Friday, September 29, 2006

PAP govt bans FEER; FEER responds

Here's a statement from Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) in response to the news that the PAP government has banned FEER from being sold or distributed in Singapore...........

Statement of the Far Eastern Economic Review
September 28, 2006

The Singaporean government today announced that it has banned the Far Eastern Economic Review from the country. It has explicitly warned that not only is the Review Publishing Company forbidden from importing or distributing the Hong Kong-based monthly, but Singaporeans will also commit a criminal offense if they import or reproduce the magazine for distribution.

In its September issue, the Review urged the Singaporean government to reconsider its decision to impose punitive regulations on the Review. These retroactive regulations furthered the interests of individual members of the government and harmed the magazine financially, but were never justified by the government under the applicable law. Today’s statement shows that the government has refused to reconsider its repressive approach toward the media.

We regret that this action infringes on the fundamental rights of our Singaporean subscribers and further restricts the already narrow scope of free expression in Singapore. The Review will publish a more complete response to the government’s actions in the next issue of the magazine to appear on October 6.
Do read my earlier posts regarding the PAP govt's hit job on FEER:

Pathetic LEEs are at it again - Target FEER

PAP takes aim at FEER after it publishes article on Chee Soon Juan & S'pore
politics

"A colour revolution for Singapore" - FEER talks to Chee Soon Juan (The real reason behind the ban on FEER)

Singapore bans Far Eastern Economic Review magazine

by Sara Webb

SINGAPORE, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Singapore's government said on Thursday that it had banned the sale and distribution of the Far Eastern Economic Review, a monthly magazine owned by Dow Jones & Co. , as it failed to comply with its press regulations.

On Aug. 3 the government ordered five foreign publications -- the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), Time, Newsweek, Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune -- to post bonds of S$200,000 ($126,000) and appoint representatives in Singapore.

Later in August, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, both filed defamation suits against FEER's publisher and editor over an article that it published in July about opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, according to court documents.

The Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Arts said in a statement on Thursday that it had revoked its approval for FEER's sale and distribution in Singapore because the magazine had failed to comply with the government's conditions.

"It is a privilege and not a right for foreign newspapers to circulate in Singapore," the ministry said, adding that it was now an offence for any person to sell or distribute, import, or subscribe to the Far Eastern Economic Review.

The Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review said it was unaware of Singapore's decision.

Singapore's leaders have won hefty damages in the past from media groups including the Economist, the International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg and FinanceAsia.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Singapore 140th out of 167 countries for press freedom, slammed the government's decision in August to issue restrictions for the five foreign publications.

"The authorities are looking for effective ways, including fear of prosecution and heavy fines, to intimidate these publications into censoring themselves," the media watchdog said at the time, as the S$200,000 bonds would serve as security in any future government lawsuit for alleged defamation.

Monday, September 25, 2006

PM's wife, MM's daughter-in-law, and Temasek Holdings' CEO, Ho Ching in the firing line

Pick up the newspapers or watch the news on TV and you'll see the cover-up still continues as the local media conveniently leaves out the involvement of Temasek Holdings. Sickening bastards.

Anyway, here's a report from the Sydney Morning Herald.......

Madame Ho's Temasek still in the firing line after Thai coup

September 25, 2006

The fallout from the Thai coup is yet to hit Singapore's Madame Ho, writes Eric Ellis.

THAILAND'S military junta has gone out of its way to assure that it's business as usual in Bangkok.

The baht has wobbled, likewise the stock exchange, but neither with symptoms to have neighbours sniffling with the contagion they caught here during the late 1990s financial crisis. The coup has been smooth as silk, as Thais like to say.

But there is one woman in Singapore who desperately hopes the generals are as good as their word, the person whose dealmaking with Thailand's ousted Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, precipitated the coup.

Her name is Ho Ching. She is chief executive of the Singapore Government-owned Temasek Holdings, which controls a $100 billion-plus portfolio, including Optus.

She bought Thaksin out of his family businesses, Shin Corp, in March in a highly questionable $4.5 billion transaction that outraged Thais.

The Singapore company bought the Thai leader's controlling half share in Shin Corp and then quickly snapped up most of the rest on the stockmarket. Temasek now controls 96 per cent.

As Thaksin banked Temasek's tax-free cash, Thais burnt Madame Ho's effigy on Bangkok streets, traducing the reputation created for her by Singaporean spin doctors as a safe pair of hands. It was, at best, a spectacular misjudgement.

Far from being the great buy Temasek claimed, the deal ignited six months of political turmoil, culminating in the coup. Thais stopped using the television, airline, finance and technology businesses Temasek bought.

Now Shin buyers wear a $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) paper loss on the deal after less than six months.

As Thai regulators deepen their probe into the transaction and Thaksin's "rampant corruption", Temasek and its partners reportedly face fines of up to $US2 billion if it's proved, as many suspect, that Thai licensing laws have been breached. Or have the deal declared illegal, the assets nationalised.

Coups d'etat tend to arouse shrill demonstrations of nationalism; Temasek is the convenient foreign villain, its predicament entirely self-inflicted.

In these post-Enron days where blameless corporate governance is paramount, if the chief executive blows $2 billion in six months, the bloodletting in the boardroom would be swift and brutal. But even if her Thai adventure worsens, that seems unlikely to happen to Ho, who is the wife of Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong; the daughter-in-law of the nation's long-time strongman, Lee Kuan Yew.

At 54, Ho is no Singapore Girl. Dour and grim, with a penchant for unflattering grey business suits, she's been Temasek's unsmiling CEO since 2001, presenting as an untouchable corporate dominatrix protected by the formidable Lee family edifice.

The Lees, as compliant Singaporeans famously know, don't make mistakes. Any questioning of their methods - as bankrupted opposition politicians and the foreign press have frequently discovered - hazard libel suits heard in Singapore's courts, where the Lees' history of success is unparalleled.

Not that the Singaporean media does much questioning either. The day's newspapers after the coup did not report Temasek's obvious dilemma, odd given that ultimately it is Singapore taxpayers' money Ho has hazarded.

It was left to a sole letter writer, presciently published a week before the coup, who suggested that an alliance with the much-hated Thaksin might not be a wise risk for the national nest egg. "Hitching our investment bandwagon to the first family is a double-edged sword," wrote Danny Chua in Today.

"We can go higher with their rising star but when they fall, we can fall too. Our investment must stand up to scrutiny in the eyes of the law. There must be compliance with corporate governance and transparency. We must be able to sleep peacefully, knowing that we have done the right thing."

Singapore loves to control and, when it can't, to quietly work its power relationships behind the scenes. Temasek claims to be independent of government but often seems to follow government policy in its investment portfolio, spending to boost neighbours.

And in Thaksin, Singapore found an autocrat after its own heart, rare in a region where mostly-Chinese Singapore isn't much liked, derided though grudgingly admired as rich and arrogant.

Thaksin was a big fan of the Lee's long-ruling People's Action Party and its compliant "Singapore System". Thaksin and Lee were allies in pushing EU-style ASEAN integration and there was resentment in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur of a supposed Singapore-Bangkok axis within the group. Not any more.

Serious questions abound for a Singapore that likes to lecture the world about "best practices" of corporate governance it supposedly employs.

Temasek is suspected of funding Thai partners in the Thaksin deal, the implication being to avoid breaching foreign investment laws.

