Friday, November 05, 2010

Freedom of Speech in Singapore....

Article in the Economist : You can cage the singer.
University World News : Conviction casts doubt on Yale tie-up
Straits Times :US style not for S'pore

Alan Shadrake's conviction for contempt of court adds to the pervasive fear among Singaporeans for speaking up. Shadrake's case just add to the long list of people who have been convicted for their criticism of our politicians and the system. In 2009, it was the WSJ that was found guilty of contempt of court for 2 artcles in its paper[Link] about the Singapore judiciary. In 2007, IHT was threatened with a lawsuit and made to apologise for an article that merely listed members of the family who occupied high positions[Link]. In 2008, FEER was found guilty of "defamation by imputation" by Singapore courts[Link].

In 1997, eleven defamation suits were filed against JBJ for saying the following words in one of the election rallies: "Mr Tang Liang Hong has just placed before me, two reports he has made to the police against, you know, Mr Goh Chok Tong and his people"[Wikipedia]. JBJ was made a bankrupt when he was unable to pay the damages. I leave to you to find out how someone can be found guilty for holding up a police report and saying what was essentially true.

These cases have caused widespread fear among Singaporeans to speak up against authority even when there is a real need to do so in the interest of justice. Countries 10 times to 100 times the size of Singapore can be governed without such a lawsuits against citizens and the media so why is there a need for it here? What we have today are obedient citizens, fearful and accepting of what is handed down to them. We need to get rid of this fear so that old ideas and rules are challenged, so that we can be innovative and progress as a society. In the NUS-Yale tie-up, Yale is concerned that the limits academic freedom and freedom of speech will stifle the ability of students "to express themselves in scholarly publications, in the classroom and on campus" [Link]. Even in the other areas of education such as engineering and basic sciences, we need students to vigorously challenge old ideas and break free from rules to innovate...and we are not going to have that in the current environment.

Read about our Home Affairs and Law Minister's speech to students in Columbia University. I wonder if there were Singaporean students among the audience and how they stopped themselves from laughing during the speech (you want to know why...read about what he said during the speech below). With ministers like Shanmugam who spend time to invent weird logic to justify the status quo, we know nothing will change for the better with this set of leaders in power.
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US style not for S'pore
By Tracy Quek US CORRESPONDENT

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said Singapore cannot withstand, nor it is prepared to accept, the harmful consequences of having its media like American press. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

NEW YORK - WITH its small population and short history, Singapore cannot withstand - nor is it prepared to accept - the possible harmful consequences of having its media become like the American press, said Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam.

The US media has a wider and freer role than the press in most other countries. But American society, being large, rich and stable, is strong enough to endure the potential damage of having a media that does not always live up to its ideals of being judicious, fair and independent, he said.

Is he telling American audience that Straits Times is fair and independent while American media is not? ...This is really weird and bizarre...especially when Straits Times has close ties with the Singapore govt.

Mr Shanmugam drew these comparisons in a speech outlining Singapore's perspective on the role of the media at Columbia University on Thursday.

The US, he told the audience at a university forum on A Free Press for a Global Society, 'has in-built stability'.

'There can be fringe lunatic behaviour, but mainstream Americans are sensible and rational, and extremist sentiment will not threaten the very fabric of society,' he noted.

...and Singaporeans are not sensible.

This is the first time I hear someone say Americans behave better than Singaporeans. After 40+ years of PAP aren't Singaporeans the most obedient docile and law abiding people in the developed world? ...There is more extremism in little Singapore?

In many developing societies, however, the glue holding society together is not as strong and 'these societies can easily rupture along tribal, ethnic and religious lines,' he said. In Singapore's case, racial and religious fault lines can be easily exploited.

Singapore is like a developing society that can erupt along tribal, ethnic and religious lines? Gee I thought all those Racial Harmony days and the quotas on races for HDB blocks were working. Today, the problems with integration is not between races or religious groups but between Singaporeans and foreigners ...and there is also a growing class divide among Singaporeans that can prove destabilising in the long run. Anyway, how can the religious + racial fault lines in Singapore be deeper than those in America where almost any form of belief is allowed and extreme views can be expressed?

