Event report – panel discussion on Freedom of Expression and Democracy

17 December 2013


MARUAH organised a thematic discussion about Freedom of Expression & Democracy on 15 Dec 2013 at Robertson Walk. Engagement, discussion, sharing of information and voicing of concerns are all necessary components in a functioning democracy and the event was a platform for a discussion on these areas. This was all the more important in light of recent events such as the charges brought up against blogger Alex Au and the closing down of Breakfast Network. The event featured an accomplished line up of experts who shared past incidents and also critical insights into the topic.

The speakers were:
• Dr Thum Ping Tjin, Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore & Co-ordinator, Project Southeast Asia, University of Oxford
• Mr Martyn See, Blogger and Documentary Film-maker
• Mr PN Balji, Editor of The Independent Singapore
• Dr Cherian George, Associate Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University
• Mr G Raman, Veteran Lawyer

Dr Thum started by giving a historical insight into freedom of expression and democracy in pre-independent Singapore. Filmmaker Mr Martyn See then continued from 1965 onwards, highlighting narratives of restrictions on freedom of expression by the government on various persons and groups. He shared some of the challenges faced by those who spoke out against government policies.

Mr PN Balji discussed on the regulation of alternative media outlets and inconsistencies in the governance of online media. Dr Cherian George highlighted the ideological obstacles to freedom of expression in Singapore. The final speaker for the evening, Mr G Raman shared insight into laws that protect and curtail freedom of expression in Singapore.

The Question & Answer segment prompted various questions on how the landscape would look like in 10 years time, whether the youth are concerned about issues relating to freedom of expression, and whether the education system was responsible for apathy in issues like politics and human rights.

MARUAH thanks all the speakers and participants who attended the panel discussion.

Celebrating International Nelson Mandela Day With MARUAH

10 August 2013

On 18th of July, MARUAH celebrated International Nelson Mandela Day with an evening of music, poetry and tributes to Nelson Mandela. The day was designated by United Nations as International Nelson Mandela Day in 2009, in commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s fight for democracy and human rights.

Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18, For Freedom, Justice and Democracy

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Commemorating the UN International Day of Peace

26 September 2012

On 22 September 2012, MARUAH observed the UN International Day of Peace and participated in celebrations organised by the Jane Goodall Institute at Fort Canning Park, Singapore.

The International Day of Peace is observed every year to commemorate global peace and a cessation of hostility and violence. It was first declared by the United Nations in 1982 and constantly seeks to remind us that ‘our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace’. Read the rest of this entry »

ASEAN Matters in Singapore – Event Report

24 December 2011

The train disruption on Saturday did not stop the proceedings of MARUAH’s “ASEAN Matters in Singapore” Workshop series. The event provided an overview of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the various human rights related developments within the region. Braema Mathi, MARUAH President, brought participants through the various declarations and action plans on human rights issues in ASEAN. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Day 2011

11 December 2011

Our Human Rights Day microsite has been updated with the winning entries of our Creative Writing & Poetry competition. Also see photos from the event.


MARUAH extends its thanks to all who submitted entries to the competition, and to everyone who attended the event.

(UPDATE: 3pm, 11 December)

Click link to view a newspaper report on our event by the Straits Times.

Event report: “Occupy Wall Street” a “Fed-up movement”

26 November 2011

MARUAH organised a forum to discuss the perspectives behind why the need to “Occupy” anything, in this case Wall Street. It was a good turnout despite being “occupied by the rain”, said an enthused audience member. Held at the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), our three esteemed speakers; Mr Leong Sze Hian, Mr Tan Jee Say and Ms Braema Mathi, moderated by Mr Dhamendra Yadav, walked us through the crisis in the US and globally.

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Event report: Human Rights education seminar on the Internal Security Act (ISA)

24 October 2011

MARUAH organised a seminar on the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 22nd October 2011, as part of its human rights education initiative, to facilitate members of the public to learn more about the ISA.

Assistant Professor Jack Lee from the School of Law, Singapore Management University, brought the seminar attendees through the history of the ISA.

The Emergency Regulations Ordinance, introduced in 1948, had to be reviewed at regular intervals, and reissued if deemed necessary. This was then replaced by the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance, after the 1955 Hock Lee Bus riots. The ISA was enacted in Malaya in 1960. When Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, the ISA was incorporated into Singapore law. After separation in 1965, the ISA was retained.

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6th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum on Social Welfare and Development

25 September 2011

The 6th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum held in Bangkok, Thailand on the 20th of September had nine participating ASEAN member countries discussing about establishing the Social Protection Floor within ASEAN. There was a two day intensive preparatory workshop organised by the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) with guest speakers from United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).The recommendations resulting from this meeting were meaningful and conclusive towards progressively attaining the Social Protection Floor Initiative (SPFI) within each member state’s policy making arena.

The SPFI is an initiative aimed towards ensuring services and transfers to promote social protection as a tool for development and poverty eradication. States present acknowledged that everyone, as a member of the society, is entitled to equal access to social protection such as healthcare services among many others. It was further agreed upon that social protection is necessary to reduce the vulnerabilities of the disadvantaged groups in our societies.

In conclusion, there was consensus on the need to set up or strengthen existing social safety nets to protect people from falling through the nets via establishing a social protection floor. Some implementation procedures recommended included working towards ratifying the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); setting up consultative councils within each member state and ASEAN and working towards an ASEAN level declaration on establishing the SPFI within ASEAN.

The International Council on Social Welfare, a longstanding partner of the ASEAN GO NGO Forum, together with the ASEAN Secretariat and host country (Thailand), received feedback on a successful meeting and witnessed encouraging efforts by all parties towards establishing the SPFI.

MARUAH is a member of ICSW and MARUAH’s President, Braema Mathiaparanam, is the ICSW Regional President of Southeast Asia and Pacific.

Event report – “What do you do, Mr President?” forum on 20 August 2011

28 August 2011

The forum, organised by Singapore human rights Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore) aimed to provide clarity on the role of the Elected Presidency before citizens go to the polls on 27th of August 2011 to vote for a new president.

Dr Kevin YL Tan, one of Singapore’s constitutional law experts, gave a concise review of the role of the president, culminating in a list of possible grey areas arising from the said presidential functions within the Constitution. Next, Mr Alex Au, blogger at Yawning Bread, analysed 2011 – the year of watershed elections and what could possibly be on the other side.
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8th Workshop on the ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights – Day 2

17 July 2009

The Singapore Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (MARUAH) attended the 8th Workshop on the ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights in Bangkok, Thailand, 14-15 July 2009.

See Day 1 proceedings here.

In Day 2 of the workshop, speakers and participants discussed the following issues

  • Government ministries should provide logistical support to the country representatives in the proposed ASEAN Human Rights Body (AHRB)
  • Selection process for the country representatives to the AHRB should be transparent (Paris Principles)
  • Existing National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can provide training & capacity building
  • Civil society will continue to adopt a watchdog role to monitor the performance of the AHRB
  • Civil society will be the link between governments and the public
  • Human rights issues should not merely be regarded as internal affairs, as there may be spillover effects on regional peace & security
  • Regional standards should not be used to lower standards
  • Role for AHRB beyond the regional – other regional bodies address national issues too, especially if national bodies are insufficient, or local remedies exhausted


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