And where did Temasek pay Thaksin? Thailand's central bank limits personal cash transfers to $US1 million a year - thus it would take about 2000 years to transfer Thaksin's pile - and needs special permission from the central bank to go higher.

But Thailand's central bank governor is seen as a cleanskin, and a contender to be appointed caretaker prime minister by the generals.

Thaksin presumably knew that so it raises questions whether Temasek paid some of the funds offshore, in a foreign tax haven perhaps, avoiding Thai rules altogether.

And then there's impact beyond Bangkok. Economic contagion seems to have been contained but the bloodless ease in which Thaksin has been removed, the popularity of the coup, has been noticed in Jakarta and Manila, both struggling to secure their own democracies.

Temasek is in serious trouble in Thailand. It's suddenly friendless, losing its main political ally in Bangkok and his cronies, and runs the risk of having its assets seized as the Thaksin probe deepens. The deal itself is a fait accompli; Thaksin banked his $US2 billion months ago and, now in gilded exile in London, is unlikely to offer to return Temasek's cash.

If Temasek and Thaksin fall out, the legal implications are fascinating. For the moment however, the silence from Temasek has been deafening. It simply says it is "monitoring events". With $4 billion of other peoples' money in the balance, it might've added "anxiously".

Eric Ellis is South-East Asia Correspondent for Fortune magazine.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Straits Times subtle, yet glaring, front page cover-up; Sept 16 photos of parliament house

There's a front page story in today's Straits Times titled Thaksin gives up fight as military tightens grip. Towards the end of the report, there's a paragraph that says "A probe into whether deposed Mr Thaksin's family legitimately paid no tax on the US$1.9 billion (S$3 billion) sale of the firm he founded should be finalised this month, the (Thailand) auditor-general said yesterday."

Apart from those who are interested in such matters, I doubt many Singaporeans will notice a cover-up by the Straits Times. Even though they quote Thailand's auditor-general, the Straits Times conveniently leaves out the fact that it was Temasek Holdings which bought a 49% stake in Thaksin's Shin Corp for US$1.9 billion. Temasek Holdings' name does not appear anywhere in the report. And they call this journalism. I call it prostitution.

Here's a report from the Financial Times and what the prostitutes at the state-controlled Straits Times don't want to report.............

Singapore may see worst fallout from Thai coup
by John Burton in Singapore
Financial Times, 20 Sept 2006

Singapore could suffer the most among countries in the region from the military coup against Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai prime minister, who forged close ties with the city-state and sold his telecommunications group to Singapore's state investment company.

It was the $1.9bn sale of a 49 per cent in Shin Corp by Mr Thaksin's family to Temasek Holdings in January that triggered the political crisis that led to the coup after it was revealed the family paid no taxes on profits from the deal.

Mr Thaksin was seen by Singapore as its strongest supporter for closer economic integration of the Association of South-east Nations, which provoked talk of a Singapore-Bangkok axis within the group.

The ousted Thai leader also expressed admiration for Singapore's political system, telling Singapore officials that he wanted to model his Thai Rak Thai party on the long-ruling People's Action party.

Mr Thaksin decided to sell Shin Corp to Temasek to dispel allegations of conflicts of interest between his family's corporate holdings and his government duties as he prepared to stand for a third term as prime minister.

The deal turned out to be the most controversial conducted by Temasek since Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore's prime minister, became the group's chief executive in 2002 and launched an ambitious global acquisition strategy.

Public protests in Thailand over the deal have led to a nearly 40 per cent fall in Shin Corp's share price since then. In April, Lee Hsien Loong, Ms Ho's husband, told parliament that "Temasek invested in Shin Corp because it saw value in the investment" but added it was not government policy "to second guess Temasek's risk assessments".

A former senior Singapore official, however, criticised Temasek's handling of the deal in light of Mr Thaksin's growing unpopularity at the time. "Temasek did financial due diligence, but not political due diligence," he told the Financial Times. Temasek said it had considered all aspects in concluding the deal.

A Temasek-led consortium increased its stake to 96 per cent in Shin Corp under a mandatory offer, but the takeover has been investigated by Thai regulators over whether Temasek used proxy companies to avoid a 49 per cent ceiling on foreign ownership in strategic industries. Temasek said it fully complied with Thai law.

Michael Montesano, a Thai specialist at the National University of Singapore, believed it was unlikely a new government would nullify the Shin Corp deal, but Temasek might have to reduce its stake if it was found in breach of foreign shareholding limits. Temasek said it was premature to comment on the coup's impact.

Most regional governments expressed concerns about the coup and called for a restoration of democracy in Thailand.

Indonesia's defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, said the Thai coup illustrated one of the pressures facing south-east Asia's civilian democratic governments. "If there's a lesson it is this: politicians and parliamentarians must get their act together and consolidate party building and deliver on performance," he said. "Otherwise people turn to the military for decisiveness and stability."

In the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the president who declared a brief state of emergency to crush an alleged coup attempt early this year, was keen to quell speculation the Thai coup might encourage the military to attempt a similar takeover.

Additional reporting by Shawn Donnan in Jakarta and Roel Landingin in Manila
And here are a few more of my own photos from Sept 16. John Burton of the Financial Times is in two of the photos as he was covering the peaceful protest......

Police gather in front of Parliament House...........

The paranoid state of affairs gives one the impression that the police are expecting an imminent attack on Parliament House.........

....do these guys look like suicide bombers or any criminal elements to you!! Out of the 6 protesters, 4 of them made their way to Parliament House. The photo shows 3 of them while the 4th individual can be seen in the 5th photo. The police told them not to gather & stand around there but to disperse.

John Burton (left) speaking to Gandhi Ambalam, one of the protesters .

John Burton speaking to the policeman-in-charge at the spot while the protesters observe.

At the same time, Chee Soon Juan was stopped and detained here by the police from walking to Parliament House by himself.....

....a close-up shows Chee Soon Juan (right, face blocked by plainclothes police officer) speaking to another plainclothes officer (left, facing Chee) of a higher rank.

In the blazing hot sun, a supporter holds an umbrella over Chee Siok Chin somewhere along South Bridge Road. She's surrounded by a cordon of policewomen and even more police. She was also trying to walk to Parliament House by herself when she was stopped & detained here by the police.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To the arrogant idiots in power..........

Press Statement by the Organisers of the International Peoples Forum vs IMF-WB
Asrama Haji Batam Centre, Batam, Indonesia
18 September 2006
Source: Bank Information Centre

Today we conclude the International Peoples Forum vs. the IMF and World Bank (IPF), which was convened in Batam from September 15th to17th. Over 500 Indonesians participated in the Forum as did around 200 individuals from 25 countries representing at least 100 organisations.

The IPF, like other similar fora, has successfully demonstrated to the world that many diverse civil society organisations and social movements can meet in peace and unity, and have meaningful, in-depth and informed discussions on the policies and practices of International Financial Institutions (IFIs). Despite the many hindrances suffered by IPF convenors and participants in organising and traveling to the Forum, we met in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation to share information, insights and strategies on critical issues facing communities and peoples affected by World Bank and IMF operations.

We find the World Bank and IMF responsible for policies and actions that lead to the intensification of poverty and deprivation, the violation of basic human rights, the curtailment of basic political and civil liberties, the undermining of national sovereignty and democratic governance, and the subversion of the right to development.

