Civil Society Statement on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Singapore
March 26, 2012, 12:41 am
Filed under: Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

22 March 2012

Think Centre, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC), SAYONI, Singapore Working Group on Migrant Workers, Post-Museum, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Federation of Singapore and We Believe in Second Chances welcomes the visit to Singapore by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon since his last visit in 2009. It is important that the UNSG remains in touch and up to date with the developments of this small nation state within the developing context of the South East Asian region. We and some individual members of the civil society who are concerned with the state of human rights situation and democracy in Singapore wish to highlight to the UNSG a few key human rights related issues that he should refer to in his discussion with the Government of Singapore (GOS), in no particular order, to ensure greater enjoyment of human rights as envision in the UDHR as follows:

Low Level of Ratification of Core International Human Rights Treaties and Conventions

1.Singapore has been a member of the United Nations since her independence in 1965. However till date, the Government of Singapore (GOS) has only ratified 2 human rights conventions namely, CEDAW and CRC. While the Government has expressed, through its delegation sent to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Singapore’s human rights records during the May 2011 session, that it takes its international obligations seriously and are continuously examining the feasibility of ratifying the remaining key human rights conventions.

2.It remains an unsatisfying situation that the GOS has not been able to account for its reluctance to ascend to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Especially given that Singapore has now attain relatively high levels of economic and human development which was based on, in no small part, much sacrifice of Singaporeans both past and present. And also given that Singapore is and wants to be seen as a legitimate democracy as demonstrated by the commitment and adherence to conducting regular elections albeit with features only unique to Singapore.

3.It is high time that the GOS recognise that Singaporeans deserve to have our rights to established standards of civil and political rights and economic socio-cultural rights, be fully respected and protected. Furthermore, it should be recognised that ratification of human rights treaties help to create an impetus towards the progressive realization of the advancement of the rights as contained within the various key human rights treaties. More importantly it serves to strengthen the domestic human rights framework that can then be committed into aligning legislation and policies, in accordance to international standards, to protect and to ensure the fundamental set of human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the UDHR.

Commitment to Conduct Free and Fair Elections

4.National elections are currently conducted and administered through the office of the Elections Department. While the GOS’s constant refrains that public officers have a duty of impartiality during the conducting of national elections, the current arrangement is untenable with regard to electoral independence since the Elections Department is under the direct purview of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The arrangement also lends itself to creating the perception and fear amongst the voting population that their vote is not secret and is traceable.

Freedom of Expression

5.The right to freedom of opinion and expression remains an evergreen exigent issue. We urge the UNSG to encourage the GOS to fully respect and protect rights of Singaporeans of freedom of opinion and expression without overlaying it with numerous codes of conduct and soft laws especially in the cyberspace realm.

6.The Government continues to control all avenues of speech and expression, especially those relating to politics, through a multitude of legislative and institutional means at its disposal. Censorship remain pervasive at almost all levels of society (at both state and non-state levels) hampering any natural development of an alternate political discourse. The organic development of local arts and cultural groups are crippled through the government’s effective influence and control over physical space use for performances and exhibitions, and issuance of financial grants. The easy willingness of senior political figures, to file defamation lawsuits against political critics or opponents, represents the Damocles sword stabbing away at the state of free expression in Singapore. The will of the State to retain control and leverage with regard to freedom of expression also extends to the cyberspace realm. In the most recent parliamentary debates (March 2012), the Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts has proposed to encourage the development of a community-driven Internet code of conduct.

Freedom of Information and Civil Society Engagement

7.Since the most recent general elections in 2011, the Government of Singapore has made positive attempts in portraying itself to be more open and responsive to the voices of the people. However it is found wanting in the aspect of engagement with civil society. It practises selective engagement and does not freely share information – much of which are controlled by the Official Secrets Act. A recent example of selective and less open engagement revolves around Bukit Brown. It is the largest Chinese cemetery outside of China and is considered a historical site with heritage, biodiversity and environmental significance. The Bukit Brown cemetery is recognised by many civil society groups to be worthy of UNESCO heritage site status however as Singapore is not a signatory to UNESCO, such a significant site is in grave danger of being destroyed in the name of development. Whereby selected independent civil society groups were invited to participate in a closed-door briefing session on the government’s decision to carry on its development plans for the area – contrary to the request for a consultation session to discuss alternatives. Also, as the GOS has a disproportionate amount of influence and control over mainstream media, this allows it effective control over information that may convey less than favourable impression of the State. This shapes public opinion that is based on incomplete information.

