Statement by civil society and general public over the treatment of alleged vandals
May 16, 2014, 3:45 am
Filed under: Announcements, Singapore

15 May 2014

Alleged vandals should be treated in accordance with UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

We, the undersigned, wish to raise our concern regarding the treatment rendered by members of the broadcast and print media and the District Court towards the five teenagers (aged 17) arrested on 10 May 2014 for their alleged involvement in a case of vandalism in Toa Payoh on 7 May 2014. As a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Singapore is obligated to fulfil the commitments set in the CRC which are all aimed at achieving its noble purpose of protecting the rights and welfare of all children.

According to Article 16 of the CRC, “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”.

Under Article 40(1), parties to the Convention, “recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society”.

Article 40(2)(b)(vii) further states that privacy of the child must be guaranteed and respected at all stages of the proceedings.

Although Article 1 of the CRC defines a child as an individual who is below the age of 18, Singapore’s Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) only provides protections for individuals below the age of 16.

Therefore, the actions of the broadcast and print media in revealing the identities of the five accused aged 17, run counter to the spirit and intent of the CRC, particularly Articles 16, 40(1), and 40(2)(vii).

In addition, a request made by one of the teenagers to inform his parents about his arrest was denied by the judge at the first mention of his case in court. This denial of assistance by the district judge is a violation of Article 16 of the CRC; however, since the CYPA does not cover individuals 16 years and above, the judge had acted within the boundaries of our laws.

We, the undersigned, believe that Singapore’s laws, and especially the CYPA in the area of children’s rights, should be aligned with the provisions of the CRC. This is to ensure that individuals below the age of 18 are duly protected in accordance with international human rights norms.

Further, we note that the five accused teenagers have yet to be proven guilty in a court of law. As such, we urge the Attorney General to look into possible violations of the CRC by members of Singapore’s print and broadcast media as well as provide adequate protection for these teenagers, adhering fully to the spirit of the CRC.

We also urge the Attorney General and the Singapore Police Force to grant the accused five immediate communications with their families as well as access to immediate and adequate legal representation.

Yours sincerely,

Amy Lauschke Jevon Ng Rachel Chung
Adrian Gopal Jocelyn Yeo Rachel Zeng
Andrew Loh Joe Tan Raymond Chan
Ariffin Sha Jolene Tan Robert Yong
Betty Tan Jolovan Wham Roger Yap
Braema Mathi Joshua Chiang Roy Ngerng Yi Ling
Bryan Choong Jufri Salim Sarah Sidek
Chan Wai Han Kirsten Han Shelley Thio
Chng Nai Rui Koh Eng Thiem, Ronald Sidek Mallek
Chng Suan Tze Kokila Annamalai Siew Kum Hong
Chong Kai Xiong Kumaran Pillai Sophie Tan
Chong Wai Fung Kwan Jin-Ee Stephanie Chok
Clarence Lenon Dorai KZ Arifa Steve Chia
Constance Singham Law Kah Hock Suziana Mohd
Damien Chng Lenney Leong Sylvia Tan
Dana Lam Leow Yong Fatt [Liao Yangfa] Tan Elice
Dr. Paul Ananth Tambyah Lim Han Thon Tan Kin Lian
Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha Lim Jialiang Tan Simin
Dr. Wong Wee Nam Lim Kay Siu Tan Tee Seng
Eddie Ng Low Yit Leng Teo Soh Lung
Emily Boo Lujahhan Mohd Islam Terry Xu
Evan Ong Eng Ann Lukas Godfrey Timothy Soh
Fong Hoe Fang Lynn Lee Vanessa Ho
Francis Law Mahaboob Baatsha Veronica Denise Goh
Frederique Soh Mansura Sajahan Vincent Cheng
Han Hui Hui Martin Ferrao Vincent Law
Ho Choon Hiong Melissa Tsang Vivian Wang
Howard Lee Miak Siew Wong Chee Meng
Immae Tham Ng E-Jay Wong Souk Yee
Isrizal Mohamed Isa Ng Joo Hock Woon Tien Wei
Jacob George Nicholas Harriman Xu Zhi Long
Jacqueline Tan Noor Effendy Ibrahim Yap Ching Wi
Jaslyn Go Nurul Huda Yeo Yeu Yong
Jean Chong Pak Geok Choo Zeng Ziting
Jennifer Teo Patrick Ong

And the following organisations:

Function 8
MARUAH
Restore
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
Think Centre
We Believe in Second Chances

Erratum: An amendment has been made to the statement. The definition of the child under the Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC) is anyone below the age of 18 years and not 18 years and below, as previously stated. The definition of a young person is anyone below the age of 16, and not 16 years and below.