We call attention to the numerous obstacles we faced in preparing the Forum which, among other things, forced us to cancel outdoor events and caused at least 100 international individuals to forfeit their participation. Our reports indicate that at least 54 individuals from 17 organisations were either banned from entering Singapore, detained at the Singapore airport without explanation, subjected to custodial interrogation and, regrettably, some were even deported. Furthermore, many continue to face problems entering Singapore as they travel home. We have yet to receive any explanation from either the Singapore government or the World Bank and IMF on why this has happened.

We take the World Bank and IMF to task on not meeting its promises to engage respectfully and openly with civil society organisations. The credibility of these promises has been seriously damaged ever since the World Bank and IMF were made aware of the restrictions Singapore would place on the freedom of assembly for civil society during the Annual Meetings. After it became clear to us that Singapore would not allow the Forum to take place within its borders, we moved the IPF to Batam , Indonesia. We pledge solidarity with those committed to building a vibrant civil society in states that restrict essential rights such as the freedom of speech and we appreciate the Indonesian Government for allowing us to host the Forum in Batam.

In response to the banning and mistreatment of our colleagues, we launched a boycott of official engagement between the World Bank and IMF and civil society at the Annual Meetings. After individuals were 'un-banned,' we re-affirmed the boycott and labeled the actions of the Singapore Government as 'too little too late'. Each and every participating organisation will now and in the future critically re-examine its relationship vis-à-vis the World Bank and IMF and our future engagements, while not losing our focus on holding these institutions accountable for negative impacts associated with their operations.

As a result of our analyses on the World Bank and IMF and drawing on our experiences in the last weeks, we make the following demands.

First, on the policies and practices of the World Bank and IMF, we re-invigorate The Global Call to Action Against the IFIs. In particular, we stress the urgent need for:

* 100 percent cancellation of multilateral debt;
* open, transparent and participatory external audits of IFI lending and policies;
* stopping the imposition of policy conditions that undermine economic sovereignty and exacerbate crises in health and education;
* discontinuing the privatization of public services; and
* ending IFI involvement in environmentally destructive projects.

Second, in response to the restrictions placed on the IPF initiative:

* We demand from the World Bank and IMF an explanation as to why they proceeded with Singapore as the venue of the Annual Meetings when restrictions on civil society engagement were evident months in advance.
* We demand the full disclosure of all information pertaining to civil society participation including the Memorandum of Understanding between the World Bank and Government of Singapore and official and un-official lists of so-called 'banned individuals' .

* Third, to ensure that there is full accountability and transparency of the IFIs to peoples and communities that are affected by IFI operations:

We call on the governments that are members of the World Bank and IMF Boards of Directors to keep these institutions fully accountable for their impacts on human rights, equity, and the sustainability of development.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Police State at Work

I was at Speakers' Corner on Sept 16 for a very, very long time. Observing the proceedings from the very beginning. An eye witness to history. History which is still being written. A stand-off between the police and the peaceful protesters developed sometime on the afternoon of Sept 16.

A stand-off between the unreasonableness and repressive measures by the PAP government is facing-off with the resolve and determination of a peaceful group of individuals, led by Dr Chee Soon Juan, in exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

At the time of writing, the stand-off and peaceful protest has not ended.

Blogs and websites like SDP, Singapore Election Watch, Intelligent Singaporean and Yawning Bread have been doing a wonderful job of posting photos, videos and reports of the happenings at Speakers' Corner. I am sure there are many more websites and blogs out there doing a commendable job of countering the bullshit our local media's been putting out.

I took quite alot of photos myself but since I'm extremely unwell at the moment, I would like to share some of these photos with you for now. Keep in mind when looking at these photos that these are not terrorist or criminal elements but Singapore citizens peacefully exercising their rights and the PAP's efforts to silence them.................

Police patrolling the grounds of Speakers Corner. Clark Quay MRT station is behind.

Police stopping to check visitors.....

......asking them for identification, like NRICs, and taking down their particulars

Police stationed outside Clark Quay MRT station to try to deter visitors to Speakers Corner

Dr Chee Soon Juan and his colleagues arriving at Speakers' Corner

The Six making their way......

.......wearing t-shirts and holding placards

Media and people gather as they reach their destination

Plainclothes and uniformed police ring the Six. All they were doing was just trying to walk.

Policewomen create a cordon around Chee Siok Chin

Stand-off..........

......continues into the night of Sept 16 and beyond

Police recording the proceedings

Chee Siok Chin being escorted to the toilet by the police. They do not allow her to walk anywhere without their presence...........

......even at the toilet located within Speakers Corner. The lady-in-white is a police Assistant Superintendant....

....to the point of waiting just outside the women's toilet!

Police escorting Chee Siok Chin back to original spot

PS on Sept 21@12:58am: By now you would have learned from other sources about the end of the peaceful protest which lasted from Sept 16 - 19. Many local blogs and websites have carried numerous photos and reports about the historic protest. Mine is a small and humble contribution. In the next few days or weeks, depending on my health, I will post the rest of the many photos I took on that very first day. :-))

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Too Little Too Late - International NGOs deliver a Slap to PAP govt, IMF & World Bank

Statement of the IPF Convenors' Committee, International Peoples' Forum vs the IMF-World Bank, in response to Singapore 2006 Organizing Committee's Sept. 15 statement (Source: Bank Information Center)

16 September 2006, Batam, Indonesia

Too Little Too Late

The organizers of the International People's Forum (IPF) in Batam, Indonesia will continue their boycott of all official events of the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Singapore. This boycott continues despite the Singapore government's September 15 press statement that it will now allow 22 of 27 officially blacklisted individuals to enter the country.

The Singapore government's decision, "based on input by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB)", is nothing but a desperate face-saving exercise for the Singapore government, World Bank, and IMF. We will not allow these three actors to cover up for actions which we consider to be egregious violations of democratic principles, and which have been met with universal condemnation. The statement fails to address the central concerns raised by the
163 civil society organizations around the world that signed a statement this week boycotting the IMF/World Bank meetings. Nor does the government's decision acknowledge the enormous hardships faced by the many civil society representatives who were denied entry to Singapore.

The Singapore government's decision is both too little and too late.

The government continues to ban five of the 27 individuals on their official blacklist from entry into Singapore. There has been no action regarding the numerous persons who are not on the official blacklist, but who were nonetheless detained, subjected to custodial interrogation and refused entry into Singapore. Over the past few days, reports have come in from over two dozen of these people about the high-handed and objectionable manner in which they were interrogated at Singapore's Changi airport - despite the fact that many of them had no intention of attending the Annual Meetings. It is clear to us that there are several blacklists - official and unofficial - and that the government's intention to curb the exercise of democracy and free speech within its territory extends beyond those on its official blacklist. In this regard we express our full solidarity with Singaporean civil society groups who experienced the same violations.

Neither the Singapore government nor the IMF/World Bank have publicly disclosed the names on the official blacklist. Nor have they provided an acceptable explanation for the violation of civil liberties resulting from their paranoia. The government's decision to permit entry to 22 barred individuals is no indication of its commitment to transparency or democracy.

