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Heavy hand is only a 'light touch', says Singapore

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  • Safdarjung Enclave Extension
    Embargoed for 12 December 2002 It is certainly unprecedented in Singapore ? a national debate on how tightly restricted Singaporean society should be. It is a
    Message 1 of 25 , Mar 27, 2003
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      Embargoed for 12 December 2002

      It is certainly unprecedented in Singapore ? a national debate on how
      tightly restricted Singaporean society should be.

      It is a different matter that the government has already applied its
      mind and given its judgement. The South China Morning Post recently
      quoted Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Law Mr Ho Peng
      Kee as saying that the country's free-speech rules were applied with
      a "light touch" and were essential in a multiracial society.

      He was referring to Singapore's famed Speaker's Corner famous
      because it is the only place in the country where citizens can speak
      their mind. Or almost. Speakers must register with the police prior
      to speaking, and their speeches are recorded by the government and
      kept for six years. Speeches may be used in defamation and criminal
      proceedings in courts of law. Significantly, certain topics, such as
      matters of race and religion are banned from Speakers' Corner.

      "Public talks, especially if they touch on politics, religion and
      race, can give rise to law and order problems," Mr. Ho said in
      response to a question from Steve Chia, an opposition politician, as
      reported by SCMP. "Speeches can become inflammatory, eliciting
      disaffection. People of different political persuasions, religious
      inclinations or racial groups in the crowd may hurl abuse, first
      verbal and then physical, at each other," he added.

      "In other words, a public talk on even an innocuous topic may become
      unruly or degenerate into mob violence, if troublemakers are at
      work," the newspaper quoted Mr. Ho as saying.

      Public speeches are not the only `trouble' the government is paranoid
      about. Two such `troublemakers' were opposition Singapore Democratic
      Party leaders Chee Soon Juan and Ghandi Ambalam, who were jailed for
      refusing to pay a fine for attempting to hold a workers' rights rally
      without a police permit. Under the Public Entertainments and Meetings
      Act (PEMA), the police must sanction all public gatherings in
      Singapore. Mr. Chee said in a letter to the Singaporean President
      that the PEMA violated his constitutional rights, and cited Article
      14 which states that every citizen "has the right to freedom of
      speech and expression", to assemble "peaceably and without arms"
      and "to form associations."

      Mr Chee was reported as having been mistreated during his five-week
      jail term. Mr Ambalam was released after he paid the fines imposed on
      him.

      The government's `light touch' works in myriad ways, from using six-
      foot, one-inch thick canes on prisoners' backsides to Internet
      policing to launching politically-motivated defamation suits against
      opponents.

      Opposition politicians in Singapore can expect to encounter obstacles
      at every turn, whether in their personal lives or in their
      professions. Recently, the chairperson of a union affiliated to
      Singapore's National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) was forced to resign
      after he took a post in the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), an
      umbrella opposition body.

      Mr Muhammad Ali Aman was appointed Secretary General of the SDA in
      August. In October, he was given a similar post at the Singapore
      Malay National Organisation (PKMS) which is part of the SDA.

      As a result, he was asked to step down as chairperson of a branch of
      the United Workers of Electronic and Electrical Industries (UWEEI)
      union which is affiliated to NTUC. A UWEEI official said the
      organisation supported and subscribed to the "symbiotic relationship"
      between the NTUC and the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).

      "Our commitment is open and made known to all our officials," he
      said.

      As an Australia-based activist points out, Mr. Aman's is not an
      isolated case. Mr. Mansor Rahman of the Singapore Democratic Party
      (DPP) was similarly removed from the same union in 1983. Last year, a
      member of the NGO, Think Centre, who was an officer at Club Rainbow
      was told, after declaring that he was running for elections under the
      opposition ticket, to choose to either stay with the company or with
      the Think Centre.

      According to the activist, even if Mr. Aman's sacking is claimed to
      have been based on merit ? being an opposition member, he may be
      considered incapable of representing his union effectively ? the
      union needs to show instances where Mr. Aman was unable to achieve
      the desired results.

      So far, the activist adds, the union has not been able to prove
      either of the tests, nor have there been complaints regarding his
      professional conduct.

      The two events show that not only is a body like the NTUC unconcerned
      with abiding by the principles of fairness and non-discrimination, it
      also functions under the watchful eye of the ruling party and has no
      qualms about admitting it.

      The PAP has governed Singapore since 1959 when it was part of
      Malaysia and from 1965 onwards as an independent country. The PAP in
      turn has always been allergic to any form of opposition. While
      political opponents are allowed, the various means employed by the
      government to suppress dissenting voices mean that opposition parties
      and politicians are discouraged, if they are not bankrupted or
      imprisoned under security legislation. In the election of November
      2001, only 29 of the 84 parliamentary seats were even contested by
      opposition candidates. The PAP secured over 75 per cent of the
      popular vote. The opposition won two seats.

      The PAP is omnipresent. All of the media is controlled by the
      Singapore Press Holding (SPH) and Mediacorp. Both enjoy close
      relations with the ruling PAP. The President of the SPH is Tjong Yik
      Min, a former director of the state security agency, while its
      Chairman, Lim Kim San is a former cabinet minister.

      The government must approve, and can dismiss the holders of SPH
      management shares, who control staff and content. The coverage of
      domestic politics and sensitive international matters closely
      reflects that of the government. Censorship is common.

      The Internet is also closely monitored and restricted. The book
      Internet Politics: Surveillance and Intimidation in Singapore
      excerpted on www.thinkcentre.org discusses the case of the Socratic
      Circle, set up in 1994, one of the first political groups to
      experiment with the Internet. After one of its members posted survey
      questions online to solicit opinions from Internet users, the
      Registrar of Societies asked the group to discontinue reaching out to
      non-members through the Internet. According to the book, "Socratic
      Society members were reminded that they were given permission to
      conduct political discussion only among their members and by
      soliciting information from surfers through the Internet they were
      contravening this rule. This shows the mindset of the Singapore
      authorities, how rigid they were about keeping a tight control over
      political communication by groups on the Internet and the how early
      into the game Singaporeans on the World Wide Web were already being
      monitored."

      Singapore's leaders have always portrayed the tiny nation-state as
      being content in its cocoon of economic prosperity and as being at
      ease with the civil and political constraints that the government
      imposes. If few indications to the contrary are observed, it is
      because there have been few attempts to discern what Singaporeans
      really think about the supposedly "necessary" restrictions they live
      with. It's time to start asking questions.

      - Human Rights Features

      All contents copyright © SAHRDC
      B-6/6, Safdarjung Enclave Extension, New Delhi - 110029, India
    • Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com
      This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com Commentary: Mellanie Hewlitt
      Message 2 of 25 , Apr 1, 2003
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        This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com

        Commentary: Mellanie Hewlitt
        Source: Singapore Review
        Date: 2 April 2003.

        In a previous article, Singapore Review addressed the deteriorating quality of
        life and increasing cost of living in Singapore which has driven many to
        migrate to other countries, and have also halted the birth rates in this island
        state.

        "In the 28 March 2003 issue of the Straits Times, Singapore government studies showed Sharp rise in household debt, "Liabilities hit 174% of income in 2000 against 118% in '95"

        'The important point to note is that in Singapore the debt to disposable income
        ratio has gone up while property prices have been falling - unlike in other
        countries like the UK and the US, where property prices have been rising.'Published March 28, 2003

        Coupled with rising unemployment rates and falling real wage rates,
        Singaporeans are also battling erosion of assets value (i.e. falling real
        estate prices).

        The situation is even more bleak when one notes that whilst Singaporeans face assets erosion in the form of falling private home prices, the prices of HDB flats (which are supposedly government subsidised housing) are rising steadily as many have suffered pay-cuts and retrenchments and have sold their private homes to down grade to HDB flats. Where is the logic behind public policy?

        The latest SARS outbreak and war in Iraq is battering an already bruised and
        weathered domestic populace who have had to endure ineffective government
        policies which have not been able to address the economic and financial woes of
        the average Singaporean.

        Amidst the dismal economic performance and out look, the Ruling Elite have
        deemed it was time to increase promotions and pay in the ranks of super salary
        scaled civil servants in the civil service (see 29 March 2003 issue of the
        Straits Times "Promotion a 'surprise' for Asean sec-gen", and "Public jibes a spur to top civil servants"), as the rest of the private sector bleeds.


        ----------------------------------------------------------------

        DOWN: Prices of private homes<br>UP: HDB resale flats
        by Soh Wen Lin and Vladimir Guevarra

        PRIVATE home prices in Singapore slipped to their lowest levels since 1999 in the first quarter of this year, while prices of Housing Board resale flats continued to inch up, according to property reports released yesterday.

        The reports, on price trends based on actual home sales over the years, show that prices of HDB resale flats have reached their highest level in about 18 months.

        The growing number of people who have downgraded from condominiums to HDB flats in recent years has had a significant effect on the way public and private housing prices have moved, said property analysts.

        Also, the uncertainty leading up to the war in Iraq had a downward impact on the private market.

        A relatively low number of private homes were sold during the first three months of this year, as developers held back from launches, and potential buyers stopped house hunting.

        Analysts said that the suspension of the HDB building programme last January had probably helped to support the prices of HDB resale flats.

        Preliminary figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) property price index - which tracks price movements of private homes - showed that prices of such homes declined by about 0.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year, to reach the lowest level since early 1999.

        The result dashed hopes that the market had bottomed out after prices remained fairly flat throughout last year.

        Conversely, a Housing Board report showed prices of resale flats continuing their year-long upward move, to levels last seen in early 2001. Prices were boosted by the rising popularity of three- and four-room flats, according to in-house data from property agency ERA Singapore.

        The reports do not provide average sales prices of properties, but are based on price indexes, similar to the way stock indexes are tracked.

        Agency president Jack Chua said the rise in the prices of smaller flats could be due to increased demand from the growing pool of downgraders.

        One such person is Madam Sandi Wee, 53, who sold her Newton area condominium and moved into an HDB flat in Serangoon last year.

        'My husband died two years ago, and business at my boutique has been quite bad. If I stayed on in a private home I would have trouble getting a bank loan to keep up with the mortgage payments because of my age,' she said.

        'Plus, the Government gave me a $30,000 public housing grant because I'm a single parent living with my son and a first-time HDB flat buyer.'

        Property agents said other downgraders had moved from landed homes to apartments, or from larger HDB flats to smaller ones for various reasons, including the need to reduce expenses after being retrenched or the need to release cash for retirement.

        Property consultants predicted that, with the Iraq war looking increasingly like it will be a long-drawn affair, and fear of catching the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) bug driving more people indoors, property prices would stay flat over the next six to nine months. They said there would be decreased home sales in both the private and public markets.

        The reports released by the URA and HDB yesterday were based on data from the first 10 weeks or so of this year. The full and updated reports will be released at the end of this month.
        IP Address:165.21.154.10
      • CRAIG KARMIN and SARAH MCBRIDE
        Morgan Stanley Slashes Asia Forecasts on SARS By CRAIG KARMIN and SARAH MCBRIDE Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL The rapid spread of a mysterious
        Message 3 of 25 , Apr 2, 2003
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          Morgan Stanley Slashes
          Asia Forecasts on SARS

          By CRAIG KARMIN and SARAH MCBRIDE
          Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

          The rapid spread of a mysterious illness in Asia has led analysts to
          cut their economic forecasts for the region, leaving global investors
          scrambling to determine how badly Asian stock markets could be hit.

          The disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, has infected
          more than 2,200 people world-wide, with most cases in Hong Kong and
          southern China. At least 78 people have died.

          Wednesday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rebounded 1.3%, after eight
          straight days of declines, helping spark moderate gains across most
          of the Pacific region. During that eight-day slump, the Hang Seng
          lost 6.5%. The broader Dow Jones Asia Pacific Index, however, fell
          just 1.4% over that period.

          Still, some fund managers said that until the outbreak shows signs of
          being contained, corporate profits would suffer and Asian markets
          would remain vulnerable to future selloffs. "This was just a relief
          rally," says Cheah Cheng Hye, chief investment officer at Value
          Partners, a Hong Kong money management firm. "The worst is yet to
          come."

          Rising concerns about SARS come at a time when international
          investors were already uneasy because of uncertainties stemming from
          the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism and a stubbornly
          sluggish global economy. Some fear that a severe escalation of the
          disease could make it a more detrimental factor to Asian markets than
          either the war or even the global slowdown.

          Economists said it is still too early to properly gauge the economic
          impact of the disease. Yet a number of them have begun to revise
          downward their forecasts for the region because some damage to growth
          is already clear.

          Morgan Stanley cut its 2003 economic forecast for Asia, excluding
          Japan, to 4.5% from 5.1%, with the greatest impact occurring in the
          current quarter. The firm expects a 15% decline this year in tourism
          revenue to account for a big part of that decline. Goldman Sachs on
          Tuesday cut its Hong Kong gross-domestic-product forecast for 2003 to
          1.7% from 3%, citing reduced spending from business travelers and
          tourists. Goldman also trimmed economic estimates for Singapore ,
          Taiwan and Thailand.

          While Asian growth this year still looks robust compared with Europe
          and Japan, which are forecast by Morgan Stanley to grow at 0.8% and
          0.7%, respectively, the firm conceded that the prospect of further
          downgrades hangs over the Pacific region.

          Perhaps more worrisome is the possible impact on the region's main
          engine of growth, China. Morgan Stanley cut its China GDP forecast to
          6.5% from 7%.

          The firm noted that the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce said growth
          rates of 7% to 8% are required to absorb the unemployed workers
          created by the restructuring of China's state-owned enterprises.

          Some investors suggested that brokerage firms had been too optimistic
          about Asian growth at the start of the year and that SARS provided a
          convenient excuse to scale back. Others found the revisions suspect
          simply because even health experts have been baffled by how the
          disease has spread and how to cure it.

          "It would suggest that these economists know how long the illness
          will last and how severe it will be," says Oliver Kratz, portfolio
          manager of the Scudder Global Emerging Markets Fund in New
          York. "That information is not knowable."

          Yet not all investors were pessimistic, as some fund managers said
          they would buy during what they called periods of panic selling.

          "We've been topping up nearly all of the stocks that we like in
          markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea," says Peter Hames,
          a fund manager in Singapore for Aberdeen Asset Management Asia. This
          includes adding shares of Cathay Pacific Airways, retailer Giordano
          International, and Singapore Airlines.

          Asian airlines have cut flights because of the effects of the SARS
          and the war (see article). Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and
          Giordano fell sharply for three sessions since a week ago today,
          shaving off 13.6%, 9.8% and 9.3%, respectively before recovering a
          bit of their losses. since Tuesday on bargain hunting.

          Write to Craig Karmin at craig.karmin@... and Sarah McBride at
          sarah.mcbride@....

          Updated April 3, 2003
        • JIMMY HO KWOK HOONG
          This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by JIMMY HO KWOK HOONG Singapre Styled Justice necessarily
          Message 4 of 25 , Apr 4, 2003
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            This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by JIMMY HO KWOK HOONG

            Singapre Styled Justice necessarily involves litigation, fines, and the heavy hand of the law.

            The Singapore Judicial system is also plaqued by double standards especially as regards defamation cases against PAP opposition parties.

            Low crime rate, but is justice being done?

            I REFER to the article, 'Low crime rate but more in S'pore jails than other nations' ' (ST, March 31), and Mr Brian Lynch's letter, 'Crime rate lower if law is seen as tough on offenders' (ST, April 2).

            Should we cheer Singapore's successful efforts in keeping the crime rate low?

            Maybe not.

            The objective of a legal system is not only to keep the number of crimes low but also to do so through the exercise of justice.

            Justice is not exercised where penalties are meted out beyond the scale of offences committed.

            A nation can introduce unnecessarily harsh punishments for those who break the law, to keep its crime rate low.

            However, this may not mean that it has met the ultimate requirement of the law, which is, to let justice prevail.

            In Singapore, jail sentences are frequently linked to commercial or petty crimes.

            This forces the rates of such crimes down, especially as the offender in a commercial crime could also be struck off the professional board to which he belongs.

            Also, in this country, the same offence could be dealt with using a wide range of penalties, depending on the seriousness of the crime committed.

            So, an offender could end up with a minor fine while another person committing the same crime but on a critical basis could be jailed for 10 years or more.

            What is interesting is the extent of the liberty given to each judge to define the appropriate sentence for each case, by choosing from the range of punishments available for an offence.

            Unfortunately, no one knows how appropriate the decisions made by the different judges are.

            Yet, when an offender feels that a sentence passed on him is unjustified, his lawyer may well discourage him from appealing against it.

            This is because he will have to pay a significant deposit that the man in the street would not be able to afford, and because his sentence might be increased if his appeal fails - a practice unusual in other legal systems.

            There is also a Women's Charter in force while there is no Men's Charter as a balancing force to help make sure that the voices of Singaporean men are heard.

            The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) acts for women in areas where it deems that they have been discriminated against.

            However, there is no similar body to speak up for men.

            For example, the identity of a man accused of rape or molestation can be made public before he stands trial.

            Even after the court rules that he is innocent, he is likely to face suspicious glares from other people for as long as he lives.

            So just how far are we from being a legal hub?



            JIMMY HO KWOK HOONG
          • ROTAIWAN
            Should I stay or should I go? 31 March 2003 This letter was posted on the New Sintercom forum on 25 March 2003 As the Clash (a punk rock UK band) sang in the
            Message 5 of 25 , Apr 4, 2003
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              Should I stay or should I go?
              31 March 2003

              This letter was posted on the New Sintercom forum on 25 March 2003

              As the Clash (a punk rock UK band) sang in the late 1970s/early
              1980s, "Should I stay or should I go?...If I stay, there will be
              trouble... If I go, it will be double."

              By now, there exists a sizeable number of people, Singaporeans, who
              are disgruntled and disenfranchised. There are some who are pissed
              off to the extent that they are willing to cut off national ties
              period. Yet, there are also others who have not reached that stage of
              no-return, but if left unchecked, could very well be permanent
              departures.

              I'm a Singaporean, born and bred, for close to 30 years. I would say
              that I belong to the latter category, meaning that I am seriously
              contemplating being a permanent departure.

              Whence this disaffection? I was brought up to be unquestioning,
              apolitical (or adverse to opposition politics) and conform to the
              status quo, whatever that may be.

              In effect, this meant that the government of the day (or in this
              case, the PAP) issued an edict, and everyone was supposed to fall in
              line. If the reverse occurred, woe be to the perpetrators. This
              happens in all spheres of life in Singapore, whether in socio-
              political arena or otherwise.

              However, thanks to the media, it appears that the political arena
              generates the most interest. We've seen what happened to Jeyaratnam,
              Tang, Chee and Seow, who are just some of the more prominent
              opposition "celebrities". What was so damning about these people that
              provoked such a furious reaction by the PAP? Are they not
              Singaporeans too? Don't their views matter for something, even if not
              always parallel or in agreement with the government? Was there really
              a need to vilify them and criminalise their actions?

              And so it goes...that in Singapore, if you want to survive, or
              perhaps even prosper, the key is turn a blind eye to the actions of
              the PAP government. You can survive if you don't agree with them, but
              just don't oppose them. Or, you can try your luck and go all out to
              align yourself to the PAP, hoping that they'll take notice of you and
              pluck you from obscurity and thrust you into the limelight.

              On the other hand, if you get inquisitive, start to poke your nose
              around and ask questions, then somewhere someone will take note and
              you might just find yourself on the receiving end of a big stick.

              Frankly, I'm tired of all that has happened, and is still happening
              in Singapore. I never thought I would find myself so at odds with the
              system. There is no question where my loyalty lies - it is with the
              country. But people have to got to realise that Singapore is not all
              about dollars and cents, ekeing out a daily living. There has to be
              more, and much more I might add, which can anchor Singaporeans to
              Singapore.

              Someone once remarked that being a stayer didn't necessarily imply
              that your heart was here. By the same token, being a quitter doesn't
              equate to selling out your country and trading loyalties. This seems
              to strike a chord with me.

              Sadly, I find myself increasingly confronted with the very real
              possibility of life elsewhere. I don't want to leave, for the simple
              reason that I'm a Singaporean and Singapore, no matter its
              imperfections, means something to me, even if it is a little red dot
              to others.

              But, the fact remains that I'm unable to reconcile my conscience,
              thoughts and beliefs to the system and policies of the PAP
              government, especially their brand of politics. I've even
              contemplated opposition politics but pragmatism, honed by years of
              indoctrination by PAP politics, eventually reigned supreme.

              Above all, I asked myself this simple question "Why do people have to
              be persecuted for espousing and preaching a different brand of
              politics?" Being on the opposition bench means that you have to be
              constantly and mentally prepared to be ridiculed, slapped around and
              hauled up to court on defamation charges if necessary.

              I might be naive and idealistic but I'm not prepared to face such
              treatment simply because I do not think it is impossible for a co-
              existence of ruling and opposition forces in government. Politics
              doesn't have to be a cut-throat affair.

              At the end of the day, governmental processes, systems, policies and,
              ultimately, the country is strengthened by more democracy and not
              less, as some people in the PAP government would like to believe.

              In the final analysis, I do not know if I would actually have or want
              to leave Singapore. One thing I do know for sure is that being a
              stayer or quitter does not have resonance if the heart is not in it.

              Your thoughts and comments are welcome, please.

              ROTAIWAN
            • Chee Siok Chin
              Respect the people s views, PAP 23 March 2003 Chee Siok Chin The host and the audience in a studio discussion that was aired on Channel News Asia on 24
              Message 6 of 25 , Apr 4, 2003
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                Respect the people's views, PAP
                23 March 2003
                Chee Siok Chin

                The host and the audience in a studio discussion that was aired on
                Channel News Asia on 24 February 2003 grilled Prime Minister Tony
                Blair about the impending war against Iraq.

                Although he was asked tough questions, Mr Blair answered them all in
                his stride with respect and courtesy, addressing each concern
                candidly.

                It was not the unassuming and calm manner in which the British Prime
                Minister handled the issues that impressed me, however. It was the
                fact the audience was not made up of so-called professionals, experts
                and academics but the ordinary citizen. There was a company
                secretary, a sales assistant, a student, a computer manager ¡V in
                other words, the everyday layperson.

                One of the most powerful leaders of the world was taken to task for
                his stand on the US-led war by people who might not have expert
                knowledge on the matter but who had opinions and concerns that they
                wanted him to address. The British people are holding their prime
                minister and his government accountable for their policies, decisions
                and actions.

                Let us now compare this to the Singapore scenario. I don't recall
                there ever having been any panel discussion between our ministers
                with the ordinary worker. Yet the issues that these ministers decide
                on directly affect the lives of these people. Has there ever been an
                occasion when aside from the interviewer, people were asked to
                participate in the discussions held at the studio? The only kind
                of "debate" aired on TV in which any of our ministers have ever been
                involved in were monologues with the host sheepishly asking
                questions.

                More significantly, panelists in these programmes always involve the
                so-called "experts". It is almost as if these were the only category
                of people whose views should be taken into account. Do the views of
                the layman not matter? Are the elite in our society the only ones who
                have voices? Does the great divide serve to oppress the have-nots
                in "First World" Singapore?

                The patriarchal society in which Singaporeans live in encourages
                acceptance of authority without question and at any expense. The
                notion that "father (read as PAP) knows best" is a highly dangerous
                one that any nation that professes to uphold democratic principle
                should reject.

                Singaporeans must have a strong sense of ownership of the country
                before we can put the nation before ourselves. This can only be
                cultivated through respecting, addressing and taking the views of the
                people ¡V not just a select few ¡V seriously. This is possible only
                if Singaporeans feel that they matter enough for those in authority
                to genuinely pay heed to their concerns and struggles.