 



Government Statement on Dinesh Raman Reprehensible
September 15, 2013, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Announcements, Singapore

(The following is a statement released by members of civil society in response to the Ministry of Home Affair’s statement regarding Dinesh Raman, dated 13 September 2013)

MEDIA RELEASE, 15 September 2013

We deplore the statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in respect of the late Mr Dinesh Raman s/o Chinniah, entitled Statement regarding the case of Dinesh Raman s/o Chinniah, published on the ministry’s website on 13 September 2013.

There is a claim before the courts. The family desires to learn the facts of their son and brother’s death while in the custody of the Singapore Prison Service.  The details of the MHA press release pertaining to Mr Dinesh’s past, ostensibly in order to determine the quantum of compensation, have instead rehearsed  his past misdeeds in order to conduct a character assassination ahead of the court hearing. It is designed to swing public opinion from sympathy for the family. Moreover, these matters are irrelevant to the case before the court.

They were then repeated in the mainstream media without regard for the sensibilities of the family or basic norms of courtesy. We urge the media to show more sensitivity to the family’s situation.

The action of the ministry in publishing its press release is deeply wrong. It has done so in a way that is clearly intended to destroy Mr Dinesh’s posthumous reputation. We have no doubt that by doing so it has added to the deep grief of the family, already suffering the profound pain of their only son’s loss. It is entirely unseemly for the Ministry of Home Affairs to have done so.

As fellow citizens, we demand that the Minister for Home Affairs apologise to the family.

 

Leslie Chew

Priscilla Chia

Joshua Chiang

Stephanie Chok

Damien Chng

Jean Chong

Chong Kaixiong

Neth Chong

Choo Zhengxi

Fadli Bin Fawzi

Han Huihui

Gilbert Goh

Ho Choon Hiong

Kirsten Han

Russell Heng

Adrian Heok

Vanessa Ho

Dan Koh               

Dana Lam

Vincent Law

Basil Lee

Lynn Lee

Corinna Lim

Lim Jialiang

Andrew Loh

Braema Mathi

Ng Yi-Sheng

Roy Ngerng

Ong Yanchun

Pak Geok Choo

Vivian Pan

Alfian Sa’at

Martyn See

Siew Kum Hong

Miak Siew

Isrizal Mohamed Isa

Shafiie Syhami

Constance Singam

Kenneth Tan

Roy Tan

Shawn Tan

Shelley Thio

Melissa Tsang

Vidula Verma

Jolovan Wham

Vincent Wijeysingha

Wong U-Wen

Terry Xu

Yap Ching Wi

Rachel Zeng



#FreeMyInternet – Media statement issued at the end of the protest

5385_618093534882266_605125707_n#FreeMyInternet is encouraged by the success of our first campaign against the new MDA Licensing Regime, which many media commentators see as the turning point in Singapore’s media regulatory landscape in Singapore.

More than 4,000 signed our online petition (and still counting), more than 150 blogs participated in our online blackout, and an estimated total of 2500 participated this afternoon in Singapore’s largest blogger-led protest.

But don’t take just our word for it. When Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin went on national television to explain the Licensing Regime, all we saw was a steady climb of those who think the new regulation would limit online news content, from 50% to a landslide 73.9%.

These are all clear signs that Singaporeans from all walks of life, be they writers or readers of online content, do not believe the explanations offered by the government, are against the MDA Licensing Regime, and are demanding for it to be withdrawn.

The success of the campaign is no mean feat. #FreeMyInternet came together at a few days’ notice, and the three-prong campaign was organised within a week and a half. Given the spontaneous and leaderless nature of the #FreeMyInternet movement, this is a remarkable achievement.

Moving ahead, the #FreeMyInternet movement will continue to call for the withdrawal of the Licensing Regime.

In addition, there is much more public awareness that needs to be done. Because of the manner in which the Licensing Regime was slipped into legislation, there has been very little opportunity to educate the public on why the Licensing Regime is so dangerous.

In the weeks to come, we will roll out material and programmes to educate members of the public and Members of Parliament about why the Licensing Regime needs to be withdrawn.

We do not rule out a dialogue with the government, but this dialogue needs to be a discussion on how the withdrawal of the Licensing Regime will take place, and should be a dialogue about how de-regulating the media environment can best be done to benefit Singaporeans.

The trust that was broken by the hasty introduction of the Licensing Regime can only be restored by the withdrawal of the Licensing Regime. A government that doesn’t trust its people is a government that will lose the trust of its people. We hope our government will keep their faith with all Singaporeans.