The democratic process has not been upheld even in this most recent development. No apology has been made to affected individuals. No restitution has been made for the hours spent in detention, for deportation, or for the re-routed or cancelled flights. Furthermore, the broader group of individuals who have been detained or refused entry have not yet been informed that they may now enter Singapore. In fact, the Singapore government made no attempt to communicate with any of the banned 27 directly. They continue to use the World Bank/IMF as their mouthpiece.

We feel that the World Bank/IMF will use these recent developments to burnish their "democratic" credentials by claiming that they were responsible for the Singapore government's change of heart. However we all know that these developments would not have occurred had the World Bank/IMF not chosen Singapore as the venue for their Annual Meetings in order to shield themselves from protests and demonstrations. The two institutions cannot be absolved from their deep complicity in the violations of our civil and political rights.

For us, there is no other principled way to address these recent developments than to continue our boycott.

Signed,

The International People's Forum vs. the IMF and World Bank
Batam, Indonesia

NOTE: 2 of the 27 people banned by the Singapore government will deliver this statement today to the international community presently in Suntec City, Singapore where the IMF-WB Group Annual Meetings are being held.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Remember, remember, the 16th of September

Click HERE to listen to a podcast by Chee Soon Juan

FYI: This post will remain at the top till 16 Sept, 2006 (Sat)

Good to see that SDP's website is back again after that sudden disappearance. And with that came this news of the Empower Singaporeans Rally and March scheduled for Sept 16, 2006 (Sat)........
Rally and March set for 16 September
6 Sep 06

The Empower Singaporeans Rally and March planned by Singaporean activists is fixed for next Saturday, 16 September 2006.

The event will commence at 11 am at the Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park. Singaporeans are strongly encouraged to turn up to support the struggle for democracy in Singapore.

The peaceful rally will also highlight the economic hardship of many Singaporeans. Not only are the poorest of the poor suffering under the PAP, but many working- and middle-class Singaporeans are also reeling from the uncaring economic policies of this Government.

Singaporeans need a voice and there is no better opportunity than this rally and march to tell the PAP that we, the citizens of Singapore, demand – not request – our rights for free and fair elections, a free media, and freedom of peaceful assembly.

Participants are encouraged to wear white T-shirts or tops, and bring along signs calling for democracy in Singapore.

The event will begin with speakers addressing the relevant issues. The schedule for the rest of the day will take place as follows:

11:00 am - Assembly and rally at Speakers' Corner

1:00 pm - Walk to Parliament House

1:30 pm - Rally outside Parliament House

2:30 pm - Walk to Suntec City

3:00 pm - Rally outside Suntec City

4:00 pm - Walk to Istana

5:00 pm - Rally outside Istana

6:00 pm - End and dispersal

This rally will be an historic occasion and will mark the beginning of the campaign for political and civil rights in Singapore.

Citizens of other countries are so concerned that they have taken the trouble to come to Singapore to make their voices heard. Are we that apathetic and uncaring that we are even afraid of speaking out for our own country, in our own country?

If you are a Singaporean, you must care. Because if you don't, no one else will.
UPDATES:

You can help - Click on the image above, print and distribute the flyer. Thank you.

Keep coming back for regular updates. Other blogs such as Singapore Election Watch and Singabloodypore have regular updates and news reports as well. And don't forget SDP website.

PAP govt harassment begins: Police steal flyers from activists

Chee Soon Juan distributing pamphlets at Raffles City - Police statement

Singapore police investigating politician over rally plan

Chee Soon Juan to police: If you are sincere about security, let's talk

John Aglionby from the Guardian sees the IMF, World Bank and political activists become unlikely allies in the fight for freedom of speech in Singapore

Open letter from SDP to World Bank and IMF chiefs

A final note for this post (I said post not blog!!! :>): I can't recall the original date but I guess it was either on 6 Sept or 7 Sept when I originally posted this on my blog. Since then I've placed it at the top. Anyway, the day has arrived. Whatever happens, big or small, history will be made in less then 12 hours. I'll leave you now with two very good articles by Alex Au aka Yawning Bread: Peaceful streets and Noisy when people throw stones at tinpots.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Police say NO to Street Party by Substation; PAP Government's authoritarianism on display for world to see

Press Release by the Substation

Police say “No” to The Substation’s request for road closure; Street Party cancelled.

After months of planning and negotiations with the authorities, the police have turned down our application to close down Armenian Street for a “Street Party” — a collaboration involving several individual artists, arts groups and civil society organisations (CSOs).

It would have featured musical performances on the street, and a range of activities by artists and civil society organisations indoors. It was scheduled for 30 September, several days after the conclusion of the World Bank and IMF meetings. In their response to our application, the police said that only if ALL activities were held indoors, would permission for the event be granted. If the entire event had no CSO involvement, we believe we might have had a better chance of getting permission for the road closure. However, we decided that the event wouldn’t have the same meaning if we couldn’t have at least some performances on the street, and we wouldn’t go ahead without CSO involvement.

Therefore we decided to cancel it. While we are of course deeply disappointed, we want to try again and organise a Street Party in the future. We think it is important for two reasons: (i) we strongly believe in the value of such a community-wide arts and civil society gathering, and (ii) we believe that if successful, it would set a positive precedent for engagement between the arts, civil society and the authorities. Indeed, government leaders have been consistently encouraging civic participation and constructive debate about society. And it’s not as if there haven’t been road closures for arts events before: in 2002, we got permission to close Armenian Street to stage a tribute to our late founder, Kuo Pao Kun.

In this press statement we would like to explain our motivations for organising the Street Party, assert the values we believe it represents, and summarise our negotiations with the authorities.

Since the beginning in 1990, The Substation arts centre has always recognised that art cannot be separated from its social contexts and the circumstances in which it is produced. The Substation’s vision and role — a vision that continues to be urgent and relevant today — is to be an open space that fosters cultural diversity: a place where a wide range of artists, audiences, activists and the public can meet to make art and exchange ideas not just about art, for art’s sake, but to reflect on art’s larger purposes. This approach has led to the emergence, with instrumental support from The Substation, of some of the most exciting artists working in Singapore today — a number of whom are represented in our first international biennale of contemporary visual arts.

It was in this spirit that we decided to organise an event involving the closure of Armenian Street, in front of our building. Our plan was to bring together the diverse arts and civil society groups, and to affirm ourselves as a community of active citizens. Precisely because we hardly ever come together as a community, we believed the Street Party would be especially significant, as it would encourage Singaporeans to appreciate the values of civic participation. Moreover, we wanted to create a strong sense of community ownership of public space, and that’s why closing the street — even if only for one day — matters so much.

It bears repeating: the arts and and civil society are inseparable. In supporting the biggest cultural event of the year, the inaugural Singapore Biennale, the government confirms this. Organised to coincide with the World Bank and IMF meetings, and funded mainly by the government, this biennale, like almost every other biennale in the world, showcases many artists whose work is deeply concerned with social and political issues.

In planning for our Street Party, we worked closely with the authorities, taking into consideration their sensitivities about security during the WB/IMF meetings, and we made compromises. At first we wanted to hold the Party just after the WB/IMF meetings. After discussions with the police, we rescheduled it to the 30th, well after the conclusion of the meetings. We had also initially wanted to organise booths on the street, creating something like a flea-market of arts and civil society organisations. Again, in response to police advice and as a compromise, we decided to move all CSO activities indoors. But what we did not want to compromise on is the involvement of CSOs — their participation is essential.