8.We urge the UNSG to encourage the GOS to be more willing to engage civil society in an open and transparent manner rather than the old habitual top-down approach.

Death Penalty

9.The Government of Singapore continues to retain and rely on the use of death penalty and in particular, mandatory death penalty, to address the issue of trafficking and sales of drugs. However to date the GOS has failed to demonstrate how the use of the death penalty has any impact on the “war on drugs”. We maintain that drugs related issues like addiction and trafficking should be evaluated and dealt with as a social issue stemming from accumulative and layered problems of a highly modernised urban society; and that alternate sentencing options should be used in place of the death penalty. The GOS should adopt a more rational and humane approach to drug-related problems, and impose an immediate moratorium on executions, and take serious consideration to implement the abolition of the death penalty.

Ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

10.The Government of Singapore has announced its intention to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year. We urge the government to not approach the ratification based on a welfare providence angle. Instead, it should also acknowledge the civil-political and economic social-cultural rights dimensions of the convention. In this regard, we urge the UNSG to convey to the GOS that no reservations should be placed on any of the CRPD articles, in particular the following: Article 9 (Accessibility), Article 15 (Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), Article 21 (Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information), Article 24 (Education), Article 27 (Work and employment), Article 29 (Participation in political and public life), Article 30 (Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport). Also in the lead up to the ratification, the government should engage persons with disabilities directly, as part of their obligations to consult civil society, rather than through service providers/welfare organisations.

Labour Rights in Singapore

11.We encourage the UNSG to urge the GOS to put in greater efforts to protect the rights of both local and migrant workers comprising the labour force of Singapore. Local workers are vulnerable to the buffeting force of globalisation. Many were not spared from the deleterious impact of various global economic and financial in the past decade. On the other hand, as a consequence of Singapore’s rigid openness to the global economy, migrant workers (including both unskilled and skilled) now make up one-third of the labour force and they are now increasingly face negative social backlash with tendencies towards racial discrimination. The GOS should ensure that a balanced approach can be taken by adhering to international labour standards with reference to the International Labour Organisation’s Core Labour Standards; and by enhancing better social protection for the vulnerable segment of Singaporeans who are unable to benefit from globalisation such as through the calibrated implementation of a minimum wage.

Persons of Different Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities (SOGI)

12.In Singapore, LGBT community faces institutionalize discrimination that cascades and justifies discriminatory public policies or legislation. For example in the areas of criminal law, Section 377A of the Penal Code criminalizes consensual sex between two men. In the media, censorship is applied and only negative portrayal of LGBT persons is allowed. In the barriers to association, LGBT groups are not allowed to register officially with the Registrar of Societies, which deny legal status and cause the inability to raise funds in any organized way. There are also no anti-discrimination laws or equal opportunity legislation in Singapore and discriminated individuals have no recourse. The GOS must acknowledge and recognize that rights of persons with different sexual orientation and gender identities remains vulnerable and unprotected from conservative societal forces and institutionalized discrimination, whose actions and speech infringed on fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Singapore and the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)

13.The Government of Singapore should play a positive and constructive role to ensure the currently developing ASEAN declaration on human rights should not undermine international human rights standards. The GOS must endeavour to consult with civil society including independent groups.

Singapore and the United Nations

14.Last of all, we urge the UNSG to encourage GOS to better cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council and related UN human rights agencies, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OHCHR to help develop a framework to conceptualise and implement a long term human rights plan of action for Singapore.


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Please be reminded that Singapore was founded on a bunch of lies, deceptions, chicaneries, betrayal, treachery and treason of the highest order against our small island nation and her people, when a group of people/peoples known or unknown conspired against her sovereignty of Singapore when the British Government lead by Harold MacMillan, the Government of Malaya lead by Tengku Abdul Rahman and the Sultan of Brunei, Sir Omar Saiffudin III ordered Lee Kuan Yew and his Government to arrest and detained her so-called pro-communists, communists, front for the Communist United Front and/or the front for the Communist Open Front, without proof of any kind and without witnesses, all of whom were Singapore citizens thereby committing treason of the highest order to the small nation and her people by obeying such orders and having them carried out their orders to
arrests and detained one and all.

