“When I was sick I was reading the paper. I saw a group of activists in Japan protecting against the fur trade. I saw the word “activist” below the picture. I thought “that’s interesting; I want to be an activist”. I told myself (I was very sick) “if I can survive this I want to do something meaningful in life”. That picture really helped. (I was nine-years-old.)”
The rest of the interview can be found here, and yes, you will realise that I ramble a lot and am unable to stay on the topic at times… :p well that’s because whenever I am speaking to a person, I am also having a conversation with my brain – one of my greatest flaw ever.
I received the news with a very heavy heart that one of my favourite local bloggers, Mr Fish who blogs at Feed Me To The Fish, passed on today (20 March 2013). He had always been very encouraging towards me and my work and he is also quite a regular reader of my blog, the same way I often visit his. It is a very sad day for me even though we have never met in real life… or we might have met once or twice or even spoke but because of his desire to remain an anonymous blogger, I never knew. My deepest condolence to everyone in his family… and may Fish rest in peace…
Thank you for sharing all your thoughts as well as the kind words of support that you have always given me.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop Gregory Yong must have felt terrified after his meeting with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 2 June 1987. It led him to take immediate action against his own priests and abandon his full time workers namely, Vincent Cheng, Ng Bee Leng, Kevin de Souza and Tang Lay Lee. Just a week ago, on 27 May 1987, 6 days after 16 people were arrested, he had concelebrated a 90 minute mass with 23 priests at the East Coast parish of the Church of Perpetual Succour. Family members of the four church workers gave moving testimonies of the detainees to a packed church.
To continue reading this, please click here.
Source: Feminist Frequency
Filed under: From the blogs, Malaysia, News Articles, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign, Videos
A Legal Quest Against the Death Penalty; Chance of Error is Too Great, Even for Murder Victim’s Brother
Filed under: From the blogs
Kirsten Han /
The family of a Malaysian man sentenced to death for trafficking drugs into Singapore has made an emotional plea for his life. At a press conference held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, relatives of Cheong Chun Yin said authorities should reopen the case as there could have been a miscarriage of justice.
“I want to ask Singapore – this drug law of yours, is it to deal with the villains or the victims like us?” Chun Yin’s sister Joanne Cheong told reporters yesterday. “Are you helping good people or bad people?”
Organised by the Save Vui Kong Campaign the press conference was attended by Cheong’s family, lawyer and campaign coordinator Ngeow Chow Ying and Executive Director of Amnesty International, Nora Murat. They were later joined by Malaysian Member of Parliament, Gwo-Burne Loh.
Click here for the rest of the article.
What bloggers say…
We even made it to the news here there and everywhere!
(not in chronological order)
Sin Chew Jit Pow,The Metro,The Guardian,The Sydney Morning Herald,The Telegraph,The Independent,The Associated Press,BBC,Al Jazeera,Indian Express,Taiwan News,RTT News,San Jose Mercury News,News 24,The Irish Independent,The Scotsman,The First Post,The Press Association,CBC News,London Evening Standard
And more to come. Too sleepy to add on now!
By Dr Wong Wee Nam
22 Aug 2009
Like the majority of Singaporeans, I learned to say the National Pledge when I was in school. Since then I think I have lived by the vow that I had made. I am still committed to building a democratic society as I am to speaking out against injustice and inequality. To me a pledge is a solemn promise or a vow. It is not like a New Year’s resolution that you make on the first day of the year and forget it immediately the next day.
When Mr S Rajaratnam crafted the National Pledge, I don’t think he meant it to be just a New Year’s resolution. I believe he wrote it with conviction. It is not just an aspiration to be desired but a goal to be attained.
Read the rest of the article here.
Filed under: From the blogs
Radhika Sainath, The Electronic Intifada, 13 July 2009
When the Israeli navy seized a small humanitarian boat flying under the Greek flag on Tuesday, 30 June, did the commandos commit acts of piracy when they forced the crew and 21 passengers — including a former US Congresswoman and Nobel Laureate — to port in Israel? May Israeli officials be prosecuted, and if so where?
On the morning of 29 June, the Spirit of Humanity set sail from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip carrying approximately three tons of medical aid, olive saplings, children’s toys and other humanitarian items for the area’s 1.5 million residents. The Spirit traveled through international waters when, at approximately 1:30am, several Israeli gunships surrounded the boat, jammed its GPS, navigation and radar systems and threatened to open fire. Heavily-armed Israeli naval commandos boarded the boat, ordered the Spirit’s passengers to lie face down, roughed up several, and ultimately forced the humanitarian volunteers to Israel where they were held for days in hot, crowded, cells before all but two (both Israeli citizens) were ultimately deported.
The Israeli navy routinely harasses Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza, and has on occasion seized boats and detained their crews , just as it did with the Spirit of Humanity.
An act of piracy, as defined by the law of nations, includes illegal acts of violence or detention committed on the high seas or outside the jurisdiction of any state. While today piracy often conjures up ideas of buried treasure, sunken ships and Johnny Depp at his best; olden-day pirates instilled a sense of terror in seafarers traveling in no-man’s zones, outside the protection of any state.
