MARUAH Condemns the Act of Violence against Amos Yee

30 April 2015

Today – 30 April 2015 – as Amos Yee made his way to court, a stranger went up to him and struck him across the face.

MARUAH strongly condemns this act of violence and intimidation. This is not the way a mature and civilised society deals with opinions and opinion-makers. Prior to this confrontation, there had already been threats of violence made against Amos Yee. This recent incident suggests that such threats and actions dehumanise a person and validate acts of victimisation against him. We may disagree with the views, the approach and the stances taken by Amos Yee. But it does not give us the right to inflict violence on him. Read the rest of this entry »

Statement on World Book and Copyright Day

23 April 2015

23rd April 2015

Books, be they physical or digital, are irreplaceable gateways to information. In light of the expanding discourse on the freedom of expression, it is crucial that we examine who holds the key to these gateways. On this World Book and Copyright Day, we should begin examining the issue of accessibility of books across different subject matters.

Singaporeans are fortunate to have modern libraries, fitted with up-to-date facilities. It is easy to search for books from the kiosks at the libraries and to use the rooms in the libraries for various events.

We are happy to note that the National Library Board (NLB), in partnership with other organisations, has established various programmes to promote reading. However, as last year’s debacle over the removal of three children’s books with homosexual themes from the library shows, the distribution of books is not a level playing field. Read the rest of this entry »

MARUAH statement on freedom of expression & freedom of peaceful assembly

7 April 2015

MARUAH is concerned over the recent arrests in 2 separate incidents, Mr Amos Yee’s YouTube video, and 2 men holding placards outside the Istana.

The 1st incident involved a Youtube video and an obscene picture on a blog. Amos Yee has been arrested, charged, and released on bail. The charges relate to the Penal Code Section 298, Penal Code Section 292(1)(a), and the Protection from Harassment Act, Section 4(1)(b). We note that Section 298 of the Penal Code was amended in 2007 to provide another legislative option to deal with offenders, in lieu of the Sedition Act, an action that we commend.

The 2nd incident involved 2 persons, holding placards outside the Istana. They were arrested under the Public Order Act, Section 16(1)(a).

MARUAH is concerned that they point to severe infringements on freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly. Human rights do not exist in a vacuum. People function within a society, interacting with each other and will have views on people, issues and the State. Read the rest of this entry »

MARUAH – Declaration on Principles of Free and Fair Elections

6 April 2015

Following our forum “The Vote, the Elections and You: What Citizens Need for Free and Fair Elections.” on 4th April 2015, MARUAH has drafted a declaration on Free and Fair Elections in Singapore.

The declaration can be viewed at the link below.

If you agree with MARUAH’s declaration, please pledge your support by filling up your details. We appreciate your commitment to free and fair elections in Singapore.

Also, please help to share this to your family and friends.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

29 March 2015

Statement on International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a chance for us to remember the terrible consequences of depriving our fellow human beings of their dignity and rights.

In the popular imagination, slavery is often tied to the transatlantic slave trade that is rooted in the colonial experience. It would be foolish, however, to think that slavery is relegated to the past and alien from the world today. As the subjugation of workers in Dubai attests, slavery is still used by an elite class of people to pursue their own ends.

The need to always be vigilant against any exploitation of people can be seen in the United Kingdom’s recent passing of a modern slavery bill to hold corporations accountable for inhumane labour practices. The bill will ensure “that perpetrators convicted of slavery or trafficking face the toughest asset confiscation regime.” The maximum sentence for the most serious offenders has also been increased from 14 years to life imprisonment. These clauses are an important bulwark against the expansion of the slave trade.

What about Singapore? We might not have slavery here, but we do see systemic injustice against migrant workers. Most recently, it was revealed that foreign workers do not receive adequate nutrition. It is not acceptable that such an important part of a worker’s life be left to the discretion of employers. The Ministry of Manpower should implement rules to ensure that migrant workers are given proper food.

The new liquor laws [Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act], set to take effect on 1st April 2015, further complicates our engagement with migrant workers. While the government has assured that the laws will be enforced fairly, the legal precedence for discrimination is incredibly troubling. By declaring Little India — a migrant worker hangout —  a liquor control zone, with additional regulations, we are set to segregate migrant workers from Singaporeans.

To stand against slavery and all the conditions that permit it to take root, we will have to make a concerted effort to improve the working conditions of our migrant workers.  Punitive measures alone will not do. Only then can we have a humane and multi-ethnic community that cherishes the contribution of everyone in society.

Condolence message for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

25 March 2015

MARUAH extend its deepest condolences to the family of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. His passing is a loss to his family, to Singaporeans and others, globally.

As the founding father of Singapore, Mr Lee implemented many policies that led to the rise of Singapore as a global economic competitor. His willingness to make difficult decisions during difficult times helped Singapore in its formative years.

No doubt, as we take stock of Singapore’s history this SG50 year, Mr Lee’s contribution will be especially valued in this dedicated effort.

As a human rights group, as we admire this extraordinary man, we also hope that, going forward, Singapore politicians will open up more space for civil liberties of Singaporeans.

MARUAH would like to express our appreciation of Mr Lee’s leadership and commitment to Singapore. Once again, we offer our sincere condolences to the Prime Minister and his family during this difficult time.

May Mr Lee Kuan Yew rest in peace.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

23 March 2015

21 March was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The theme for this year’s event is: “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today.”

It is most apt, in light of our ongoing discourse about race. Most of us have heard of the race riots which occurred in the 1960s, and now used as cautionary tales against racial prejudice and chauvinism.

More recently, after an incident during Thaipusam, Indians and non-Indians signed a petition calling for the urumi mellam to be allowed during Thaipusam processions. A 2nd petition calling for Thaipusam to be gazetted as a public holiday gained traction, highlighting dormant ethnic grievances that have yet to be resolved.

Another aspect of our social history is the reductive Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others (CMIO) racial classification policy.

In our modern era, categories like “Chinese,” “Malay,” Indian” and “Others” might not serve us as well as a multicultural model of nation-building. CMIO racialism is as much a concern as racism, since the former can very well inform the latter during crises.

The influx of foreigners has stirred xenophobic sentiments in different quarters of our society. Workers from China and India for instance, are seen to be different from local Chinese and Indians. While this is understandable, and even a testament to a common Singaporean identity, there is the danger of race and class overlapping to segregate Singapore into different ethnic enclaves.

While we might not be able to instill multiculturalism overnight, we can take steps to ensure that racial and ethnic discrimination is never tolerated on any grounds.

We urge our government, in partnership with our citizens, to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) — towards an inclusive and multi-ethnic Singapore.


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