An Open Letter to US President George W Bush

November 16, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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15 November 2006

Mr George W Bush

President

United States of America

Dear Mr President,

I write in anticipation of your visit to Singapore and on behalf of the members of the Singapore Democratic Party extend to you a very warm welcome.

As with most Singaporeans, I am heartened by the close relationship that Singapore enjoys with the United States. There is, however, a fly in the ointment and that is the deteriorating political situation in my country.

While the Singapore Government tells its international critics that it is slowly improving its dismal human rights record, in reality the opposite is taking place.

Just a few days ago, it announced that it was putting in yet more restrictions on the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Already, we are banned from gathering in public for political activities. The new legislation will give the Government even greater power to repress the opposition and civil society groups.

The Singapore Government owns and runs all the television and radio stations as well as all the newspapers. Singapore’s media is ranked 146th out of 167 countries in a worldwide press freedom survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders, dropping six positions from last year and below even countries like Sudan and Somalia.

Elections are a meaningless exercise which many international watchdogs have labeled as far from free and fair. Freedom House writes: “Singapore citizens cannot change their Government democratically.”

Two of my associates and I are presently charged for interacting with our voters during the elections in May this year. We have indicated that we are prepared to go to prison as the charge is politically motivated to suppress freedom and democracy in Singapore.

Strangely, the trial proceedings ended last week but the judge has decided not to pass the verdict until next week. This may have something to do with your visit this week.

I have also been sued and made a bankrupt. As a result, the Government has seized my passport effectively placing me under city-arrest.

In your meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, I hope you will impress upon him that democracy and an open society will only help Singapore as it moves forward to an increasingly globalised 21st century.

A democratic and free Singapore will not only benefit the people of this city-state but also contribute to a more stable and prosperous Asia, something which I am sure will the United States values in its fight against terrorism and poverty.

Again, welcome to Singapore and I wish you a pleasant and meaningful stay.

Sincerely,

Chee Soon Juan

Secretary-General

Singapore Democratic Party