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.
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‘.