James Minchin refused entry to Singapore

November 9, 2012
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The Reverend James Minchin, an author and Anglicanpriest, has been barred from entering Singapore. He was turned backat Changi Airport when he arrived on a visit fromMelbourne. No reason was given.$CUT$

He was held at the airport on Wednesday evening for nearly 24 hours, and subsequently escorted by the police to the plane for his flight back to Melbourne the following night.

Father Minchin was recently interviewedon the SDP’s talkshow, Let’s Talk, when he discussed his book No Man IsAn Island – A Study of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore, which was published in 1987.

He has been a regular visitor toSingapore and a long-time observer of its social and politicaldevelopments. As he describes in his Let’s Talkinterview, he started visiting Singapore in the 1960s and even served for a time as Pastor of St George’s Church, Minden Road.

Given that Fr Minchin has never faced any problems entering Singapore, this recent prohibition may well be attributed to his interview on Let’s Talk. If so, thismove on the part of the Government is petty and small-minded. Does the PAP want to punish Fr Minchin for appearing on the SDP programme.

No doubt, the charge will be laid that by appearing on the show, Fr Minchin, who is an Australian citizen, is “interfering” in Singapore’s politics.

But in this interdependent and interconnected age, does it achieve anything for the PAPGovernment to stop non-Singaporeans from commenting on Singaporean issues?

Is the Government so thin-skinned that itseeks revenge on individuals who express their honest opinions onSingapore? Does not the Government regularly invite non-Singaporeans to speakat public events which are then reported by the media?

If we aspire to be a global city, let us be confident in our own ability to think for ourselves anddiscern what is good and bad for our country – regardless of whetherthey are expressed by Singaporeans or non-Singaporeans.

In the past, the Government has barredother visitors from Singapore. Most recently, Mr RobertAmsterdam, SDP’s international lawyer, was turned back at the airport when he tried tovisit Dr Chee Soon Juan. Mr Amsterdam had published a White Paper onSingapore in which he highlighted the lack of the rule of law inSingapore and detailed the legal actions taken against the SDPsecretary-general.

The Home Affairs Ministry must come clear on its decision to bar Fr Minchin from entering Singapore.