Yet more discrimination as Malaysian bloggers are invited to speak in Singapore

The SDP has learned that Malaysian blogger Mr Jeff Ooi and Malaysiakini’s Mr Steven Gan have been invited by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) to speak at the Lee Kuan School of Public Policy.

The seminar, entitled Impact of ICTs in the Malaysian Election – Lessons for Singapore, will be held on 9 April 2008.

We welcome the speakers from Malaysia and look forward to hearing their recent experiences in regards to the recently held elections in Malaysia.

But we can’t. The talk is not open to the Singaporean public.

This raises the obvious question about foreigners speaking in Singapore. The PAP Government has repeatedly denied permits to non-Singaporeans speaking in Singapore on politics.

In Mar 07, a group of European Parliamentarians were banned from speaking at a public forum organised by the SDP. The MEPs were even threatened with arrest.

Not long after, Professor Douglas Sanders, invited by People Like Us, was denied permission to deliver a lecture on homosexuality.

Of course in the present case the IPS will say that the seminar is not open to the public and hence does not require a permit. This kind of Alice-in-Wonderland argument grates on one’s common sense like sand on silk.

You see, Messrs Gan and Ooi will not only be speaking about the Malaysian experience but also on “lessons for Singapore.” If the invitees of the IPS, the majority of whom are presumably Singaporeans, can hear the speakers, why not the rest of Singapore?

Do these IPS-affiliated Singaporeans possess special neurological apparatus that allow them to listen to the speakers in a more enlightened way than non-IPS ones?

This incident is not unlike the recent CASE march on 16 Mar which received full blessings from the Government whereas the SDP’s Tak Boleh Tahan protest was forcefully stopped. If the truth be told, political discrimination is becoming more blatant and the corruption of power increasingly indigestible.

But we are not helpless. Like the Malaysians, let us show that we have the wherewithal to right the injustice. We can do this by asking Mr Steven Gan and Mr Jeff Ooi to request that the organisers open the seminar to the Singaporean public. You can email them here: Steven Gan, Jeff Ooi

While you’re at it, let the speakers know about the political reality in Singapore. You may also want to email the gentlemen your questions ahead of time and request them to address them at the seminar.

Finally, the blogging community should ask to meet the speakers while they are in Singapore.

Let’s make the Internet work for us. Messrs Gan and Ooi, of all people, will know how this works.

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