Singapore cited in Report to US Senate

June 29, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) recently presented its findings on the development of democracy around the world to the US Congress and made a couple of pointed references to the PAP.

On 8 June 2006, Mr Carl Gershman, President of the NED, presented a 52-page report before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Backlash Against Democracy Assistance.

Mr Gershman stated that foreign governments’ efforts to constrain democracy assistance have recently intensified and now seriously impede democracy assistance in a number of states.

Despite these developments, however, the demand for democratic assistance is greater than ever. The report goes on to say that there is a long history of successful democracy assistance, even in challenging circumstances.

In its conclusion, the report outlines a number of concrete recommendations for Congressional actions to counter the new backlash.

The following are what the report said about the PAP:

“As democracy has spread, it has acquired the status of the only broadly legitimate form of government. Today, about three-fifths of all the world’s states—121 of 193 by Freedom House reckoning—are democracies. The collapse of twentieth century totalitarianism removed not only the greatest threats to democracy but also the only systemic and ideological alternatives. Similarly, democratization has largely undermined East Asian exceptionalism and transformed the tiger economies that once seemed to present modernizing authoritarianism as an alternative to democracy for developing economies. Singapore still represents this model and, to some extent, China may be seen as an updated version, offering economic growth—development, not democracy—as an excuse for maintaining authoritarian rule. But even these regimes and their would-be emulators claim to represent or aspire to a variant of democracy, not a serious alternative.”

“Punitive legal actions are another form of harassment, notably in Singapore. In February 2006,opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, was bankrupted and, as a consequence, barred from contesting political office, following a punitive defamation suit brought by former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Chee was barred from traveling to the World Movement for Democracy’s Istanbul assembly in May 2006 when immigration agents impounded his passport.”

For the full report, go to: http://www.ned.org/publications/reports/backlash06.pdf