Friday, December 15, 2017

Human Rights Watch calls on Singapore to relax free speech, assembly laws

13 Dec 2017


SINGAPORE: The Singapore Government's laws limiting critical speech and peaceful assembly are overly broad and make the country a repressive place severely restricting what can be said and published, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (Dec 13).

In its first wide-ranging report on Singapore in 12 years, the group called on the Government to amend or repeal laws and rules that restrict speech and assembly and drop charges against individuals for peaceful speech and assembly.

Singapore's Ministry of Communications and Information did not immediately have a comment on the report. The Government has held the position that Singapore's laws and regulations were needed to maintain social order and harmony.

The Singapore attorney-general's office has started contempt of court proceedings against the prime minister's nephew and authorities are prosecuting a prominent human rights activist for organising assemblies without permit.

"Beneath the slick surface of gleaming high-rises, however, it is a repressive place, where the Government severely restricts what can be said, published, performed, read, or watched," the 133-page report said.

[It is always good to have outsiders tell me what a repressive place I am living in, otherwise I wouldn't know it. ]

"Singapore promotes itself as a modern nation and a good place to do business, but people in a country that calls itself a democracy shouldn't be afraid to criticise their government or speak out about political issues," the group's Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said.

[Ya! I so completely agree with outsiders who like to tell us what to do. Like I want to tell the US to kick Trump out of office. People in the most powerful nation in the world shouldn't have someone like Trump trying to lead it. Put it another way, I am more afraid of Trump starting a nuclear war than I am of criticising our government, or speaking on political issues.]

Human Rights Watch called on the Singapore Government to amend or repeal in entirety laws that it said were too broadly worded and used to "arrest, harass, and prosecute critical voices," including the Sedition Act and the Public Order Act.

The report is partly based on interviews with civil society activists, journalists, lawyers, academics and opposition politicians, many of whom declined to be identified "due to fear of possible repercussions," the group said.

[As Trump would say, 'FAKE NEWS!' Oh wait. I shouldn't use his tactics!]

Late in November, Singapore authorities charged human rights activist Jolovan Wham for organising public assemblies without a police permit.

[So, HRW thinks we should allow public assemblies without permits?]

In August, the Singapore attorney-general's office began court proceedings against Li Shengwu, the grandson of the country's founder, over a Facebook post in which he criticised the Government and the country's court system.

[I love how the facts are just muddled together to make HRW case. In the latter case, Li is being charged with contempt of court for what he wrote about the court. NOT for his criticism per se of the government. But such nuances are lost on HRW. Because they see the big picture. And details simply bore them.] 

Source: Reuters

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