Singapore: Licensing Regime Chills News Climate

Human-Right-Watch-LogoCity-state Undercuts Status as Financial Center by Expanding Media Censorship to Web

(New York, June 7, 2013) – The Singaporean government should withdraw an onerous new licensing requirement for online news sites, Human Rights Watch said today. The new rules will further discourage independent commentary and reporting on the Internet in Singapore.

On May 28, 2013, the Media Development Authority, which is controlled by the Ministry of Communications and Information and is responsible for regulation of Singapore’s media and publishing industry, announced that all “online news sites” that reach 50,000 unique viewers per month over a two-month period must secure a license to operate. The licensing regime took effect on June 1, and the Media Development Authority released a list of 10 websites that will initially be impacted, including AsiaOne.com, Business Times Singapore, and Yahoo! News Singapore.

“Singapore’s new licensing requirement casts a chill over the city-state’s robust and free-wheeling online communities, and will clearly limit Singaporeans’ access to independent media,” said Cynthia Wong, senior Internet researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Websites will be forced into the role of private censors on behalf of the government.”

The new licensing rules seem intended to impose another check on popular websites more than to reduce any genuine harms, Human Rights Watch said. As a condition of the license, websites must comply within 24 hours with any requests from the Media Development Authority to remove content that the government deems objectionable. Websites are also required to post a S$50,000 (US$40,000) performance bond to ensure compliance. “News site” is defined broadly to include any site containing news or any matter or public interest related to Singapore, in any language – even if content is provided by a third party, as with readers’ comments on a website.

On May 30, several major independent websites in Singapore released a joint media statement in protest, contending that the new rules would “reduce the channels available to Singaporeans to receive news and analysis of the socio-political situation in Singapore.” The statement also said that the new rules would disproportionately harm citizen journalists and non-commercial, volunteer-run blogging platforms, who will not be able to afford the performance bond.

A group of bloggers have launched a campaign using the Twitter hashtag #FreeMyInternet, and on June 6, participants blacked out their websites to oppose the new rules. Bloggers have also organized a public event in Singapore’s Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park on June 8. Online commentators have expressed concern over the breadth of the definition of “online news sites,” warning that it could sweep in blogs that discuss a wide range of issues, and websites that enable users to discuss online content.

In response to criticism, the Media Development Authority clarified on its Facebook page on May 31 that, “An individual publishing views on current affairs and trends on his/her personal website or blog does not amount to news reporting.” However, in a separate statement, the Authority undermined this claim by asserting that, “If they [blogs] take on the nature of news sites, we will take a closer look and evaluate them accordingly.”

The Media Development Authority also asserted that the framework is “not an attempt to influence the editorial slant of news sites” and that it will only step in “when complaints are raised to [their] attention, and [they] assess that the content is in breach of the content guidelines and merits action by the website owner.”

Singapore’s constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression, with exceptions for broadly worded restrictions in the name of security, public order, morality, and racial and religious harmony. Print and broadcast media are also subject to annual licensing requirements. In November 1997, the Media Development Authority introduced an Internet Code of Practice, which requires Internet service providers to restrict access to prohibited material and would apply to websites subject to the new license. The Code of Practice restricts any content that is “against public interest” or offends “good taste or decency,” including “material that advocates homosexuality or lesbianism.”

The definition of what might be deemed “against public interest” is vague and can be used arbitrarily by the government, leaving the licensing regime and content regulations open to selective enforcement and abuse, Human Rights Watch said.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights activists in Singapore have also criticized media censorship laws because they create a skewed portrayal of LGBT individuals in local, mainstream media. Given that Singapore still criminalizes male same-sex relations, instituting a 24-hour takedown requirement for “material that advocates homosexuality or lesbianism” on popular websites will only exacerbate the problem, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch said that the licensing regime is inconsistent with international human rights standards on freedom of expression. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, widely recognized as customary international law, provides that “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

In his May 2011 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, wrote that registration and licensing requirements “cannot be justified in the case of the Internet.”

“Singapore is placing its status as a world-class financial center at clear risk by extending its record of draconian media censorship to the digital world,” Wong said.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Internet freedom, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/topic/free-speech/internet-freedom

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Singapore, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/singapore

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Cynthia Wong (English): +1-917-860-3186 (mobile); or wongc@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @cynthiamw
In New York, Mickey Spiegel (English): +1-212-216-1229; or spiegem@hrw.org
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Reaproy
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-917-838-9736 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @johnsifton
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-510-926-8443 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @BradAdamsHRW



This blog will be blacked out on 6 June

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Here is a quick lunchtime posting:

Come 6 June 2013, 0000Hrs, this blog will blacked out for 24 hours in protest against the new licensing framework implemented by the Media Development Authority.

