Human rights report on Singapore

March 7, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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7 March 2005

Singapore’s human rights record are sadly not Number One or nowhere near the world’s best it seems. Which is so ironically unlike Singapore’s famous Changi airport, rigorous maths textbooks, excellent port or professional SIA.

The latest US State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004” released on February 28, 2005, (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41659.htm), clearly points out shocking lapses in human rights standards by the Singapore government.

All Singaporeans should know about the lack of basic democracy and decency because of (what did Jamie Han say?), a “D”-word who is still in charge pulling the strings behind the scene. The report is short and easy to read but for those who are busy and want a gist of the findings, here are the more pertinent comments about what is wrong here in Singapore.

“…there is a general perception that it (the judiciary) reflects the views of the ruling party in politically sensitive cases”

“The Government has broad powers to limit citizens’ rights and to handicap political opposition, which it used in practice.”

“The authorities sometimes infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. The Government continued to restrict significantly freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as to limit other civil and political rights. Government pressure to conform resulted in the practice of self censorship among journalists. Government leaders continued to use court proceedings and defamation suits against political opponents and critics. These suits, which have consistently been decided in favor of government plaintiffs, chilled political speech and action and created a perception that the ruling party used the judicial system for political purposes.”

“Some judicial officials, especially Supreme Court judges, have ties to the ruling party and its leaders.”

“The Constitution does not address privacy rights.”

“It is widely believed that the authorities routinely conducted surveillance on some opposition politicians and other government critics.”

“The Government’s authoritarian style fostered an atmosphere inimical to free speech and a free press. Government intimidation and pressure to conform resulted in the practice of self-censorship among journalists.”

“The Government strongly influenced both the print and electronic media.”

“The police did grant a license for a December 2003 event organized by an NGO to present the Human Rights Defender award to J.B. Jeyaretnam, former Member of Parliament (M.P.) and former Secretary General of the Workers’ Party.”

“The PAP, which has held power continuously and overwhelmingly for more than 4 decades, has used the Government’s extensive powers to place formidable obstacles in the path of political opponents”

“the Government dramatically altered the boundaries of election districts only 17 days before the 2001 general election, abolishing some constituencies and adjusting the borders of many other constituencies. Since 1988, it has changed all but nine single-seat constituencies into Group Representational Constituencies (GRCs) of three to six parliamentary seats, in which the party with a plurality wins all of the seats.”

My fellow Singaporeans, let’s snap out of our PAP-induced stupor.

ENG CHUAN