Israel’s commandeering of the Spirit last week shares a lot in common with these traditional acts of piracy: the Spirit’s unarmed passengers traveled on the high seas, vulnerable, uncertain if they would live or die when the Israeli navy surrounded them and took them prisoners. But do Israel’s actions constitute piracy? The answer is: Yes.
Israel committed clear acts of violence and detention against the Spirit’s passengers, acts, which, under the UN Convention on the High Seas, are unlawful. A warship may legitimately board a foreign ship on the high seas in only three circumstances: there is reason to believe the boat was engaged in piracy, the slave trade or the boat — despite its flag — is really of the same nationality as the warship. None of these circumstances apply here.
According to a 1 July press release from the Free Gaza Movement, the Spirit of Humanity was in international waters when the Israeli navy captured it. However, even if the boat was in Gazan waters, the above acts still constitute piracy because Gazan waters are outside the jurisdiction of any state — and certainly outside Israel’s jurisdiction. Jurisdiction, it should be noted, is different from control. While Israel exercises de facto control over Gaza, it has no legal de jure jurisdiction over Gaza.
Furthermore, while piracy has traditionally been defined as a private act, there is no reason why Israel’s seizure of the Spirit, its passengers and its humanitarian cargo should not be considered an act of state or state-sponsored piracy.
Israel committed an act of piracy by hijacking the Spirit, forcing its passengers to Israel, imprisoning them and taking their cargo and personal items. But why is it important that Israel be charged with piracy, especially when it already faces a host of new war crimes accusations?
The law of nations has long upheld the principle that pirates are “hostis humani generis” — an “enemy of all mankind.” In the 18th century, nations reached a consensus that piracy was universally wrong and every nation has a right to prosecute pirates of any nationality. In United States v. Smith, 18 U.S. 153 (1820), the US Supreme Court held that the principle of universal jurisdiction applies to punishing all persons, whether “natives or foreigners, who have committed [piracy] against any persons whatsoever ….”
In other words, piracy was one of the first criminal acts recognized by international law. Today, international law confers on piracy, along with slavery and genocide, the status of a jus cogens — a norm or a right that can never be derogated. This means a state is bound by a jus cogens norm whether or not it consents to its application. As an example, a country may not engage in slavery simply because it has enacted laws making it permissible to do so.
Filing indictments against Israeli government officials and senior army commanders for crimes related to piracy is important not only because the perpetrators of the 30 June hijacking must be brought to justice, but also to reinforce the legitimacy of international law, which is increasingly viewed as being selectively used by rich countries as a tool to oppress poorer ones. The War on Piracy has been highlighted most recently by UN Security Resolution 1851, initiated by the US, which calls on all states to actively take part in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia, and even authorizes states to take measures inside Somalia.
The laws of piracy should not be selectively applied to poor Africans who hijack huge tankers belonging to rich corporations. Just as US prosecutors in the Southern District of New York indicted a Somali national on ten counts including piracy and hijacking, similar charges should be brought against the Israelis who committed, aided and abetted in the 30 June act of piracy and any others against Palestinian vessels. But more importantly, governments and international civil society must do all they can to pull Israel back into the bounds of international law and truly support the self-determination and human rights of all peoples, including Palestinians.
Radhika Sainath is a Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney. She recently returned from a National Lawyers Guild fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip and is an editor and author of Peace Under Fire: Israel/Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement.
(From Siew Kum Hong’s blog)
A lot has been said and written about the AWARE EGM last Saturday. And by now, I’m sure everyone has seen videos of the key moments on YouTube. So I’m not going to get into the familiar details of what happened that day.
Instead, I’m just going to post a few thoughts from the EGM, and also talk about some aspects that I have not seen mentioned.
Affirmation of values
First and foremost, I walked away from the EGM proud to be Singaporean. I saw the result as an affirmation of the values that we hold dear (openness, transparency, inclusiveness, diversity and secularism) and a rejection of those that, well, we should not (dishonesty, non-transparency, exclusiveness, intolerance, divisiveness and oppression/bullying).
While I do not see the EGM as a watershed or a pivotal moment signalling any sort of significant change in Singapore politics (as at least one journalist has tried to posit to me), it does stand as a milestone marking some sort of progress towards a more active and passionate civil society. The willingness of all these people to stand up and be counted, to invest all that time and effort for a cause that they believed in, gave me hope that Singaporeans are not as passive or apathetic as we are often said to be, and that it really takes the right cause to spark us into action.
Importance of passion
My second point relates to the fiery passion demonstrated by so many folks in the audience. Some have sought to portray this as a shameful lack of civility, as a disgusting show of rude bullying tactics, as a terrible indictment of the supporters of the so-called old guard (I prefer “original members”). I beg to differ.
To begin with, I question whether these critics (well, those who are not supporters of the ousted Exco) were even there at all, to see for themselves what had happened. Did they see the way that the ousted Exco had started the meeting? Did they understand the context that contributed to this atmosphere of anger?