During this whole process our engagement with the police and other authorities have been very positive. We are encouraged by the open communication that we have had with them, and believe this is something to build upon. We plan to apply to them again in the future with another proposal for a Street Party.

We intend to convene a meeting on 5 October 2006 with the participants from the Street Party, which will be open to the press and the public. The purpose is to discuss everyone’s concerns in the wake of the cancellation of the event. The list of participants (arts groups and CSOs) is below. These organisations may be issuing press statements of their own.

A big thank you to all the participating organisations and individuals for their invaluable support.

The Substation

Participants of the Street Party: Migrant Voices, Vegetarian Society, Pelangi Pride Centre , PLU, Crashout, TWC2, Nature Society, Green Volunteers Network, Singapore Environment Council, Sea Shepherd, STITCH, Cat Welfare, Think Centre, SADPC, AWARE, Youth Employment Singapore, Village Xchange, Footprint Singapore, Magdalena (Singapore), Mercy Relief, The Society for Reading & Literacy, ONE (Singapore), ADLUS, p-10, Spell #7, WITA

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Singapore activist ban "authoritarian": Wolfowitz
By Geert De Clercq, Reuters, 15 Sept 2006

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Friday called Singapore's restrictions on the entry of activists for the World Bank/IMF meetings "authoritarian."

But he said the World Bank and IMF did not plan to postpone their annual gathering, which is being hosted by the Southeast Asian city-state this month.

"Enormous damage has been done and a lot of that damage is done to Singapore and self-inflicted. This could have been an opportunity for them to showcase to the world their development process," Wolfowitz said in response to questions from civil society organizations at a town hall meeting in Singapore.

"I would argue whether it has to be as authoritarian as it has been and I would certainly argue that at the stage of success they have reached, they would do much better for themselves with a more visionary approach to the process."

He added that the bar on entry into Singapore for some activists "is a violation of the understanding that we had drawn up" with Singapore.

Singapore objected to at least 27 activists who were accredited to the meetings on the grounds they posed a threat to security and public order and put them on a blacklist of people to be assessed by immigration and possibly refused entry.

Some would-be participants have already been deported or refused entry.

"NO VOICE"

Asked by a civil society activist whether the IMF and World Bank would consider postponing the meeting and hold it somewhere "where it can be held with proper conditions," Wolfowitz said: "I honestly don't think that is feasible or I would consider it."

Roberto Bissio, coordinator of NGO network Social Watch, asked how any international organization could have a meeting outside its home base when the host country is allowed to set the rules.

"We have urged the Singapore authorities to reconsider their position and I hope they will. If they don't, I think they would be making a mistake," IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato said.

"The people who have been accredited by us are people who work with us regularly and we don't have any doubt about their capacity to behave and to be respectful of the country's laws."

But he added the meeting would not be suspended. "The meeting is going to be held because there are many issues that need to be discussed and here we are discussing with you," he said.

At that point, about a quarter of the more than 100 civil society activists got up and left the room in protest.

While Wolfowitz and Rato were speaking, about two dozen activists staged a protest in the designated 8 x 8 meter area that the Singapore authorities have set aside for protest.

Wearing white gags inscribed "NO VOICE" -- and after duly registering with the Singapore authorities one by one -- the protesters lined up quietly.

"These limits are ridiculous. Singapore is a developed country; it needs a developed perspective on citizens speaking up," said Haidy Ear-Dupuy of NGO Forum on Cambodia.

by Ian Timberlake, AFP, 15 Sept 2006

SINGAPORE (AFP) - World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has said Singapore has damaged its reputation with the reluctance to admit 27 activists accredited for the Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.

Wolfowitz's comments were his strongest yet over the spat that has overshadowed the run-up to next week's meetings in Singapore, which also refused to relax its tough rules on public protests during the events.

The World Bank said he had got a pledge Thursday night from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that each case would be looked at individually, but said the city-state should have handled the matter differently.

"Enormous damage has been done ... A lot of that damage has been to Singapore and it's self-inflicted," he said at a meeting with non-governmental organizations.

"I would certainly argue that at the stage of success they've reached they'd be much better for themselves if they (took) a more visionary approach to the process," he said.

Singaporean officials could not immediately comment on Wolfowitz's statement.

"This is a very serious matter," IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato said at the same meeting with more than 30 representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Rato said activists accredited by the two financial institutions are people they regularly work with.

"And we don't have any doubt of their capacity to behave," he said.

Wolfowitz said Singapore appears to have reneged on a 2003 memorandum of understanding that granted open access to activists accredited for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.

He said the wording of the memorandum "seems very clear to me."

The local organizing committee said Thursday that "Singapore is aware of its obligations under the MOU and will continue to honour them."

But it said the memorandum of understanding also obliges Singapore to take all necessary precautions to ensure people's safety.

Police have said Singapore is a high-profile "terrorist" target.

Activists allege some people on their way to the IMF-World Bank meetings have been deported and accreditation has been withdrawn from others.

Police confirmed that an Indian activist and two Filipinos have already been deported after being denied entry at Changi Airport because "they posed a potential security and public order threat to the annual meetings."

A Singapore artist alleged that he and two other Singaporeans were questioned by police over anti-IMF leaflets they planned to distribute during the group's annual meeting.

Since independence in 1965, Singapore has grown from a Third World country to an Asian economic powerhouse.

Political stability has been the bedrock of the economic success of the city-state, which never borrowed from the IMF during its rise to become one of Asia's wealthiest nations.

But critics say this came at a price, in the form of restrictions on freedom of speech and political activity.

NGOs boycott meetings

NGOs boycott World Bank meetings
John Aglionby in Jakarta
Thursday September 14, 2006
The Guardian


More than 80 non-governmental organisations announced they were boycotting the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings that began today in Singapore, in protest at the host government banning at least 27 accredited activists and many others from entering the country.

The NGOs were to make a formal statement on Friday but organisers told the Guardian this afternoon that 80 groups had already agreed to the boycott and more were expected.

"We estimate this means at least half of the 500 NGO activists due to attend the meetings will not do so," said Donartus Marut, of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development.

Oxfam, Greenpeace and the World Development Movement (WDM) are among the more prominent organisations now avoiding the official meetings, although some still intend to go to Singapore in an unofficial capacity or hold events away from the official venue.

"We're joining the boycott to show solidarity with our partners and allies who were denied access to exercise their fundamental rights, through freedom of expression and association, to attend the meeting," said Taylor Thompson of Oxfam.

Among the 27 activists is a Briton, Martin Powell, of WDM. Murray Benham, WDM's head of campaigns, said he could not understand why the organisation was banned.

"We've clearly got a long history of criticising the bank and the fund and recently issued a report calling for the bank and fund's abolition and replacement with other mechanisms," he told the Guardian. "But you wouldn't have thought a fairly academic report would put us beyond the bounds of acceptance."

Singaporean police have said the banned activists pose a threat to security, law and order. They have banned all outdoor demonstrations in connection with the meetings and have designated an area the size of a volleyball court for indoor protests.

In the past week the World Bank and IMF have repeatedly issued strong statements condemning Singapore's decision.

The World Bank's president, Paul Wolfowitz, today told about 50 activists that the ban meant Singapore was reneging on a three-year deal.

