Human rights in Singapore: Always derogated (part 1)

Even as Singapore can boast of its recently-finished Formula One Night Race (in its fifth year and counting) and the recently-opened ‘Gardens By The Bay’*, news appeared two weeks ago of the cancelling of the launch and opening of the Handa Centre for Global Governance and Human Rights, based at the Singapore Management University.

The Online Citizen (TOC) broke the story here, followed by a commentary here.

Although ostensibly the choice of the Centre’s convenors, such things are never done ‘voluntarily’ in Singapore, as it was reported that the Centre was closed “due to the intervention of a Government body”. We know which government it was. Dare we speak the name of the specific body, or do we even know at all?


According to TOC:

The centre is set up by a multi-million dollar donation from a wealthy Japanese man, Mr Handa.

Apparently, it is thought that the Government body would claim that its opposition to the Centre was on the grounds of it having a foreigner (Japanese) involved in this matter, but apparently a compromise name involving “Global Justice” would have been acceptable.

However, Singapore Management University apparently decided to close down the centre rather than rename it.

The results of this government body’s handiwork can be seen here:

TODAY, the mainstream English-language newspaper owned by the PAP government-linked broadcast conglomerate MediaCorp, has more information on Dr Handa, but also features quotes from unnamed sources that has helped to put an incredibly shameless spin in their article. Red flags, indeed!

Moving along – which government body and why they paid this SMU-based Centre special attention in this matter deserves another full blog post another time, as and when more information becomes available.

And then I also came across this, below. H/t The Interpreter.

Eh. Whose Singapore, again? (Did anyone enjoy that ham-fisted attempt at humour? ‘Get lost lah!’ Really, STB? Is that the best you can come up with?)

The Singapore of the close-to-40% of the citizens who voted against the PAP in the 2011 General Elections, or the Singapore of the would-be tourist destination of the STB, in their pathetic attempts to sell the city-state to Australians?

(Get lost lah, STB….No, really. Do get lost.)

A statutory board like the STB can market  the country to unsuspecting Aussies and other foreign folk as they like; but as long as one of its sister state/government institutions can pressurise and coerce a university to cancel entirely its establishing a Centre for human rights, then it shows that sadly, human rights and even the very notion of them are always derogated in Singapore compared with other conceptions like ‘security’ or ‘development’.

Maybe this time it was done in the name of ‘higher education’.

‘Your Singapore’? The STB can swallow its own propaganda as much as they want, but for me the Singapore of the PAP government has got a very long way to go.

A hell of a very, very long way to go.

* For a good critique of this, see ‘On Supertrees, neo-colonialism and globalisation‘.


5 thoughts on “Human rights in Singapore: Always derogated (part 1)

  1. oz says:

    what’s your beef with S’pore anyway ? and what is your nationality ?

    • rodsjournal says:

      Dear ‘oz’,

      (You being yet another annonymous commenter with a fictitious email address. Oh well, never mind. I will still suffer fools like you gladly…for now)

      Thanks for your succinct two-line comment. It tells me that you are (at least superficially) familiar with some Singaporean slang, e.g. your use of “S’pore” instead of spelling out the full name of the country. It also tells me that you did not get the main points of my post – both the specific and larger issues that frame it.

      My “beef”, as you so casually put it, is not with the country nor its people per se. But of course I believe you didn’t actually catch that, if your comment was anything to go by.

      Perhaps you are one of those privileged S’poreans living overseas (in Oz, maybe?), enjoying the good life while defending the one-party state from afar even as you ignore the inequities afflicting its citizens back home. Or worse, perhaps you are one of those wealthy, sycophantic foreigners (from Oz, maybe?) who prefer the kind of authoritarian rule as realised by the PAP – as long as it doesn’t hurt your pockets or stock options. In this case, the more pertinent question should be one that I will ask about you: What is YOUR nationality?

      Troll my blog again, and you WILL be banned.

      And if a two-line comment is the best you can do, then the STB actually did better; they at least produced an entire advertisement for broadcast based on ‘Get lost, lah!’.

  2. m'sia says:

    why are you work up, man ? be cool.

  3. […] part 1 here. Alex Au has a post that has more details here (more on this […]

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