                PAP Ministers and MPs must treat people with dignity, respect and on
                equal terms. Unfortunately they have become conceited, dismissive and
                disparaging of those whom they are supposed to serve. Their response
                to issues must not be one of disdain and disrespect as was the case
                when DPM Lee Hsien Loong used the term "no-brainer" in one of his
                replies to a participant during a Q & A session a few years ago.

                Intimidation is the common tool by which those in the ruling party
                use to preserve their hold on power. More subtly, but no less
                effective, is the air of superiority the PAP adopts to make the
                citizens feel small, unimportant and unworthy of being heard.

                Singaporeans must not be intimidated into accepting this callous
                treatment. We must not be made to feel small, unempowered and
                disregarded by this government. It is high time the PAP takes lessons
                in humility and show respect for its citizenry.
              • SDP
                Judge dismisses Chee s appeal 4 April 2003 High Court Judge M P H Rubin has dismissed Dr Chee Soon Juan s appeal against Senior Assistant Registrar Toh Han
                Message 7 of 25 , Apr 4, 2003
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                  Judge dismisses Chee's appeal
                  4 April 2003

                  High Court Judge M P H Rubin has dismissed Dr Chee Soon Juan's appeal
                  against Senior Assistant Registrar Toh Han Li's earlier decision to
                  award Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong summary judgment.

                  This means that Dr Chee cannot even take his case to open trial to
                  call witnesses to testify on his behalf and to cross-examine the
                  plaintiffs. The SDP secretary-general had to argue the appeal himself
                  after the Courts denied his applications for QCs.

                  During the hearing on 7 February 2003, Dr Chee submitted to Justice
                  Rubin: "Clearly, Mr Toh Han Li had over-stepped his boundaries and
                  acted like a trial judge when he clearly had no authority to do so.
                  He was actually trying the case and dismissed it without my calling a
                  word of evidence."

                  He further told Judge Rubin: "I have been denied legal
                  representation, don't deny me of a full and open trial now. I only
                  want the chance to defend myself. If you enter judgment against me,
                  you would have denied me the justice that I am seeking."

                  Dr Chee is not the first to be sued for crippling sums of money.
                  Messrs Tang Liang Hong and J B Jeyaretnam were also sued by Lee Kuan
                  Yew and other PAP leaders in previous cases. When they failed to pay
                  the millions of dollars in costs and damages, they were declared
                  bankrupt by the Courts and barred from standing for elections. Mr
                  Tang now lives in exile in Australia and Mr Jeyaretnam is desperately
                  trying to raise enough money to pay off his creditors so that he can
                  stand for the next elections.

                  Dr Chee can make a final appeal to the Court of Appeals. He will have
                  to pay a $10,000 security-cost in order to do so. He said, "I may not
                  be able to appeal as I don't have the money for the security-cost."
                • STI
                  This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by The Spirit Comments from sender: PAP, you can destroy
                  Message 8 of 25 , Apr 5, 2003
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                    This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by "The Spirit"

                    Comments from sender:
                    PAP, you can destroy a man, ruin him finacially, and bankrupt him. Jail him, fine him, destroy his career, break-up his friends and family.

                    But;

                    You cannot destroy the spirit that drives his on.

                    You cannot destroy the fight in him.

                    You cannot destroy his passions.

                    You cannot destroy his ideals.

                    And you cannot destroy his love for his country.

                    -------------------------------------------------------------------

                    At 77, JBJ isn't ready to give up politics yet

                    THE son spoke of his father's tenacity. And true to form, the father - veteran politician J.B. Jeyaretnam - indicated last night that he was not about to leave the political scene here just yet.

                    Despite spending about three decades in opposition politics, the former Workers' Party (WP) chief said that he has not completed the task he set for himself.

                    Speaking at a fund-raising birthday dinner celebration attended by about 120 people at a hotel here, he followed son Philip's advice not to give a long political speech. But he made it clear he wanted to continue his struggle to build a society where people could live with dignity and without fear and enjoy the freedoms they are entitled to.

                    In a direct response to those who have often asked him to step aside and enjoy an easy life, he said: 'My answer always is that if there is something to do, then so long as you have your health and strength, you cannot opt out.'

                    Mr Jeyaretnam turned 77 on Jan 5 and well-wishers organised the dinner at $150 per person or $1,500 a table. It was billed on the website of the Think Centre activist group as an opportunity 'to dine with a living legend'.

                    Although 200 tickets were sold, not all who bought them turned up. But those who did included activists such as Think Centre president Sinapan Samydorai, businessmen and grassroots supporters. None of the top WP leaders attended.

                    The money raised is intended to help Mr Jeyaretnam pay off bankruptcy debts of more than $200,000 arising from several defamation suits filed against him a few years ago. If he can clear the debts, he will be eligible to contest the next General Election due by 2007, when he will be 81.

                    In a toast to his father, son Philip described him as a man of compassion, tenacity and steadfastness.

                    His determination to carry on with his political struggle did not surprise many of those at the dinner.

                    As one put it: 'He will not give up politics as long as he can move and talk. He is still healthy and he is gearing up for the next General Election.

                    'The timing of the dinner is quite unfortunate. But we still managed to sell about 200 tickets despite businesses being affected by the war in Iraq and the Sars virus.'
                  • Asian Wallstreet Journal
                    SARS: CONTAINING THE OUTBREAK Latest SARS Toll The majority of the reported cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have been in China, Hong Kong and
                    Message 9 of 25 , Apr 5, 2003
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                      SARS: CONTAINING THE OUTBREAK

                      Latest SARS Toll

                      The majority of the reported cases of severe acute respiratory
                      syndrome (SARS) have been in China, Hong Kong and other parts of
                      Asia. The number of suspected cases in the U.S. was 100 in 28 states.

                      Cumulative number of reported cases of severe acute respiratory
                      syndrome, as reported by the World Health Organization, the Centers
                      for Disease Control and Prevention, and HealthCanada on Friday:

                      COUNTRY CASES DEATHS
                      ASIA
                      Australia 1 0
                      China-a 1,220 49
                      Hong Kong-b 800 20
                      Malaysia 16 1
                      Singapore 101 6
                      Taiwan 17 0
                      Thailand 7 2
                      Vietnam 59 4
                      NORTH AMERICA
                      Canada-c 187 7
                      U.S.-c 115 0
                      SOUTH AMERICA
                      Brazil 1 0
                      EUROPE
                      Belgium 1 0
                      France 3 0
                      Germany 5 0
                      Italy 3 0
                      Ireland 1 0
                      Romania 1 0
                      Spain 1 0
                      Switzerland 1 0
                      United Kingdom 4 0
                      TOTAL 2,554 89

                      a-Toll as of March 31
                      b-One death attributed to Hong Kong occurred in a case medically
                      transferred from Vietnam.
                      c-Due to differences in case definitions being used at a national
                      level, the U.S. and Canada report probable and suspected cases of SARS

                      Sources: World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control
                      and Prevention, and HealthCanada

                      Updated April 5, 2003 6:49 p.m.
                    • Richard Borsuk
                      By Richard Borsuk 02/04/2003 The Wall Street Journal (Copyright (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) SINGAPORE -- For some investors in Singapore s slumping
                      Message 10 of 25 , Apr 5, 2003
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                        By Richard Borsuk
                        02/04/2003
                        The Wall Street Journal
                        (Copyright (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

                        SINGAPORE -- For some investors in Singapore 's slumping stock
                        market, it has proven profitable to think small.

                        In 2002, when the benchmark Straits Times Index dropped 17.4%, the
                        shares of several smaller local companies more than doubled in price.
                        And in the past two weeks, some of them have reported strong full-
                        year results for 2002. The existence of growth stories, at a time
                        when the Singapore Exchange and most others are spooked by war and
                        economic worries, is getting more investors to look at the city-
                        state's smaller counters.

                        Most of the stocks are too small to get on the radar screens of
                        global investment banks, especially at a time when research
                        departments have been reduced. But local brokerage houses aren't the
                        only ones who have found it worthwhile to be on the lookout for niche
                        plays and other Singapore companies with market capitalization of
                        less than 500 million Singapore dollars ($288 million).

                        "It's true that small can be beautiful," says Peter Hames, director
                        of Asian equities at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia. He says "a lot
                        of value" can be found in smaller-cap companies in Singapore -- and
                        in Asia in general -- and some have "performed extremely well."

                        Aberdeen's latest addition of a small-cap to its portfolio was Eu Yan
                        Sang, a maker of herbal medicines, whose shares it acquired last
                        year. Recently, the fund-management firm met with the executives of
                        Hyflux, a water-engineering company that has been regularly in the
                        local headlines since December, to learn about its operations.

                        Hyflux is one of a number of small companies creating a buzz in
                        Singapore , either because of big contracts or good financial
                        results, at a time when many others are struggling. Two such
                        companies getting attention are Osim International, which sells high-
                        tech massage chairs plus other "lifestyle" products, and Qian Hu,
                        which breeds and exports ornamental fish.

                        Last month, Hyflux and a foreign partner won a tender to build
                        Singapore 's first desalination plant, a S$250 million project.
                        Earlier, the company invested in a California outfit that says it can
                        make potable water from water vapor. Temasek Holdings, the Singapore
                        government's powerful investment vehicle, in December bought a 5%
                        stake in Hyflux.

                        Some analysts find Hyflux expensive since its shares surged after the
                        desalination project was announced Jan. 19. Hyflux, with a market
                        capitalization of about S$280 million, on Friday closed at S$1.10,
                        down S$0.01. Singapore 's market was closed yesterday for the Lunar
                        New Year.

                        Kerryn Tay, an analyst at G.K. Goh Research, rates Hyflux a "buy,"
                        with a 12-month price target of S$1.43. She calculates that Hyflux is
                        trading at a price-earnings ratio of about 17 times prospective 2003
                        earnings, while the overall Singapore market is about 13 times this
                        year's earnings, but Ms. Tay believes the "water play" is worth the
                        premium.

                        Osim, with about S$270 million in market capitalization, last week
                        reported a 43% increase in sales to S$239.2 million and a 28% rise in
                        profit to S$17.1 million for 2002. DBS Vickers Securities said the
                        achievement of solid results in bad economic times shows
                        Osim's "strong brand positioning." DBS Vickers has a "buy" on the
                        company with a 12-month price target of S$1.23. On Friday, Osim
                        closed at S$0.875, up from S$0.865.

                        But the same results led Net-Research Asia to downgrade Osim
                        to "hold" from "buy" in the short-term because of slowed sales in the
                        final quarter of 2002, though the independent-analysis firm continued
                        to recommend "accumulate" for longer-term investors.

                        A Singapore newspaper described Qian Hu, whose name means "One
                        Thousand Lakes," as a "guppy that aspires to be a whale." On Jan. 20,
                        Qian Hu reported an 84% jump in profit for 2002, to S$6.6 million,
                        with sales rising 52% to S$62.7 million. Based on the results, Net-
                        Research Asia upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold," saying that
                        the fish breeder "seems to have found the correct growth strategy."
                        One Singapore fund manager says she likes Qian Hu's story, but the
                        company, with a market-cap of about S$75 million, is too small a fish
                        for her.

                        Size does matter for many fund managers, and for research departments
                        at global brokerage firms that handle largely institutional
                        investors. Nearly all Singapore small-caps aren't in global stock
                        indexes and many are researched only by local brokerage firms.

                        A prime barrier to investing in small-caps can be the problem of
                        quickly exiting from them. Another concern is that while some
                        Singapore small companies are developing good track records, many
                        have floundered after getting listed.
                      • YEW YEONG LONG
                        YEW YEONG LONG Manchester, Britain I REFER to the articles, A tangled web of lies and risky shortcuts and Brilliant researcher disgraced (Straits Times,
                        Message 11 of 25 , Apr 6, 2003
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                          YEW YEONG LONG
                          Manchester, Britain

                          I REFER to the articles, 'A tangled web of lies and risky shortcuts' and 'Brilliant researcher disgraced' (Straits Times, April 4).

                          The National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) has made the right decision in dismissing its former director, Dr Simon Shorvon.

                          Singapore may have lost a world-renowned expert in epilepsy but it has prevented Dr Shorvon and his project manager, Dr Ramachandran Viswanathan, from putting more lives at risk.

                          However, I am surprised to learn that Dr Shorvon was able to exercise so much control.

                          It appears that there was no one at the NNI to regulate the safety aspects of the research closely.

                          The problem would have escalated to a desperate scale if the doctors who were bypassed when their patients were experimented on, had not complained to Associate Professor Lee Wei Ling, the NNI deputy director (clinical).

                          It would have been even worse if they had not reported the situation to her at all.

                          This seems to imply that the project was not made transparent, even within the NNI. This is a serious issue that suggests that the institute's structure will need to be reorganised immediately.

                          I think that the NNI has to bear great responsibility in this case. Why wasn't someone appointed to monitor Dr Shorvon's project?

                          His influence gave his student, Dr Ramachandran, the power to access patients' data and contact them all too easily.

                          If someone had been appointed with the authority to challenge Dr Shorvon, this breach would not have happened. Or if it had, moves to stop it would have been made much sooner.

                          I am concerned about patients' privacy, which seems to need more protection.

                          This incident appears to suggest that someone who has a certain level of clearance can bypass physicians and obtain access to patients' data.

                          I hope that such incidents will not happen again.
                        • ANDREA TAN
                          Commentary: Mellanie Hewlitt Source: Singapore Review Date: 7 April 2003 If there is one outstanding and admirable trait of our ministers that is worthy of
                          Message 12 of 25 , Apr 6, 2003
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                            Commentary: Mellanie Hewlitt
                            Source: Singapore Review
                            Date: 7 April 2003

                            If there is one outstanding and admirable trait of our ministers that
                            is worthy of mention, it must be their unique ability to state the
                            obvious and deliver old news.

                            Latest revisions in growth forecasts come a week after Morgan Stanley,
                            Goldman Sachs, and other investment houses have announced their downgrade
                            for Singapore'e Economic Growth.

                            Infact anyone who has not ODed on amphetamines would know the growth
                            forecasts for the entire asia region has been negatively affected by
                            SARs and the Gulf War.

                            For those who have just woken up from a long slumber, below article
                            will ne newsworthy. And no, this is the second Gulf War, not a
                            continuation of the first.

                            As is usual with organised government bureucracy of this nature,
                            apart from stating the obvious, no viable solution has been ventured.

                            ------------------------------------------------------------------

                            Published April 7, 2003

                            PM Goh: Growth forecast will have to be trimmed
                            Top ministerial panel to think through worst-case Sars scenarios

                            By ANDREA TAN

                            (SINGAPORE) Singapore has marshalled a high-powered ministerial
                            committee to tackle the Sars outbreak and study its economic
                            repercussions.

                            Announcing this yesterday, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said
                            Singapore's growth forecast for 2003 will have to be trimmed due to
                            the fallout from Sars, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

                            'At this stage, I can say the travel and hospitality industry will be
                            affected but how much I do not know,' Mr Goh told reporters at the
                            Istana yesterday. 'Off hand, I can tell you that our growth rate will
                            have to be adjusted downwards, by how much, I do not want to venture
                            a guess.'

                            Visitor arrivals to the city-state plunged by 14.8 per cent last
                            month, according to preliminary figures from the Singapore Tourism
                            Board (STB).

                            The official forecast for Singapore gross domestic product growth is
                            2 to 5 per cent this year. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister
                            Lee Hsien Loong in his Feb 28 Budget speech had warned that Singapore
                            was likely to come in at the lower end of the forecast.

                            Singapore emerged from a recession last year with growth of 2.2 per
                            cent. In 2001, the economy shrank by 2.4 per cent.

                            The nine-member ministerial committee, chaired by Home Affairs
                            Minister Wong Kan Seng, was formed on Friday. The other members are
                            Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Education Minister Teo Chee Hean,
                            National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, Manpower Minister Lee Boon
                            Yang, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education
                            Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister of State for Education and Manpower
                            Ng Eng Hen, Minister of State for Health and Environment Balaji
                            Sadasivan and Senior Minister of State (Transport, and Information,
                            Communications and the Arts) Khaw Boon Wan.

                            'At the moment, it's (Sars) contained but it's wise for us to think
                            of worst case scenarios,' Mr Goh said. 'The committee will be asking
                            a lot of 'what if' questions.'

                            It will look at how to deal possibly with housing blocks with Sars-
                            stricken families, affected foreign workers and the economic impact.

                            'Will these lead to a recession?' Mr Goh asked. 'If it does, how do
                            we help the people who are affected by the Sars disease? This is the
                            purpose of the ministerial committee to think in terms of the problem
                            as a totality - where can it hurt us, what can we do to respond.'

                            Asked if there would be a relief package if Singapore slips into a
                            recession, Mr Goh said: 'It's too early to think of a relief package.
                            The cause is Sars, the cause may be the Iraqi war but if there's a
                            recession, it is deep and Singaporeans are hurt, I've got to find
                            ways to help them.'

                            The high-level committee is expected to work out contingency
                            plans 'so that if something happens, we are ready, do not panic and
                            to the best of our ability try and cope with the problems'.

                            Singapore is stepping up measures to contain the potentially fatal
                            disease. Instead of visual scanning of passengers at the airport,
                            passengers from Sars-stricken countries could have their temperatures
                            taken. This could be expanded to all incoming passengers.

                            STB has itself formed an STB Sars Task Force to help the industry
                            deal with the crisis. Its efforts will include an assistance package
                            to help travel businesses send staff for training.

                            Singapore has seen six deaths and 106 patients afflicted by Sars.
                            Three new cases were reported yesterday. So far, 72 Sars patients
                            have been discharged while 28 remain hospitalised.

                            Of the 23 Singapore General Hospital staff initially suspected with
                            Sars, one is a probable case, six are under observation while 16 are
                            suspect cases. The midwife from Kandang Kerbau Hospital who had Sars
                            has recovered and been discharged.

                            Mr Goh said Singapore has chosen the 'isolate and contain' approach
                            over the shutdown method which was not practical. He said his calling
                            a press conference on a Sunday morning was because 'we are faced with
                            a very serious problem in the form of the Sars disease'. 'We have to
                            learn how to cope with it and how to live with it.'

                            'This is not the end of the world, there is life - with terrorism,
                            the Iraqi war, with Sars - we're going to live as near normal our
                            lives as possible,' Mr Goh said. 'So this is our attitude. I'm
                            travelling. I'm going to India. China, I was prepared to go as I
                            wanted to meet the new leaders but doctors advised me against going
                            so I will have to take their advice.'

                            ----------------------------------------------------------------------

                            From: CRAIG KARMIN and SARAH MCBRIDE
                            Date: Thu Apr 3, 2003 12:49 pm
                            Subject: Morgan Stanley Slashes Asia Forecasts on SARS




                            Morgan Stanley Slashes
                            Asia Forecasts on SARS

                            By CRAIG KARMIN and SARAH MCBRIDE
                            Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

                            The rapid spread of a mysterious illness in Asia has led analysts to
                            cut their economic forecasts for the region, leaving global investors
                            scrambling to determine how badly Asian stock markets could be hit.

                            The disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, has infected
                            more than 2,200 people world-wide, with most cases in Hong Kong and
                            southern China. At least 78 people have died.

                            Wednesday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rebounded 1.3%, after eight
                            straight days of declines, helping spark moderate gains across most
                            of the Pacific region. During that eight-day slump, the Hang Seng
                            lost 6.5%. The broader Dow Jones Asia Pacific Index, however, fell
                            just 1.4% over that period.

                            Still, some fund managers said that until the outbreak shows signs of
                            being contained, corporate profits would suffer and Asian markets
                            would remain vulnerable to future selloffs. "This was just a relief
                            rally," says Cheah Cheng Hye, chief investment officer at Value
                            Partners, a Hong Kong money management firm. "The worst is yet to
                            come."

                            Rising concerns about SARS come at a time when international
                            investors were already uneasy because of uncertainties stemming from
                            the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism and a stubbornly
                            sluggish global economy. Some fear that a severe escalation of the
                            disease could make it a more detrimental factor to Asian markets than
                            either the war or even the global slowdown.

                            Economists said it is still too early to properly gauge the economic
                            impact of the disease. Yet a number of them have begun to revise
                            downward their forecasts for the region because some damage to growth
                            is already clear.

                            Morgan Stanley cut its 2003 economic forecast for Asia, excluding
                            Japan, to 4.5% from 5.1%, with the greatest impact occurring in the
                            current quarter. The firm expects a 15% decline this year in tourism
                            revenue to account for a big part of that decline. Goldman Sachs on
                            Tuesday cut its Hong Kong gross-domestic-product forecast for 2003 to
                            1.7% from 3%, citing reduced spending from business travelers and
                            tourists. Goldman also trimmed economic estimates for Singapore ,
                            Taiwan and Thailand.

                            While Asian growth this year still looks robust compared with Europe
                            and Japan, which are forecast by Morgan Stanley to grow at 0.8% and
                            0.7%, respectively, the firm conceded that the prospect of further
                            downgrades hangs over the Pacific region.

                            Perhaps more worrisome is the possible impact on the region's main
                            engine of growth, China. Morgan Stanley cut its China GDP forecast to
                            6.5% from 7%.

                            The firm noted that the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce said growth
                            rates of 7% to 8% are required to absorb the unemployed workers
                            created by the restructuring of China's state-owned enterprises.

                            Some investors suggested that brokerage firms had been too optimistic
                            about Asian growth at the start of the year and that SARS provided a
                            convenient excuse to scale back. Others found the revisions suspect
                            simply because even health experts have been baffled by how the
                            disease has spread and how to cure it.

                            "It would suggest that these economists know how long the illness
                            will last and how severe it will be," says Oliver Kratz, portfolio
                            manager of the Scudder Global Emerging Markets Fund in New
                            York. "That information is not knowable."

                            Yet not all investors were pessimistic, as some fund managers said
                            they would buy during what they called periods of panic selling.

                            "We've been topping up nearly all of the stocks that we like in
                            markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea," says Peter Hames,
                            a fund manager in Singapore for Aberdeen Asset Management Asia. This
                            includes adding shares of Cathay Pacific Airways, retailer Giordano
                            International, and Singapore Airlines.

                            Asian airlines have cut flights because of the effects of the SARS
                            and the war (see article). Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and
                            Giordano fell sharply for three sessions since a week ago today,
                            shaving off 13.6%, 9.8% and 9.3%, respectively before recovering a
                            bit of their losses. since Tuesday on bargain hunting.

                            Write to Craig Karmin at craig.karmin@... and Sarah McBride at
                            sarah.mcbride@....

                            Updated April 3, 2003
                          • CHIN KOON SENG
                            This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by Amoeba Comments from sender: Sometimes I think ST and
                            Message 13 of 25 , Apr 7, 2003
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                              This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg) by Amoeba

                              Comments from sender:
                              Sometimes I think ST and the government really does honestly think that the average Singaporean is an unthinking uni-cellular organism.

                              More pathetic attempts by ST to justify rediculous minister's & CEO pay in GLCs and the public sector.

                              -------------------------------------------------------------

                              Study more than directors' pay

                              I REFER to Ms Lee Su Shyan's article, 'Half of less profitable firms pay directors more money' (ST, April 3).

                              It quoted Remuneration Data Specialists (RDS) as saying that SingTel offered the 'best value for money' because it paid its executive director only 0.07 per cent of the company's profit before tax, the lowest proportion among the 410 firms in the study that RDS did.

                              This comparison throws no light on the link between directors' pay and company performance as it does not take the capital employed into consideration.

                              Telecommunication companies such as SingTel typically require much more capital than, say, a supermarket.