"The most unfortunate thing is what appears to be a going-back on an explicit agreement," he said. "So far we've had no satisfactory explanation why."

Mr Wolfowitz is scheduled to meet senior Singaporean ministers later today and is expected to protest against the ban.

Shortly before the meeting the government softened its position slightly, saying it might allow the activists in if they travelled to Singapore.

"We will assess at the point of entry whether they pose a security or safety risk," the Singapore organising committee for the event said in a statement. "If we judge the risk to be acceptable for that particular activist, we are prepared to allow him or her in. However, we cannot guarantee that all 27 activists will be admitted to Singapore."

Singapore has also banned the holding of a civil society forum that traditionally is held in parallel to the official meetings. Some 800 NGO activists are instead gathering on the neighbouring Indonesian island of Batam from tomorrow until Sunday.

Following alleged pressure by the Singaporean authorities the Indonesian police have ordered all outdoor events at the forum to be cancelled.

Visit these websites for regular updates from civil society organisations:

Bank Information Centre

International People's Forum vs the World Bank & IMF

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Welcome to the Soviet Union

In my earlier post today, I highlighted what seems to be a "threaten & intimidate dirty ops" by the Singapore authorities against Singaporean activists.

Just now, I saw the following CNA report........

Chee Soon Juan to go ahead with planned march and rally on Saturday
Posted: 14 September 2006 1908 hrs


SINGAPORE: Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan says he's going ahead with a planned march on Saturday, despite a ban on this and other outdoor protests by the police during the IMF/World Bank meetings.

Dr Chee told journalists at a news conference he called on Thursday that the gathering will start at the Speakers Corner at 11 am this Saturday.

The group will then walk to Parliament House, Suntec Convention Centre and then, the Istana.

At each of the stops, a rally will be held.

Issues expected to be brought up are poverty and income disparity in Singapore.

At the same news conference, Dr Chee's sister Chee Siok Chin told reporters her pass as a civil society representative for the Alliance for Reform & Democracy in Asia was rejected by the host government, despite the IMF/World Bank accrediting her.

Dr Chee's application, as a representative of the Open Singapore Centre, was rejected by the IMF/World Bank.

Separately, three Singaporean political activists who had been planning to distribute pamphlets on the IMF and World Bank this weekend were taken in by the police for questioning last night.

Police confirmed that they got a tip-off about a disturbance at Suntec Singapore, and the 3 men came in to give statements and left. - CNA /dt
The last two paragraphs made me sit-up and wonder if there was any connection to the news on Mr Seelan Palay in my earlier post. So I headed to the police website and found this statement. One does not need to be a political scientist or special detective to know that it was referring to Mr Palay who was also detained at Clementi police station yesterday night...........
Three Singaporean Men Assisting In Investigation
SPF Media Releases, 14 Sept 2006


Police have interviewed three Singaporean men following a tip-off that some disturbances may be caused at the Suntec City Convention Centre.

As a security precaution, Police traced the identity of three men on receiving the information. They were contacted and asked to come to be interviewed by the Police. The three men, a Chinese National Serviceman in his late teens; a Sikh in his late 20s - a part-time tutor, and an Indian in his early 20s - a student, voluntarily agreed to provide their statements at Clementi Police Division yesterday evening (13 Sept 06). Some pamphlets concerning IMF-related issues, and some computer hardware have been seized for investigations. Police are investigating the offence under Sec 151A of the Penal Code Cap 224 - printing & possessing material which may incite violence or counsel disobedience to the law.

The three men left the station early this morning (14 Sept 06) after providing their statements.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
14 Sept 2006
The Singapore authorities have always had the tendency to use very alarming language for just about everything and anything under the sun. In this case, what is possibly a distribution of harmless pamphlets by Singaporean activists is turned into something akin an operation against JI militants!!

Don't miss reading these: Police acted without proper authority in questioning activists and S'pore Govt revokes Chee Siok Chin’s WB-IMF accreditation

World Bank's Wolfowitz Says Singapore (Government) Backtracked on Agreement

In the Bloomberg story below, Sandy Krawitz of Action Aid International is quoted as saying "people who come here are very well educated and they are not wild-eyed activists with Molotov cocktails ready to throw over a car,''...."They are people who really want to make a difference in the world. Singapore has this unfounded fear, which is very unfortunate.''

Now, contrast what Krawitz said with that of Viki Esther Chang, founder of the local environmental NGO, Climate Change Organisation. Chang was quoted in a report by TODAY as saying "Being a civil society, we are not some gangsters in the streets protesting. I don't think stripping in front of a fast food restaurant will make people listen to you. Why should we go for shock value when there are civil ways of doing things?"

Maybe Chang has hugged one too many trees. Either that or she didn't realise that she has painted EVERYBODY who protests/demonstrates in the streets as gangsters. She's just repeating the same old mantra put out by the PAP government and amplified & repeated day in and day out by the local media: ALL protests/demonstrations are violent & ALL demonstrators/protesters are rowdy and crazy.

The PAP government could have allowed ALL accredited members of civil society organisations to come to Singapore; they could have allowed outdoor protests; authorities could have worked with organisers of these protests so that everything goes off smoothly & peacefully BUT apply the law on those who do turn rowdy and violent.

The PAP government could have but they didn't. Instead, what they have done through their actions is to expose themselves and all their cheap & dirty tricks that lie beneath the surface. Hats off to them! :-))

Oh by the way, Krawitz staged the first "caged protest" at Suntec.

World Bank's Wolfowitz Says Singapore Backtracked on Agreement

By Chan Sue Ling

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Singapore may have backtracked on an agreement to let all accredited members of civil society groups attend meetings of the bank and the International Monetary Fund in the city-state.

Singapore police on Sept. 11 told the World Bank and IMF it objected to 28 of the more than 700 civil society representatives from 68 countries who have been accredited for this week's event because of their involvement in riots at other international summits. Singapore earlier agreed to let all accredited representatives attend the meetings, according to the World Bank.

"This is an important lesson to be learned about planning in the future,'' Wolfowitz said at a briefing for civil society groups in Singapore today. "The most unfortunate thing is what appears to be going back on an explicit agreement. The delegates in question were accredited. So far, there has been no satisfactory explanation.''

Singapore, which forbids the public outdoor assembly of more than four people without a permit, wants to avoid the violent protests that marred previous trade and finance summits in Hong Kong last year and in Seattle in 1999. The city-state has put its reputation "on the line'' to stage a successful meeting.

The government will issue a statement later today, K. Bhavani, a spokeswoman, said.

Indoor protests are allowed with a permit from the police and a 538-square-foot area, about the size of a squash court, has been sealed off for civil society representatives to protest. The space, in the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, where the IMF and World Bank meetings are being held, isn't visible from the main entrance.

Outdoor Protests

The World Bank has said the city-state should allow accredited civil society representatives to hold outdoor protests during the event.

Both the World Bank and IMF said they wanted discussions and dialogue from the civil society groups because they provided valuable feedback on policies and help chart future programs.

A Web cast is being arranged for tomorrow's so-called town- hall meeting, during which IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato and Wolfowitz will speak, to include those who have been turned away from Singapore.

Both are still holding discussions with the Singapore government on the entry of the activists.

