workers who earn less than 1,200 Singapore dollars ($872.73) a month, numbering about 350,000. "There are so many of them everywhere, the mainland Chinese," a taxi driver lamented. "They take away our jobs and force poor people to go unemployed."

This month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tried to place the issue in context, arguing that the majority of Singaporeans have benefited from rising household incomes, a boon stemming from the country's historically low unemployment rate. This follows four consecutive years of strong economic growth.

But labor activists view things differently. The Workers' Party pointed out that Singaporeans are being left behind by the recent boom: more than 60% of the record 236,600 new jobs created last year went to foreigners.
I like to eat the chinese cooked rice from my neighbourhood coffeeshops. It tastes good, its cheap and filling. But the problem isn't with the prices. At least not yet.

Increasingly, food stalls like these, across Singapore, are being staffed with workers from China and they mostly speak the chinese language. And there's the problem. I don't speak nor understand chinese. ok maybe the vulgarities! Point is, when i go to the food stalls these days, i find myself using hand gestures for simple things like less rice, more rice, a bit more curry, no curry and stuff like that. Its a bummer for people who are not chinese or don't speak chinese.

But no choice mah, i still gotta eat what! And the cooked rice is solid lah! :-)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

a crime so appalling

poor pooh bear. was it murder or suicide? click on pic to get a closer view of this unspeakable crime. :-)

It just boils down to power and control has just published an email from MICA in response to proposals for internet freedom in Singapore by a group of bloggers,
My Minister would like to thank you and your blogger friends for the effort in putting up the proposals for Internet deregulation which you had emailed to him on 20 April 2008.

MICA is well aware of the fact that Internet and new media technology have evolved by leaps and bounds since we introduced our light-touch approach in 1996. Back then, MICA had recognised the potential growth and impact of the Internet, and the tremendous opportunities and benefits that it will bring to all of us. We were also wary of its negative aspects. Hence, our response to the Internet was to take a balanced light-touch approach. Our intent with this light-touch approach was to foster the growth of the Internet and to enable us to exploit its vast potential while safeguarding our society from its undesirable aspects. That 79% of our households subscribe to broadband and many Singaporeans especially the younger citizens own a blog or participate in some form of new media clearly show that the light-touch approach had not been without merit.

To keep up with the fast-evolving new media landscape, we have been reviewing our light-touch approach and are considering how we could take a lighter touch approach. We have appointed the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) in April last year to study the new media and how best to refine our regulatory framework.

We will consider the views expressed in your proposal and other feedback in our review.

Yours sincerely

Press Secretary
to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts
Yes its Ms Bhavani from the infamous mrbrown affair over the latter's '06 S'poreans are fed, up with progress! article in TODAY. This post isn't about her but i thought it best to highlight it to my readers since not all would know or remember.

I admit i've not fully read the proposals by the bloggers but from what i have seen so far, it seems to be a good effort. So its not the proposals for which i don't have a good feeling about.

Blogs and websites, which discuss or report on domestic political issues and are extremely critical of the ruling party, are seen as a pain in the ass but not a real threat (perceived or otherwise) to their power and control. At least not yet. But when push comes to shove, the minefield of legislations, rules & regulations will be brought to bear. It just boils down to power and control.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How much more do the people of Burma have to suffer

Not only do the people in Burma have to put up with a military dictatorship, they also have to contend with natural disasters like cyclone nargis.

To the Burmese people, even though it might seem a small & empty gesture, nevertheless, please accept my truly heartfelt condolences to what you have been going through for decades and what you're going through now.


Monday, May 5, 2008

monkey in the neighbourhood

Recently, a monkey was spotted around our neighbourhood at a very small park called Fuji Hill. I dunno who came up with that name and i myself have not seen the monkey....yet.

Fuji Hill
But another monkey, of the human type, apparently wanted more details and did this to the notice put up by the town council. :-)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Singapore activists mark World Press Freedom Day in front of SPH building

Received this email (with photos) yesterday which was World Press Freedom Day

Today is World Press Freedom Day: an opportunity to reflect upon the principles of press freedom. Press freedom must be championed and protected as it comprises the fundamental Freedom of Expression (Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights). UNESCO's 2008 themes for this day are Access to Information and Empowerment.

In resonance with this, we as independent activists marked World Press Freedom Day 2008 this morning, with a series of messages to share our thoughts on the state of press freedom in Singapore.

It's no big secret that Singapore, though proudly claiming to be a 'First-World' country, is ranked 141 out of 167 in 2007's World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders). 142 is Afghanistan. For the same year, Singapore is ranked 157 out of 195 countries in the Freedom of the Press World Ranking (Freedom House). 158 is Iraq.

Freedom House clearly establishes Singapore's status as "Not free". Not free. Shackled. Clipped. Censored? A common criterion to these indices is an evaluation of the level of censorship. Though news in Singapore may not be overtly censored, the problem is self-censorship.

A freer press empowers people as it gives them pluralism in sources of information as well as access to diverse points of view.

All of us have the right to form and express our opinions and respect should be accorded to this right through freedom to access information.