                              SingTel may, for example, need $1,000 in capital to earn $1 in net profit while a supermarket may need $10 to earn $0.50 in net profit.

                              In absolute terms, SingTel appears to be more efficient. However, the supermarket is relatively more efficient.

                              Thus, the Economic Value Added or the Return On Investment would be more meaningful measures to use and the conclusions drawn may be very different.

                              CHIN KOON SENG
                            • Mellanie Hewlitt
                              By: Mellanie Hewlitt Source: Singapore Review Date: 9 April 2003 Some may have come across a recent article in the Straits Times (attached below) concerning
                              Message 14 of 25 , Apr 7, 2003
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                                By: Mellanie Hewlitt
                                Source: Singapore Review
                                Date: 9 April 2003

                                Some may have come across a recent article in the Straits Times (attached below) concerning the lack of ethics in South Korean civil servants. This problem is not confined to Korean State Administration.

                                Not too long ago, the term "minister" and "civil servant" conjured up images of altruistic, self-sacrificial, nationalistic citizens who dedicated their lives to the betterment of the country. "Think not what the country can do for you but what you can do for the country", so a wise man once said.

                                But Kennedy is no longer around, and how things have changed.

                                Today, at least within the limited context of Singapore's state administration, these same words have a hollow ring and these once noble aspirations are replaced by more monetary and materialistic considerations. Indeed, Singapore has the dubious honour of having the world's most highly paid ministers and civil servants.

                                There have been many reasons cited by the PAP to justify Singapore's ministerial salary scales (which are massively out of proportion with their counterparts in the rest of the world). The most common reasons were;

                                a) That you needed these pay packages to attract the right talent;
                                b) The pay packages are justified on the basis of elite performance; and
                                c) The packages would ensure there was no corruption within the administration.

                                But on closer inspection, none of these assertions hold water.

                                What happens when the state implements a recruitment policy that emphasizes monetary remuneration above all other fundamentals. In all likely there will be a flock of hit-men and mercenaries sending in applications. The very same predators that should be avoided in the first place, to guard the very flock of sheep in need of protection.

                                In a perfect world, ministers and civil servants alike serve the public and are officers who look out for and protect public interest. Such public office callings require motivation based on moral and ethical values as it is these same principles which will shape and mould the very fabric of society (via public policy implementations for instance). To accord a monetary base to this would seriously erode and corrupt this once noble function.

                                Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20, challenged Singapore government ministers to take a pay cut to show they understand the economic hardships faced by the public. And the over-riding concern is that Singapore's Ruling Elite are unable to appreciate the economic hardship that the masses face in these tough times.

                                Just some weeks ago, blatant remarks by PM Goh that "Lay Offs were good" again raised many eyebrows, and lent support to the notion that leaders who earn 10 times the salary of the average Singaporean will be unable to fully appreciate the far-reaching impact and effects their public policy will have on the average lay person, who takes home less then 10% of a minister's pay.

                                Apart from the above, Singapore�s attempts to apply private sector profit driven enterprise to the public sector has attracted much critisicm. The feasibility of the entire scheme is questionable. How is the performance of a minister or civil servant measured? One logical answer is on the results of their policies perhaps, and on the financial performance of Singapore Inc as a whole. But Singapore Inc is in the throes of a long drawn recession, and it is public knowledge that Singapore�s economic well being is subject largely to extraneous factors, which, by the admission of the ministers, are largely beyond the control of the government. So wherein lies the justification for latest round of promotions (of junior ministers)? Perhaps only God will know.

                                The other problem with the notion of pegging ministerial remuneration to performance is the yardstick to be used for measuring performance itself. The assumption made here is that Singapore is akin to a MNC and its performance can be measured in dollars and cents, or at the very lest in absolute numbers.

                                This assumption is questionable since many areas of public policy implementation are in "soft" "intangible" areas and the direct results of such policies cannot be measure in crude numbers. Some examples are health care, defense, education and the arts etc. How do you quantify results in these industries. How do you reduce the love and joy of discovery of a child to a solitary figure? You can�t. And you should not attempt this endeavor for it will rob the joy of learning and discovery from the child.

                                In short it is an overly simplistic treatment of public service calling. A result oriented approach (even when it is not in terms of profit and money) cannot be applied to every aspect of state administration. There are reasons why certain functions remain forever in the hands of the state (and of government). And that maybe because a free-market profit driven (or result driven) approach is simply inappropriate.

                                Attaching a monetary or numerical attribute to these functions/callings, runs the risk or reducing the worth of a human being to mere dollars and cents, or to a mere percentage or statistical figure.

                                An example of previous errors is in state intervention in the reproduction process to boost falling birth rates. As one indignant writer to Singapore Review puts it: �Am I to base my preference for love-making and procreation, solely on the statistical fact that Singapore as a whole is not replacing itself? Is my child to be just a number? Of cause not! I (and my potential child) will not be reduced to a mere census figure.�

                                The bottom line is that honesty and integrity are trades that cannot be (and should not be) bought with money. RESPECT can also be added to this list of intangibles which cannot be bought by money. It has to be earned.

                                And a leader who cannot live-up to standards that he sets for the rest of his people will be accorded little respect. A direct example is a leader who calls for the masses to take pay-cuts, be "less choosy" and work longer hours for less pay, when the same leader is unwilling to take a similar pay cut himself. It is so easy to set high standards within the comfortable refuge of an ivory tower, but quite another matter to follow through and lead by example. Few if any of the current leaders have this conviction.

                                That same leader will be accorded even less respect if he is unable to fulfill his promises. Election promises which are still very recent in the minds of most Singaporeans.

                                Finally, what about the notion that high salaries were required in the public service to avoid rampant corruption amongst civil servants (Indonesia is the most cited example here). Well, would you also be paying the neighbourhood thieves and crooks a "salary" to reduce crime rate? Nonetheless the notion of legitimized corruptions is an interesting one which bares further exploration in future issues of Singapore Review.




                                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                                Opposition Politician Challenges Ministers to Take Pay Cuts
                                (AFP)

                                22 November 2002

                                Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20, challenged Singapore government ministers to take a pay cut to show they understand the economic hardships faced by the public.

                                "Will it be too much to hope, with the news that the recession is cutting deeper, that the ministers will at last take a cut in their salaries to empathise with the thousands of workers who have lost their jobs or have had to take wage cuts," Jeyaretnam said in a statement.

                                "Ministers do not have to take wage cuts to keep their jobs whereas workers are urged to take wage cuts just to keep earning," he said.

                                Jeyaretnam, a thorn in the side of the government when an opposition MP, was forced to quit his parliamentary seat last year when declared bankrupt, because he could not meet mounting debts resulting from losing defamation suits brought by ruling party stalwarts.

                                However, he has continued his criticism of government policies from the sidelines as the export-oriented Southeast Asian republic went into recession.

                                Although there were signs of a recovery in the middle of the year, growth is again faltering amid sluggishness in the global economy.

                                On Tuesday, the national wage body recommended that wages be frozen or cut to save jobs and help companies cope with the slowdown.

                                Earlier this week, the government trimmed its 2002 growth forecast to 2.0-2.5 percent from 3.0-4.0 percent after releasing fresh data showing export growth was stalling.

                                Amidst these bleak conditions, the government has maintained a stiff upper-lip in maintaining (and increasing) remunerations to what are some of the world's highets paid civil servants and ministers.

                                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                Many candidates for top govt jobs 'lacking in ethics'



                                SEOUL - A substantial number of candidates for major posts in the new South Korean government have been dropped because of ethical concerns.

                                These ranged from suspicious exemption from military service to suspected real estate fraud and dual citizenship.

                                Top presidential aide Moon Jae In said at the weekend that some candidates had moved to the United States before they had children, solely to enable their offspring to obtain US citizenship.

                                'We can confirm ethical problems of renowned figures who are well-established and well-respected,' he said.

                                He said the government had interviewed 10 times more candidates than average to select ministers and vice-ministers.

                                'Many of them were involved in suspicious real estate dealings or possessed dual nationality, and in some cases they went abroad at the time of childbirth and returned immediately after the baby was born.'

                                Another presidential official said a few candidates had profited from up to 100 speculative real estate deals.

                                The official said many candidates had manipulated their addresses in government documents to make the authorities believe they were abiding by a law that required buyers of houses to live there for a certain period.

                                'We need to ban entry into officialdom by individuals with ethical problems by conducting thorough verification procedures in the future,' Mr Moon said.

                                He also said the government should acquire more data for personnel management.

                                'We depended heavily on data prepared by the National Intelligence Service in screening senior officials for the new administration because the government had so little information previously,' he said.

                                Last August, South Korea's first woman nominee for prime minister under former president Kim Dae Jung's administration was blocked after questions were raised about her ethics.

                                Opposition MPs accused the former dean of Ewha Women's University, Ms Chang Sang, of disloyalty for encouraging her US-born son to take up US citizenship. \-- The Korea Herald/ Asia News Network
                              • TAN KOK HIAN
                                Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt Source: Singapore Review Date: 8 April 2003 In the 17 Jan 2003 issue, Sg Review looked at the rationality behind the Singapore
                                Message 15 of 25 , Apr 7, 2003
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                                  Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt
                                  Source: Singapore Review
                                  Date: 8 April 2003

                                  In the 17 Jan 2003 issue, Sg Review looked at the rationality behind the Singapore government's pre-occupation with acadamic qualifications (see Education and Unemployment; Substance over Form attached below).

                                  It appears that sanity does prevail at least for seasoned employers in the private sector, who value actual experience and abity to perfrom over acadenmic qualifications.

                                  But this still leaves unaddressed the many unemployed undergraduates and MBAs who have heeded the call of the govt for higher education.

                                  See the plight and fustration of one young citizen. His is not an isolated case.

                                  ------------------------------------------------------------------

                                  Straits Times Forums

                                  Foiled by 'relevant experience'

                                  RETRENCHED workers are having difficulty finding jobs. So are quite a large number of fresh graduates. I am one of them.

                                  I have been unemployed for six months despite applying for jobs in marketing and customer service and even for the post of admin assistant. I have also lowered my pay expectations, all to no avail, foiled by two words: 'relevant experience'.

                                  I have none. That automatically disqualifies me from 95 per cent of vacancies. Even the remaining 5 per cent of vacancies open to fresh graduates usually go to those with relevant experience.

                                  I even tried for jobs that required 'minimum one-year relevant experience', hoping against hope that I would at least get an interview. With 200 applicants for each vacancy, I stood no chance.

                                  For those who are retrenched and forced to look to entirely different jobs, it will be hard because they do not have the relevant skills and experience. Retrain, says the Government. They heed the call, acquire new skills and get new qualifications but, most probably, they will lose out to the frivolous job-hopper with 'relevant experience'.

                                  The Government says their jobs are lost and will not return. They must adapt and find new jobs, but most companies will not hire someone without relevant experience, even if he has the qualification.

                                  During my job search, I see lots of ads on the Internet and in newspapers. These jobs, though many, cater mainly to the job-hopper.

                                  Fresh graduate? 'We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.' Retrenched, retrained but new to the industry? 'Sorry, you have no relevant experience.' Worked for a competitor? 'When can you start?' For six months, I felt anger, frustration and a sense of uselessness. These feelings become stronger with each passing day.

                                  I worked for my qualification. Now, it seems that the paper is useless.

                                  Many of us graduate with dreams. Then, we were told to be realistic and not be choosy. Does that mean giving up our dreams?

                                  Like many others, I am confused.


                                  TAN KOK HIAN

                                  -----------------------------------------------------------------


                                  By: Mellanie Hewlitt
                                  Source: Singapore Review
                                  Date: 17 Jan 2003

                                  Many would recall Philip Yeo's comments in the 2nd Nov 2002 issue of
                                  the Straits Times:"Got a basic degree? Wash test tubes then".

                                  The comments raised quite afew eye brows in the community and
                                  provoked a backlash of replies from critics. In his reply to his
                                  critics Philip Yeo posed two questions;

                                  a) If you were terminally ill, would you trust a surgeon who was a
                                  college drop-out?; and
                                  b) Would you take a drug that was designed by a college drop-out?

                                  The questions reveal an innate bias and myopia that permeates the
                                  senior ranks of the government bureaucracy and explains in part the
                                  dismal performance of the GLCs and State Owned Entities, which are
                                  affectionately known by locals as "Scholar Havens".

                                  Replying to Mr Yeo's first question, if I was terminally ill I would
                                  want to the most experienced surgeon oversee the operation. The
                                  emphasis here is on the actual experience as opposed to mere paper
                                  qualifications. The last thing I want at my bedside is an
                                  arrogant "professional student" whose only experience is scoring
                                  straight As in an exam hall, and who has no actual experience.

                                  Afterall, a degree is merely a means to an end. An efficient
                                  education system ensures that graduates are equipped with specific
                                  skill sets that will address actual needs of the practical work
                                  place. Looking again at Mr Yeo's analogy, it would be a wasteful
                                  allocation of resource to have even an A' level student wash test-
                                  tubes, let alone a graduate or post-graduate student.

                                  The first sensible rational question is, do we need an undergraduate
                                  to wash test-tubes? The answer is obvious. Why then are we faced with
                                  this inane question? The startling fact is that with a worsening
                                  economy and soaring unemployment rates, there is an over supply of
                                  middle management professionals who are now forced to compete for
                                  lower tiered jobs with fresh graduates and non-graduates.

                                  And the problem does not just stop there as there is a domino effect
                                  and the repercussions are felt throughout the labour market. A Human
                                  Resource Manager with a fixed budget for a junior position suddenly
                                  found that he could engage an older more experienced and more
                                  qualified professional to do more, for less. But where does that
                                  leave the fresh graduate who would have otherwise filled this
                                  opening? He is unemployed, or forced to look for more menial work.

                                  Arguably, this situation benefits the employer and it is an
                                  employer's market. But viewed on a macro level, it is a far from
                                  ideal situation. There is a tremendous amount of wastage of scarce
                                  human resources as graduates are unable to put their professional
                                  skills to good use.

                                  With the current economic situation going from bad to worse, there
                                  are already many examples of overqualified professionals who are
                                  forced into menial enterprise. Many become cab-drivers or hawkers to
                                  tide over the bad times. Did these professionals spend years in
                                  university just to drive a cab or fry Char Kway Teow? Do you actually
                                  need a PHD to be a hawker or a cab-driver?

                                  What is even more amusing is the attempt by the local papers and
                                  mass media, to glorify such cases (e.g. 12 Jan 2003 issue of the New
                                  Paper "From banking man (earning five-digit monthly pay) to Golden
                                  Mile nasi lemak man Why") We can only hope that Mr Yeo's latest
                                  investment in PHD graduates (see previous column) will not add to the
                                  growing ranks of the unemployed professionals.

                                  Does the current system work, or is it making an already bad
                                  unemployment situation, even worse? Only in Singapore do we have a
                                  government that is so engrossed with the accumulation of paper
                                  qualifications, that they have long since forgotten the original
                                  objective behind the education system, and have instead identified
                                  the means as an end to itself. In their blind pursuit of their
                                  version of a utopian society, educational elitetism takes center
                                  stage above all else, eclipsing the actual needs of the
                                  labour market itself. The distortions in the demand and supply chain
                                  is most acute in industries that are dominated by State Owned
                                  Entities and Government Linked Companies. Health care is an excellent
                                  example.

                                  For decades it was common knowledge that there was a
                                  severe shortage in supply of doctors in Singapore. This had
                                  contributed to escalating health care costs to the extent that the
                                  paternalistic government found it necessary to increase medi-save
                                  contributions in CPF accounts. One would have expected the Medical
                                  Faculty to increase student intake and also increase employment of
                                  foreign doctors to alleviate the dismal situation. But they had
                                  steadfastly refused to do either, allowing
                                  the situation to go from bad to worse. What compounded the situation
                                  was the archaic admissions criteria in the medical faculty which
                                  placed a strict quota on female graduates who would otherwise be
                                  admissible. The rationale behind this policy can best be described as
                                  medieval, resting perhaps on the argument that female doctors will
                                  ultimately marry and abandon their medical professions in pursuit of
                                  domestic life. This archaic medieval policy was only lifted last
                                  year, after being in effect for decades.

                                  Fortunately, the mismatch between demand and supply is much less
                                  acute for professions which are less subject to government
                                  regulation, and more exposed to the international market. Some
                                  examples are banking, accounting, IT etc. Successful professionals in
                                  these industries see employment in MNCs which are in sync with
                                  market conditions. And market forces are able to address any
                                  weaknesses or kinks in the demand-supply chain and weed out
                                  inefficient unproductive elements. The same cannot be said of State
                                  Runned Enterprises and GLCs which have a free hand into public funds
                                  and tax dollars. These are a safe haven in difficult times for fat
                                  bacon meat which would otherwise have seen the short end of a shot-
                                  gun in the competitive private sector.

                                  But the disturbing fact remains that these lumbering unproductive
                                  loss making enterprises, occupied by government bureaucrats and
                                  scholars, will continue to be a burden on the economy and private
                                  sector.

                                  The underlying issue here is that due to the inability of the
                                  domestic economy to generate higher echelon jobs, and a very weak
                                  employment market, graduates (and PHD holders) are often unable to
                                  find jobs in positions that they were academically trained for. This
                                  is not a failing on the part of the individual, but rather a failing
                                  on the part of the system, and yes, ultimately the government. And
                                  looking at Mr Yeo's latest project, it appears that no progress will
                                  be made in this area for at least another few years.

                                  Moving away from the grey area of public policies, we must look
                                  towards substance over form. Substance in this context refers to the
                                  actual experience and ability to perform the job. Form is a
                                  decorative facade which is a vague indication (which may be
                                  inaccurate) that the person has such ability. Which would you trust
                                  if you were terminally ill, a PHD who has never touched a scalpel or
                                  a self-thought albeit non-graduate physician who worked her way up as
                                  a nurse, and who has successfully treated 1,000 cases similiar to
                                  yours? You decide, but the answer is clear to me.

                                  But there is also a more crucial question that lies beyond policy
                                  matters waiting to be addressed;

                                  CAN THE CURRENT PAP LEADERS IDENTIFY WITH THE NEEDS AND ASPIRATIONS
                                  OF THE AVERAGE SINGAPOREAN CITIZEN IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES.

                                  If we do not have leaders who can understand and relate to the plight
                                  of the common man on the street, how can we have faith on these same
                                  leaders to lead us out of stormy waters?

                                  Can a leader who continues to receive handsome remuneration in tax
                                  dollars ever relate to the plight of the average wage earner who
                                  earns less then 10% of his take home pay? How can he even start to
                                  appreciate the ramifications of his far-reaching policies (on ERP,
                                  petrol, electricity, motor insurance, bus and MRT fares, and now
                                  hospital fees) which were all too likely drawn up in a clinical
                                  environment?

                                  As unemployment rates soar to new highs, there are also repeated
                                  calls by the government for Singaporeans to be less "less choosy"
                                  about work . In the JAN 13, 2003 issue of the Straits Times, Lim
                                  Boon Heng has called on Singaporeans to "Expect smaller wage rises in
                                  future". But this is also akin to a bad tailor who is encouraging a
                                  paying customer to be satisfied with very poor workmanship! AFTER SO
                                  MANY YEARS OF SLOGGING AND SWEATING in our supposedly elite world
                                  class universities, why are we being told to settle for less in terms
                                  of careers and expectations?

                                  Perhaps Mr Lim should start applying this sentiment to Singapore's
                                  million dollar ministers who continue to take home millions of tax
                                  dollars per year even in these difficult times. In the past, the
                                  merits of such handsome remunerations have always been that these
                                  would be needed to attract the best talents and to ensure elite
                                  performance. But in the current circumstances, I am still struggling
                                  to identify what qualifies as resounding performance from our elite
                                  leaders, especially when they have repeated (and admitted) several
                                  times over that the economy recovery will be led by external forces.
                                  Perhaps our leaders may have more pressing issues on their hands then
                                  tuddongs and head-dresses at schools.

                                  Oh yes, as for Mr Yeo's second question, I would have no problems
                                  taking a drug that is designed by a college drop-out, if the drug is
                                  safe and it works. That is substance. But am I to understand that Mr
                                  Yeo would he be willing to take a defective drug if it was developed
                                  by a PHD holder?
                                • Dharmendra Yadav
                                  Blame not the SAD young people By Dharmendra Yadav TODAY Weekend (Singapore) on 16 March 2003.] RECENTLY, the Government has developed a habit of encouraging
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Apr 8, 2003
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                                    Blame not the SAD young people
                                    By Dharmendra Yadav
                                    TODAY Weekend (Singapore) on 16 March 2003.]

                                    RECENTLY, the Government has developed a habit of encouraging young
                                    Singaporeans to take a more active interest in Singapore.

                                    So, young people like me are being encouraged to make our voices heard. We
                                    are also being asked to contribute to the nation rather than taking the easy
                                    route of seeking greener pastures in another country.

                                    To do so would contribute to efforts aimed at "remaking" Singapore.

                                    The ordinary reader could be forgiven for thinking this is an innovative
                                    effort to create more responsible young stakeholders in our society. There
                                    is nothing revolutionary about this effort although the approach does seem
                                    refreshing.

                                    For lack of a better analogy, it is tantamount to a composition being played
                                    by a different band, albeit in a chart-topping fashion!

                                    About a decade ago, the late Mr David Marshall, Singapore's first Chief
                                    Minister and founding father of opposition politics in independent
                                    Singapore, issued a similar challenge to an audience of some 400 students at
                                    St. Andrew's Junior College.

                                    As I chaired that event, I recall it vividly. Mr Marshall asked his young
                                    audience to stand up and be counted. More importantly, he encouraged them to
                                    be proud of their country.

                                    After relinquishing his responsibilities as one of Singapore's eminent
                                    diplomats, Mr Marshall did not fail to give this important piece of advice
                                    to others he met, especially young people.

                                    As an individual who never shied away from his duty to his country, he was
                                    concerned that the disconnected citizen would one day plague the country he
                                    cherished.

                                    In 1994, Mr Marshall told the Straits Times, "I've somehow grown more and
                                    more disgruntled and more and more jaundiced since I've arrived."

                                    SAD young persons - sceptical, apathetic and detached - pose a real risk to
                                    the future of Singapore. The fact that the Government talks so openly about
                                    this matter serves to highlight its gravity.

                                    But can young people be blamed for this unfortunate state of affairs? Is the
                                    solution as simple as speaking your mind or making a bigger contribution to
                                    the nation?

                                    There are two schools of thought on this matter whose advocates suggest
                                    otherwise.

                                    One line of thought, which has been popularised by opposition politician J B
                                    Jeyaretnam, postulates that the disengagement of young people owes to the
                                    climate of fear created by the Government.

                                    Mr James Gomez, a young opposition politician and researcher, takes Mr
                                    Jeyaretnam's theory further. He suggests that the climate of fear that
                                    exists in Singapore causes the individual to practise self-censorship.

                                    Hence, for example, the fact that the recent anti-war protest at the US
                                    Embassy here was a non-event can be attributed to self-censorship in an
                                    environment dominated by fear.

                                    To some extent, the same can be said of the tendency of individuals to use
                                    pseudonyms when lodging vitriolic criticisms of Singapore in online forums.

                                    Alternatively, the David Marshall school of thought attributes the problem
                                    to apathy in the face of affluence.

                                    Mr Marshall often talked about Singapore's achievements with great pride but
                                    he was disturbed by how disinterested the citizenry had become.

                                    He once told journalist Ravi Veloo, "What's on my mind is the sense of the
                                    sickness of apathy of our people for national issues. They seem to think
                                    there is
                                    nothing we can do.

                                    "But this is the colonial mentality. But we are not a colony, dammit! This
                                    is our home! We should be interested!"