The decision to turn away some representatives happened at the last minute, Kevin Kellems, acting vice president for external affairs, communications and United Nations affairs for the World Bank, and Masood Ahmed, director of external relations for the IMF, said at the briefing today. The police said the objections were made because the 28 individuals posed a security and law-and-order threat to the event.

"Insufficient Clarity"

"Words like security, words like undesirable, words like troublemaker are sort of general characterizations but never have I seen a consistent or coherent explanation,'' Kellems said, referring to the Singapore police's description of the 28 people. "There's insufficient clarity.''

The city-state has said it will deploy at least 10,000 personnel to prevent terrorist attacks and illegal protests at the meetings, which have drawn at least 15,976 visitors, more than previous overseas meetings by the two institutions held in Prague and Dubai.

"Throughout Asia and Australia and New Zealand, we were extremely unimpressed by the approach of the Singaporean government to engaging with civil society groups", said Paul O'Callaghan, executive director of Australian Council for International Development. "At the last minute, a whole group of people have been refused entry to the country without any explanation.''

"Unfounded Fear"

The Australian Council for International Development has made several attempts to come to an agreement with the government since March, through letters to the Singapore government and the Ministry of Finance, O'Callaghan said.

The "people who come here are very well educated and they are not wild-eyed activists with Molotov cocktails ready to throw over a car,'' said Sandy Krawitz from South Africa-based Action Aid International, which is boycotting the official meetings. "They are people who really want to make a difference in the world. Singapore has this unfounded fear, which is very unfortunate.''

Other groups are holding meetings on the Indonesian island of Batam, about 40 minutes by ferry from Singapore. About 700 other activists from more than 70 civil society organizations worldwide are expected to gather in Batam.

Threats & intimidations of Singaporean activists occurring behind the scenes

Woke up this morning to read this piece of very disturbing news from the SDP website........

Singaporean activist arrested
13 Sept 06


Singaporean activist Mr Seelan Pillai has been arrested. The SDP can confirm that Mr Pillai, who started the 400 frowns campaign to counter the Government's 4 million smiles project, is now under custody at the Clementi Police Station.

When contacted the police would not reveal anything more other than to say that Mr Pillai's family has been informed of his arrest.

The activist's arrest comes in the wake of unpopular decisions the PAP Government has been making to clampdown down on attempts to organise protests by local and international civil society groups.

Mr Pillai is also an animal rights supporter as well as a music artist. He has also taken part in anti-death penalty campaigns.

The Singapore Democrats registers its concern over the arrest and calls on the police to be forthcoming with information on what Mr Pillai is being arrested for. The SDP also states that Mr Pillai must be accorded all the rights of an arrested person, including the right to legal counsel.
So i put my ear out into the grapevine.....

Apparently, Seelan Palay (in the 400 frowns website his name is spelt Palay and not Pillai) was released yesterday night after questioning but his PC has been taken away. It seems other Singaporean activists have also been questioned by the police. Furthermore, all these intimidation tactics by the PAP government seems to have something to do with the upcoming rally & march on Sept 16.

As is common with the grapevine, information is sketchy and coming in trickles but it looks like an investigation aka "threaten & intimidate dirty ops" against Singaporean activists is going on behind the scenes and right under the noses of the IMF-World Bank meetings.

Read also Mr Wang's post The Story goes on and on......

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pathetic LEEs are at it again - Target FEER

I wasn't off target when i wrote on 3 Aug the PAP takes aim at FEER after it publishes article on Chee Soon Juan & Singapore politics. As the report below shows, the father & son tag team of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew & Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are at it again, using their tried & tested method of defamation suits through a compliant judiciary.........

Singapore leaders launch libel suit against magazine
by Fayen Wong, Reuters
Wednesday September 13, 7:57 PM

SINGAPORE, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Singapore's prime minister and his father, the founding father of the city-state, have filed a defamation suit against the publisher and editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), according to court documents.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former premier Lee Kuan Yew filed the libel suit against Hong Kong-based Review Publishing Company Ltd and FEER editor Hugo Restall on Aug. 22 for an article published in July on opposition politician Chee Soon Juan.

The article -- under the headline "Singapore's Martyr: Chee Soon Juan" -- criticised the Singapore government's handling of a pay-and-perks scandal at the country's largest charity. The magazine also quoted Chee attacking the Lees.

The Far Eastern Economic Review declined comment on the case.

The suit is the latest in a series brought by Singapore's leaders against foreign media and opposition politicians.

Court documents showed that the Lees' lawyers first sent a letter to Review Publishing on July 18, demanding the removal of the article from FEER's Web site. The Lees also asked Review Publishing to issue an apology and pay compensation by July 24.

But Review Publishing proposed publishing the Lees' letter on its Web site to allow the leaders to give their position to readers and suggested publishing an interview with Lee Kuan Yew.

The suit said FEER attempted to profit from their libel by proposing to interview Lee Kuan Yew and circulate their correspondence on its Web site.

Court documents showed that the Lees' lawyers made an application on Aug. 25 to serve the summons to Review Publishing and FEER's editor in Hong Kong. Review Publishing, owned by Dow Jones & Co., does not have a representative in Singapore.

Chee, an acerbic critic of the government, has had several run-ins with Singapore's leaders. He was slapped with a defamation suit in 2001 for accusations against Lee Kuan Yew and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and was declared bankrupt because he was unable to pay damages.

On Tuesday, Singapore's High Court ruled that Chee and his sister had defamed the Lees in a separate case. No damages have been announced yet.

Singapore has for decades taken a tough stance on foreign media when they report on local politics. International media organisations have been banned, slapped with defamation suits or seen their circulations restricted when they published articles deemed offensive by the government. (Additional reporting by Sara Webb)

PAP's Prostitutes

Warning: Very harsh, and vulgar, language ahead

I suggest you read my 9 Jun post Judiciary has not moved to check the Executive's misuse of the law before you go on. And sadly, what I said in my post on 2 Aug has come to pass.

Yesterday, the local news broadcaster CNA ran a short report........
Summary judgement granted in defamation suit against Chee Soon Juan, sister
By Noor Mohd Aziz, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 12 September 2006 2020 hrs

SINGAPORE : The High Court has granted summary judgement in the defamation suit brought by the Prime Minister and Minister Mentor against Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leader Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin.

The leaders had sued SDP and its executive committee in April, for allegedly defaming them in the party newsletter.

All but Dr Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin had apologised.

After considering the case, Justice Belinda Ang granted the summary judgement. Damages will be assessed later.

This came after several hearings in court, including a judge disqualifying himself from the case, and Dr Chee questioning the constitutionality of such summary judgements.

On Monday, Dr Chee's lawyer M Ravi failed to show up. And on Tuesday, Dr Chee had applied to have the case adjourned and to change his lawyer, but both requests were dismissed.

A summary judgment is allowed when there are no disputes over the facts of a case, or if the other party has admitted certain facts.

- CNA /ls
That was followed today by a report by TODAY......
Chees lose, SDP takes hit
Loh Chee Kong
cheekong@newstoday.com.sg

When the court ruled yesterday that Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan and his sister, Ms Chee Siok Chin, had defamed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the siblings were nowhere to be seen.

For the second day in a row, their lawyer M Ravi did not show up in court. On Monday, the Chees produced a note from a dentist saying Mr Ravi needed a day's rest.