That Singapore’s Independence from the British Government was bought via skulduggeries coupled with the blood
sacrificed by the multitudes of lives who were arrested and detained without trial in Operation Coldstore on Febuary 2 1963 under the so-called Prevention of Public Security
Order (PPSO) which was issued by the Internal Security Council which was a police security apparatus created and control by the British Government with the fabricated
false allegation that they were all involved in subversive activities aimed to de-stablized the legitimate ruling Government of Singapore and establish Singapore into an
alleged so-called tropical sunny paradise “Communist Cuba” under the nose of Malaya.

Those arrested and detained without trial, some for as long as 17 years, 18 years, 19 years, with one detainee; Chia Thye Poh, former Member of Parliament of Jurong, for as long as 32 years; a world’s record for the longest served survived prisoner of conscience, included:-
1. Lim Chin Siong, Secretary-General, Barisan Sosialis
2. S Woodhull, vice-chairman, Barisan Sosialis
3. Fong Swee Suan, secretary-general SATU and executive committee member, Barisan Sosialis
4. James Puthucheary,
5. Dominic Puthucheary
6. Said Zahari, former editor of Utusan Melayu
7. Tan Teck Wah, president Singapore General Employees’ Union; vice-president, SATU
8. A Wahab Shah, chairman, Party Rakyat
9. Lim Hock Siew
10. Poh Soo Kai and many many others.

Their arrests and detention without trial with no course for redress or appeal of habeas corpus and documentation of
physical and pyschological abused and tortures while in incarceration, consitutued a violation of several of their consitutional rights as citizens of the newly founded
Independence Republic of Singapore as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, State of Singapore Constitution of 1963, portions of the Federation of Malaysia Constitution and the Republic of Singapore Independence Act of 1965. namely:-

1. Article 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore guarantees to all persons the right to life and right to
personal liberty. It states:
9.— (1) No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.
(2) Where a complaint is made to the High Court or any Judge thereof that a person is being unlawfully detained, the Court shall inquire into the complaint and, unless satisfied that the detention is lawful, shall order him to be produced before the Court and release him.
(3) Where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
(4) Where a person is arrested and not released, he shall, without unreasonable delay, and in any case within 48 hours
(excluding the time of any necessary journey), be produced before a Magistrate, in person or by way of video-conferencing link (or other similar technology) in accordance with law, and shall not be further detained in custody without the Magistrate’s authority.

2. Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore is entitled “Equal protection” and reads as follows:
12.— (1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
(2) Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore
on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment
under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.
(3) This Article does not invalidate or prohibit —
(a) any provision regulating personal law; or
(b) any provision or practice restricting office or employment connected with the affairs of any religion, or of an
institution managed by a group professing any religion, to persons professing that religion.

3. 13. —(1) No citizen of Singapore shall be banished or excluded from Singapore.
(2) Subject to any law relating to the security of Singapore or any part thereof, public order, public health or the punishment of offenders, every citizen of Singapore has the right to move freely throughout Singapore and to reside in any part thereof.

4. 14. —(1) Subject to clauses (2) and (3) —
(a) every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) all citizens of Singapore have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms; and
(c) all citizens of Singapore have the right to form associations.

On top of that and above that, their incarceration also consititutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nation’s
Universal Declaration of Human Rights; to wit:-

1. Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

2. Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as
race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other
status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of
the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other
limitation of sovereignty.

3. Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

4. Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

5. Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

6. Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

7. Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

8. Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

9. Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any
criminal charge against him.

10. Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees
necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the
time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

11. Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the
right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

12. Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

13. Article 19.
Everyone 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.

14. Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

15. Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and
genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

On these charges of said treason and said violations of the Constitution of The Republic of Singapore and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of those people arrested, detained without trial, abused, tortured, without redress and/or appeal of any kind against such
injustices, I urge the United Nation to ask the Government of Singapore to be answerable to such astrocities and to bear full responsibilities againts her own Singapore citizens at that point in time.

Comment by Spectre Kle




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