                                    At the Home Team Promotion Ceremony in July 2001, Minister Wong Kan Seng
                                    added flesh to the bones of Mr Marshall's argument.

                                    He said, "Singapore's historical experience has been that order and
                                    stability are the pre-conditions for development.

                                    "And economic development and growth is the necessary foundation of any
                                    system that claims to advance human dignity for without it, poverty makes a
                                    mockery of all civil liberties and ideals."

                                    At the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, Mr Wong said, "In the early
                                    phase of a country's development, too much stress on individual rights over
                                    the rights of community will retard progress."

                                    Thus, most strikes and other forms of public demonstration of
                                    dissatisfaction have been made illegal, except where a permit is granted.

                                    Recently, Mr Wong cast the Public Entertainment Act (Cap 257) into greater
                                    oblivion. He made the unprecedented declaration, "The Government does not
                                    authorise protests and demonstrations of any nature."

                                    Arguably, this focus on development priorities coupled with a perceived
                                    climate of fear has created the SAD youth.

                                    A culture that provides greater space to individual rights may well reverse
                                    this worrying situation. Such an orientation would give young people a
                                    better reason and greater confidence to make a difference.

                                    Unless genuine efforts are made to address the problems identified by both
                                    these schools of thought, the SAD youth will continue to prevail.

                                    Under the circumstances, young people cannot and should not be blamed for
                                    reading any call to action as half-hearted, if not hypocritical.

                                    [This article was published in TODAY Weekend (Singapore) on 16 March 2003.]
                                  • Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
                                    Singapore Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor March 31, 2003 Singapore is a
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Apr 8, 2003
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                                      Singapore
                                      Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002
                                      Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
                                      March 31, 2003

                                      Singapore is a parliamentary republic in which politics was dominated
                                      overwhelmingly by the People's Action Party (PAP), which has been in
                                      power since the country gained autonomy from the United Kingdom in
                                      1959. Opposition parties existed, and there were regularly contested
                                      elections. However, the PAP held 82 of 84 elected parliamentary seats
                                      and all ministerial positions. Elections took place at regular,
                                      constitutionally mandated intervals. The judiciary was efficient and
                                      constitutionally independent; however, there was a perception that it
                                      reflected the views of the executive in politically sensitive cases.
                                      In the past, government leaders have used court proceedings, in
                                      particular defamation suits, against political opponents and critics.

                                      The police were responsible for routine security within the country
                                      and for border protection, including action against illegal
                                      immigrants. Military forces were responsible for external defense.
                                      The Internal Security Department (ISD) in the Ministry of Home
                                      Affairs was authorized by the Internal Security Act (ISA) to counter
                                      perceived threats to the nation's security such as espionage,
                                      international terrorism, threats to racial and religious harmony, and
                                      subversion. The Government maintained effective control over all
                                      security activities. Some members of the security forces committed
                                      human rights abuses.

                                      The country has a free market economy. The country's population was
                                      approximately 4 million. Financial and business services industries,
                                      manufacturing of semiconductors and telecommunications equipment, and
                                      petroleum refining and petrochemical production were key sectors of
                                      the economy. The Government liberalized market access for
                                      telecommunications and some types of financial services. The economy
                                      grew by 2 percent, following a 2 percent decline in 2001. Wealth was
                                      distributed broadly, and the unemployment rate was low.

                                      The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens;
                                      however, there were significant problems in some areas. The
                                      Government had wide powers to limit citizens' rights and to handicap
                                      political opposition. There were a few instances of police abuse of
                                      detainees; however, the Government investigated and punished those
                                      found guilty, and the media fully covered allegations of
                                      mistreatment. Caning, in addition to imprisonment, was a routine
                                      punishment for numerous offenses. The Government continued to rely on
                                      preventive detention to deal with espionage, terrorism, organized
                                      crime, and narcotics. The authorities sometimes infringed on
                                      citizens' privacy rights. The Government continued to significantly
                                      restrict freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as to
                                      limit other civil and political rights. Government pressure to
                                      conform resulted in the practice of self-censorship among
                                      journalists. Government leaders continued to utilize court
                                      proceedings and defamation suits against political opponents and
                                      critics. These suits, which have consistently been decided in favor
                                      of government plaintiffs, chilled political speech and action and
                                      created a perception that the ruling party used the judicial system
                                      for political purposes. Following the 2001 general election, Senior
                                      Minister Lee Kuan Yen and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong sued an
                                      opposition leader, Chee Soon Juan, for defamation based upon comments
                                      Chee made during the campaign. In August a court ordered a hearing to
                                      set the amount of damages Chee would owe the Ministers. Chee, who
                                      said he could not find a local lawyer, was not allowed to bring in
                                      foreign counsel and represented himself in the hearing.

                                      There was a moderate level of ongoing debate in newspapers and
                                      Internet chat groups on various public issues. A Speakers' Corner
                                      continued to provide a public forum for persons to speak on a range
                                      of issues. However, government restrictions on its use, including
                                      prohibitions on sensitive ethnic or religious issues, inhibited free
                                      speech. The Government significantly restricted freedom of assembly
                                      and freedom of association. Jehovah's Witnesses and the Unification
                                      Church were banned; however, in general, freedom of religion
                                      otherwise was respected. There was some legal discrimination against
                                      women, which affected benefits for children and husbands in limited
                                      cases. The Government moved actively to counter societal
                                      discrimination against women and minorities, and recent legal changes
                                      improved treatment for women regarding spousal immigration and health
                                      benefits for civil servants. The Government was strongly committed to
                                      children's rights and welfare, and implemented a comprehensive
                                      program for barrier-free accessibility for persons with disabilities.
                                      Foreign workers were vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse. Violence
                                      and some discrimination against women and concern over possible
                                      trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution persisted.
                                      Singapore was invited by the Community of Democracies' (CD) Convening
                                      Group to attend the November 2002 second CD Ministerial Meeting in
                                      Seoul, Republic of Korea, as an observer.

                                      RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

                                      Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom
                                      From:

                                      a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

                                      There were no reports of arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life
                                      committed by the Government or its agents.

                                      b. Disappearance

                                      There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

                                      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
                                      Punishment

                                      The law prohibits torture; however, there were occasional instances
                                      of police mistreatment of detainees, and there were a few reports of
                                      police abuse during the year. Persons who alleged mistreatment by the
                                      police were permitted to bring criminal charges against government
                                      officials who were alleged to have committed such acts. The media
                                      reports fully on allegations of police abuse of those arrested, and
                                      the Government took action against abusers. Approximately 10 law
                                      enforcement officers were imprisoned between 1995 and 1999 for using
                                      excessive force on prisoners and suspects. In 2001 four prison guards
                                      were sentenced to 9 months in prison for handcuffing and beating a
                                      prisoner in 2000. Also in 2001, a police corporal was sentenced to 9
                                      months in prison for kicking a man in 2000.

                                      The Penal Code mandates caning, in addition to imprisonment, as
                                      punishment for approximately 30 offenses involving the use of
                                      violence or threat of violence against a person, such as rape and
                                      robbery, and for nonviolent offenses such as vandalism, drug
                                      trafficking, and violation of immigration laws. Caning is
                                      discretionary for convictions on other charges involving the use of
                                      criminal force, such as kidnaping or voluntarily causing grievous
                                      hurt. Women and men over age 50 or under age 16, and those determined
                                      medically unfit are exempt from punishment by caning. Although
                                      statistics for the year were not available, caning was a commonly
                                      administered punishment within the stipulations of the law.

                                      Prison conditions, while Spartan, generally were believed to meet
                                      international standards. However, an opposition member who served a 5-
                                      week prison sentence said after his release that he and other sick
                                      bay inmates had been chained to their beds at night. The Government
                                      responded that the inmates were restrained to minimize the risk of
                                      hurting themselves, medical staff, or other inmates. The Government
                                      did not allow human rights monitors to visit prisons; however,
                                      embassy officials were given consular access.

                                      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

                                      The law provides that, in most instances, arrests are carried out
                                      following the issuance of an authorized warrant; however, some laws
                                      provide for arrests without warrants. Those arrested must be charged
                                      before a magistrate within 48 hours. The majority of those arrested
                                      are charged expeditiously and brought to trial. Those who faced
                                      criminal charges were allowed counsel, and the Law Society of
                                      Singapore administered a criminal legal aid plan for those who could
                                      not afford to hire an attorney. A functioning system of bail exists.
                                      In death penalty cases, the Supreme Court appoints two attorneys for
                                      those defendants who are unable to afford their own counsel.

                                      Some laws--the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Criminal Law
                                      (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLA), the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA), and
                                      the Undesirable Publications Act (UPA)--have provisions for arrest
                                      and detention without a warrant or judicial review. The ISA has been
                                      employed primarily against suspected security threats. Historically,
                                      these threats have been Communist-related; however, during the year,
                                      the ISA was employed against suspected terrorists. Opposition
                                      politicians have called for the abolition of the ISA, but the
                                      Government rejected these calls, claiming that citizens accept the
                                      act as an element of the nation's security. The CLA historically has
                                      been employed primarily against suspected organized crime and drug
                                      trafficking.

                                      The ISA and the CLA permit preventive detention without trial for the
                                      protection of public security, safety, or the maintenance of public
                                      order. The ISA gives broad discretion to the Minister for Home
                                      Affairs to order detention without charge at the direction of the
                                      President, if the latter determines that a person poses a threat to
                                      national security. The initial detention may be for up to 2 years and
                                      may be renewed without limitation for additional periods up to 2
                                      years at a time. Detainees have a right to be informed of the grounds
                                      for their detention and are entitled to counsel. However, they have
                                      no right to challenge the substantive basis for their detention
                                      through the courts. The ISA specifically excludes recourse to the
                                      normal judicial system for review of a detention order made under its
                                      authority. Instead detainees may make representations to an advisory
                                      board, headed by a Supreme Court justice, which reviews each
                                      detainee's case periodically and must make a recommendation to the
                                      President within 3 months of the initial detention. The President may
                                      concur with the advisory board's recommendation that a detainee be
                                      released prior to the expiration of the detention order but is not
                                      obligated to do so.

                                      In 2000 the Government released a statement confirming that an
                                      individual detained by the ISA in 1998 was still in detention,
                                      however, it was not clear whether this was still the case at year's
                                      end. There were no further reports of detainees under the ISA until
                                      the end of 2001, when 15 suspected Islamic militants were detained,
                                      some of whom were alleged to have ties to the Al-Qa'ida terrorist
                                      organization. Thirteen of these were ordered subsequently to
                                      preventive detention for a period of 2 years; two others were
                                      released with restrictions on their travel and their contacts. In
                                      August, additional terrorist suspects were detained under the ISA.
                                      Three were subsequently released with restrictions.

                                      The CLA comes up for renewal every 5 years, most recently in 1999.
                                      Under its provisions, the Minister for Home Affairs may order
                                      preventive detention, with the concurrence of the Public Prosecutor,
                                      for an initial period of 1 year, and the President may extend
                                      detention for additional periods of up to 1 year at a time. The
                                      Minister must provide a written statement of the grounds for
                                      detention to the Criminal Law Advisory Committee (CLAC) within 28
                                      days of the order. The CLAC then reviews the case at a private
                                      hearing. CLAC rules require detainees to be notified of the grounds
                                      of their detention at least 10 days prior to this hearing, in which a
                                      detainee may represent himself or be represented by a lawyer. After
                                      the hearing, the Committee makes a written recommendation to the
                                      President, who may cancel, confirm, or amend the detention order.
                                      However, persons detained under the CLA may have recourse to the
                                      courts via an application of a writ of habeas corpus. Persons
                                      detained without trial under the CLA are entitled to counsel but may
                                      challenge only the substantive basis for their detention to the CLAC.
                                      The CLA is used almost exclusively in cases involving narcotics or
                                      criminal organizations and has not been used for political purposes.
                                      According to official figures, approximately 400 persons were in
                                      detention under the provisions of the CLA as of June 2000, the most
                                      recent year for which information was available. Persons who allege
                                      mistreatment while in detention may bring criminal charges against
                                      government officials who are alleged to have committed such acts.

                                      Both the ISA and the CLA contain provisions that allow for modified
                                      forms of detention such as curfews, residence limitations,
                                      requirements to report regularly to the authorities, limitations on
                                      travel, and, in the case of the ISA, restrictions on political
                                      activities and association.

                                      The MDA permits detention without trial. Under the MDA, the director
                                      of the CNB also may commit--without trial--suspected drug abusers to
                                      a drug rehabilitation center for a 6-month period, which is
                                      extendable by a review committee of the institution for up to a
                                      maximum of 3 years. Under the Intoxicating Substances Act, the CNB
                                      director may order the treatment for rehabilitation of a person
                                      believed to be an inhalant drug abuser for up to 6 months.

                                      The Constitution prohibits exile and the country did not use forced
                                      exile.

                                      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

                                      The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the
                                      Government generally respected this provision; however, in practice,
                                      laws that limit judicial review allow for some restrictions on
                                      Constitutional rights. Some judicial officials, especially Supreme
                                      Court judges, had ties to the ruling party and its leaders. The
                                      President appoints judges to the Supreme Court on the recommendation
                                      of the Prime Minister and in consultation with the Chief Justice. The
                                      President also appoints subordinate court judges on the
                                      recommendation of the Chief Justice. The term of appointment is
                                      determined by the Legal Service Commission, of which the Chief
                                      Justice is the Chairman. Under the ISA and the CLA, the President and
                                      the Minister of Home Affairs have substantial de facto judicial
                                      power, which explicitly (in the case of the ISA) or implicitly (in
                                      the case of the CLA) excludes normal judicial review. These laws
                                      provide the Government with the power to limit, on vaguely defined
                                      national security grounds, the scope of certain fundamental liberties
                                      that otherwise are provided for in the Constitution.

                                      Government leaders historically have used court proceedings, in
                                      particular defamation suits, against political opponents and critics
                                      (see Sections 2.a. and 3). Both this practice and consistent awards
                                      in favor of government plaintiffs raised questions about the
                                      relationship between the Government and the judiciary and led to a
                                      perception that the judiciary reflected the views of the executive in
                                      politically sensitive cases. Opposition leader Chee Soon Juan,
                                      charged with defamation by the Prime Minister and Senior Minister,
                                      stated he was unable to retain experienced local counsel (see Section
                                      2.a.). Chee requested the judge hearing the case to allow a foreign
                                      lawyer to represent him. In April the judge ruled that he had not
                                      established that the complexity of his case merited foreign counsel
                                      and refused the request. In an August summary judgment proceeding,
                                      Chee represented himself unsuccessfully. He protested that the
                                      judge's bar against foreign counsel significantly had handicapped his
                                      ability to receive a fair hearing.

                                      The judicial system has two levels of courts: The Supreme Court,
                                      which includes the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and the
                                      subordinate courts. Subordinate court judges and magistrates, as well
                                      as public prosecutors, are civil servants whose specific assignments
                                      are determined by the Legal Service Commission, which can decide on
                                      job transfers to any of several legal service departments. The
                                      subordinate courts handle the great majority of civil and criminal
                                      cases in the first instance. The High Court may hear any civil or
                                      criminal case, although it generally limits itself to civil matters
                                      involving substantial claims and criminal matters carrying the death
                                      penalty or imprisonment of more than 10 years. The Court of Appeal is
                                      the highest and final court of review for matters decided in the
                                      subordinate courts or the High Court. In addition, the law provides
                                      for Islamic courts whose authority is limited to Islamic family law,
                                      which is applicable only to Muslims. Supreme Court Justices may
                                      choose to remain in office until the mandatory retirement age of 65,
                                      after which they may continue to serve at the Government's discretion
                                      for brief, renewable terms at full salary. The Constitution has a
                                      provision for the Prime Minister or the Chief Justice to convene a
                                      tribunal to remove a justice "on the ground of misbehavior or
                                      inability...to properly discharge the functions" of office, but it
                                      never has been used.

                                      The judicial system provides citizens with an efficient judicial
                                      process. In normal cases, the Criminal Procedures Code provides that
                                      a charge against a defendant must be read and explained to him as
                                      soon as it is framed by the prosecution or the magistrate. Defendants
                                      enjoy a presumption of innocence and the right of appeal in most
                                      cases. They have the right to be present at their trials and to be
                                      represented by an attorney; the Law Society administers a criminal
                                      legal aid plan for those who cannot afford to hire an attorney.
                                      Defendants also have the right to confront witnesses against them, to
                                      provide witnesses and evidence on their own behalf, and to review
                                      government-held evidence relevant to their cases. Trials are public
                                      and heard by a judge; there are no jury trials.

                                      The Constitution extends these rights to all citizens. However,
                                      persons detained under the ISA or CLA are not entitled to a public
                                      trial. In addition, proceedings of the advisory board under the ISA
                                      and CLA are not public (see Section 1.d.).

                                      There is a two-tier military court system, which has jurisdiction
                                      over all military servicemen, civilians in the service of the Armed
                                      Forces, and volunteers when they are ordered to report for service.
                                      The Military Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to examine an
                                      appeal from a person convicted at a subordinate military court. The
                                      trials are public and the defendants have the right to be present. An
                                      accused individual also has the right to defense representation.

                                      There were no reports of political prisoners.

                                      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
                                      Correspondence

                                      The Constitution does not address privacy rights. The Government
                                      generally respected the privacy of homes and families; however, it
                                      had a pervasive influence over civic and economic life and sometimes
                                      used its wide discretionary powers to infringe on these rights.
                                      Normally the police must have a warrant issued by a magistrate's
                                      court to conduct a search; however, they may search a person, home,
                                      or a property without a warrant if they decide that such a search is
                                      necessary to preserve evidence. The Government has wide discretionary
                                      powers under the ISA, CLA, MDA, and UPA to conduct searches without a
                                      warrant if it determines that national security, public safety and
                                      order, or the public interest are at issue. Defendants may request
                                      judicial review of such searches.

                                      Law enforcement agencies, including the Internal Security Department
                                      and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board, had extensive networks
                                      for gathering information and conducting surveillance, and highly
                                      sophisticated capabilities to monitor telephone and other private
                                      conversations. No court warrants were required for such operations.
                                      It was believed that the authorities routinely monitored telephone
                                      conversations and the use of the Internet; however, there were no
                                      confirmed reports of such practices during the year. The law permits
                                      government monitoring of Internet use. It was widely believed that
                                      the authorities routinely conducted surveillance on some opposition
                                      politicians and other government critics; however, no such reports
                                      were substantiated during the year.

                                      In pursuit of what it considered the public interest, the Government
                                      generally enforced ethnic ratios for publicly subsidized housing,
                                      where the majority of citizens lived and owned their own units. The
                                      policy was designed to achieve an ethnic mix more or less in
                                      proportion to that in society at large (see Sections 1.d. and 5).

                                      Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

                                      a. Freedom of Speech and Press

                                      The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and freedom of
                                      expression but permits official restrictions on these rights, and in
                                      practice the Government significantly restricted freedom of speech
                                      and freedom of the press. The government's authoritarian style
                                      fostered an atmosphere inimical to free speech and a free press.
                                      Government intimidation and pressure to conform resulted in the
                                      practice of self-censorship among journalists; however, there was
                                      some limited progress towards greater openness during the year,
                                      including a moderate level of ongoing debate in newspapers and
                                      Internet chat groups on various public issues.

                                      Under the ISA, the Government may restrict or place conditions on
                                      publications that incite violence, that counsel disobedience to the
                                      law, that might arouse tensions among the various segments of the
                                      population (races, religions, and language groups), or that might
                                      threaten national interests, national security, or public order.
                                      While the ISA rarely was invoked in recent years, political
                                      opposition, and criticism remained restricted by the government's
                                      authority to define these powers broadly. Occasional government
                                      references to speech that it considered "out-of-bounds" were
                                      understood to be implicit threats to invoke the ISA; however, these
                                      limits are not codified, and journalists and others generally
                                      believed these limitations have shifted toward greater tolerance in
                                      recent years.

                                      Government leaders urged that news media support the goals of the
                                      elected leadership and help maintain social and religious harmony. In
                                      addition, strict defamation and press laws and the government's
                                      demonstrated willingness to respond vigorously to what it considered
                                      personal attacks on officials sometimes led journalists and editors
                                      to moderate or limit what was published.

                                      Under the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act (PEMA), a permit is
                                      required for virtually any form of public speech or entertainment
                                      (see also Section 2.b.). In June Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of
                                      the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, after being denied a
                                      permit, was charged under PEMA for holding an unauthorized rally in
                                      May outside the Istana, the government compound housing the offices
                                      of the President and the Prime Minister. Chee was fined $2,500
                                      (S$4500) and his colleague was fined $1,700 (S$3000). Chee chose to
                                      serve a 5-week prison sentence rather than pay the fine.

                                      In September 2000, a Speakers' Corner opened in a financial district
                                      park; however, government restrictions limit speakers' ability to
                                      speak freely. Prospective speakers must be citizens, must show their
                                      identification cards, and are required to register in advance with
                                      police. However, they do not need to obtain a public entertainment
                                      license. There is a ban on sound amplification at the Speakers'
                                      Corner. A list of registered speakers was posted on a notice board
                                      outside the police station. While speech topics were not required to
                                      be declared in advance, government regulations governing the
                                      Speakers' Corner stated that "the speech should not be religious in
                                      nature and should not have the potential to cause feelings of enmity,
                                      ill will, or hostility between different racial or religious groups."
                                      In early 2001, police issued a public notice stating that activities
                                      at the Speakers' Corner, including demonstrations and marches,
                                      required public permits; violators and persons engaging
                                      in "disorderly behavior" were subjected to prosecution. A variety of
                                      persons, including politicians, social activists, and ordinary
                                      citizens, availed themselves of the Speakers' Corner during the year.
                                      In February opposition figure Chee Soon Juan spoke at the Corner to
                                      criticize the government's enforcement of a ban on schoolgirls
                                      wearing the "tudung," a headscarf that some Muslims considered a
                                      religious requirement. When he registered to speak, police called
                                      Chee's attention to the ban on discussion of sensitive issues, then
                                      did so again after he began his speech. Chee was allowed to finish
                                      his remarks. However, in July he was charged with violation of the
                                      PEMA and convicted. The $1,700 (S$3,000) fine imposed on Chee
                                      affected his ability to participate in politics. Under the
                                      Constitution individuals who are fined more than $1,100 (S$2,000)
                                      cannot stand in a parliamentary election for 5 years.

                                      The Government strongly influenced both the print and the electronic
                                      media. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (SPH), a private holding company
                                      with close ties to the Government, owned all general circulation
                                      newspapers in the four official languages--English, Chinese, Malay,
                                      and Tamil. The Government must approve, and can remove, the holders
                                      of SPH management shares, who have the power to appoint or dismiss
                                      all directors or staff. As a result, while newspapers printed a large
                                      and diverse selection of articles from domestic and foreign sources,
                                      their editorials, coverage of domestic events, and coverage of
                                      sensitive foreign relations issues closely reflected government
                                      policies and the opinions of government leaders. However, columnists'
                                      opinions, editorials, and letters to the editor expressed a range of
                                      moderate opinions on public issues.

                                      Government-linked companies and organizations operated all broadcast
                                      television channels and almost all radio stations. Only one radio
                                      station, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service,
                                      was completely independent of the Government. Some Malaysian and
                                      Indonesian television and radio programming could be received, but
                                      satellite dishes were banned, with few exceptions. However,
                                      households subscribing to cable had access to three foreign
                                      television news channels and many entertainment channels, including
                                      some with news programs.

