LHL Watch

August 12, 2005
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

In his inauguration speech on 12 August 2004 as Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong said, “Ours must be an open and inclusive Singapore.” The Singapore Democrats launched this segment in Aug 2005 to track whether Mr Lee was keeping his promise. In Aug 2006, we update this section to let Singaporeans again be the judge on whether he was telling the truth.

2006

Aug: Prosecuted two Singaporeans and one Chinese for holding a protest calling on the Chinese government to stop persecuting Falungong practitioners. Attempted to deport the 73-year-old Chinese who would face certain torture if she returned to China.

http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlefalungongillegalassembly1.html

Aug: Pressed for a speedy wrap up of his summary judgement hearing that he took up with his dad against Ms Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan even though he earlier said that he was willing to be cross-examined.

Aug: Ordered the Far Eastern Economic Review (and four other foreign newspapers) to deposit $200,000 in Singapore before allowing the publications to circulate here. (See below) http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlersfandfeer.html

Jul: Threatened to sue the Far Eastern Economic Review with his dad for publishing an interview the journal did with Dr Chee Soon Juan. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlefeer1.html

Jul: Continued to drag feet over the cleaning up of money-laundering activities in Singapore, leading a senior fund manager in the region to comment: “Singapore has truly become the global centre for parking ill-gotten gains. The private banking teams are huge and in practice ask almost no questions.” http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlemoneylaundering.html

Jul: Closed down the Mr Brown column on the Today newspaper. Mr Brown had criticized the rising cost of living in Singapore in his article “I’m fed, up with progress!”  The ban caused an uproar amongst the Internet community, resulting in 30 people staging a protest at the City Hall MRT station. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlersfsingaporeblogger1.html

Jul: Charged nine people linked to the Falun Gong spiritual group with illegal assembly for allegedly gathering without a permit last year. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlefalungongillegalassembly.html

Jun: Told Australians when he visited the country: “Endless debates are seldom about achieving a better grasp of the issue but to score political points.” He added that John Howard, the Australian prime minister, “spends all his time dealing with this party politics. The result is you don’t have a lot of time to worry about the long-term future” and concluded that one-party rule is best. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlenz1.html

Jun: Made himself and the rich richer but the poor poorer. Lowest 30 percent of households saw their incomes diminish whereas the incomes of the top 10 percent of households increased by 14.8 percent. Only half of Singaporean households enjoyed any significant improvement in their income over the five-year period between 2000 and 2005. The bottom 10 percent of households reported no or negative income while the 11 to 20 percentile group saw their household incomes plunge nearly 20 percent over the same five year period. These households had an average of $1,180 monthly incomes in 2005 compared to $1,470 in 2000. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articleministersalaries.html

Jun: Continued to harass SDP and its supporters by charging Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, and Mr Yap Keng Ho under the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act (PEMA) for “making an address in a public place.” The three men were selling the SDP’s The New Democrat in the run up to the elections in May. This is another way the PAP prevents the opposition from directly and effectively communicating with the people. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlefreespeechandelections.html

Jun: Given the Bad Democrat Award by OpenDemocracy. The citation reads: Lee is keen to be seen as a democrat. He talks like a democrat. He holds elections. But, beneath that thin veneer, he and the party he leads, the People’s Action Party (PAP), have not the faintest inclination to bend to the will of the Singaporean people. His father, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister who governed with an iron-fistful of dollars for thirty-one years reproached those who did not vote for the PAP as “ungrateful”.

http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlebaddemocracy.html

May: Called for elections but banned podcasting during the election period. Introduced Progress Package where voters were given cash of over one thousand dollars each just a few days before polling. Told voters: “Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters’ votes.” http://www.boingboing.net/2006/04/05/singapore_bans_podca.html

May: Sued SDP and its Central Executive Committee members one day after he called for elections for publishing the article ‘The Govt’s Role in the NKF Scandal’ in The New Democrat. Harassed SDP’s printer into not printing SDP’s election material and newspaper. Told the media that he was “more than willing to be cross-examined in the courts of law to prove that Dr Chee Soon Juan’s allegations in the SDP’s newsletter are false and amount to grave defamation.” But after the elections he applied for a summary judgement with his father so that he could avoid being cross-examined in court http://news.monstersandcritics.com/asiapacific/article_1157466.php/Singapore_opposition_party_faces_threat_of_legal_action

Apr: Seized Dr Chee Soon Juan’s passport and prevented him from traveling to Turkey to attend the World Movement for Democracy 4th Assembly. Has not returned Dr Chee his passport since and has repeatedly denied Dr Chee his right to travel. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlecheeWMDistanbul.html

Mar: Received complaint that foreigners will be allowed to stage protests during the World Bank-IMF meeting in September 2006 in Singapore but not Singaporeans. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articleWBIMF.html

Mar: Ruled out giving foreign maids mandatory days off, saying it would be inconvenient. Human Rights Watch pressed Singapore to give foreign maids mandatory days off, saying they deserved the same holiday entitlement as the city-state’s other workers. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articlemaidshrw.html

2005

Dec: Committed an international gaffe when he failed to halt on the red carpet to bow in front of the German flag as protocol requires during the inspection of the guard-of-honour in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel halted and bowed but Lee didn’t. A short call to the prime minister apparently went unnoticed as the head of state continued to walk ahead. A protocol officer was finally able to stop the guest-of-honor and the two then continued the passing of the formation. http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articleconfusedlhlgermany.html

Dec: High Court Judge V K Rajah dismisses an Originating Motion taken up by Chee Siok Chin, Monica Kumar, and Yap Keng Ho against the Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng and Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui that the police acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it ordered the protesters to disperse. Mr Rajah said that citizens do not have the right to stage protests against the Government because “domestically as well as internationally, public governance in Singapore has been equated with integrity. To spuriously cast doubt on that would be to improperly undermine both a hard-won national dignity and a reputable international identity.”

