Free Speech in Singapore

Posted: February 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I was interviewed by Worldwidehippies.com!

You may find the interview at: http://www.worldwidehippies.com/?p=748

Worldwidehippies.com is pleased to interview Singa Crew, an internet activist based in Singapore. Singa Crew is also the administrator of the Facebook group: Bring free speech/press to Singapore.

Can you tell our readers what your Facebook group, Bring free speech/press to Singapore, is about?

The group was founded by an American high school girl (now in college), Amelia Fedo. As a child, she was aware of Singapore as ‘a strange place that was very clean but not very free.’ And in 2006, she founded the group on Facebook to serve as a forum for activists to inform the public at large about human rights abuses in Singapore.

Given the name of our group, Bring free speech/press to Singapore, our cause is really self-explanatory. We aim to bring freedom of speech, among other civil and political rights enjoyed by citizens of enlightened first world countries, to Singapore.

Since the early days of its founding with a mere hundred odd members, we have since grown in strength to having a membership of over 900 members. There is still plenty of room however, and it would be good for us if more people around the world pay attention to our plight.

For the benefit of our readers outside of Asia, can you tell us a little about your country?

Singapore is a small island in Southeast Asia with a land area of about 710.2 km2 (274.2 sq mi). Singapore is a city-state by itself and not part of China.

We understand that Human Rights Watch recently did a report on Singapore. Is that right? Can you tell us more about this?

Yes they did. According to Human Rights Watch, “Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state.” And “the government fails to meet human rights standards in a number of critical areas, including freedom of expression, association, and assembly.” (1)

How can our readers help?

They can help by joining us on Facebook. The group is constantly being updated with links to articles penned by Singaporean actvists and politicians, so it is a rich source of information for those who wish to know more about my country.

More importantly, as an administrator, I will occasionally use the ‘Message All Members’ function to broadcast important news to members around the world. At this point in time, with our limited resources, this particular function remains one of the most effective tools of ’self-defence’ for internet activists like myself.

Singapore is a microstate with no natural resources, and thus its existence is defined thoroughly by its relationship to other nations and the PAP (our ruling party) leaders know this. While they are arrogant enough to disregard their own subjects, they understand that they remain accountable to the international community.

Hence, the ability to reach a large audience around the world sends a powerful message to the Singapore government: the world is watching.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

I have explained the ‘What’ and ‘How’, but left out the ‘Why’. So I will expound on that now.

Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty, once said that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it. And now that you know of our plight, please help us. As a citizen of the free world, you wield powers that Singaporeans do not have. For starters, you are immune to the ruinous defamation law suits PAP leaders like to file against their critics. Since for such law suits to be successful, they would have to be filed in a PAP-controlled court of law; something that does not exist outside the borders of Singapore.

May I also call your attention to the unique position of Singapore on the world stage. The Singapore government practices and espouses a dangerous form of corporate authoritarianism by combining Communist-style totalitarianism with capitalism. And thus, human rights abuses are neatly hidden under a facade of modern skyscrapers and shopping malls.

This marriage of capitalism and totalitarianism must look appetizing to dictators around the world, and that explains why Singapore is being used as a model by China and other growing, once-Communist powers.

Former Russian president Vladimir Putin, for example, side-stepped into the role of prime minister when he cannot legally continue to be president. This is chillingly similar to Singapore’s autocrat, Lee Kuan Yew’s creation of the offices of Senior Minister and later Minister Mentor, in order to retain his grip on power. (2)

Members of the international community will do well to sit up and take heed before their own countries are corrupted by this insidious form of ’soft tyranny’.

References

1. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/01/20/singapore-textbook-example-repressive-state

2. http://www.robertamsterdam.com/2007/12/the_last_time_we_heard.htm

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