Read the full report in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

The future for native Singaporeans is very bleak. Singapore is now swamped by foreigners who come from free, democratic environment. Hence they are more creative, innovative and daring. So we are seeing the business elites outfoxing the political elites. That is why policies have been skewed way in favour of the businesses at the expense of the papist political capital. Yet the papist elites are not even aware of it. How tragic.
The future of Singapore belongs to the foreigners. In time to come the foreigners or their offsprings will take over political power in Singapore. Just look at their aggressiveness in penetrating the grassroot organisations and other aspects of the Singapore system.

Anonymous said...

To sum it up, if there is something not quite right about Singapore, it is the opposition.

Why is the opposition so weak and for so long?

So if the opposition does not become strong to become a better alternative to the PAP, then of course all other things, good and bad, will most likely be status quo as per the PAP.

Dont' bother about widening income gap, too many foreigners, high cost of living, no freedom of this or that, anti-govt blogs etc, etc. Because all these won't create a strong opposition as can be seen so far.

Hence if I were the PAP, I just look at the opposition to tell whether I should get worried or not.

Anonymous said...

All excuses to explain away their tight control on dissent and continue governing Singapore. We Singaporeans are not so stupid to see through the facade and the lies they keep repeating. They propagate such nonsensical scenarios for they are afraid. No matter the spiel being dished out, I hope Singaporeans will do their duty and ensure that our future will not be as it is today. We need to voice our concerns and have our say in Parliament and not be cowed and afraid of ISA and sued for defamation for saying things we believe is true.

Anonymous said...

why the opposition so weak?why there is no opposition in Communist China,Communist North Korea,Military Myanmar.

Sure you can find the answer.

Anonymous said...

>>Read the full report in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times.

How to?...when it's full of my dog's shit

Anonymous said...

I have great respect for the Shanmugam of Allen and Glenhill. Dun know why he said those things. dt

Anonymous said...

He is no longer the Shanmugam of Allen and Gledhill.

He is now Minister Shanmugam.

A minister cannot hold another job in the private sector concurrently, right?

Anonymous said...

Once again a MIRACLE has happened. When respected, smart, highly regarded professionals join the PAP and esp when they made it to the cabinet, there is a miraculous transformation, sadly and unfortunately for the citizens, to highly educated IDIOTS. It;s LKY IDIOT TOUCH, once again.

Anonymous said...

maybe the 4th pm is a blackie.
we all know the flaws of this city, instead of opposing, leaving silently is the better option.

Anonymous said...

Read this interesting site http://journalism.sg/2010/11/06/shanmugam-on-the-press/

In the Q&A session, Moderator Prof Frederick Schauer made this remark that " .... The comparison is not US-Singapore, the question is why it might be that Singapore is so divergent from other common law countries in the world and even from other civil law countries in the world. ..."

Anonymous said...

Minister claimed
"Our racial structure is 75% Chinese, 15% Malays, 8% Indian. It is a mirror image of Malaysia?s racial structure, except for them the Malays are the dominant majority. But culturally and in terms of geography and in other ways, these two areas are very similar. In fact they were part of the same entity for a very long period, even under the British. If you look at Malaysia, it is urban, it is developed, it also has got excellent infrastructure, if you read the newspapers and if you've been following events closely, you will find that racial and religious tension has been rising. The Government is in control, thankfully, and is in absolute charge. But, it doesn't prevent politicians, fringe groups, from trying to fish in troubled waters. And one of the easiest ways that you can get votes and get publicity and move up the political ladder, is to appeal to these sorts of sentiments"

On other occasions,LKY has tried very hard to convince the uninformed Ang Mohs that Singapore is really too much different fr Malaysia,and that was the sole reason of our huge progress,according to LKY.

Anonymous said...

Malaysia where got so urban like Singapore?

Never study geography is it?

Alfred said...

Political freedom of speech in Singapore?

CAN PIGS FLY ?

Anonymous said...

@ alfred:
Will the policies of Mao Tze Tung last 5000 years? dt

Amused said...

The line about "short history" of Singapore has been used since 60's. When will he stop using it?

Denmark, Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Ireland, Georgia and Croatia have as many people as Singapore. So what's so special about Singapore's "small population?"

Didn't Singapore just make the list of one of richest countries in the world? How much more richer and stable can US be compared to Singapore?

So the above can't be reasons why Singaporeans have no freedom of Speech. I am sure this will be his last speech in Columbia. They are really no fools as he thinks.