Dec: Police called up Chee Siok Chin, Monica Kumar, Tan Teck Wee, Yap Keng Ho, Chee Soon Juan, and Lim Tung Hee for questioning over the protest held outside the CPF Building on 11 August 2005.

Sep: Police called up Internet activist Mr Jacob George for questioning in relationship to Mr Martyn See’s making of the film Singapore Rebel featuring SDP’s Dr Chee Soon Juan. The move is widely seen as an attempt by the Government to intimidate activists who are increasingly critical of the PAP’s control of information flow in Singapore.

Sep: Police are investigating the case of the eight mysterious white elephants. Someone stuck eight cardboard cut-outs of white elephants in protest against the Government’s refusal to open the Buangkok MRT station because of low traffic volume.

Aug: Riot police, in full battle gear, were sent in to break-up a peaceful protest by four activists who were protesting against the non-transparent nature of the NKF, CPF, GIC and HDB. About 40 police officers were present. They confiscated the protesters T-shirts.

Aug: Police threaten organisers of an anti-death penalty concert that it would not give the license if the photograph of the late Mr Shanmugam was not removed from the concert posters. The police said that they did not want to glorify an executed person. Mr Shanmugam was executed in May 2005 after he was convicted of smuggling marijuana into Singapore despite strong protests from the SDP and civil society.

Jul: Police attend Dr Chee Soon Juan’s book launch on nonviolence, videotapes the proceedings, seizes a CD, and takes down the particulars of the speakers. Investigations on-going.

Jun: Police warn would-be protesters at the Olympic vote held in Singapore that they would be arrested. A group of small businesses have threatened to stage protests against London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics

Jun: Courts seal files relating to the defamation suit brought by Chief Justice Yong Pung How against his former remisier Boon Suan Ban, who has been detained in the Institute of Mental Health at the President’s pleasure since March 2005.

May: Government bans workshop organised by Singaporean activists on non-violence.

May: Immigration authorities prevent Nonviolence International trainer, Mr Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, from entering Singapore to conduct non-violence workshop.

May: Student blogger, Mr Chen Jiahao, receives an email from Mr Philip Yeo, a powerful state executive, who threatens to sue Mr Chen because he had made disparaging remarks in his blog about Mr Yeo’s company. The blogger apologised and removed the said article from his website.

May: Two Falungong practitioners imprisoned for handing out DVDs and gathering in public without permits.

Apr: Government bans Amnesty International’s Mr Tim Parritt from speaking at a public forum on the death penalty in Singapore.

Mar: Mr J. B. Jeyaretnam’s application for a march to protest the Government’s decision to allow casinos to be built turned down.

Mar: Police threaten filmmaker Martyn See with prosecution unless See withdrew a film he made about Dr Chee Soon Juan from the Singapore International Film Festival. See withdrew his entry but got a call from the police for questioning anyway. Investigations on-going.

Mar: Chief Justice Yong Pung How sues his former remisier, Mr Boon Suan Ban, for defamation because Mr Boon was apparently pestering the Chief Justice on an outstanding financial matter when Mr Yong was the chairman of a bank. The Attorney-General charges Mr Boon for criminal defamation. The financier was subsequently acquitted because he was of “unsound mind”. But Mr Boon was detained at the Institute of Mental Health, where he remains at the President’s pleasure.

Mar: Police reject an application by a local gay Christian support group to hold a concert because the Media Development Authority said that the show would “promote a homosexual lifestyle.”

Jan: Dr Chee Soon Juan was ordered by the High Court to pay $500,000 in damages plus legal costs to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong.

2004

Dec: Police reject an application by a Hong Kong based gay portal to hold a Christmas party as “the event is likely to be organised as a gay party which is contrary to public interest.”

Dec: Mr Lee Kuan Yew tells the Foreign Correspondents Association: “We are not that daft. We know what is in our interest and we intend to preserve our interests and what we have is working. You are not going to tell us how to run our country.”

Nov: The Court of Appeal upholds a High Court decision to deny the application by Mr J. B. Jeyaratnam to be discharged from bankruptcy for money owed in lawsuits taken by PAP officials.

Sep: Courts proceed with the hearing to assess damages that Dr Chee Soon Juan has to pay Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong despite Dr Chee asking for the date to be postponed because he was away in the US.

Sep: The Economist pays $390,000 in damages plus legal costs to Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Lee Kuan Yew for a report on Temasek Holdings, headed by the prime minister’s wife, Ho Ching.

Sep: The Government will allow certain international NGOs to register in Singapore except those whose activities relate to human rights, gender issues, religion, ethnicity and martial arts.