                                      An increasing number of foreign media operations were located within
                                      the country. The law requires foreign publications that report on
                                      politics and current events in Southeast Asia to register, to post a
                                      $133,000 (S$234,000) bond, and to name a person in the country to
                                      accept legal service. These requirements strengthen the government's
                                      control over foreign media. Under the Newspaper and Printing Presses
                                      Act, the Government may limit the circulation of foreign publications
                                      that it determines interfere with domestic politics. The importation
                                      of some publications was barred, although a wide range of
                                      international magazines and newspapers could be purchased uncensored.
                                      However, newspapers printed in Malaysia may not be imported. The
                                      weekly circulation of the Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ) and the
                                      Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), both foreign publications, was
                                      limited (or "gazetted"). Asiaweek also was subjected to circulation
                                      limits prior to ceasing publication. The Government gradually has
                                      raised the allowed weekly circulation of publications to correspond
                                      more or less to actual demand; this permitted the Government to
                                      maintain control over the press while still maintaining some
                                      flexibility. The Government also may ban the circulation of domestic
                                      and foreign publications under provisions of the ISA and the UPA. In
                                      2001 Parliament passed an amendment to the Singapore Broadcasting Act
                                      that empowers the Minister for Information and the Arts to "gazette"
                                      any foreign broadcaster deemed to be engaging in domestic politics.
                                      Once gazetted a broadcaster is required to obtain express permission
                                      from the Minister to continue broadcasting in the country. The
                                      broadcaster also is subject to restrictions on the number of
                                      households receiving its programming, under penalty of fines of up to
                                      $57,000 (S$100,000).

                                      The country's defamation laws make it relatively easy for plaintiffs
                                      to win substantial judgments for damages and legal costs. Threats of
                                      defamation actions often persuade newspapers and others to apologize
                                      and pay damages for perceived slights, a situation which prompts
                                      general caution in expressing criticisms. Critics charged that
                                      government leaders used defamation lawsuits or threats of such
                                      actions to discourage public criticism and intimidate opposition
                                      politicians and the press. The unbroken success of government
                                      leaders' suits in the last decade has fostered public caution about
                                      political speech and a culture of self-censorship within the news
                                      media, and has inhibited opposition politics. During the last decade,
                                      ruling party leaders sued opposition politicians J.B. Jeyaretnam,
                                      Chee Soon Juan, and Tang Liang Hong for defamation several times. The
                                      Government argued that these individuals had repeatedly defamed
                                      ruling party leaders, who then acted to clear their names. At the end
                                      of 2001, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Goh Chok
                                      Tong sued opposition leader Chee Soon Juan for defamation, based upon
                                      comments Chee made during a campaign stop prior to the November
                                      general election. During the 2001 campaign, Chee issued a public
                                      apology, which he later retracted, then countersued the Senior
                                      Minister for calling him a "liar" and a "cheat." In August a court
                                      ruled that Chee's earlier statements effectively had conceded the
                                      defamation charges, but ordered a hearing to set the amount of
                                      damages. Chee represented himself in the hearing after being refused
                                      permission to retain foreign counsel (see Section 1.e.). During 2001
                                      J.B. Jeyaretnam, an opposition nonelected Member of Parliament (M.P.)
                                      from the Worker's Party (WP), lost an appeal and was declared
                                      bankrupt for failing to pay the defamation damages stemming from an
                                      earlier WP publication. The bankruptcy forced Jeyaretnam to resign
                                      his parliamentary seat (see Section 3). In April Jeyaretnam formally
                                      apologized to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and nine other ruling
                                      party members for remarks made during the 1997 campaign; those same
                                      remarks had been the basis for a 1998 judgment in favor of the Prime
                                      Minister. In exchange for the apology, the 10 men dropped defamation
                                      lawsuits against Jeyaretnam, and agreed to forgo damages.

                                      In August the Bloomberg news service publicly apologized and agreed
                                      to pay $338,000 (S$595,000) in damages to Prime Minister Goh and
                                      Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew for an Internet-distributed Bloomberg
                                      column which accused them of nepotism. The column alleged that Ms. Ho
                                      Ching, Deputy Prime Minister Le Hsien Loong's wife, was promoted to
                                      the senior position in the main government investment holding company
                                      because of her relationship with the senior leadership. In July
                                      police seized the computers of two men as part of a formal
                                      investigation into whether their Internet postings the previous month
                                      had constituted criminal defamation. These postings also had raised
                                      the issue of nepotism. Conviction on criminal defamation charges can
                                      result in a prison sentence of up to 2 years, a fine, or both. One of
                                      the men, Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, later left the country for
                                      Australia, asserting that the country's judicial system politically
                                      was biased. The other man complained that, 2 weeks after seizure of
                                      his computer, authorities had compelled him to stay in a mental
                                      facility for more than a week. In 2001 other criminal charges against
                                      the man for an Internet posting were dropped after a government
                                      consultant told the court he had longstanding mental problems, and
                                      his wife agreed to send him for treatment. No new information was
                                      available at year's end.

                                      The Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) censored broadcast media
                                      and Internet sites. The Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA)
                                      censored all other media, including movies, video materials, computer
                                      games, and music. Both SBA and MITA developed censorship standards
                                      with the help of a citizen advisory panel. The ISA, the UPA, and the
                                      Films Act allow the ban, seizure, censorship, or restriction of

                                      written, visual, or musical materials by these two agencies if they
                                      determine that such materials threaten the stability of the State,
                                      are pro-Communist, contravene moral norms, are pornographic, show
                                      excessive or gratuitous sex and violence, glamorize or promote drug
                                      use, or incite racial, religious, or linguistic animosities. In June,
                                      under these guidelines, a local radio station was fined for adding
                                      personal comments to news items in violation of the censorship code.
                                      Polls indicated that there was strong public support for continued
                                      censorship of sex and violence in films. There was a list of banned
                                      films, which was not made public. Certain films that might have been
                                      barred from general release may be allowed limited showings, either
                                      censored or uncensored, with a special rating.

                                      The list of banned English-language publications consisted primarily
                                      of sexually oriented materials, but also included some religious and
                                      political publications. In 2001 singer Janet Jackson's album "All for
                                      You" was banned officially by the Ministry of Information and the
                                      Arts due to the sexually explicit lyrics of one of its tracks;
                                      Jackson declined to delete the track from the album. The ban was
                                      upheld over an appeal submitted by the local distributor. In March
                                      Jackson reissued the album worldwide without the track; authorities
                                      approved this version for release.

                                      The Films Act bans political advertising using films or videos, as
                                      well as films directed towards any political end. In 2001 police
                                      warned three lecturers at a local university that a documentary they
                                      made about an opposition politician might have violated the Films Act
                                      and that they could be charged in court if they went ahead with a
                                      planned screening of the film. They submitted written apologies for
                                      making the film and withdrew it from the Festival. Restrictions
                                      strictly controlled the types of campaign materials that might be
                                      distributed by or about candidates and parties during an election. In
                                      2001 the Government amended the Parliamentary Elections Act to allow
                                      political parties to place some election materials on the Internet,
                                      while prohibiting nonparty Web sites from campaigning for candidates.
                                      Implementing regulations also were issued in 2001.

                                      The SBA regulated access to material on the Internet, using a
                                      framework of Web site licenses to encourage accountability and
                                      responsible use of the Internet. It also regulated Internet material
                                      by licensing Internet service providers through which local users
                                      were required to route their Internet connections. Such services
                                      acted as a filter for content that the Government considered
                                      objectionable and could even block access to certain sites. While the
                                      Government did not consider regulation of the Internet to be
                                      censorship, the SBA directed service providers to block access to Web
                                      pages that, in the government's view, undermined public security,
                                      national defense, racial and religious harmony, and public morals.
                                      The SBA was believed to have ordered the blocking of approximately
                                      100 specific Web sites, most or all of which the Government
                                      considered pornographic. A SBA Internet Code of Practice further
                                      specifies what types of material are forbidden and specifies the
                                      responsibilities of Internet providers. The SBA indicates it does not
                                      intend to monitor the Internet or electronic mail use but to block
                                      access to material that contains pornography or excessive violence or
                                      incites racial or religious hatred. Those responsible for sites that
                                      violated the Code of Practice sometimes faced sanctions, including
                                      fines.

                                      In 2001 the SBA ordered Sintercom, which ran an online discussion
                                      forum that included some political postings, to register with the
                                      authorities as a political Web site. Registration as a political site
                                      meant that the organizers had to ensure that site content complied
                                      with the Code of Conduct. After an unsuccessful appeal, Sintercom
                                      complied with the request. Soon thereafter the founder and sponsor of
                                      the site shut it down, citing fatigue after 7 years on the job. In
                                      May an anonymous editor resurrected the Sintercom website, hosting it
                                      on servers outside of the country.

                                      All public institutions of higher education and political research
                                      institutions were linked closely to the Government. Although faculty
                                      members were not technically government employees, in practice they
                                      were subject to potential government influence. Academics spoke and
                                      published widely, and engaged in debate on social and political
                                      issues. However, they were aware that any public comments outside the
                                      classroom or academic publications that ventured into prohibited
                                      areas--criticism of political leaders or sensitive social and
                                      economic policies, or comments that could disturb ethnic or religious
                                      harmony or that appeared to advocate partisan political views--could
                                      subject them to sanctions. Publications by local academics and
                                      members of research institutions rarely deviated substantially from
                                      government views.

                                      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

                                      The Constitution provides citizens the right to peaceful assembly but
                                      permits Parliament to impose restrictions "it considers necessary or
                                      expedient" in the interest of security. In practice, the Government
                                      restricted this right. Public assemblies of five or more persons,
                                      including political meetings and rallies, require police permission
                                      (see Section 2.a.). Spontaneous public gatherings or demonstrations
                                      were virtually unknown. The Government closely monitored political
                                      gatherings regardless of the number of persons present. Persons who
                                      wished to speak at a public function, excluding functions provided by
                                      or under the auspices of the Government, needed to obtain a public
                                      entertainment license from the police. However, in 2001 new
                                      regulations exempted some cultural events (such as Chinese operas or
                                      lion dances), substituting a requirement of a 7-day advance
                                      notification to police. In the past, opposition politicians routinely
                                      experienced delays before being notified of decisions on their
                                      applications, although the Government claimed that the delays came
                                      only when applications were submitted late.

                                      In October Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan and a
                                      colleague were convicted of an unauthorized May rally at the entrance
                                      to the compound where senior government leaders maintained their
                                      offices (see Section 2.a.). In 2001 authorities approved two open air
                                      public rallies to raise money for defamation judgments against
                                      opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam, but required the hiring of
                                      security guards for crowd control, which organizers complained
                                      increased costs significantly.

                                      In 2000 authorities denied approval for a forum on gays and lesbians
                                      on the basis that homosexual acts were illegal. Also in 2000, police
                                      arrested and charged 15 Falun Gong adherents for conducting a protest
                                      without a permit; of these, 2 were Singaporean citizens, 5 were
                                      Chinese nationals with permanent residence status, and 8 were Chinese
                                      nationals with shorter term immigration status. The group did not
                                      seek a permit and asserted that police had not responded to their
                                      previous efforts to obtain permits; the authorities stated that these
                                      assertions were untrue. Seven of the group were sentenced to 4 weeks
                                      in jail for refusing to hand over placards to the police. The other
                                      eight, who were charged with assembling without a permit, each were
                                      fined $540 (S$1000). Of the six imprisoned PRC nationals, authorities
                                      later cancelled the immigration status of five, including one
                                      permanent resident, and required them to depart the country; the
                                      remaining PRC citizen already had departed the country.

                                      Most associations, societies, clubs, religious groups, and other
                                      organizations with more than 10 members were required to register
                                      with the Government under the Societies Act. The Government denied
                                      registration to groups that it believed were likely to have been
                                      formed to assemble for unlawful purposes or for purposes prejudicial
                                      to public peace, welfare, or public order. The Government has
                                      absolute discretion in applying this broad, vague language to
                                      register or dissolve societies. The Government prohibits organized
                                      political activities except by groups registered as political parties
                                      or political organizations. This prohibition limited opposition
                                      activities, and contributed to restricting the scope of unofficial
                                      political expression and action (see Section 3). The prohibition
                                      affected the PAP less because of its long domination of the
                                      Government and its overwhelming parliamentary majority; the PAP was
                                      able to use nonpolitical organizations such as residential committees
                                      and neighborhood groups for political purposes far more extensively
                                      than opposition political parties. In 2001 two nongovernmental
                                      organizations (NGOs) that often took positions critical of the
                                      Government were declared political organizations, but their
                                      operations were unaffected. Political parties and organizations were
                                      subject to strict financial regulations, including a ban on receiving
                                      foreign donations.

                                      There were few NGOs, apart from nonpolitical organizations such as
                                      religious groups, ethnically affiliated organizations, and providers
                                      of welfare services. The limiting effect of the law on the formation
                                      of publicly active organizations was, in large part, responsible for
                                      this situation.

                                      c. Freedom of Religion

                                      The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government
                                      generally respected this right in practice; however, the Government
                                      banned some religious groups. The Constitution provides that every
                                      citizen or person in the country has a constitutional right to
                                      profess, practice, or propagate his religious belief so long as such
                                      activities do not breach any other laws relating to public order,
                                      public health, or morality.

                                      All religious groups were subject to government scrutiny and must be
                                      registered legally under the Societies Act. The 1992 Maintenance of
                                      Religious Harmony Act (MRHA) gives the Government the power to
                                      restrain leaders and members of religious groups and institutions
                                      from carrying out political activities, "exciting disaffection
                                      against" the Government, creating "ill will" between religious
                                      groups, or carrying out subversive activities. The act was prompted
                                      by activities that the Government perceived as threats to religious
                                      harmony, including aggressive and "insensitive" proselytizing and
                                      the "mixing of religion and politics." Violation of a restraining
                                      order issued under the MRHA is a criminal offense. The act also
                                      prohibits judicial review of its enforcement or of any possible
                                      denial of rights arising from its implementation.

                                      The Government played an active but limited role in religious
                                      affairs. It did not tolerate speech or actions, including ostensibly
                                      religious speech or actions, which affected racial and religious
                                      harmony, and sometimes issued restraining orders barring
                                      participation in such activities. The Presidential Council for
                                      Religious Harmony reviewed such orders and made recommendations to
                                      the President on whether to confirm, cancel, or alter a restraining
                                      order. The Presidential Council for Minority Rights examined all
                                      pending legislation to ensure it was not disadvantageous to a
                                      particular group, reported to the Government on matters that affected
                                      any racial or religious community, and investigated complaints. The
                                      Government also supported citizen access to traditional religious
                                      organizations by assisting religious institutions to find space in
                                      public housing estates where most citizens lived. The Government
                                      maintained a semiofficial relationship with the Muslim community
                                      through the Islamic Religious Council (MUIS), which was established
                                      under the Administration of Muslim Law Act. The MUIS advised the
                                      Government on the Muslim community's concerns, maintained regulatory
                                      authority over Muslim religious matters, and oversaw a Mosque
                                      Building Fund financed by voluntary payroll deductions.

                                      In January four sets of Muslim parents challenged the country's ban
                                      on girls wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf (tudung) in school.
                                      When the parents refused to heed school warnings regarding the ban,
                                      the four 6-year-old girls were suspended. One subsequently returned
                                      to school in June, and another moved to Australia in July. The
                                      parents of the other two challenged the ban, and attempted to bring
                                      in longtime Malaysian opposition leader and lawyer Karpal Singh to
                                      present their case. However, the application for Singh's employment
                                      permit was refused. At year's end, the case was still pending.

                                      Under the Societies Act, the Government bans meetings of Jehovah's
                                      Witnesses and the Unification Church. The Government deregistered and
                                      banned Jehovah's Witnesses in 1972 on the grounds that its
                                      approximately 2,000 members refused to perform obligatory military
                                      service, salute the flag, or swear oaths of allegiance to the State.
                                      The Government regarded such refusals as prejudicial to public
                                      welfare and order. While the Government did not outlaw the profession
                                      or propagation of the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses and did not
                                      arrest members merely for being believers, the result of
                                      deregistration was to make meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses illegal.
                                      The Government also banned all written materials published by the
                                      Jehovah's Witnesses' publishing affiliates, the International Bible
                                      Students Association, the Watch Tower Bible, and the Tract Society.
                                      In practice this has led to the confiscation of Bibles published by
                                      the group, even though publishing Bibles was not outlawed. A person
                                      in possession of banned literature can be fined up to $1,100
                                      (S$2,000), and for holding a meeting a person can be fined up to
                                      $2,300 (S$4,000). In 2001 two persons were arrested for possession of
                                      banned Jehovah's Witness literature but were released by the
                                      authorities without formal charges being filed.

                                      Since the beginning of 2000 public primary and secondary schools
                                      indefinitely suspended 22 students who were members of Jehovah's
                                      Witnesses for refusing to sing the national anthem or to participate
                                      in the flag ceremony. At year's end the suspension was still in
                                      effect. In 2001 a long-time public school teacher, who was a
                                      Jehovah's Witness, resigned after being threatened with dismissal and
                                      disciplinary action for refusing to sing the national anthem.

                                      Missionaries, with the exception of members of Jehovah's Witnesses
                                      and representatives of the Unification Church, were permitted to
                                      work, to publish, and to distribute religious texts. However, while
                                      the Government did not prohibit evangelical activities in practice,
                                      it discouraged activities that could upset intercommunal relations.

                                      For a more detailed discussion see the 2002 International Religious
                                      Freedom Report.

                                      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel,
                                      Emigration, and Repatriation

                                      The Constitution provides citizens the right to move freely
                                      throughout the country; however, while the Government generally
                                      respected this right in practice, it limited it in a few respects.
                                      For example, citizens' choice of where to live sometimes was limited
                                      by the government's policy of assuring ethnic balance in publicly
                                      subsidized housing, in which the great majority of citizens lived
                                      (see Sections 1.f. and 5). The Government required all citizens and
                                      permanent residents over the age of 15 to register and to carry
                                      identification cards. The Government may refuse to issue a passport
                                      and did so in the case of former ISA detainees. Under the ISA, a
                                      person's movement may be restricted. In December 2001 and in August,
                                      five persons who were detained and questioned for possible terrorist
                                      activities later were released under restriction orders; the exact
                                      nature of the restrictions was not disclosed.

                                      The right of voluntary repatriation was extended to holders of
                                      national passports. The Government actively encouraged citizens
                                      living overseas to return home or at least to maintain active ties
                                      with the country. A provision of law for the possible loss of
                                      citizenship by citizens who resided outside the country for more than
                                      10 consecutive years seldom was used.

                                      Males are required to serve 2 years of national service upon turning
                                      18 years of age. They also are required to undergo reserve training
                                      up to the age of 40 (for enlisted men) or 50 (for officers). Male
                                      citizens with national service reserve obligations are required to
                                      advise the Ministry of Defense if they plan to travel abroad for less
                                      than 6 months and require an exit permit for trips over 6 months. In
                                      2001 the Government significantly relaxed the regulations governing
                                      international travel prior to enlistment by boys aged 11 and above.
                                      Boys aged 11 to 16½ years are issued passports that are valid for 2
                                      years and are no longer required to obtain exit permits. From the age
                                      of 16½ until the age of enlistment, male citizens are granted 1-year
                                      passports and are required to apply for exit permits for travel that
                                      exceeds 3 months.

                                      The law stipulates that former members of the Communist Party of
                                      Malaya (CPM) residing outside the country must apply to the
                                      Government to be allowed to return. They must renounce communism,
                                      sever all organizational ties with the CPM, and pledge not to engage
                                      in activities prejudicial to the State's internal security. In
                                      addition, the law requires them to submit to an interview by the
                                      Internal Security Department and to any restrictive conditions
                                      imposed on them.

                                      The law does not include provisions for granting refugee or asylee
                                      status in accordance with the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the
                                      Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. The Government does not
                                      grant first asylum. However, the authorities usually permitted
                                      persons claiming asylum to have their status determined by the U.N.
                                      High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for possible resettlement
                                      elsewhere. There were no reports that persons were returned to a
                                      country where they feared persecution. A small number of ethnic
                                      Chinese persons from Indonesia have entered the country as visitors
                                      for temporary stays during episodes of racial or religious strife.

                                      Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to
                                      Change Their Government

                                      The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their
                                      government peacefully through democratic means. Opposition parties
                                      are free to contest elections, and the voting and vote-counting
                                      systems are fair and free from tampering; however, the PAP, which has
                                      held power continuously and overwhelmingly for more than three
                                      decades, has used the government's extensive powers to place
                                      formidable obstacles in the path of political opponents. In November
                                      2001, a general election was held. The Prime Minister requested
                                      dissolution of Parliament more than 6 months before the end of its
                                      full term. The opposition contested only 29 of 84 seats and won only
                                      2 seats. There were no opposition allegations of irregularities in
                                      the casting or counting of votes in the election. The opposition
                                      continued to criticize what it described as PAP abuse of its
                                      incumbency advantages to extensively handicap opposition parties. The
                                      PAP maintained its political dominance in part by developing voter
                                      support through effective administration and its record in bringing
                                      economic prosperity to the country, and in part by manipulating the
                                      electoral framework, intimidating organized political opposition, and
                                      circumscribing the bounds of legitimate political discourse and
                                      action. The belief that the Government might directly or indirectly
                                      harm the employment prospects of opposition supporters curtailed
                                      opposition political activity; however, there were no confirmed cases
                                      of such retaliation. As a result of these and other factors,
                                      opposition parties were unable to seriously challenge the ruling
                                      party. The PAP claimed that the lack of an effective opposition was
                                      due to disorganization, weak leadership, and a lack of persuasive
                                      alternative policies.

                                      The country has a parliamentary system in which the majority party in
                                      Parliament has the authority to constitute the Government, which is
                                      headed by a Prime Minister. The parliamentary term is for no more
                                      than 5 years after the first sitting of Parliament following a
                                      general election. Parliament may be dissolved early by presidential
                                      proclamation, which normally follows a request by the Prime Minister.
                                      Elections must be held within 3 months of Parliament's dissolution.
                                      Following the 2001 elections, the PAP held 82 of 84 elected seats;
                                      the opposition Singapore People's Party and the Workers' Party each
                                      held 1 seat. A constitutional amendment allows at least three
                                      opposition members in Parliament even if fewer than three actually
                                      were elected. Following the elections, the Government allotted a
                                      nonconstituency seat to Singapore Democratic Alliance candidate Steve
                                      Chia, the opposition candidate who had obtained the highest share of
                                      the vote without winning a seat. In addition, a parliamentary
                                      committee nominated and the President appointed Nominated Members of
                                      Parliament (N.M.P.s) for 2-year terms. In July nine N.M.P.s were
                                      appointed by the President. The voting rights of nonconstituency
                                      members and N.M.P.s were restricted.

                                      The PAP had an extensive grassroots system and a carefully selected,
                                      highly disciplined membership. The recent development of government-
                                      organized and predominantly publicly funded Community Development
                                      Councils (CDCs) to promote community development and cohesion and
                                      provide welfare and other assistance services has strengthened the
                                      PAP, which dominates these CDCs even in opposition-held
                                      constituencies and has used the threat of withdrawing benefits.
                                      During the last two election campaigns, the Prime Minister and other
                                      senior government officials warned voters that precincts that elected
                                      opposition candidates would have the lowest priority in government
                                      plans to upgrade public housing facilities. This statement heightened
                                      concerns among some observers about voters' genuine freedom to change
                                      their government.