It was clear from the outset that the ousted Exco was trying to create a tilted playing field. When I arrived just past 11am, and tried to take the escalator from the 3rd floor to the 4th floor, three of the ousted Exco’s supporters blocked the escalator, claiming that I was not allowed to go up. I was a little taken aback, and proceeded only when a volunteer for the original members told them to let me pass because it was a public area and they had no right to block me. This came on the heels of another of their supporters, who had greeted me on the 3rd floor with a big plastic smile, and then furiously whispered “SKH! SKH!” into her radio as I passed her.
Was all this necessary? Was there a need to play these sort of games?
It did not get better when the meeting began. I was the lightning rod that first drew their ire. Jenica Chua had already been informed earlier that I was a legal advisor for the original members — and yet, when a member of the audience (a VIP as designated by the Josie Lau exco, whom none of us recognised) specifically asked for me to move to the associate members’ section, Josie Lau simply ordered me to move. She even directed security to escort me out of the ordinary members’ section (either to the associate members’ section or out of the hall, I can’t remember which). My wife later told me that she was worried about the security guards forcibly manhandling me.
It only got worse, when the meeting got underway. The mics on the floor were not switched on. Whenever an original member got to a mic and tried to speak, the sound person would deliberately shut down that mic. It was no accident and not faulty sound — it was a deliberate attempt to prevent us from speaking.
Those who are familiar with the law and practice of meetings will know that points of order have precedence, and whoever is speaking has to yield the floor to someone making a point of order. But with the mics switched off, it was impossible to raise a point of order properly. Even after the lawyer from Rajah & Tann said that the mics should be switched on, this was not done properly or consistently. When folks on the floor protested, the ousted Exco’s first response was to threaten ejection from the hall, even though it is established law that the chairperson’s right to eject members may be exercised only upon repeated, severe disorder, not as a first resort.
That was how the entire meeting started. What sort of note did these heavy-handed tactics adopted by the ousted Exco strike? One of the leading legal textbooks on meetings states that the effect of a fair chairperson is often under-estimated. I would certainly say that the ousted Exco was not interested in conducting a fair meeting in accordance with the rules governing meetings, but only a meeting on their terms.
Faced with this, with a hostile chairperson seeking to exercise her powers in an unfair manner, what was the floor to do? The floor’s only weapon, only response, is its voice. And in this case, we used that weapon to full effect. To do otherwise, to be as meek as these critics seem to want us to be, would have played into the ousted Exco’s hands.
Those who criticise the behaviour of our supporters miss the point. They overlook the nature of such EGMs, which are invariably contentious affairs with emotions running high. They buy into the myth of an orderly debate, which simply does not exist when the ground rules are unfair and stacked against one side. They ignore the important role of passion in advocacy, blindly emphasising rote obedience of rules while missing the positive aspects of passionate advocacy.
So no, I will not apologise for the behaviour of our supporters. Instead, I am proud of this rare display of passion in public discourse. Indeed, I only wish that we see more of such passion in future.
Planning, planning, planning
This article in The New Paper says it all: these unsung heroes provided the platform for all the speakers to shine. The amazing work of folks like Alex, Serena, Ching-Wi, Jolovan and Schutz made the result possible. I salute them.
Their planning was immaculate. Thanks to their immense efforts, we did not have to worry about logistics at all in the lead-up to and during the EGM. I also believe that the early arrival of our supporters paved the way for our success. We were able to occupy the seats nearest to the stage, which also turned out to be nearest to the only mic that was switched on throughout the entire EGM. This proximity to the stage and to the mic probably allowed us to neutralise Josie Lau’s advantage as the chairperson.
Passion vs passiveness
I’ve already mentioned the passion exhibited by our supporters. In stark contrast, the supporters of the ousted Exco were surprisingly passive, preferring to clap furiously whenever the ousted Exco spoke (regardless of the substance of their comments) instead of taking to the mic. Few of their supporters spoke up, and of these, too many failed to make the most of their time on the mic. Some of the more bizarre speeches of the day came from their supporters.
More surprisingly, so many of their supporters seem to have left early. I cannot confirm this, but it felt like they had started leaving even before the results were announced. And when the members voted to remove the ousted Exco from office because it looked like they were not coming back, there were only two objections — presumably because their other 700 supporters had left by then.
I cannot explain why, although Alex Au has speculated on this. But I did haer that their supporters arrived in buses, and did not seem to really know what was going on. So perhaps they had been bus-ed in, having been simply told to vote, without much more. If that was true, then no wonder they did not speak up.
Finally, I want to thank the ladies who came to me for advice just after the AGM on 28 March. I got involved in all this because of them, and I am glad that I did. It gave me a ringside seat to everything that happened, and I would not have missed it for the world. I’m only happy to have had the chance to contribute to their success in some small way.
And of course, I have to thank every woman and man who turned up to be counted, for affirming those values that Singaporeans hold so dear. Without you, nothing would have happened. With you, everything becomes possible.