Human Rights Watch: SG government has made little progress

Singapore has made little progress in terms of human rights – said the Human Rights Watch in its recently released ‘World Report 2013’.

According to HRW, while the island country has relaxed its laws on the mandatory death penalty and has reduced its curbs on opposition politicians, it still imposes severe restrictions on civil society.

These restrictions extended to controls on free association, assembly of persons, and freedom of expression.

HRW’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson, referred to specific cases where human rights had been ignored in Singapore.

“Singaporeans who hand out political leaflets or publicly criticize a senior official can face a gauntlet of punishments, including bankruptcy-inducing fines, travel bans, and prison terms. In Singapore, rights are only for those who reliably toe the government line,” Robertson is quoted as saying on the HRW’s website.

In particular, government officials have recently invoked laws like the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, and the threat of civil or criminal defamation to silence their critics.

Prominent blogger Alex Au, also known as Yawning Bread, was warned in July 2012 by the Attorney-General’s chambers for alleging government bias in an ongoing town council saga.

He took down the post immediately and apologised.

HRW also cited a case where freedom of association was denied – to Chinese bus drivers who were arrested in December 2012 for allegedly holding an ‘illegal strike’ in protest against discriminatory wages and poor living conditions.

Five have been charged and are awaiting the results of their case, while another 29 have been deported.

The Singapore government also made it clear during the development of the upcoming Yale-NUS campus, set to open in August, that it’s students will not be allowed to organise political protests on campus or form political party student groups. This drew flak from Yale’s academics, who argued that the democratic spirit of the university would not be truly represented.

“Singapore’s status as a world-class economy has not kept it from having a remarkably poor record in respecting the rule of law, and civil and political rights,” Robertson said on the HRW website. “The Singaporean people must be wondering when their government is going to trust them enough to exercise the same basic rights as people elsewhere.”

“The international community should not be taken in by Singapore claims on human rights. Ask a rights advocate, an opposition activist, or a migrant worker what they think about today’s Singapore, and the repressive back-story of this glistening city-state will come out.”

Related links:
'SMRT bus drivers' strike illegal' : Tan Chuan Jin

  • 2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd 54 minutes ago
    2015 Nissan Murano aims for the style-forward crowd

    Nissan says its 2015 Murano crossover, only the second major revamp of the car since it debuted in 2003, draws its design cues from the “age of future space flight.” That’s probably taking it a little far, but the new Murano, based off the 2013 Resonance concept vehicle, is an exceptionally lovely machine, all fluid, curved metal on the outside, and flowing, soft-touch materials on the inside. Certain kinds of comfort and charms that were unheard-of outside of premium vehicles five years ago have definitely trickled down, and reached a kind of design apotheosis with this car.

  • Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen 3 hours ago
    Volkswagen brings new (ish) Jetta to New York along with Golf Sportwagen

    With its new President and CEO of America, Michael Horn, on stage in New York after just 100 days on the job, Volkswagen debuted its 2015 Jetta. You'd be forgiven for noticing little differences compared to the outgoing model, and in the words of Horn himself, the changes are indeed subtle. The most notable of those subtleties is the all-new 2.0 liter turbo diesel motor, offering 45 mpg highway and a modest increase of 10 hp. For VW, diesel is where it's at.

  • With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000 4 hours ago
    With Vantage GT, Aston Martin races below $100,000

    Aston Martin is going downmarket, sort of. The 2015 Vantage GT, a sport-styled variant of Aston’s legendary flagship car, draws style and performance tips from their GT4 race cars, which will be running in North America this year. It’s also priced at $99,900, which shows that the market for these kinds of consumer sports cars has boomed in recent years.