Yesterday, they said they had discharged their lawyer and said they needed time to find a new one. The Chees stormed out of the closed-door hearing even before Justice Belinda Ang rejected their application.

In the verdict read in their absence, the Chee siblings were ordered to pay damages — the amount will be assessed later — and bear the full costs of the hearings. They were also told to stop repeating the allegations made in their party newsletter.

The party was also sued and will have to pay damages too. It may be wound up if unable to do so.

The proceedings, which began on Aug 3, have been interrupted more than once. Justice Woo Bih Li, who originally heard the case, disqualified himself on the request of Mr Ravi, with whom he had had run-ins, in the past. Justice Woo wanted to avoid any perception of bias.

On Monday, Dr Chee claimed Mr Ravi was "physically and mentally exhausted". Yesterday, he wanted to discharge his lawyer. When Mr Davinder Singh, acting for the two ruling party leaders, opposed the application, the Chees said they "did not want to be part of the proceedings" and walked out of the courtroom.

Outside, Dr Chee told reporters Mr Ravi was still unwell but as the court wanted to "persist" with the proceedings, he had no choice but to seek an adjournment.

Today understands that the lawyers for the two People's Action Party leaders pointed to the past adjournments and objected to Dr Chee's "delay tactics".

The siblings were sued over an article in the party's news- letter, The New Democrat, which linked the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) affair to the Government.

Lawyers for the government leaders sought a summary judgment. This can be made when there are no disputes about the facts of the case, the other party has admitted certain facts or there are previous judgments relevant to the case. The lawyers led by Mr Singh cited a local defamation suit involving Microsoft about seven years ago, where a summary judgment was passed.

The lawyers said the statements linking the NKF saga with the Government were defamatory, implying that it was corrupt and tried to cover up the scandal. And they said the Chees were unable to cite alternative meanings to the offending statements, if they had not been intended to defame the PAP leaders.

The Chees were also unable to prove the statements were true, and their defence of fair comment and qualified privilege had "no basis either in law or on evidence". Mr Ravi could not be contacted.

Today understands that the damages to be paid by the Chee siblings and the party will be assessed at a later hearing.

Political observers are watching the developments closely, as they could mean the end of the road for the 26-year-old opposition party if it is unable to pay.
And let's not forget the Straits Times. They had a very prominent report in today's edition titled Chees defamed PM and MM, court finds. At the time of writing, I can't find a copy of the report online. I will post it here if I do. But suffice to say, the report is typical of the Straits Times. CNA, TODAY and the Straits Times jointly present one-side of the story. And only one-side. That of the ruling Peoples Action Party.

Unfortunately, majority of Singaporeans will see and read ONLY these reports. Sadly I'm afraid, most will not go beyond these reports to find out the other side of the story. There are those die-hard, mudderfucking lapdogs who will side with the ruling party. There are those who know about the ruling party's dirty tricks but say the SDP should've just kept quiet instead of courting trouble. And there are those who simply don't care. The majority will not give a damn about the underlying issues such as, the PAP's misuse of the law and abuse of power and the judiciary's & local media's slavish attitude and lack of independence, among others.

I'm not a member of the Singapore Democratic Party. But that doesn't matter. I don't have to be a member or supporter to see that what has happened is fucking injustice perpetrated by these bastards in power. And equally worse and as guilty as these bastards in power, are those prostitutes, who help the bastards stay in power to continue the injustices and many abuses of power. Among them, the local media & the judiciary. The local media reports and broadcasts whatever favors the PAP and the judiciary's conduct and passing of such judgements ensures the PAP never loses such cases. Both these institutions have, in effect, prostituted themselves to the ruling Peoples Action Party. Bloody mudderfuckers.

Unfortunately, the only time the majority of my fellow countrymen/women will overcome their fear or collective stockholm syndrome and do something is when the fucking house is on fire. (Go here for a definition of stockholm syndrome)

Here's the other side of the story............
Judge gives summary judgement without Chees' lawyer present
12 Sep 06

Judge Belinda Ang refused to grant Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin time to look for another lawyer to represent them in their defence against the lawsuits by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

Instead she awarded the case to the Lees in a summary judgement. Summary judgement is a hearing in the judge's chambers where witnesses cannot be called and the Lees cannot be put under oath and cross-examined. In other words, the Chees were denied a trial.

Dr Chee told the court on the morning of 11 September 2006, the scheduled date for the summary judgement hearing, that their lawyer Mr M Ravi was unable to attend court as he was not feeling well.

The Judge then directed that a medical certificate (MC) be produced. When the session was reconvened in the afternoon, Dr Chee presented the certificate from a dentist that indicated a one-day rest for Mr Ravi.

The Lees' lawyer, Mr Davinder Singh, insisted that the hearing continue the following morning. The Judge acquiesced.

Dr Chee arrived in court this morning and informed Judge Ang that Mr Ravi was still unable to attend court. He asked the judge to please give Mr Ravi time to recuperate as the lawyer had been under intense pressure handling cases such as the Falungong trial, the impending execution of Nigerian Mr Amara Tochi, and this present lawsuit by the Lees.

Dr Chee pointed out that these were high profile matters that few lawyers, if any, in Singapore would dare take up and that Mr Ravi had worked tirelessly to serve his clients. He also cited that in the Falungong case, the police were harassing the lawyer and his clients.

From all this, Dr Chee added, Mr Ravi was mentally and physically very weak and exhausted. The lawyer's dental problem was just a symptom of a more serious health issue.

Mr Ravi had also consulted a general practitioner on the evening of 11 September. The doctor diagnosed the lawyer as suffering from asthenia, a medical condition where one feels general fatigue and weakness.

But at every step of the way, the Lees' lawyer objected and said that the story was nothing more than a ploy to delay the proceedings.

At this point, Dr Chee shot back and told Mr Singh that this was the lowest form of argument any lawyer could make.

He told the Senior Counsel that he was happy to engage Mr Singh in a political fight at any other time and place (Mr Singh is a former PAP MP). But at the moment, a fellow legal officer's health was in question and it was unbecoming of a lawyer such as Mr Singh to cast such aspersion on a fellow professional.

Dr Chee said that Mr Ravi would have been present if at all possible but his health was in serious question. Dr Chee asked for some compassion and good sense to allow Mr Ravi to recover and continue arguing the case

Mr Singh pointed out again that his clients' instructions were to proceed with the summary judgement hearing.

Dr Chee said that if that was going to be the case he had no choice but to discharge Mr Ravi and look for another lawyer. He asked for a two-week adjournment to be able to do this.

Again Mr Singh objected and insisted that his clients wanted to proceed with the hearing immediately.

Dr Chee pointed out that he and Ms Chee would be without legal representation if that happened. He said that he was asking for only two weeks to try to get another lawyer and that this was not an unreasonable request.

Mr Singh vehemently objected.

Dr Chee then asked for permission to leave the courtroom because he did not want to be present arguing the matter further without a lawyer.

And so Judge Ang sat in her chambers with Senior Counsel Singh, and with no other parties present – away from the public and away from the media – during which she:

One, denied the Chees' application for a two-week adjournment to look for another lawyer.

Two, consented to the Lees' insistence to proceed with the summary judgement hearing despite the absence of legal representation of the Chees.

Three, awarded summary judgement to the Lees.

How much more tragic can it get?