This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.
Singapore Democrats’ Assistant Secretary-General John Tan has called for international organisations to monitor elections Singapore, given the way that polls are run by the PAP Government.
Mr Tan made this appeal during the 3rd World Forum for Democratisation in Asia (WFDA) entitled “Sustaining Democratization in Asia: Challenges of Economic and Social Justice” which was held a week ago in Seoul, South Korea. Human rights activist Mr Seelan Palay also attended the conference.
Dr Chee Soon Juan was one of the speakers during the opening eceremony. As he was unable to travel, the SDP leader spoke via Internet teleconference. He emphasized the need for political activists and politicians to step up efforts to entrench democracy in the region.
Mr Jose Ramos-Horta, President of East Timor, and Mr Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, were among the other speakers during the opening ceremony.
Presenting a paper at a session, Mr John Tan urged the international community to send monitors to Singapore during its next election which is speculated to occur in 2010. He emphasized that there was no independent election commission, and that polls were run by the Prime Minister’s Office.
With the media also at the beck and call of the ruling party, Mr Tan pointed out, it was no wonder that elections are a foregone conclusion with many seats going uncontested because few people dare to join the opposition.
Mr Tan also spoke about the “weaponization of the law” to suppress democracy in Singapore. The PAP Government continued to pass laws to stifle the civil liberties of the Singaporeans. One example was the Public Order Act which was introduced this year to effectively prevent even one person from conducting a protest.
The SDP assistant secretary-general added that it was important for Singapore to ratify the United Nations’ International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as to reform the election system to make it free and fair.
He added that Asian democrats and human rights defenders should come together more strongly to offer mutual support for each other’s struggle to establish and entrench democracy in the region.
He also proposed that given the advent of the new media, there should be more training for citizen journalists.
These proposals would be looked into in the months ahead by the WFDA secretariat.
Read the WFDA Seoul Declaration here.