                                      The PAP completely controlled the political process through
                                      patronage, influence over the press, reported influence over the
                                      courts, and limited opposition political activities. Often these
                                      means were fully consistent with the law and the normal prerogatives
                                      of the Government, but the overall effect (and, many argued, ultimate
                                      purpose) was to disadvantage and weaken the political opposition. For
                                      example, the Government altered dramatically the boundaries of
                                      election districts only 17 days before the 2001 general election,
                                      abolishing some constituencies and moving many other constituencies'
                                      borders. Since 1988 it has changed all but nine single-seat
                                      constituencies into Group Representational Constituencies (GRCs) of
                                      three to six parliamentary seats, in which the party with a plurality
                                      wins all of the seats. According to the Constitution, such changes
                                      are permitted to ensure ethnic minority representation in Parliament;
                                      each GRC candidate list must contain at least one Malay, Indian, or
                                      other ethnic minority candidate. However, these changes made it more
                                      difficult for opposition parties, all of which had very limited
                                      memberships, to fill multimember candidate lists. The PAP did not
                                      suffer from this disadvantage.

                                      Although political parties legally were free to organize, they
                                      operated under the same limitations that applied to all
                                      organizations, and the authorities imposed strict regulations on
                                      their constitutions, fundraising, and accountability (see Section
                                      2.b.). Political parties and organizations were subject to strict
                                      financial regulations, including a ban on receiving foreign
                                      donations. Government regulations hindered attempts by opposition
                                      parties to rent office space in government housing or to establish
                                      community foundations. In addition, government influence extended in
                                      varying degrees to academic, community service, and other NGOs.

                                      The Films Act bans political films and recorded televised programs,
                                      which puts opposition parties at a disadvantage. The ban, which
                                      ostensibly was to prevent the sensationalist or emotional effect that
                                      video or film productions could have on political issues, applied to
                                      the PAP as well as to the opposition parties. Nonetheless it had the
                                      effect of denying opposition parties, which already received far less
                                      coverage than did the PAP in the government-influenced press and
                                      media, a potential outlet for their political messages. A 2001 law
                                      limits the ability of political parties and others to use the
                                      Internet for political purposes during election campaigns (see
                                      Section 2.a.).

                                      The threat of civil libel or slander suits, which government leaders
                                      often used against political opponents and critics and consistently
                                      won, had a stifling effect on the full expression of political
                                      opinion and disadvantaged the formal political opposition (see
                                      Section 2.a.). Large judgments in libel suits can lead to bankruptcy,
                                      and under the law, bankrupt persons are ineligible to sit in
                                      Parliament. The Penal Code also provides for criminal defamation
                                      offenses. In July police opened criminal defamation investigations
                                      against two individuals (see Section 2.a.).

                                      In the past, the Government also used parliamentary censure or the
                                      threat of censure to humiliate or intimidate opposition leaders.
                                      Government entities also used libel or slander suits, and dismissal
                                      from positions in government-related entities, to intimidate
                                      prominent opposition politicians.

                                      The Government placed significant obstacles in the way of opposition
                                      political figures' candidacy for the presidency, a largely ceremonial
                                      position that nonetheless had significant budget oversight powers, as
                                      well as some powers over civil service appointments and internal
                                      security affairs. For example, opposition members were much less
                                      likely to satisfy the requirement that they have experience in
                                      managing the financial affairs of a large institution, since many of
                                      the country's large institutions are government-run or linked to the
                                      Government. Opposition political figures asserted that such strict
                                      compliance requirements weakened opposition parties.

                                      Voting was compulsory, and women and minorities voted at
                                      approximately the overall 95 percent rate in contested
                                      constituencies. There was no legal bar to the participation of women
                                      in political life; women held only 10 of the 84 elected parliamentary
                                      seats, an increase from 6 female M.P.s in the previous Parliament.
                                      During the year, there were no female ministers, but 3 of the 14
                                      Supreme Court justices were women.

                                      There was no restriction in law or practice against minorities voting
                                      or participating in politics; they actively participated in the
                                      political process and were well represented throughout the
                                      Government, except in some sensitive military positions. Malays made
                                      up approximately 15 percent of the general population and held
                                      approximately the same percentage of regularly elected seats in
                                      Parliament. Indians made up approximately 7 percent of the general
                                      population and held approximately 10 percent of the regularly elected
                                      seats in Parliament. Minority representation in Parliament was, in
                                      part, the result of a legal requirement that candidate slates in
                                      every multiseat constituency have at least one minority
                                      representative. During the year, there was one ethnic Malay minister
                                      and one ethnic Indian minister. Two of the 14 Supreme Court justices
                                      were ethnic Indian; there were no Malays on the court.

                                      Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
                                      Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

                                      Efforts by independent organizations to investigate and evaluate
                                      government human rights policies faced the same obstacles as those
                                      faced by opposition political parties. Some domestic NGOs criticized
                                      restrictions on human rights or suggested changes that would relax or
                                      remove restrictions. The NGOs were subject to registration under the
                                      Societies Act (see Section 2.b.). In 2001 two organizations that
                                      criticized the Government on human rights grounds were
                                      declared "political" organizations by the Government, but their
                                      operations were unaffected (see Section 2.b.).

                                      In recent years, the Government permitted international human rights
                                      organizations to observe human rights related court cases. In 2001
                                      opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam's bankruptcy appeal was
                                      witnessed by a Canadian observer, who acted as a representative of
                                      both Amnesty International and the Lawyers' Rights Watch in Canada.

                                      Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or
                                      Social Status

                                      The Constitution states that all persons are equal before the law and
                                      entitled to the equal protection of the law, and the Government
                                      generally carried out these provisions in practice. The Constitution
                                      contains no explicit provision providing equal rights for women and
                                      minorities. Mindful of the country's history of intercommunal
                                      tension, the Government took affirmative measures to ensure racial,
                                      ethnic, religious, and cultural nondiscrimination. Social, economic,
                                      and cultural benefits and facilities were available to all citizens
                                      regardless of race, religion, or sex. However, men did not have the
                                      right to seek alimony from their wives in cases of divorce or
                                      separation. In October the Community Development Ministry denied a
                                      proposal that would have given men the right to seek such financial
                                      support.

                                      Women

                                      The Penal Code and the Women's Charter criminalize domestic violence
                                      and sexual or physical harassment; however, violence or abuse against
                                      women was not seen as a significant problem. A victim of domestic
                                      violence can obtain court orders barring the spouse from the home
                                      until the court is satisfied that the spouse has ceased aggressive
                                      behavior. Court orders for protection against violent family members
                                      have increased in recent years, in part because the definition of
                                      violence includes intimidation, continual harassment, or restraint
                                      against one's will. The Penal Code prescribes mandatory caning and a
                                      minimum imprisonment of 2 years for conviction on any charge
                                      of "outraging modesty" that caused the victim fear of death or
                                      injury. The press gave fairly prominent coverage to instances of
                                      abuse or violence against women. There were several organizations
                                      that provided assistance to abused women. The Association of Women
                                      for Action and Research (AWARE) had a hot line that offered
                                      counseling and legal advice. The Family Protection and Welfare
                                      Service, an office of the Ministry of Community Development and
                                      Sports, documented physical and psychological abuse, and provided
                                      counseling and other support services to abused women. In 1999 the
                                      Council of Women's Organizations established a crisis center for
                                      abused persons. The Star shelter accepted children, women, and men,
                                      and could accommodate up to 30 persons. The Government enforced the
                                      law against rape, which provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years
                                      and caning for offenders. Under the law, rape can only be committed
                                      by a man, and spousal rape is not a crime.

                                      The country's laws neither ban nor authorize prostitution per se.
                                      However, public solicitation, living on the earnings of a prostitute,
                                      and maintaining a brothel are illegal. The authorities periodically
                                      carried out crackdowns on solicitation for prostitution, and arrested
                                      and deported foreign prostitutes, particularly when their activities
                                      took place outside of informally designated red light areas. In
                                      practice police unofficially tolerated and monitored a limited number
                                      of brothels; prostitutes in such establishments were required to
                                      undergo periodic health checks and carry a health card. Sexual
                                      intercourse with girls under the age of 16 is illegal. There was no
                                      evidence that child prostitution was a problem.

                                      Trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution was a problem
                                      (see Section 6.f.).

                                      Women enjoyed the same legal rights as men in most areas, including
                                      civil liberties, employment, commercial activity, and education. The
                                      Women's Charter gives women, among other rights, the right to own
                                      property, conduct trade, and receive divorce settlements. Muslim
                                      women enjoyed most of the rights and protections of the Women's
                                      Charter. For the most part, Muslim marriage law fell under the
                                      administration of the Muslim Law Act, which empowers the Shari'a

                                      court to oversee such matters. Those laws allow Muslim men to
                                      practice polygyny, although requests to take additional spouses may
                                      be refused by the Registry of Muslim Marriages, which solicits the
                                      views of an existing spouse or spouses and reviews financial
                                      capability. Of the 4,000 Muslim marriages registered in 2001, only 20
                                      were polygynous. Both men and women have the right to initiate
                                      divorce proceedings; however, in practice women faced significant
                                      difficulties that often prevented them from pursuing proceedings.

                                      Women constituted 42 percent of the labor force and were well
                                      represented in many professions but held few leadership positions in
                                      the private sector. They still held the preponderance of low-wage
                                      jobs such as clerks and secretaries; however, there were some women
                                      who held senior corporate leadership positions. The average salary of
                                      women was 72 percent of that of men in comparable jobs. Observers
                                      noted that the wage differential was smaller in professional jobs,
                                      and that wage disparities could be attributed in part to differences
                                      in average educational levels and work experience. On December 5, the
                                      Government announce<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
                                    • BRIAN LYNCH
                                      STI OCT 25, 2002 Recognise successes, not credentials CAN Singapore develop an entrepreneurial culture? The answer to this question will determine whether most
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Apr 8, 2003
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        STI
                                        OCT 25, 2002
                                        Recognise successes, not credentials

                                        CAN Singapore develop an entrepreneurial culture? The answer to this question will determine whether most citizens and permanent residents of Singapore prosper in the 21st century.

                                        An entrepreneurial culture is one in which the majority of people are responsible for, and exercise authority over, their level of income.

                                        This is nearly the opposite of a paternalistic culture, where a select few make decisions for many, and the material well-being of all depends on the quality of those decisions.

                                        In the paternalistic culture, credentials are of paramount importance in determining access to capital and other resources.

                                        The culture's survival depends on the authorities recognising and capturing top talent, and ensuring that the efforts of such people are directed towards the goals of good social engineering.

                                        A paternalistic culture provides jobs because it is best to keep people busy. The pro-ductive capacity of the top performers subsidises the less productive.

                                        In the entrepreneurial culture, individual ability, initiative and perseverance are critical. Income and wealth are usually uneven, accruing to those who act on their ambitions, and not at all to those who fall below the threshold of productivity needed to
                                        generate a positive return on capital.

                                        The paternalistic society offers more security and less risk to an individual. But it also offers little in terms of incentives or rewards, because the good of all is more important than the well-being on any individual.

                                        An entrepreneurial culture is almost the inverse.

                                        The importance of credentials in Singapore has reduced the number of entrepreneurs here. The value put on who says or does something is greater than what is said or done in many cases. As a consequence, people with innovative ideas but who lack sufficient
                                        credentials generally find that they get a better response elsewhere.

                                        The prosperous and wealth-generating cultures of the 21st century will be those that decentralise operational decisions, and which reward people according to what they create and produce.

                                        Communism and socialism were the 19th and 20th century's global efforts at creating paternalistic societies, in which rewards were distributed on the basis of need rather than ability.

                                        They were colossal failures.

                                        The question is often asked: 'Why are Microsoft, Apple, Dell and others all US companies?'

                                        It is not because there are no people with brilliance, ambition or good ideas elsewhere; it is because the culture there places little value on compelling those who produce and create to subsidise those who do not.

                                        If you were shown a photograph of some people taken in 1978, would you give US$10 million (S$17.8 million) to them? A few people did. The photograph showed the original staff of Microsoft.

                                        In Austin, Texas, there is a similar picture of a first-year student at the University of Texas, with a similar question: 'How much would you invest in his future?' The student was Michael Dell.

                                        Singapore is and will remain an important research and development centre for biotech, materials sciences, and information system analysis and design.

                                        But will there ever be a Singaporean Microsoft or Dell? Not as long as the current reliance on cre-dentials over accomplish-ments is the dominant cul-tural paradigm.

                                        In my estimation, it is highly unlikely that Singapore will be able to leverage on its current strategic ventures to generate long-term wealth.

                                        The entrepreneurial talent needed to organise the engineers, scientists and other trained or specialised talent will simply not remain in Singapore.

                                        Once the global economy improves, the business case for hiring the top research and scientific talent will favour entrepreneurs over bureau-crats, risk-takers over proto-col-conscious academicians.

                                        Will Singapore re-organise and change so that it will be ready to take advantage of that?

                                        BRIAN LYNCH

                                        Copyright @ 2002 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved

                                        ----------------------------------------------------------------------

                                        From: TAN KOK HIAN
                                        Date: Tue Apr 8, 2003 12:56 pm
                                        Subject: STI News: Foiled by 'relevant experience'

                                        Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt
                                        Source: Singapore Review
                                        Date: 8 April 2003

                                        In the 17 Jan 2003 issue, Sg Review looked at the rationality behind the
                                        Singapore government's pre-occupation with academic qualifications (see
                                        Education and Unemployment; Substance over Form attached below).

                                        It appears that sanity does prevail at least for seasoned employers in the
                                        private sector, who value actual experience and abity to perfrom over acadenmic
                                        qualifications.

                                        But this still leaves unaddressed the many unemployed undergraduates and MBAs
                                        who have heeded the call of the govt for higher education.

                                        See the plight and fustration of one young citizen. His is not an isolated
                                        case.

                                        ------------------------------------------------------------------

                                        Straits Times Forums

                                        Foiled by 'relevant experience'

                                        RETRENCHED workers are having difficulty finding jobs. So are quite a large
                                        number of fresh graduates. I am one of them.

                                        I have been unemployed for six months despite applying for jobs in marketing
                                        and customer service and even for the post of admin assistant. I have also
                                        lowered my pay expectations, all to no avail, foiled by two words: 'relevant
                                        experience'.

                                        I have none. That automatically disqualifies me from 95 per cent of vacancies.
                                        Even the remaining 5 per cent of vacancies open to fresh graduates usually go
                                        to those with relevant experience.

                                        I even tried for jobs that required 'minimum one-year relevant experience',
                                        hoping against hope that I would at least get an interview. With 200 applicants
                                        for each vacancy, I stood no chance.

                                        For those who are retrenched and forced to look to entirely different jobs, it
                                        will be hard because they do not have the relevant skills and experience.
                                        Retrain, says the Government. They heed the call, acquire new skills and get
                                        new qualifications but, most probably, they will lose out to the frivolous
                                        job-hopper with 'relevant experience'.

                                        The Government says their jobs are lost and will not return. They must adapt
                                        and find new jobs, but most companies will not hire someone without relevant
                                        experience, even if he has the qualification.

                                        During my job search, I see lots of ads on the Internet and in newspapers.
                                        These jobs, though many, cater mainly to the job-hopper.

                                        Fresh graduate? 'We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.'
                                        Retrenched, retrained but new to the industry? 'Sorry, you have no relevant
                                        experience.' Worked for a competitor? 'When can you start?' For six months, I
                                        felt anger, frustration and a sense of uselessness. These feelings become
                                        stronger with each passing day.

                                        I worked for my qualification. Now, it seems that the paper is useless.

                                        Many of us graduate with dreams. Then, we were told to be realistic and not be
                                        choosy. Does that mean giving up our dreams?

                                        Like many others, I am confused.


                                        TAN KOK HIAN

                                        -----------------------------------------------------------------


                                        By: Mellanie Hewlitt
                                        Source: Singapore Review
                                        Date: 17 Jan 2003

                                        Many would recall Philip Yeo's comments in the 2nd Nov 2002 issue of
                                        the Straits Times:"Got a basic degree? Wash test tubes then".

                                        The comments raised quite afew eye brows in the community and
                                        provoked a backlash of replies from critics. In his reply to his
                                        critics Philip Yeo posed two questions;

                                        a) If you were terminally ill, would you trust a surgeon who was a
                                        college drop-out?; and
                                        b) Would you take a drug that was designed by a college drop-out?

                                        The questions reveal an innate bias and myopia that permeates the
                                        senior ranks of the government bureaucracy and explains in part the
                                        dismal performance of the GLCs and State Owned Entities, which are
                                        affectionately known by locals as "Scholar Havens".

                                        Replying to Mr Yeo's first question, if I was terminally ill I would
                                        want to the most experienced surgeon oversee the operation. The
                                        emphasis here is on the actual experience as opposed to mere paper
                                        qualifications. The last thing I want at my bedside is an
                                        arrogant "professional student" whose only experience is scoring
                                        straight As in an exam hall, and who has no actual experience.

                                        Afterall, a degree is merely a means to an end. An efficient
                                        education system ensures that graduates are equipped with specific
                                        skill sets that will address actual needs of the practical work
                                        place. Looking again at Mr Yeo's analogy, it would be a wasteful
                                        allocation of resource to have even an A' level student wash test-
                                        tubes, let alone a graduate or post-graduate student.

                                        The first sensible rational question is, do we need an undergraduate
                                        to wash test-tubes? The answer is obvious. Why then are we faced with
                                        this inane question? The startling fact is that with a worsening
                                        economy and soaring unemployment rates, there is an over supply of
                                        middle management professionals who are now forced to compete for
                                        lower tiered jobs with fresh graduates and non-graduates.

                                        And the problem does not just stop there as there is a domino effect
                                        and the repercussions are felt throughout the labour market. A Human
                                        Resource Manager with a fixed budget for a junior position suddenly
                                        found that he could engage an older more experienced and more
                                        qualified professional to do more, for less. But where does that
                                        leave the fresh graduate who would have otherwise filled this
                                        opening? He is unemployed, or forced to look for more menial work.

                                        Arguably, this situation benefits the employer and it is an
                                        employer's market. But viewed on a macro level, it is a far from
                                        ideal situation. There is a tremendous amount of wastage of scarce
                                        human resources as graduates are unable to put their professional
                                        skills to good use.

                                        With the current economic situation going from bad to worse, there
                                        are already many examples of overqualified professionals who are
                                        forced into menial enterprise. Many become cab-drivers or hawkers to
                                        tide over the bad times. Did these professionals spend years in
                                        university just to drive a cab or fry Char Kway Teow? Do you actually
                                        need a PHD to be a hawker or a cab-driver?

                                        What is even more amusing is the attempt by the local papers and
                                        mass media, to glorify such cases (e.g. 12 Jan 2003 issue of the New
                                        Paper "From banking man (earning five-digit monthly pay) to Golden
                                        Mile nasi lemak man Why") We can only hope that Mr Yeo's latest
                                        investment in PHD graduates (see previous column) will not add to the
                                        growing ranks of the unemployed professionals.

                                        Does the current system work, or is it making an already bad
                                        unemployment situation, even worse? Only in Singapore do we have a
                                        government that is so engrossed with the accumulation of paper
                                        qualifications, that they have long since forgotten the original
                                        objective behind the education system, and have instead identified
                                        the means as an end to itself. In their blind pursuit of their
                                        version of a utopian society, educational elitetism takes center
                                        stage above all else, eclipsing the actual needs of the
                                        labour market itself. The distortions in the demand and supply chain
                                        is most acute in industries that are dominated by State Owned
                                        Entities and Government Linked Companies. Health care is an excellent
                                        example.

                                        For decades it was common knowledge that there was a
                                        severe shortage in supply of doctors in Singapore. This had
                                        contributed to escalating health care costs to the extent that the
                                        paternalistic government found it necessary to increase medi-save
                                        contributions in CPF accounts. One would have expected the Medical
                                        Faculty to increase student intake and also increase employment of
                                        foreign doctors to alleviate the dismal situation. But they had
                                        steadfastly refused to do either, allowing
                                        the situation to go from bad to worse. What compounded the situation
                                        was the archaic admissions criteria in the medical faculty which
                                        placed a strict quota on female graduates who would otherwise be
                                        admissible. The rationale behind this policy can best be described as
                                        medieval, resting perhaps on the argument that female doctors will
                                        ultimately marry and abandon their medical professions in pursuit of
                                        domestic life. This archaic medieval policy was only lifted last
                                        year, after being in effect for decades.

                                        Fortunately, the mismatch between demand and supply is much less
                                        acute for professions which are less subject to government
                                        regulation, and more exposed to the international market. Some
                                        examples are banking, accounting, IT etc. Successful professionals in
                                        these industries see employment in MNCs which are in sync with
                                        market conditions. And market forces are able to address any
                                        weaknesses or kinks in the demand-supply chain and weed out
                                        inefficient unproductive elements. The same cannot be said of State
                                        Runned Enterprises and GLCs which have a free hand into public funds
                                        and tax dollars. These are a safe haven in difficult times for fat
                                        bacon meat which would otherwise have seen the short end of a shot-
                                        gun in the competitive private sector.

                                        But the disturbing fact remains that these lumbering unproductive
                                        loss making enterprises, occupied by government bureaucrats and
                                        scholars, will continue to be a burden on the economy and private
                                        sector.

                                        The underlying issue here is that due to the inability of the
                                        domestic economy to generate higher echelon jobs, and a very weak
                                        employment market, graduates (and PHD holders) are often unable to
                                        find jobs in positions that they were academically trained for. This
                                        is not a failing on the part of the individual, but rather a failing
                                        on the part of the system, and yes, ultimately the government. And
                                        looking at Mr Yeo's latest project, it appears that no progress will
                                        be made in this area for at least another few years.

                                        Moving away from the grey area of public policies, we must look
                                        towards substance over form. Substance in this context refers to the
                                        actual experience and ability to perform the job. Form is a
                                        decorative facade which is a vague indication (which may be
                                        inaccurate) that the person has such ability. Which would you trust
                                        if you were terminally ill, a PHD who has never touched a scalpel or
                                        a self-thought albeit non-graduate physician who worked her way up as
                                        a nurse, and who has successfully treated 1,000 cases similiar to
                                        yours? You decide, but the answer is clear to me.

                                        But there is also a more crucial question that lies beyond policy
                                        matters waiting to be addressed;

                                        CAN THE CURRENT PAP LEADERS IDENTIFY WITH THE NEEDS AND ASPIRATIONS
                                        OF THE AVERAGE SINGAPOREAN CITIZEN IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES.

                                        If we do not have leaders who can understand and relate to the plight
                                        of the common man on the street, how can we have faith on these same
                                        leaders to lead us out of stormy waters?

                                        Can a leader who continues to receive handsome remuneration in tax
                                        dollars ever relate to the plight of the average wage earner who
                                        earns less then 10% of his take home pay? How can he even start to
                                        appreciate the ramifications of his far-reaching policies (on ERP,
                                        petrol, electricity, motor insurance, bus and MRT fares, and now
                                        hospital fees) which were all too likely drawn up in a clinical
                                        environment?

                                        As unemployment rates soar to new highs, there are also repeated
                                        calls by the government for Singaporeans to be less "less choosy"
                                        about work . In the JAN 13, 2003 issue of the Straits Times, Lim
                                        Boon Heng has called on Singaporeans to "Expect smaller wage rises in
                                        future". But this is also akin to a bad tailor who is encouraging a
                                        paying customer to be satisfied with very poor workmanship! AFTER SO
                                        MANY YEARS OF SLOGGING AND SWEATING in our supposedly elite world
                                        class universities, why are we being told to settle for less in terms
                                        of careers and expectations?