If you would like to join us in blacking out your blog, do visit www.freemyinternet.com.

Cheers! :)



#FreeMyInternet calls on Mr Baey and all MPs to push for the withdrawal of the licensing regime

5385_618093534882266_605125707_nOn 2 June 2013, between 10 p.m. – 12 midnight, PAP MP Baey Yam Keng became the first Member of Parliament (MP) to try to directly answer the questions concerned Singaporeans have about the new Media Development Authority (MDA) licensing regime. Mr Baey is an MP for Tampines GRC and the Deputy Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) on Communications and Information.

#FreeMyInternet appreciates his candour and good grace in stepping forward, but regrets that Mr Baey was unable to address a key concern about the new legislation: the license regime was not put to Parliament as a whole before it became law.

Mr Baey was also unable to answer a key question that forms a main theme of the #FreeMyInternet campaign: does our government trust Singaporeans to make up their minds on the type of information they want to consume?

Mr Baey’s inability to defend the licensing regime confirms our position that its withdrawal is the only correct way forward. We appreciate Mr Baey’s confirmation that the licensing regime was not his “preferred approach”, and hope that his words will be reflected in the actions he is to take when Parliament next sits.

We continue to call on Mr Baey and all MPs to push for the withdrawal of the licensing regime.



#FreeMyInternet – Movement against new licensing requirements for online media

MEDIA STATEMENT – 1 JUNE 2013

5385_618093534882266_605125707_nThe blogging community – collectively called Free My Internet, will be organising a protest and online blackout next week against the new licensing requirements imposed by the Media Development Authority, which requires “online news sites” to put up a “performance bond” of $50,000 and “comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards”.

We encourage all Singaporeans who are concerned about our future and our ability to participate in everyday online activities and discussions, and to seek out alternative news and analysis,  to take a strong stand against the licensing regime which can impede on your independence.

We urge Singaporeans to turn up to send a clear message to our elected representatives to trust the Singaporeans who elected them.

Singaporeans can support us in three ways:

1)      Join us at the protest.

Date:   8 June 2013

Time:   4.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue: Speakers Corner, Hong Lim Park

2)      If you are a blogger, join us in an online blackout by closing your blog for 24 hours, from Thursday 6 June, 0001 hrs to 6 June, 2359 hrs. You can choose to create your own blackout notice, or use http://www.freemyinternet.com we have created for your convenience. When you reopen your blog, write your account of the protest, about the new regulations and censorship, or anything related to media freedom in Singapore. Share your thoughts. Share your hope that the light that free speech provides will not go out on us.

3)      Sign our petition and read our FAQ at this link to call for the Ministry of Communications and Information to completely withdraw the licensing regime.

We invite media to cover the protest at Hong Lim Park. To indicate media attendance and other media queries, please contact Howard Lee at howard@theonlinecitizen.com.

Signed off as: Free My Internet

Leong Sze Hian http://leongszehian.com/
Andrew Loh http://publichouse.sg/
Ravi Philemon http://www.raviphilemon.net/
Kumaran Pillai http://sgvoize.wordpress.com/
Terry Xu http://theonlinecitizen.com/
Richard Wan http://www.tremeritus.com/
Choo Zheng Xi http://theonlinecitizen.com/
Rachel Zeng http://rachelzeng.wordpress.com/
Roy Ngerng http://thehearttruths.com/
Kirsten Han http://spuddings.net/
Gilbert Goh http://www.transitioning.org/
Lynn Lee http://www.lianainfilms.com/
Biddy Low http://publichouse.sg/
Lim Han Thon http://publichouse.sg/
Martyn See http://singaporerebel.blogspot.sg/
Howard Lee http://theonlinecitizen.com/
Elaine Ee http://publichouse.sg/
Joshua Chiang http://facebook.com/joshuafly
Jeraldine Phneah http://theonlinecitizen.com
Donaldson Tan http://newasiarepublic.com
Stephanie Chok http://littlemskaypoh.wordpress.com
Jolovan Wham http://www.workfairsingapore.wordpress.com
Ng E-Jay http://www.sgpolitics.net
Siew Kum Hong http://siewkumhong.blogspot.sg/
Darryl Kang http://blog.dk.sg
Daniel Yap http://doulosyap.wordpress.com/
Jean Chong http://www.sayoni.com
Benjamin Cheah http://www.benjamincheah.wordpress.com/
Theodore Lee http://www.mrbrown.com
Benjamin Lee http://miyagi.sg
Illusio http://akikonomu.blogspot.com
Lee Xian Jie http://hachisu.com.sg
Damien Chng http://secondchances.asia/
Priscilla Chia http://secondchances.asia/



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