Anonymous said...

measured response. It is spreading like cancer in the underground and poisoning everything.......and there is nothing I, you or anyone can do abt it.

These people are serious when we they say, they will cut off the head and leave the body flaying like a chicken on the run....they are so serious, that even I fear.

Anonymous said...

There is enough freedom for an ideological battle.
Problem is, can you sell it to the people?

Anonymous said...

The truth is PAP cannot handle a freer press. They need the press to brainwash the Singaporeans into voting for them and demolishing opposition parties!!

The law minister is just coughing up very lame exuaes

Alan Wong said...

Does he ever dare to say that our Straits Times is fair and truly independent of the government ?

If he dares to do so, then we would have every reason to call him a liar, isn't it ?

Anonymous said...

The comments made by our law minister took away any doubt that he believes that freedom of speech is BAD for Singapore! I am sure he would not hesitate to use the full POWER of his ministry to "CORRECT" anyone who disobey so as to "protect" Singapore from being "poisoned" by "Freedom of Speech"!

Anonymous said...

The present Singapore is similar to the 1970 China, when China is undergoing the Culture Revolution.

Anonymous said...

We can have freedom of speech in Singapore. Provided we can elect a government that believes in it.

But problem is how to get this type of government elected?

Possible or not?

Maybe an easier way is to emigrate to some countries where there is freedom of speech. I think many had already done that.

So what are the rest who want freedom of speech waiting for?

Anonymous said...

For a bugger who desperately needs to hide behind Lily Neo's skirt in order to get himself into parliament through the GRC system, Shanmugam sure talks big and talks too much.

Anonymous said...

Shan is a top who is supposed to earn S$10 million plus plus p.a.,I cant understand him as he gives it up to earn S$2.5 million plus,perhaps that is why he is so special,if you believe them.HaHaHa!!!

Anonymous said...

This man has no style, polish and panache. He comes across as a tool. Lifeless, spiritless and with no soul.

The Singaporeans Columbia knows are colorful people. People like the brotherhood. Well mannered, affable and fun people who can always be relied to make the ladies laugh and blush.

Only do tell that idiot Darkness. He looks ridicolous with that handlebar moustache. Firstly, it doesn't suit him. Secondly, it makes him look like an insurance salesman. But worst of all it makes him look like those lifeless ninkompoops

Kojakbt said...

How can Straits Times has no close ties with the Singapore govt when you have, Alan Chan, who is a PSM medalist and an ex-top civil servant (including having been the principal private secretary to LKY), running SPH as its CEO? You think Alan Chan will dare print anything negative against LKY and his regime? LOL!

And even if one day Alan Chan, say, was bewitched in Thailand and went haywire, PAP would still have its second line of defence:

[SPH BOARD MEMBERS]

Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam

Prof Cham Tao Soon

Alan Chan Heng Loon

Willie Cheng Jue Hiang

Ng Ser Miang
(heard that he is related to LKY’s wife family?)

Ngiam Tong Dow

Sum Soon Lim

Dr Yeo Ning Hong

Yong Pung How

Lucien Wong Yuen Kuai

Ms Chong Siak Ching

Anonymous said...

Of course everyone knows that the real reason for prohibiting freedom of expression in S'pore: So that the masses can be constantly fed a diet of lies and propaganda to keep LKY and his cronies in power.

Surely you don't expect Shanmugam to say this.

Anonymous said...

Yale's endowment suffered a 25% loss during the crisis. That's probably why they panicked and agreed to sell their brand to the NUS liberal arts college in the first place (I wonder how much NUS paid Yale).

Now that Yale's endowment has begun to recover to pre-crisis level, I think they are starting to have second thoughts. Shadrake has become the perfect excuse for them to renege or ask for a better price.

Yalies are fucking hypocritical about their concern for freedom of expression, acting as if it's news to them that Singapore is a police state run by the PAP government. For crying out loud, they are the ones who published Francis Seow's books like "Beyond Suspicion? The Singapore Judiciary" and "To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew's Prison":

http://www.yale.edu/seas/BeyondSuspicion.htm

which had a gazillion pages written about the issue.

These cock suckers from Yale surely didn't give a shit when it happened to Chee Soon Juan or Tang Liang Hong or JBJ or Christopher Lingle; but now it's suddenly a problem for them.

It's just the Yalies' way of saying Money No Enough.