The Newspapers and Printing Presses Act was introduced in 1975. In effect, the Act enables the State to impose such restrictions as:
• Permits (to be renewed every year) granted on a discretionary basis for locally published newspapers. In addition, these permits may be granted with conditions such as the State's specification on the language in which the newspaper may be published.
• Permits required for the sale and distribution of foreign newspapers. In addition, individuals will need to comply with this permissibility for any papers brought in which may be for personal consumption. Complementary provision for powers of examination of packages and articles is included.

Other incidents of repressive media management include lawsuits against foreign newspapers such as the Asian Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), a publication currently banned in Singapore. Yet let us not forget one of the most glaring examples: persecution of journalists. Most notable was the 17-year detention under the Internal Security Act of Said Zahari, editor of then-locally published Utusan Melayu.

Today, the press in Singapore is monopolised by the Singapore Press Holdings.

It publishes all but one of the dailies (the exception is TODAY published by Mediacorp) – a far cry from a lively press and publishing history in Singapore (pre-1975). There were several papers published in Malay, Indian and Chinese languages as compared to just these main non-English newspapers: Berita Harian, Tamil Murasu, Lianhe Zaobao (& Wanbao) and Shin Min Daily respectively.

Though press freedom in the professional arena should be safeguarded, individuals can overcome a restrictive and biased press through citizen journalism.

Through the new medium of the Internet, citizen journalism, which increases participation in the exchange of news and information, is on the rise. Alternative sources are available on the internet on web portals and blogs that allow individuals to express themselves and engage with others in open discussion.

Open discussions and dialogue on all human issues are vital for us to engage with each other in an environment of respect and dignity. The role of a free and pluralistic press as such a forum enshrines the fundamental freedom of expression for everyone.

To continue this dialogue on press freedom and efforts to promote it in Singapore, email Noora at

An effort by Singapore activists,
Chong Kai Xiong
Ho Choon Hiong
Noora Zul
Seelan Palay

James Gomez gives TOC exclusive update in video interview

And dun forget to watch his other interview at toa payoh's tak boleh tahan event

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tak boleh tahan outreach video

Congratulations to Singapore's news media

On the occasion of world press freedom day today, i would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our news media for attaining this achievement: For the Asia-Pacific region, of 40 countries surveyed, Singapore's ranks 33rd. In the overall results, it ranks 153rd of 195 countries surveyed.

Freedom House, which did the survey, wrote in its report.........
Media freedom in Singapore continued to be constrained in 2007, with the vast majority of print and broadcast journalists practicing self-censorship for fear of harsh defamation charges, while a government review raised concerns of increased restrictions for online content in the future.

The Singapore Constitution provides the right to freedom of speech and expression in Article 14, but also permits restrictions on these rights. In addition, the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act, the Defamation Act, and the Internal Security Act (ISA) constrain press freedom, allowing the authorities to restrict the circulation of news deemed to incite violence, arouse racial or religious tensions, interfere in domestic politics, or threaten public order, national interest or national security.

The judiciary lacks independence and systematically returns verdicts in the government’s favor, further undermining press freedom in the city-state. Singapore law does not recognize journalists’ rights to protect the identity of their sources and in May 2007, Reuters correspondent Mia Shanley was forced to reveal an anonymous source in a commercial case under an order from the Court of Appeals.

Films, television programs, music, books and magazines are sometimes censored; all films with a political purpose are banned unless government-sponsored. In April 2007, the government banned a film by filmmaker and blogger Martyn See about Said Zahari, a journalist and political activist who was held without trial for 17 years under the ISA. Although Zahari's 17 Years, was banned under the Film Act from being screened in Singapore, it could still be viewed on the Internet.

The Singapore government and ruling party members are quick to sue critics under harsh civil and criminal defamation laws in order to silence and bankrupt political opponents and critical media outlets.

Foreign media in Singapore are also subject to such pressures and restrictive laws. In October 2007, the Financial Times published an apology and agreed to pay damages to the ruling Lee family for a September article that suggested nepotism factored into various appointments allocated to several of its members. Foreign publications are required by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts to post a bond of S$200,000 (approximately $127,200) and appoint a local legal representative if they wish to publish in Singapore.

In August 2006, after the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) published an interview with opposition party leader Chee Soon Juan, it and four other foreign publications were informed they would no longer be exempt from the regulations as they had been previously and needed to post a deposit. When the FEER did not comply, its circulation permit was revoked, effectively banning the publication, a ban which remained in effect throughout 2007, though the publication was accessible online. In a corresponding defamation suit filed by the prime minister and his father over the article, a June 2007 ruling by the Singapore High Court rejected the magazine’s application for a Queen’s Counsel from the United Kingdom to represent it.

Nearly all print and broadcast media outlets, Internet service providers, and cable television services are either owned or controlled by the state, or by companies with close ties to the ruling People's Action Party. Annual licensing requirements for all media outlets, including political and religious web sites, have been used to inhibit criticism of the government. Internet use is widespread in Singapore, but the government attempts to restrict and control it by licensing Internet service providers. Websites offering political or religious content are also required to register with the government’s Media Development Authority (MDA), thus making a website's owners and editors criminally liable for any content that the government finds objectionable. Although the ruling party has been successful in curbing dissenting opinion among traditional print and broadcast media, the Internet has proven more difficult to control. Bloggers and discussion groups still offer alternative views and a virtual channel for expressing dissent.

