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Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
At the High Court this morning, Court 6C appeared more crowded than usual. It was then I realised that besides the re-sentencing of Cheong Chun Yin and Pang Siew Fum, it was also the day of sentencing for Michael Anak Garing and Tony Imba.
Anxious faces could be seen, and I was too, a bundle of nerves. Silently, I wished that everyone would go home with a sense of relief. I distracted myself by looking at what the security officers were doing, and tried to eavesdrop on the chatter between the lawyers present and the Prosecutors. Then we were called to rise as Justice Choo Han Teck took his seat.
Then the first process of the day began.
The microphones did not work too well, so we had to lean forward to hear what was going on. It did not help that my brain was having a conversation on its own – “Which one of the accused is Michael, and which is Tony?”, “Will we receive bad news today?”, “Chill woman, focus!”, and “Why am I suddenly so sleepy?”.
My heart sank a little when Tony, the second accused, was asked to stand. It is usually not a good sign for the first accused. Justice Choo announced that Tony would be sentenced to life imprisonment, and 24 strokes of the cane. Then, the Court was asked to rise for the sentence of death to be read out.
The mood was sombre. Everyone was silent, but I thought I could hear a sniffle from the row behind me. Michael’s death sentence was then passed.
“… you are hereby sentenced to be taken from here to a lawful prison and then to a place of execution where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead…”
Despite the fact that I have been on the campaign for 6 years now, that was actually the first time I was present in the courtroom when an individual was sentenced to death. I am still overwhelmed by how that moment felt, but I am unable to articulate it well enough to fully describe the intensity of it all.
Certainly, the victims did not deserve to be harmed. However, two wrongs do not make one right. State murder is still murder, and even more deliberately planned than the original crime, which was robbery with hurt (which led to the death of their victim). Michael, 26, is younger than me, and if all other avenues become exhausted in due time, he will no longer have a future or a chance to make amends in any other ways… for the noose is already halfway on its way to his neck.
Originally posted on Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign:
Number of executions in 2010:…
Number of executions in 2011: 4
Number of executions in 2012:…
Number of executions in 2013:…
Number of executions in 2014: 2 (July 2014)
Number of executions in 2015: 1 (April 2015)
20 April 2015 – Cheong Chun Yin‘s case will be reviewed in the Supreme Court at 9.30am.
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Filed under: By Rachel Zeng
Disclaimer: I am expressing this with genuine amusement. It is a positive emotion okay? ;)
In Thailand: A man has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for an offensive Facebook post. Alamak, why sial?
In Malaysia: Several people who aren’t in the government’s favour, have been arrested, and are facing charges of sedition. Alamak again, why like that?
In China: 5 feminist activists are still under arrest for calling sexism out. So, lewd jokes about women in the official media is ok? Wow, is it too late to turn back time and return to being a ball of cells, so that I can try to grow a gigantic dick?
In Singapore: A teenager is assisting the police for the LKY death hoax, and another has been charged in court for posting an offensive video. Alamak, why are we taking them so seriously?
BUT when suppposedly well-educated, and very credible Asian politicians make derogatory remarks against any groups of people, including the religious, it seems ok and we hardly question them or throw them into jail for sedition. We even publish their remarks on the national mouthpieces for all to read.
Is that what we call… “Asian values”? Aiyoh, double standards leh, my dear sisters and brothers in Asia. How about treating royalties, politicians, and common citizens equally? WAIT, that’s “Evil Western Values”. Ok sorry, I will face the wall and think about what I have said.
Now, I wish that I am that community cat at the void deck. She can growl, scratch, walk away, and glare, but still gets good food and so much love.
Like I have said, this is all very amusing.
The following is a statement by Jolovan Wham and myself, organisers of Democracy Now! Singapore in Solidarity with Hong Kong, in response to Mr K Shanmugam’s remarks about Occupy Central protest in Hong Kong.
In an interview with the Chinese daily, Lianhe Zaobao, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr K Shanmugam said that Hong Kongers should be happy with Beijing’s offer since the territory never had democracy under British rule. Moreover, what Beijing was offering was more than what the British had ever granted. Prior to the handover, neither the British rulers nor the Hong Kong media clamoured for democracy. Further remarks were made that there has been a lot of anti-China bias in Western media reporting on the issue.