                                        Perhaps Mr Lim should start applying this sentiment to Singapore's
                                        million dollar ministers who continue to take home millions of tax
                                        dollars per year even in these difficult times. In the past, the
                                        merits of such handsome remunerations have always been that these
                                        would be needed to attract the best talents and to ensure elite
                                        performance. But in the current circumstances, I am still struggling
                                        to identify what qualifies as resounding performance from our elite
                                        leaders, especially when they have repeated (and admitted) several
                                        times over that the economy recovery will be led by external forces.
                                        Perhaps our leaders may have more pressing issues on their hands then
                                        tuddongs and head-dresses at schools.

                                        Oh yes, as for Mr Yeo's second question, I would have no problems
                                        taking a drug that is designed by a college drop-out, if the drug is
                                        safe and it works. That is substance. But am I to understand that Mr
                                        Yeo would he be willing to take a defective drug if it was developed
                                        by a PHD holder?
                                      • South Asia's Human Rights Documentation C
                                        Singapore: Asia s gilded cage Embargoed for 17 April 2002 Few States fly as far under the international community s human rights radar as Singapore. A
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Apr 9, 2003
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                                          Singapore: Asia's gilded cage

                                          Embargoed for 17 April 2002

                                          Few States fly as far under the international community's human
                                          rights radar as Singapore. A prosperous, in many ways Western-style
                                          nation, Singapore is barely mentioned at the United Nations
                                          Commission on Human Rights. Occasional references to conscientious
                                          objection to military service and the death penalty aside, the
                                          Singaporean delegation sit smugly while their Asian neighbours face a
                                          barrage of NGO, and often State, criticism.

                                          Singapore is no better than its neighbours - in many ways, it's
                                          worse. It is the Cuba of Asia (but without the crushing poverty or
                                          damaging economic sanctions). Indeed, Singapore enjoys Western-style
                                          economic prosperity. There can be no argument - flawed, as it is -
                                          that civil and political rights cannot be afforded in Singapore.
                                          Denials of civil and political rights in Singapore are simply of
                                          governmental policy.

                                          It was Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who first
                                          popularised the idea of "Asian values" as a counter to the
                                          universality of human rights. He claimed - and his fellow Asian
                                          autocrats supported - a connection between the speed of Asia's
                                          economic growth and its authoritarian political systems. Happily, in
                                          recent years the idea of Asian values has lost credibility and
                                          currency. However, denials of civil and political rights continue in
                                          Singapore with no recourse to Asian diplo-speak.

                                          Human rights violations in Singapore are rife: the country detains
                                          conscientious objectors to military service, has mandatory corporal
                                          and capital punishment for many offences, has some of the most
                                          draconian security legislation in the world (and uses it) and
                                          institutional discrimination against ethnic Malays results in their
                                          poverty and often imprisonment. However, looking at the Cuba-aspects
                                          of Singapore, this article focuses on denials of freedom of speech
                                          and freedom of the press as negating factors on meaningful democracy
                                          in Singapore.

                                          Singapore is a parliamentary democracy, which since 1959 has been
                                          governed by the Peoples' Action Party (PAP). While political
                                          opponents are allowed, the various means employed by the government
                                          to suppress dissenting voices mean that opposition parties and
                                          politicians are discouraged, if they are not bankrupted or imprisoned
                                          under security legislation. In the election of November 2001, only 29
                                          of the 84 parliamentary seats were even contested by opposition
                                          candidates. The PAP secured over 75 per cent of the popular vote.

                                          The Constitution of Singapore provides for freedom of expression,
                                          subject to limitations imposed by the government. Traditionally, this
                                          has meant no free speech whatsoever. Hailed as a breakthrough for
                                          free speech in Singapore, a Speakers' Corner was established in
                                          September 2001. It allows Singaporeans to make speeches in public, a
                                          luxury not allowed elsewhere in the country without a permit obtained
                                          under the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act. Permits are all but
                                          impossible to come by.

                                          The innovation of Speakers' Corner is undermined by restrictions on
                                          its operation. Speakers must register with the police prior to
                                          speaking, and their speeches are recorded by the government and kept
                                          for six years. Speeches may be used in defamation and criminal
                                          proceedings in courts of law. Significantly, certain topics, such as
                                          matters of race and religion are banned from Speakers' Corner.

                                          Currently, opposition politician Chee Soon Juan faces a fine of up to
                                          US$5,464 for flouting a rule banning the discussion of racial issues
                                          at Speakers' Corner. In early February 2001, Mr Chee criticised the
                                          authorities for suspending from school three Muslim girls who wore
                                          Islamic headscarves in class.

                                          Fines are a common way of suppressing speech and opposition in
                                          Singapore. Indeed one of the most popular methods of silencing
                                          opposition in Singapore is politically motivated defamation action.
                                          The ruling PAP argue that their standing in the electorate and their
                                          ability to govern is based on their ability to defend their
                                          reputations when allegedly defamed.

                                          The damages and court costs incurred by political opponents who lose
                                          defamation suits are crippling. In January 2001, J B Jeyaretnam,
                                          leader of the Workers' Party declared bankruptcy as a result of the
                                          damages levied against him in defamation proceedings brought by the
                                          President. At the time, Mr Jeyaretnam was one of only three
                                          opposition members in the parliament. He was elected in 1981 - the
                                          first non-PAP politician elected to parliament. The declaration of
                                          bankruptcy prevents Mr Jeyaretnam from running for political office
                                          or taking any active part in the campaign, and from practising his
                                          profession of law. His long-standing voice of dissent has been
                                          silenced.

                                          Chee Soon Juan is also currently being sued by Prime Minister Gok
                                          Chok Tong and former Prime Minister lee Kuan Yew after Mr Chee asked
                                          questions during last year's election campaign about secret
                                          government loans to the former Suharto regime in Indonesia.
                                          Reflecting what can only be described as a climate of fear, no
                                          sufficiently experienced local lawyers were able or willing to
                                          represent Mr Chee. When Mr Chee applied to the court to allow an
                                          Australian barrister, Stuart Littlemore QC to represent him, Judge
                                          Lai Kew Chai denied the application. Earlier, in a report for the
                                          International Commission of Jurists, Littlemore had criticised the
                                          conduct of the judiciary in Singapore. Mr Chee faces potential
                                          damages and costs of more than US$500,000.

                                          While laws against defamation have their place in protecting the
                                          right to protect a reputation, the campaign of defamation suits in
                                          Singapore is out-of-control. While in other jurisdictions efforts are
                                          made to balance freedom of speech and the right to privacy or a
                                          reputation, in Singapore the scales of justice give freedom of speech
                                          little weight if any. As is intended, the use of defamation
                                          proceedings discourages political dissent and criticism of government
                                          policy. Self-censorship becomes a political and financial imperative,
                                          thereby excluding Singaporeans from any meaningful political
                                          participation in their governance.

                                          The media in Singapore similarly operates under the threat of libel
                                          suits. The Singapore Press Holding (SPH) and Mediacorp control all of
                                          the media. Both enjoy close relations with the ruling PAP. The
                                          President of the SPH is Tjong Yik Min, a former director of the state
                                          security agency, while its Chairman, Lim Kim San is a former cabinet
                                          minister.

                                          The government must approve, and can dismiss the holders of SPH
                                          management shares, who control staff and content. The coverage of
                                          domestic politics and sensitive international matters closely
                                          reflects that of the government. Censorship is common. In December
                                          2000, Mediacorp instructed New Radio 93.8FM to edit a report on the
                                          anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which
                                          contained interviews with Kofi Annan and a member of the Singaporean
                                          opposition. A few days later, the programme of announcer Fauziah
                                          Ibrahim, who denounced censorship and self-censorship at the station,
                                          was cut.

                                          The foreign media have all either been sued or have had their
                                          circulation restricted, or both.

                                          On 19 April 2001, a bill was passed to amend section 42 of the 1994
                                          Broadcasting Authority Act, permitting the authorities to declare
                                          that any foreign broadcasting service is "engaging in the domestic
                                          politics of Singapore" and therefore requires prior approval of the
                                          Minister for domestic transmission. The amendment allows for the
                                          arbitrary suspension and banning of local retransmission of foreign
                                          broadcasts. It provides for fines of up to US$ 55,000 for those found
                                          guilty. Even without this development, foreign journalists have been
                                          harassed into less-than-critical coverage of Singaporean politics. In
                                          the late-1990s, Derek Davies, a former editor of the Far Eastern
                                          Economic Review rejected the notion that the government could curtail
                                          unflattering reports by suing the foreign media. Admitting defeat, Mr
                                          Davies later conceded: "I was wholly wrong and Lee [Kuan Yew] largely
                                          right."

                                          With a high number of Internet users in Singapore, restrictions on
                                          the press extend to the content of newsgroups and email. According to
                                          the Think Centre, even SMS communications are regulated. The
                                          Singapore Broadcasting Authority's Internet Code of Practice
                                          prohibits material, which is "objectionable on the grounds of public
                                          interest, public morality, public order, public security, national
                                          harmony, or is otherwise prohibited by applicable Singapore laws". As
                                          if this was not enough, on 17 October 2001, the Parliamentary
                                          Elections [Election Advertising] Regulations came into effect. The
                                          Regulations restrict the contents on websites during elections,
                                          providing substantial fines or imprisonment or both.

                                          On 16 November 2001, Robert Ho Chong, a retired journalist for the
                                          SPH was arrested for allegedly "posting inflammatory" articles on a
                                          website for Singaporeans for Democracy. In the article, Chong
                                          alleged that Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Minister
                                          Lee Hsien Loong had broken the law during the 1997 elections by
                                          visiting polling places without authorities. He urged voters to
                                          similarly break the polling rules. Chong was acquitted of the charges
                                          after he was judged mentally ill.

                                          The Singaporean authorities are sophisticated in their repression of
                                          speech and their control the media. Defamation suits compliment
                                          legislation to effectively silence dissent. The United Nations
                                          Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on the freedom of
                                          opinion and expression, in his report to the Commission in 2000,
                                          discussed libel and defamation suits as impediments to freedom of
                                          expression (E/CN.4/2000/63). He has noted "prohibitive fines for
                                          libel which in a number of instances would strangle economically the
                                          independent press, a political party, an association or any
                                          individual. In this regard the Special Rapporteur considers that
                                          disproportionate remedies or sanctions can significantly limit the
                                          free flow of information and ideas."

                                          The outcomes of defamation proceedings - which almost exclusively
                                          rule in favour of politicians - also raise questions about the
                                          impartiality of the judiciary. As the United Nations Special
                                          Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has previously
                                          observed "allegations concerning the independence and impartiality of
                                          the judiciary could have stemmed from the very high number of cases
                                          won by the government or members of the ruling party in either
                                          contempt of court proceedings or defamation suits brought against
                                          critics of the Government, be they individuals or the media" .

                                          Hopeful Signs

                                          There have been a few promising signs. In October 2001, the Think
                                          Centre, an independent NGO, was approved for registration under
                                          Singaporean law. The extent, to which it -and Singapore's embryonic
                                          civil society - can effectively function, however will depend on the
                                          cooperation of the Singaporean authorities.

                                          In December 2000, the Think Centre was involved in the organisation
                                          of a marathon run to celebrate International Human Rights Day. The
                                          marathon was cancelled after the government required the organisers
                                          to apply for a permit to allow more than five people to assemble.
                                          The permit was denied.

                                          Singapore has constructed a veneer of democracy, development and
                                          freedom that largely insulate it from international criticism. While
                                          Singapore is a parliamentary democracy in name, the effectiveness of
                                          its democracy is undermined by the PAP's rigorous controls over
                                          speech and the press.

                                          It is perhaps because of their economic prosperity that the people of
                                          Singapore do not protest more at their exclusion from the political
                                          process.

                                          From a human rights stand point, however, the Western-style
                                          prosperity of the place makes denials of civil and political rights
                                          all the more offensive.


                                          http://www.hrdc.net/sahrdc/hrfeatures/HRF55.htm
                                        • The Banker
                                          Which is worse, an unbending authoritarian regime, or one that implements changes which look good on paper, but are largely ineffective in application?
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Apr 9, 2003
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                                            Which is worse, an unbending authoritarian regime, or one that
                                            implements "changes" which look good on paper, but are largely
                                            ineffective in application?

                                            Copyright 2003 Financial Times Business Limited
                                            The Banker
                                            April 1, 2003
                                            Singapore - Renaissance City - A Change To The Rigid Principles That
                                            Once Ruled Singapore's Financial Sector Has Had Far-reaching Results,
                                            Including Consolidation And A More Developed Bond Market. Brian
                                            Caplen Explains

                                            The favourite word of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS),
                                            Singapore's central bank and financial regulator, used to be "no".
                                            Its approach was to stick to the rules and if the rules did not
                                            expressly permit something then, clearly, that thing was prohibited.
                                            Bankers who were confident in putting together billion dollar deals
                                            would feel nervous when called to the MAS offices to explain their
                                            actions.

                                            But in the past few years there has been a sea-change in Singapore's
                                            approach to business. The latest vision is of a services-oriented
                                            economy with a strong emphasis on banking and finance, arts and
                                            entertainment, healthcare and biomedical sciences. This has led to
                                            the moniker "Renaissance City". Singapore is trying to shake off its
                                            image as "efficient but boring" and as a place where strong
                                            interventionist government inhibited the development of a creative
                                            and risk-taking culture.

                                            Change of approach

                                            The MAS has not been immune to the changes. It has become a more user-
                                            friendly institution, playing its part in promoting Singapore as a
                                            financial centre together with its formal monetary and supervisory
                                            roles. It has moved away from regulating according to rigid rules and
                                            towards risk-focused supervision based on disclosure and market
                                            principles. Caveat emptor (buyer beware) has become a governing
                                            principle whereas in the old days Singaporeans expected the
                                            authorities to protect them from risks of all kinds. "Investors have
                                            to grow up. We cannot work on the basis that the government has
                                            rendered the financial zone completely safe," says Lee Hsien Loong,
                                            deputy prime minister, finance minister and chairman of MAS (see
                                            interview on page 136). "If you are going to invest, you have to take
                                            responsibility and judge whether it is safe, and take the downside
                                            risk as well as the upside reward."

                                            In the financial sector there have been many other reforms in the
                                            past few years: liberalisation of the banking sector, easing of
                                            capital adequacy requirements, easing of rules on raising funds in
                                            Singapore dollars, developmentof the bond market, the demutualisation
                                            and merging of the Stock Exchange of Singapore and the future
                                            exchange SIMEX into the Singapore Exchange (SGX) - to mention only
                                            the major ones.

                                            "Singapore has undergone considerable reforms to arrive at its
                                            current position. The thinking used to be that if something was not
                                            expressly permitted then it was forbidden. Now the authorities go out
                                            of their way to help," says Robert Tomlin, vice-chairman Asia for UBS
                                            Warburg.

                                            Kai Nargolwala, group executive director for Standard Chartered,
                                            says: "In typical Singapore fashion, the government has decided to
                                            focus on the long term and is busy moving Singapore onto a different
                                            plane."

                                            Unfortunately for the island state, this period of rapid reform has
                                            not translated into faster growth and all the time the external
                                            environment has beenmoving against it.

                                            It started with the Asian financial crisis in late 1997, which ended
                                            successive decades of quick development in Asia and brought about
                                            widespread bankruptcies and non-performing loans. Then there is the
                                            ongoing crisis in Japancausing loss of investment and external
                                            demand, aggravated further by the slowdown in the major economies of
                                            Europe and North America. China is another factor: fast growth there
                                            has moved investors' attention away from south east Asia, although
                                            the region is beginning to realise the export potential. Singapore's
                                            exports to greater China (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) now exceed
                                            those to the US, which was once the main driver of Asian growth.

                                            Security is key

                                            Then there is the security situation. Singapore has always felt
                                            vulnerable, situated as it is between much larger Muslim neighbours:
                                            Malaysia and Indonesia.With last year's Bali bombing, and the earlier
                                            discovery and arrest of Singaporean members of the Jemaah Islamiyah
                                            extremist group, which has links to Al Qaeda, the possibility of
                                            Singapore becoming a terrorist target has had to befaced.

                                            "It is clear that Asean Association of South East Asian Nations
                                            governments must tackle the security problems resolutely and
                                            decisively before a new growth cycle led by investments can begin,"
                                            said second minister for finance Lim Hng Kiang at a JP Morgan Chase
                                            Asia Pacific senior directors' conference in January."In this regard,
                                            Asean has implemented practical measures to enhance counter terrorism
                                            co-operation, including the sharing of intelligence and working with
                                            external parties to ward off terrorist threats."

                                            External demand and security problems, however, do not make
                                            Singapore's reform agenda worthless. They make it all the more
                                            essential. And while the growth has not come through yet there have
                                            been strong benefits. Singapore has for a long time been one of the
                                            world's centres of foreign exchange; it has now overtaken Hong Kong
                                            in terms of discretionary assets under management and a marketing
                                            push is on to persuade chief investment officers to run their global
                                            operations out of Singapore.

                                            Encouraging bonds

                                            The bond market has developed because the government relaxed the
                                            rules on foreign players raising funds in Singapore dollars. They can
                                            now do this provided they swap or convert them if they take the funds
                                            out of Singapore. GE Capital, the IFC, the African Development Bank
                                            and Freddie Mac have all taken advantage of this opportunity. The
                                            only remaining restrictions are designed to prevent speculation
                                            against the Singapore dollar.

                                            To encourage development of the bond market, the Singapore government
                                            has issued more securities (even though it does not need the money)
                                            and has extendedthe maturity profile out to 15 years.

                                            In the equities market, the liberalisation of commissions has led to
                                            consolidation of brokers and the decline of the remisiers -
                                            commission only brokers who attached themselves to the major firms
                                            but worked independently. Theemphasis these days is on developing
                                            independent financial advice and wealth management services.

                                            The Singapore Exchange (SGX) itself has been forged out of the former
                                            Stock Exchange of Singapore and SIMEX, the futures market. It has
                                            been listed and its product range expanded to include single stock
                                            and bond futures and exchange traded funds. There is a marketing push
                                            to persuade Indian and Chinese companiesto list in Singapore.

                                            Ang Swee Tian, president of SGX, says: "Now we have an open door
                                            policy for foreign brokers whereas before it operated like a club. It
                                            has become very competitive and the liberalisation of commissions has
                                            seen consolidation among the brokers and reduction in the numbers of
                                            remisiers."

                                            Liberalisation effects

                                            On the banking front, liberalisation has produced domestic
                                            consolidation - the three major banks are DBS Bank, United Overseas
                                            Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation - while foreign players
                                            have been given more freedom to serve the market.

                                            "I do not think it is important whether Singapore has two or three
                                            banks," says Wee Cho Yaw, chairman and CEO of United Overseas
                                            Bank. "What is more important is that the local banks are competitive
                                            and are able to generate profits for their shareholders. So long as
                                            each of three banks can achieve this,I see no reason why there should
                                            be further consolidation of local banks."

                                            The foreign banks that have benefited from the liberalisation are
                                            Citigroup, ABN Amro, BNP, Maybank and Standard Chartered by gaining
                                            qualifying full bank (QFB) privileges.

                                            "QFB status allows banks to have up to 10 branches and five off-site
                                            ATMs," says Euleen Goh, chief executive of Standard Chartered in
                                            Singapore. "We alreadyhad 20 branches through our historical presence
                                            but it allows us to move them. Some old branches had been left behind
                                            by movements of the population."

                                            For many years, for example, Standard Chartered had a branch in
                                            Changi, where the British Army used to have a naval base that
                                            provided good business. QFB status has allowed this branch to be
                                            moved. It has also allowed some of the QFB banks to form their own
                                            ATM network and to access the direct debit network called Net.

                                            Despite banking consolidation, Singapore remains over-banked and
                                            leading domestic banks, such as UOB, are seeking to expand
                                            regionally. Size will always be a constraint for Singapore in certain
                                            areas. But the country is well practised in winning against long
                                            odds. With its reform agenda, few would bet against it keeping and
                                            building on its status as a major Asian financial centre.
                                          • Edward R. Chenard and Chooi Ling Wong
                                            E-commerce Supremacy in Asia Malaysia Vs. Singapore By Edward R. Chenard and Chooi Ling Wong http://www.echenard.com/business/eaprt2.htm Since the political
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Apr 9, 2003
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                                              E-commerce Supremacy in Asia
                                              Malaysia Vs. Singapore
                                              By Edward R. Chenard and Chooi Ling Wong
                                              http://www.echenard.com/business/eaprt2.htm

                                              Since the political divide that separated Singapore and Malaysia a
                                              few decades ago, a sort of rivalry has taken place between the two
                                              countries. Singapore, well known as a center of commerce in Asia
                                              rivaled only by Hong Kong and Japan. When Hong Kong transferred back
                                              to Chinese rule, many believed Singapore would get a lot of the
                                              businesses leaving Hong Kong. Then the Internet came, now Singapore
                                              finds itself in another battle with its neighbor Malaysia. Malaysia,
                                              long in the shadow of Singapore, has banked its future in information
                                              technology. Malaysia, seeing the future of things to come, has
                                              developed a long-term program to become the information center for
                                              Asia. The problem with that is, Singapore has developed plans to be
                                              the same thing. Now these two rivals are back at it in a new market,
                                              domination of the future of e-commerce and information management in
                                              Asia. Both countries have developed long term plans, take radical
                                              steps to attain their goal and yet they are still neck and neck. But
                                              there will be a winner and a loser; it is just a matter of who will
                                              win this battle.


                                              Singapore

                                              Prelude

                                              In the early part of the 1990's, Singapore's government commissioned
                                              a study to be done on potential future markets. Out of this, in 1991,
                                              a plan called IT2000 was developed. IT2000 was a study to see how IT
                                              could be used to improve business performance in Singapore. This was
                                              in the days before the Internet, before anyone knew what a browser is
                                              let alone a website. Executives from 11 major economic sectors
                                              participated in the study for IT2000. IT2000 is what started
                                              Singapore on its current path to be the e-commerce hub for Asia.

                                              Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to understand
                                              what the Internet and the infastructure of support, can do for an
                                              economy. Singapore is one of the only countries in the world to have
                                              a well-balanced approach to the use of the Internet, with consumer,
                                              government and business, all working in an almost scripted unity to
                                              obtain their goals. Singapore One, (One Network for Everyone) was
                                              created as a way for Singaporeans to carry out secure bank
                                              transactions, buy goods and conduct business in the information age.
                                              Singapore One has become an integral part of the information backbone
                                              of Singapore and a vital key piece to its future success.


                                              The Strategy

                                              Singapore has taking a number of legal, social and economic steps to
                                              obtain its goal. Singapore's government has a five-pronged strategy
                                              to ensure success, RD, expertise, law, education and promotion.

                                              In the area of RD, the government has built a new science park in
                                              Buena Vista, the Western part of Singapore, to conduct RD and to
                                              develop the countrywide network. Singapore is encouraging companies
                                              from other countries to have an office in Singapore with the lore of
                                              highly skilled labor and a high standard of living.

                                              Expertise, Singapore has developed a $1 billion USD fund to help
                                              companies set up shop in Singapore and develop it's own brand of e-
                                              commerce companies. It has encouraged Singapore companies to go into
                                              partnerships with US companies to help advance the global presence of
                                              Singapore's own brand of e-commerce. The government is also making
                                              changes to the law to make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up shop
                                              even if they already have failed in the past.

                                              Law, as mentioned, Singapore is changing its laws, slowly. Laws are
                                              being developed that will help deal with online issues and problems
                                              that are unique to the are of information systems. Entrepreneurs are
                                              finding it easier to set up shop and finding a much more willing
                                              government to aid them.