During the year, an online petition against a proposed salary hike for government ministers collected thousands of signatures as well as comments criticizing the hike and the authorities’ lack of accountability. In March 2007, the MDA announced that it was seeking to expand the jurisdiction of its Media Market Conduct Code from the traditional print and broadcast sectors to new media markets. Although the MDA said its review was intended "to better address competition issues that may arise under the new landscape", international watchdog groups expressed concerns that the revisions would be used to limit ownership and stifle online dissent. The internet was accessed by over 66 percent of the population in 2007.

30 day campaign for Burma

Visit Burma:it can't wait for more

Thursday, May 1, 2008

James Gomez video message from tak boleh tahan event

May Day message from the Workers Party

Singapore Democrats have gone VIDEO with their may day message while the Workers Party have opted for the traditional method. I guess it doesn't matter as long as the message gets out. I would have preferred if they had done a video message but that's just me. ;-)
Labour Day Message 2008: Putting Singaporeans First

By Yaw Shin Leong, Organising Secretary of The Workers’ Party

The top down tripartite collaboration amongst the Government, employers and a pro-government labour union is a sure recipe for potential compromises for the Singaporean worker.

Overall employment creation in Singapore for the whole of 2007 is 236,600, surpassing 176,000 in 2006. However foreign employment rose to a new high of 144,500 in 2007. This means only 38.9% in 236,600 jobs created last year truly benefited Singaporeans.

Singaporeans will be none the better off, even if more jobs are created, when more than 60% of the jobs created go to foreigners. Although Singaporeans may participate in skills upgrading programs, many realize that promotional prospects are limited.

A certain portion of these jobs created could have been part time contract work positions. While the above statistics illustrate a rosy picture of high employment rate boosting the general public’s confidence in the Singapore’s economy, these figures require more detailed analysis to understand the actual employment status that Singaporeans are in.

Could it be that more Singaporeans are holding contractual part-time work positions, whereas foreigners might be benefiting from the full time positions created?

If this is the situation, this will disadvantage some segments of Singaporeans, resulting in less than ideal employment terms, such as compromised medical benefits and annual leave.

Singaporeans’ Societal Standing

To face the future with confidence and optimism, Singaporeans must be assured first of our societal standing in the midst of global uncertainties. Under the current top down tripartite collaboration model bold measures are taken to tackle macro economic challenges, and the impact on Singaporean workers must not be written off.

With reference to a recent report in the local media, Minister Lim Boon Heng gave an explanation to a distressed Singaporean woman concerned about losing her job to a ’sweet young beer girl from China’ that the foreigner’s presence actually helped to draw in businesses, in turn saving the Singaporean woman’s job. Such a ‘brush-off’ comment by a ministerial authority is hardly assuring.

According to Mr Lim’s logic, is he conceding that the PAP has created an economic model whereby Singaporeans must now be dependent on the foreign workers to retain our jobs? Singaporeans must now thank foreigners for helping us keep our jobs!

As a result of this ‘unique’ economic model, the societal standing of the Singaporean worker is now being eroded in our very own country.

Singapore is indeed becoming a ‘City of Possibilities’, however, it’s not for Singaporeans but foreigners. While Singaporeans are still conceptualising our great future filled with ‘possibilities’, alas, this might already have been stealthily taken away.

Showing Compassion

The current harsh reality of rising food prices and inflation is a major concern for all Singaporeans, especially so for the lower wage workers, whose livelihood is also threatened by the increasing numbers of foreign workers.

Our government must be compassionate and be proactive to initiate more substantial measures to help Singaporeans. Whilst NTUC has initiated a food voucher program, our government should also do something on top of the initiatives by NTUC. This is not to suggest that our government should subsidise food prices across the board but they are definitely capable of giving more help.

The Workers’ Party hereby repeats our call to reduce Singapore’s GST rate by 2% and to keep our GST rates at 5% for at least a year. We also propose that the government reduce fuel tax as a compassionate gesture to ease Singaporeans’ financial burdens.

In spite of this sombre backdrop, Workers’ Party encourages fellow Singaporeans to hold our heads high and not to lose heart. The Workers’ Party will continue to pressure the government so that Singaporeans’ privileges and opportunities are not compromised in the midst of a top down tripartite collaboration amongst the Government, employers and a pro-government labour union.

The Workers’ Party wishes all Workers in Singapore a Happy Labour Day.

Yaw Shin Leong
Organising Secretary
The Workers’ Party
1 May 2008

Micro-blogging in a BIG WAY from Toa Payoh

Twittering away from toa payoh central, where they're holding the tak boleh tahan event, the singapore democrats have been using twitter to keep everybody updated of what's going on and also urging more Singaporeans to c'mon down!

I'm also keeping updated thru my twitter.

We can either visit their website for these regular updates or checkout the photos and youtube videos like the one here of the ongoing event.