17 April 2002
Few States fly as far under the international community's human rights radar as Singapore. A prosperous, in many ways Western-style nation, Singapore is barely mentioned at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Occasional references to conscientious objection to military service and the death penalty aside, the Singaporean delegation sit smugly while their Asian neighbours face a barrage of NGO, and often State, criticism.
29 January 2001
Singapore society confounds the theory that wealth leads to an opening up of society. The Lion City is an affluent society unable, some say unwilling, to break out of its authoritarian mode. Therein lies the puzzle that the Singapore is.
20 June 2000
By August 2000 Singapore is to have a speakers' corner! Is this a chance for Singaporeans to experience free speech? It hardly seems likely, given that the city-state has been ruled for the last 40 years by a single party using police state methods to quash political opposition.
01 January 2000
Modeled on its prototype in London's Hyde Park, Singapore's heavily publicized new Speakers Corner opened for business last September. More than 100 local and foreign journalists thronged to Hong Lim Park to watch the landmark event. In this tiny Southeast Asian island country, where public speeches to more than five persons had long been prohibited, and where opposition politician Chee Soon Juan was jailed for attempting such a speech a year before, the government was now permitting citizens to assemble to speak and be heard. It seemed a significant change.
05 July 1999
A bare-foot, middle-aged man dressed in a checkered sarong and polyester polo shirt stepped up to cast his vote. His leathery face broke into a grin, revealing a row of teeth stained red from years of chewing betel nuts. "I am very proud and happy today!" he announced as he pushed his ballots into the boxes.