Chee Soon Juan to speak at Oslo Freedom Forum

Dr Chee Soon Juan has been invited to speak at this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum. The annual event held in Oslo, Norway features speakers from various areas of advocacy, business, academia, politics, media, and technology.$CUT$

The Economist describes the forum as “a spectacular human-rights festival on its way to becoming a human rights equivalent of the Davos Economic Forum.” Past speakers include Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, chessmaster and Russian democracy advocate Gary Kasparov, and former Czech Republic president (the late) Vaclav Havel.

Former US president Bill Clinton said that Oslo Freedom Forum is “a unique gathering of the best minds, bravest hearts and strongest pillars of the human rights community.”

The forum will be held from 7-9 May 2012. This year’s speakers will include Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as well as Google’s Scott Carpenter.

But as before, Dr Chee has to apply to the Official Assignee for permission to leave Singapore. The OA has, in the past, refused to allow the SDP secretary-general to travel despite the guarantee that all expenses for his travel will be borne by the event organisers.

He was made bankrupt by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong in 2006 and ordered to pay the PAP leaders $500,000 in damages. More recently the judiciary again awarded Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong $610,000 over another defamation suit in 2008.

The most recent rejection of his applicaion to travel was to Dubai to speak at the International Bar Association’s annual conference in November 2011. Dr Chee had to give his presentation via a recorded video.

To date, he has made nearly 30 such applications since 2006. The OA has refused to give the reasons for the rejections.

But while the Government remains stringent about preventing Dr Chee’s travel, it has been lax with foreigners leaving the jurisdiction, including those who have been accused of committing violent crimes in Singapore.

Last year, New Zealander Robert Dahlberg and Briton Robert Springall who were to stand trial for causing grievous bodily harm on a couple of Singaporeans, were allowed to leave the country on bail. Both have since absconded.

The Oslo Freedom Forum founder and CEO Mr Thor Halvorssen has invited Dr Chee to speak on how the economic success of Singapore has enabled the government to hide its repressive nature (see below). We will keep readers posted on the outcome of Dr Chee’s curent application.

February 27, 2012

Dear Dr. Chee,

It is with the greatest pleasure that I invite you to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a conference that my colleagues and I at the Human Rights Foundation produce. It will take place in Norway on May 7, 8, and 9, 2012.

We invite you to speak during a session designed to bring attention to regimes under which freedom has been sacrificed to optimize economic prosperity and stability. Specifically, we would like you to discuss how the economic success of Singapore has enabled the government to hide its repressive nature. We believe that your experience and expertise will make for an inspiring and empowering talk about the challenges and oppression with which the people of Singapore are faced. We hope that you will join us in May to share your story with our community.

The Oslo Freedom Forum is an annual gathering of 250 people who have changed, are changing, or could change the world. Our community consists of human rights defenders, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, media pioneers, philanthropists, and others able and looking to make an impact.

Our mission is to unite leaders from academia, advocacy, business, media, politics, social entrepreneurship, and technology to address the world’s most challenging humanitarian issues.

Our objectives are to:

  • Expose unfree and closed societies
  • Establish a human rights axis for journalists
  • Inspire action through the exchange of ideas
  • Build a vibrant, international community
  • Raise human rights to the top of the world agenda
  • Spotlight the work of activists and innovators
  • Network participants with allies and supporters


The Economist has described our event as “a glittering gathering” and “a spectacular human rights festival… on its way to becoming a human-rights equivalent of the Davos economic forum.” Bill Clinton praised the Oslo Freedom Forum as “a unique gathering of the best minds, bravest hearts and strongest pillars of the human rights community,” saying the “cross-boundary partnerships fostered here are some of the most valuable in the world.” Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal placed the event on its ideas calendar this past spring.

We have so far been joined by speakers from more than 50 countries, including Leyman Gbowee, Lech Wałęsa, Václav Havel, Anwar Ibrahim, Rebiya Kadeer, Elie Wiesel, Julian Assange, Wael Ghonim, Yoani Sánchez, Jimmy Wales, Shirin Ebadi, Peter Thiel, Alejandro Toledo, and Garry Kasparov. You can find a full video library from our past events at

I also attach a 2011 report for your reference.

If you decide to join us, we will cover all of your travel costs and expenses in Norway, and host you at Oslo’s Grand Hotel. Our staff is greatly experienced at obtaining visas for our participants and we will do all we can to get you the proper travel documents you would require.

My colleagues and I are dedicated to giving you the best possible experience in Oslo and are committed to helping you most effectively share your insight with our community.

If you have questions feel free to reach me at + or at

With the utmost admiration and regards,

Thor Halvorssen
Founder & CEO

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