24 Nov 07
Ms Chee Siok Chin recently attended the Community of Democracies (CD) meeting from 14-17 November, in place of Dr Chee Soon Juan who is a member of the International Steering Committee (ISC).
At the ISC meeting, Ms Chee related what had happened at the IBA Rule of Law conference held in Singapore on 19 October. The ISC took a special interest in this event as it was one of the many international organisations that signed on to a petition to the IBA.
Ms Chee also spoke about the upcoming ASEAN Summit held in Singapore. She urged the ISC to issue a statement to call on the ASEAN governments to take action by suspending trade with Burma and ending arms sales to the junta.
Singapore’s secretive and non-transparent banking laws were also called into question.
At the ministerial meeting itself the President of Mali, H.E. Amadou Toumani Toure, spoke at the opening ceremony. US Undersecretary of State Mr. John Negroponte and ISC President Paul Graham were the other speakers.
Mr Graham paid tribute to human rights defenders and democracy advocates. He especially singled out Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma, Ms Ashma Jahangir (a prominent Pakistani activist who is currently detain by General Musharaff) and Singapore’s Dr Chee Soon Juan.
During the breakout sessions where civil society dialogued with government representatives, Ms Chee called on the CD (which is a grouping of democratic governments) to work with democracy advocates in countries such as Singapore, whose government was not invited to the conference.
She impressed upon the panel that attention on seemingly affluent countries but where human rights activists are victimised, is crucial.
The UN representative based in South Africa told the participants that the Singapore economic role model is being studied and emulated by some African countries.
Well-known academic and human rights activist from Egypt, Dr. Saad Ibrahim, told Ms Chee that the most important thing he took away from this conference was the revelation that underneath the modernity and prosperity, the Singapore Government victimises dissenters through the misuse of the rule of law.
Ms Chee was also part of the panel that conducted a press conference which issued a statement on Taiwan’s exclusion by the Malian hosts at this 4th CD conference.
Together with Mr. Gus Miclat from the Philippines, Mr. Vo Van Ai from Vietnam and Mr. Xiao Qiang leader of the Tiananmen Protest, Ms Chee expressed her solidarity with the Taiwanese who were denied their participation by Mali.