                                              Education in Singapore is getting a face-lift thanks to e-commerce.
                                              In the past, Singapore's education system was heavy on the math and
                                              sciences. Now Singapore is finding that life is not all math and
                                              science and that an education system that has more liberal arts is
                                              better for the students to prepare them for the new economy. The
                                              traditional rote learning is now having to share class time with more
                                              creative and thinking skill subjects. Singapore is trying to put
                                              emphasis on problem solving, creativity and littoral thinking. In
                                              addition to changing the education of students, Singapore is
                                              encouraging hands on computer training for all students with 30% of
                                              the curriculum done on computers by 2002. More computers for
                                              classrooms are also planned with the goal of one computer for every
                                              two students and grants for teachers to get their own computers.

                                              Promotion of Singapore's e-commerce is coming in many forms. New laws
                                              have been passed requires Internet connection in every new home
                                              built. Also increasing awareness of the Internet and the benefits
                                              through the press and the Internet has increased public awareness and
                                              activites with the Internet. Companies are being encouraged to find
                                              ways to add new services with the use of the Internet.


                                              Problems

                                              Singapore does have a nice program in place to aid future growth. But
                                              there are problems with Singapore's approach and it's current
                                              economic and political situation. Even though Singapore has made
                                              conditions easier to start an e-commerce company, the barrier to
                                              entry is still high. Singapore has one of the highest standards of
                                              living in the world, which is great if you are a working stiff. But
                                              for the small business owner wanting to start a business, it is a big
                                              barrier to over come. High labor cost and real estate cost still make
                                              Singapore a hard sell for many. Singapore has a cheap network, which
                                              is great, but the extra costs of business can be discouraging. Add to
                                              that the brain drain still going on. Some top-notch programmers and
                                              engineers are still leaving Singapore for what they consider, greener
                                              pastures. Keeping these top talents in Singapore could prove to be
                                              very costly.

                                              Another problem area is the government's dominant role in business.
                                              On the one hand it helps keep things moving smoothly but the same
                                              hand can smack a business across the face. The government does
                                              everything for people, it is hard to foster an entrepreneurial
                                              culture in an environment where the government sets the tone and you
                                              just follow. This could come back to haunt Singapore, spending
                                              billions on macro strategy while forgetting about the little guy and
                                              how to feed his fire for success, which is one of the driving
                                              fundamental forces to the net economy.

                                              Some say what gives Singapore the advantage is a cheap network for
                                              companies to use and an English speaking workforce, but if that is
                                              all Singapore can cough up for advantages, then place your bets on
                                              Malaysia.



                                              Malaysia

                                              Prelude

                                              Around the same time as Singapore, Malaysia looked into and developed
                                              an IT plan of its own. But this was no "me to" plan. Malaysia
                                              developed their own homegrown plan to become the center of e-commerce
                                              in Asia. Malaysia has not been known as a technology power house in
                                              the world nor does it enjoy the same international coverage as
                                              Singapore gets. But Malaysia, despite it's critics, has put up one of
                                              the best plans and efforts, of any country in Asia.

                                              Malaysia, like many other countries in Asia, was hit hard by the
                                              Asian economic crisis a few years ago. While Asia suffered, the US
                                              boomed with stories about Internet this and Internet that and how
                                              everyone is getting rich. It's about this time that I heard about
                                              Malaysia's efforts. Like most, I was wondering what kind of effort
                                              Malaysia could muster, known for producing rubber. Dr. Mahathir,
                                              Malaysia's leader, decided to make this his lasting legacy and has
                                              aggressively moved Malaysia into the information age with a bang!


                                              The Strategy

                                              Malaysia has created what it calls, the Multimedia Super Corridor
                                              project. Its physical dimensions are 15 kilometers wide and 50
                                              kilometers long. Huge lines connecting this area to the global
                                              communications network. Plus Malaysia has created two new cities for
                                              this corridor, unlike anything ever seen in this part of the world
                                              and probably anywhere!

                                              The two cities in the corridor are Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Putrajaya
                                              will be the new seat of government where concepts in cyber government
                                              will be created. Cyberjaya is the real jewel of this corridor.
                                              Planned to support 240,000 people, 500 IT company and fully completed
                                              by 2020, Cyberjaya may be the role model of the future city.
                                              Everything is fiber optically connected to the net, land prices are
                                              cheap, a balance of residential, commercial, public facilities and
                                              shopping areas, make Cyberjaya a balanced city. With incentives for
                                              companies to set up shop, this city is already returning dividends to
                                              Malaysia. Company's like Microsoft and Sun are already setting up
                                              shop there with more planning to.

                                              Fancy cities are not the only thing up Malaysia's sleeve. Recently,
                                              the First Finance Minister announced that certain VC investments into
                                              e-commerce ventures would be tax exempted for the life of the project
                                              or 10 years, which ever comes first. A sum of RM25.17 million will be
                                              provided for programs promoting science and technology in addition to
                                              the Development of Industrial Technology Action Plan to encourage the
                                              use of new technology and upgrade innovative capabilities, inventions
                                              and commercialize homegrown technology and marketing them abroad.
                                              Under the Mid-Term Review of the 7th Malaysia Plan, a sum of RM1.07
                                              billion has been allocated for the implementation of the 4 MSC
                                              (Multimedia Super Corridor) flagships, that is, E-Government, smart
                                              schools, telemedicine and smart card. According to International Data
                                              Corp (IDC), the e-commerce market in Malaysia this year is expected
                                              to be worth RM175 million, and would grow to RM5.9 billion over the
                                              next 3 years.

                                              Malaysia has a very well rounded heterogeneous society, Indians,
                                              Chinese, Malay and westerners all live together and English is well
                                              known and education standards are high. This mix gives Malaysia a
                                              nice advantage. In theory, it should be able to absorb cultures and
                                              new technology better and fast than a more homogeneous culture.


                                              Problems

                                              It sounds like Malaysia is well on it's way to taking the crown in e-
                                              commerce, but let's look a little closer, beyond the macro level.
                                              Only 5% of Malaysia's 20 million people have access to the Internet,
                                              and industry experts believe that the critical mass needed for E-
                                              Commerce to take off would have to be 35% of the population online.
                                              Another problem that these number show is, Malaysia has put a lot of
                                              effort into development on the macro level, many companies and
                                              consumers are not being reached.

                                              Malaysia's two Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Jaring and TMnet,
                                              have been getting complaints from their subscribers for slow access
                                              times, lost connections and what they claimed was just an overall
                                              poor quality service. Malaysian surfers do not expect the cost of
                                              access to come down anytime soon because of the high cost of fixed
                                              line access in the country. In addition, there are no provisions or
                                              plans in the Budget 2000 that would help lower the cost of Internet
                                              access for people. The government, by allowing the high cost for
                                              fixed lines is sabotaging it's own efforts. Imagine having to pay for
                                              every minute you are online. Now imagine running a website, 24x7,
                                              what a cost that would be! But here again is another problem that
                                              Malaysia needs face. Fixed line cost must go down, charge for time
                                              online should be taken away and let consumer use the Internet for a
                                              fixed monthly cost. This has been a big reason why the Internet has
                                              taken off in the US more than in any other country around the world.

                                              Another problem for Malaysia comes from its double-edged sword
                                              called; it's ethnic and cultural mix. Malaysia's native Malay
                                              controls the countries political system, with Indians and Chinese in
                                              many places of power in business. Some from the Chinese and Indian
                                              population feel they are being left behind with preferential
                                              treatment given to native Malay. This could create a very damaging
                                              brain drain on the knowledge economy of Malaysia. A likely scenario
                                              could give tip the advantage to Singapore. Malaysian Chinese and
                                              Indians feeling left behind, move to Singapore to fill the brain
                                              drain there. Higher wages and standard of living would lure these
                                              workers there.


                                              How the Two Stack Up

                                              Singapore and Malaysia have taken two different approaches to get to
                                              the same result. That being, the center of e-commerce. But when
                                              looking at the two countries, how do they measure up against each
                                              other? Singapore has the capital power to out muscle Malaysia, if
                                              push came to shove. Singapore's government could force the population
                                              to do its will because it has the muscle power to do so. Plus its
                                              local infrastructure covers the whole nation, which means, everyone
                                              in the countries benefits. If these two countries really did run on
                                              Internet time, Singapore would have the short-term advantage. But
                                              Malaysia has more room to grow.

                                              Malaysia is a large country when compared to Singapore, with land
                                              cheap, education high and a population mix that can call on many
                                              resources; Malaysia has the capacity for a long-term fight. What
                                              Malaysia has over Singapore is, more incentives. Malaysia has more
                                              cards to play, on the macro level. But at the same time, it may get
                                              its legs knocked out from under it. Too much focus on the macro level
                                              of the economy. My own research shows that, even though Malaysia has
                                              a development plan that could be a model for others to follow, when
                                              you get down to the small business owner, they are still being left
                                              behind. Large companies are being given key roles to play in the
                                              development of the corridor, with their interests at heart.

                                              In conclusion, who will win the race between Malaysia and Singapore,
                                              that's still an open race? But in the end, the real winners should be
                                              the people of both countries. Singapore, in order to make consumers
                                              and small business people better off, should relax government control
                                              and allow for more freedom of expression in the business arena.
                                              Malaysia needs to take its plan to the people, from macro economic to
                                              microeconomics. In the end, the country that succeeds in this area
                                              the best will be the winner and it will most likely come down to
                                              these two countries to see, which will be, the center of e-commerce
                                              in Asia.
                                            • Yusman Ahmad
                                              Across The Causeway: PM Goh s unfulfilled promises Yusman Ahmad New Straits Times 9 April 2003 April 09: WHEN Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong asked
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Apr 9, 2003
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                                                Across The Causeway: PM Goh's unfulfilled promises
                                                Yusman Ahmad
                                                New Straits Times
                                                9 April 2003

                                                April 09: WHEN Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong asked
                                                Singaporeans for their votes during the country's general election in
                                                November 2001, he vowed that he would come up with fresh economic
                                                strategies that will ensure jobs for both graduates as well as the
                                                less-skilled.

                                                That was a big promise: The prosperity of the nation with a
                                                population of four million was then in immediate danger and the
                                                citystate, long known for its wealth, was in serious danger of
                                                becoming an economic backwater. The economy of the once regional star
                                                had stopped humming as key electronics exports were wilting and
                                                companies cutting jobs; the tiny export-driven nation was slipping
                                                into its worst recession since separation from Malaysia in 1965, and
                                                at least 25,000 people were thrown out of work during the year with
                                                the unemployment rate seen hitting 4.5 per cent.

                                                But since the 2001 elections, the economy continues to struggle and
                                                remains on the brink of another recession as its exports remain at
                                                risk over softening demand and geopolitical tensions. Hit by slumping
                                                demand for its semiconductors, disk drives and other products from
                                                the United States, its most critical trade partner, the economy grew
                                                at a slow pace of 2.2 per cent last year from the minus 2 per cent it
                                                reported in 2001. For the first three months of this year, growth was
                                                a disappointing 2.7 per cent. Growth for the full year, meanwhile, is
                                                not expected to exceed three per cent as the market for electronic
                                                goods remains sluggish. And the US invasion of Iraq is not helping
                                                Singapore's cause either.

                                                Neither was the economic review committee promised by Goh to look
                                                into the medium-term restructuring of the economy. The high-powered
                                                group of nearly a thousand members that included prominent private
                                                sector executives and top government officials, including co-deputy
                                                Prime Minister Tony Tan and Minister of Trade and Industry Yeo, and
                                                led by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had promised to leave
                                                no stone unturned and no sacred cows unexamined.

                                                But there was little new in the committee's 200-page recommendations
                                                that was made public after 14 months of deliberation. The committee
                                                had decided to stick to the tried and true, making some allowances to
                                                reflect voguish industries.

                                                Meanwhile, the unemployment line continues to grow longer. The
                                                country's de-facto central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore,
                                                expects the number to peak to 5.5 per cent over the next six months,
                                                or more than 100,000 Singaporeans, from the current five per cent.

                                                And Singaporeans are starting to voice their concerns that Goh has
                                                not delivered on his promise of jobs for the unemployed. Several
                                                graduates are now forced to set aside their hardearned university
                                                degrees and try to eke out a living as hawkers, drivers or even
                                                social escorts.

                                                The graduates, however, are not the worst group hit by unem-ployment.
                                                Many job-seekers from the Malay-Muslim community are now complaining
                                                that their efforts have become even harder following the arrest and
                                                detention of more than 30 people for allegedly being members of the
                                                banned Jemaah Islamiyah. Although most do not sport any beard or
                                                dress in traditional Middle-Eastern garb, and even admit to being
                                                liberal Muslims, they are eyed with suspicion by every potential
                                                employer.

                                                With the economic malaise, a host of problems not commonly associated
                                                with Singapore has also arisen. For the third consecutive year, the
                                                island state, traditionally known for chalking up healthy surpluses,
                                                is experiencing a budget deficit that is likely to worsen by more
                                                than 10-fold from the previous 12 months. The fiscal deficit for the
                                                year to March 2004 is expected to come in at S$1.2 billion (RM2.52
                                                billion) from S$90 million in the current year.

                                                Thus, Goh, who had to fight his way out of founding Prime Minister
                                                Lee Kuan Yew's shadow when he took the helm in 1990, and has said he
                                                will step down before his five-year term, will have no choice but to
                                                seek the solutions needed to fulfil his promises made in 2001.
                                              • AFP
                                                Opposition Politician Challenges Ministers to Take Pay Cuts (AFP) 22 November 2002 Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20, challenged
                                                Message 23 of 25 , Apr 10, 2003
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                                                  Opposition Politician Challenges Ministers to Take Pay Cuts
                                                  (AFP)

                                                  22 November 2002

                                                  Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20,
                                                  challenged Singapore government ministers to take a pay cut to show
                                                  they understand the economic hardships faced by the public.

                                                  "Will it be too much to hope, with the news that the recession is
                                                  cutting deeper, that the ministers will at last take a cut in their
                                                  salaries to empathise with the thousands of workers who have lost
                                                  their jobs or have had to take wage cuts," Jeyaretnam said in a
                                                  statement.

                                                  "Ministers do not have to take wage cuts to keep their jobs whereas
                                                  workers are urged to take wage cuts just to keep earning," he said.

                                                  Jeyaretnam, a thorn in the side of the government when an opposition
                                                  MP, was forced to quit his parliamentary seat last year when declared
                                                  bankrupt, because he could not meet mounting debts resulting from
                                                  losing defamation suits brought by ruling party stalwarts.

                                                  However, he has continued his criticism of government policies from
                                                  the sidelines as the export-oriented Southeast Asian republic went
                                                  into recession.

                                                  Although there were signs of a recovery in the middle of the year,
                                                  growth is again faltering amid sluggishness in the global economy.

                                                  On Tuesday, the national wage body recommended that wages be frozen
                                                  or cut to save jobs and help companies cope with the slowdown.

                                                  Earlier this week, the government trimmed its 2002 growth forecast to
                                                  2.0-2.5 percent from 3.0-4.0 percent after releasing fresh data
                                                  showing export growth was stalling.

                                                  Amidst these bleak conditions, the government has maintained a stiff
                                                  upper-lip in maintaining (and increasing) remunerations to what are
                                                  some of the world's highets paid civil servants and ministers.
                                                • Sonia Kolesnikov
                                                  Analysis: Singapore growth losing steam By Sonia Kolesnikov UPI Business Correspondent From the Business & Economics Desk Published 4/10/2003 10:48 AM
                                                  Message 24 of 25 , Apr 11, 2003
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                                                    Analysis: Singapore growth losing steam
                                                    By Sonia Kolesnikov
                                                    UPI Business Correspondent
                                                    From the Business & Economics Desk
                                                    Published 4/10/2003 10:48 AM
                                                    http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID= 030410-021648-9077r

                                                    SINGAPORE, April 10 (UPI) -- Singapore's economic recovery is losing
                                                    steam faster than expected as demand wanes for the country's exports.
                                                    Advance estimates for the first quarter showed that gross domestic
                                                    product increased by 1.5 percent, well below an official estimate of
                                                    2.7 percent and market expectation of 2.3 percent.

                                                    Further downside risks are likely, with the second quarter holding
                                                    the key as the real impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome
                                                    epidemic will become more apparent.

                                                    The GDP estimates are usually largely based on the first two months'
                                                    data of a quarter, however economists believe this time the estimate
                                                    also strongly took under consideration expectations for March, with
                                                    the early impact of the war in Iraq and the onset of the SARS
                                                    outbreak.

                                                    GK Goh economist Song Seng Wun said, "Our guess is that the
                                                    government took into consideration the sharply slower pace of
                                                    economic activities in March, the double whammy impact from war and
                                                    SARS jitters. Therefore, taking into account the available set of
                                                    data information, the flash estimate of 1.5 percent growth in 1Q '03
                                                    is probably a fair call."

                                                    On an annualized seasonally adjusted basis, which provides an
                                                    indication of the underlying momentum, the economy expanded by only
                                                    0.7 percent.

                                                    The manufacturing sector is estimated to have grown by 5.5 percent,
                                                    with the moderation in growth attributed mainly to slower activity in
                                                    the electronics industry. The construction sector, on the other hand,
                                                    is estimated to have contracted 10 percent due to the sluggish
                                                    property market.

                                                    Services-producing industries are estimated to have grown by 0.7
                                                    percent. Almost all services sectors registered poorer performance
                                                    due to uncertainties in economic conditions, the ministry of trade
                                                    and industry said.

                                                    This was the slowest pace of growth for services producing industries
                                                    in 4 quarters, noted OCBC analyst Suan Teck Kin.

                                                    Kaan Quan Hon, economist at DBS Bank said the key question was how
                                                    much would the economy slow further going forward, especially
                                                    considering the impact of SARS.

                                                    "Economic growth for full-year 2003 could slow to around 2.0 percent.
                                                    Apart from the outbreak of the SARS disease, there are concerns over
                                                    how much of the current U.S. economic weakness is structural in
                                                    nature. This will not be clear until probably mid-2003," Kaan said.

                                                    "The bottom-line is that 2Q03 will be a major test for Singapore,
                                                    with GDP growth at risk of touching negative territory," Kaan added.

                                                    Song said that even though the war clouds appear to have blown away,
                                                    there was "more downside risks" in the second quarter given the sharp
                                                    fall in services activities already experienced this quarter.

                                                    "Our calculations show that a 10-percent fall in tourism receipts and
                                                    private expenditure will shave 0.5-1.2 percentage points off
                                                    Singapore's GDP growth for the full year," estimated Suan.

                                                    OCBC has lowered its 4-percent growth forecast for 2003 to 3
                                                    percent, "with risk weighing mainly at the downside, depending on the
                                                    extent of containment of the outbreak," said Suan.

                                                    Song also estimated that every 10-percent drop in private consumption
                                                    knocks off 1 percentage point off headline GDP growth. "If the sight
                                                    of empty restaurants, hotels, convention halls and the zoo is here to
                                                    stay for the next few months, there is a high risk that the overall
                                                    services sector will record a contraction in the second quarter and
                                                    possibly into the third quarter," Song said.

                                                    GK Goh recently revised downward its annual GDP growth forecast to 2
                                                    percent and Song said even this revised forecast may look "a tad
                                                    optimistic" in light of the poor showing of the first quarter.

                                                    Beyond services as the major casualties of SARS, economists estimate
                                                    manufacturing could also be hurt indirectly by developments in Hong
                                                    Kong and China, which are among Singapore's key trading partners and
                                                    are among the places most seriously affected by SARS.

                                                    Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International
                                                  • Henny Sender
                                                    Singapore Invests Globally at a Premium, But Its Record on Performance Is Mixed By Henny Sender The Wall Street Journal (Copyright (c) 2001, Dow Jones &
                                                    Message 25 of 25 , Apr 11, 2003
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                                                      Singapore Invests Globally at a Premium,
                                                      But Its Record on Performance Is Mixed
                                                      By Henny Sender

                                                      The Wall Street Journal
                                                      (Copyright (c) 2001, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

                                                      SINGAPORE -- When government-linked Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.
                                                      reached an agreement in March to buy Cable & Wireless Optus of
                                                      Australia for $7 billion, the news was greeted with relief at home
                                                      and derision elsewhere: Investors decided Singapore had paid too
                                                      much, and SingTel's stock plunged.

                                                      The same was true this year when Development Bank of Singapore
                                                      purchased Dao Heng Bank Group in Hong Kong, shelling out more than
                                                      three times book value for a mature, well-run bank. Singapore Inc .
                                                      was finally closing deals in its desire to expand beyond the confines
                                                      of its 208-square-mile home, but only by laying out substantially
                                                      more than others were willing to spend.

                                                      The "Singapore premium," as it is now being called, is well
                                                      established. For those who believe Singapore is paying too much for
                                                      what it is buying, the comparison that comes to mind is the "dumb
                                                      money" shelled out by the Japanese in the 1980s. Then, companies
                                                      around the world licked their lips when they saw Japanese buyers
                                                      coming along with fistfuls of cash.

                                                      To judge Singapore Inc .'s investment performance on the basis of
                                                      what it pays is to miss the point, some Singaporeans argue. "High-
                                                      tech investment is our future," declares Soo Boon Koh, founder of
                                                      iglobe Partners, a local venture-capital fund seeded with money from
                                                      the Economic Development Board's Technopreneurship Investment
                                                      Fund. "We are driven by a sense that we are small and vulnerable,"
                                                      says Teo Ming Kian, chairman of the Economic Development Board. "Our
                                                      challenge is to figure out how we can be value-added."

                                                      Whatever the returns, the scale of Singapore's investments is
                                                      certainly of Japanese tsunami proportions. Singapore's government
                                                      reserves of $120 billion make it one of the deepest pools of capital
                                                      in the world -- and tens of billions of dollars of its money now
                                                      sloshes around the world. Both its property arm and its private-
                                                      equity arm are among the world's largest.

                                                      Singapore has taken stakes in everything from Cisco Systems Inc. and
                                                      Citigroup Inc. in the U.S. (in which it is one of the largest
                                                      shareholders) to investment bank China International Capital Corp. in
                                                      China. It controls real estate from the center of Chicago to the
                                                      heart of Tokyo.

                                                      Singapore also was part of every one of the three bids when
                                                      Indonesia's chief automobile assembler, PT Astra International, was
                                                      up for grabs last year; it was an investor in the first U.S. buyout
                                                      fund established by Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts in the mid-1980s.

                                                      No question, Singapore is in the big leagues of world investment. As
                                                      for performance, though, the record is mixed, with frequent missteps
                                                      in timing and in targets. Such fears that Singapore may have trouble
                                                      managing what it has bought can cost the country big. Last year, for
                                                      example, a 50% stake in ASAT Ltd. of Hong Kong was up for sale by its
                                                      parent, QPL International Holdings Ltd., which is listed in Hong
                                                      Kong. Chase Asia Equity Partners submitted a bid that valued ASAT at
                                                      $400 million, while the government-linked Singapore Technologies
                                                      group made an offer that valued ASAT at 16% more than Chase's bid.

                                                      Yet, the board of QPL rejected the Singaporean offer, fearing slow
                                                      decision making and bureaucratic meddling, according to its chairman,
                                                      Tong Lok Li.

                                                      As for practical shortcomings, consider SingTel's all-cash offer last
                                                      year for Cable & Wireless HKT, made after insufficient consultation
                                                      with the authorities in either Beijing or Hong Kong. That led to an
                                                      embarrassing rejection in favor of Pacific Century CyberWorks Ltd.:
                                                      Singapore offered cash instead of PCCW's mixture of cash and high-
                                                      priced stock, but lost anyway. Other rejections have been far less
                                                      public but no less embarrassing.

                                                      "Singapore companies have made decisions that are commercially and
                                                      strategically smart," says Michael Berchtold, head of Asian
                                                      investment banking for Morgan Stanley & Co. in Hong Kong. "Execution,
                                                      though, will determine whether they are winners.
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