Just because mass protests and widespread media support for universal suffrage did not happen under British rule does not make current calls for freedom any less legitimate. Freedom and justice does not have an expiry date and there is never a right or wrong time to fight for freedom. In addition, any suggestion that the Western media is biased in its account of the protests needs to be seen in light of how Hong Kong’s media and reporters are under assault by China’s central government.
The argument that universal suffrage was not included in the Sino-British Joint Declaration does not take into account the point that the Declaration itself promised Hong Kong a ‘high degree of autonomy’ and it was only in areas of diplomacy and defence that Hong Kong would not have any control over. In fact, the Basic Law states that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive should be selected via universal suffrage. Therefore, any assertion that China has acted according to Basic Law is not necessarily accurate.
Unity and progress, prosperity and democracy are not concepts which are diametrically opposed to each other. In the face of rising inequality, where the majority of a country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, there are legitimate fears that the lack of genuine democracy in Hong Kong may further entrench plutocracy and crony capitalism. Moreover, Beijing’s pre-screened candidates could continue to erode Hong Kong’s fundamental freedoms such as its judicial independence. Freedom of speech will most likely be curtailed, leading to newspapers and media outlets turning into mouthpieces of the government. Civil servants of government departments will be told to be ‘patriotic’ to China.
The Foreign Affairs Minister argues that Hong Kong should not emulate the partisan politics of countries such as the United States as it may lead to gridlocks which hinder growth and decision making. It is correct that Hong Kong should chart its own path to democratic reform. But it has to be remembered that a diminished democracy will cause more harm to its people in the long run. When institutions do not have independent processes, it is vulnerable to abuse, no matter how noble or genuine the intentions of politicians. Without the right to elect our own leaders, those who are incompetent, or who do not act in the interests of the people can remain in power for as long as they desire.
Singapore’s Pallid Hong Kong Solidarity, by Kirsten Han
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng
To my dearest friends in Hong Kong,
I am in solidarity with you now, the way you have always been in solidarity with me, supporting my human rights work throughout the years.
Thank you for believing in the value of my work, and now comes the time for me to render you my moral support from where I am.
Yours in solidarity,
Ms Tay Ai Ching
Assistant Chief Executive and Chief Librarian
Public Library Services Group
National Library Board
Dear Ms Tay,
I am writing in response to the news that two books have been taken off the catalogue and shelves of your libraries after receiving feedback that these books run in contrary to Singapore’s “pro-family” position.
I would like to emphasise that the two books which have been withdrawn from your shelves, are in no way contrary to Singapore’s “pro-family” position. As experience has informed me, “atypical” family units, for the lack of a better term, have been wrongly misunderstood and discriminated for far too long.
Having been an early childhood educator for the past 10 years, I have met and worked with children from different family backgrounds. While most of them come from the typical family unit consisting of biological parents who are in a heterosexual union, there are some who come from single parent families. I have also met children with parents of the same gender, as well as children living with adopted or foster parents. In most of these families, there exist a large amount of love and care despite the common fallacy that only families that derived from heterosexual unions are morally functional.
Due to society’s over-emphasis on what a typical family unit should be, some children from “atypical” family backgrounds do sometimes feel out of place. Being the odd ones out can hamper young children’s socio-emotional development, which in turn affects other areas of development. Hence, it is highly important that educators make the effort to create an inclusive learning environment that encourages acceptance and respect for one another. Furthermore it is the responsibility of educators to expose our students to concepts that exist in reality, in order to inculcate a sense of acceptance and respect for diversity within the local and global communities. This is one of the key purposes of education.
To achieve the abovementioned goals, educators should ideally provide materials that go beyond the narrow scope of what constitutes “normality” or “typicality”. This includes books such as And Tango Makes Three by Richardson and Parnell (2005), and The White Swan Express by Okimoto and Aoki (2002). Therefore I view the news with severe disappointment, especially when similar materials are few and rare in this overly conservative society.
Last but not least as a resource centre of knowledge, the National Library Board (NLB) should maintain a diverse collection of reading materials in your libraries that will cater to the educational needs of everyone from as young as 18 months old to those who are 60 and beyond. It should not limit the availability of knowledge by pandering to the standards of a conservative minority. I would like to take this opportunity to implore the NLB to put these two books back on the shelves of your libraries, as well as acquire a wider variety of such materials for the educational well-being of the public that the board seeks to serve.
Rachel Zeng (Ms)