Statement on aftermath of the Little India Riot

8 December 2014

It is exactly one year today that the riot in Race Course Road took place.

Foreign workers were apprehended, charged and sentenced. The police were taken to task over their preparedness to deal with a riot. A Commission of Inquiry (COI) was set up and the findings released in the middle of 2014. New laws restricting sale of alcohol, drinking of alcohol, gathering places have come into effect. Employers and foreign workers are being encouraged to find new recreational areas at or near their worksites.

Much has changed since 8th Dec 2013. As a human rights group, MARUAH would like to highlight and reiterate some fundamental issues that we cannot forgo, from a rights-based approach and from a perspective of dignity. Read the rest of this entry »

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

2 December 2014


2 December 2014

International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December 2014

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2014 will focus on the role of technology in three key areas:
(i) disaster risk reduction and emergency responses,
(ii) creating enabling working environments, and
(iii) disability-inclusive sustainable development goals.

The United Nations Enable website states that the main purpose of the day is to harness the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society, and shape the future of sustainable development for all.

MARUAH, a human rights organisation, would like to draw attention to the area of creating enabling working environments, as it impacts more directly the lives of people with disabilities (PWDs) in Singapore.

As reported in the Business Times on 5 November 2014, Senior Minister of State for National Development, and Trade & Industry, Lee Yi Shyan, announced at the opening of the inaugural Singapore Universal Design Week, that the Building and Construction Authority will focus its efforts to ensure that building owners of existing commercial buildings in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) put in place features such as ramps, lifts, and accessible toilets to assist people with disabilities. This step is in addition to the Government’s S$30million fund for employers to make adjustments to workplaces, if needed, so that people with disabilities can access their jobs.

We applaud such a move which is in line with ‘creating enabling work environments’. This is a dedicated step towards improving accessibility for PWDs to workplaces in the CBD, expanding the pie of jobs available to them. Removal of physical barriers is inclusive, non-discriminatory and ensures that Singapore complies with the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

We believe that more can, and should, be done to remove physical barriers, but we also need to tackle the mental barriers against hiring PWDs.

There is much that PWDs can bring to the table. Each person, be it with or without disabilities, has his or her own innate talents and abilities. While there may be certain physical disabilities that affect one’s ability to work, the power of technology available today can be harnessed to level the playing field for everyone.

When we talk about the labour crunch here in Singapore and the perceived need to hire foreigners to fill the talent gap, we also cannot overlook the pool of skilled workers who are PWDs.

So on this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we need to commit ourselves to providing adaptive and assistive technology as a norm when searching, recruiting and hiring someone who is disabled. Assistive technology (AT) can and has helped PWDs overcome their disabilities to integrate into society. Contrary to common perception, AT is not just about complicated computer gadgets like speech synthesizers. It can be something as simple as a Braille typewriter.

Employers’ costs for providing AT can be kept low with the claims on adaptive equipment they can make through the Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme. It is a win-win situation for everyone – employers enjoy tax benefits and lower recruitment costs, while PWDs can contribute to the workforce and earn a better living to support themselves.

We urge for greater inclusivity of persons with disabilities. We ask of the Government to remain resolute in ‘creating enabling working environments’ for PWDs, to encourage employers to make use of technology, to promote a workplace culture based on fair practices that allow persons with disabilities to be treated with dignity and respect and to enjoy equal terms and conditions of employment. We ask of employers and society to be inclusive of people with disabilities. The benefits to everyone are manifold when we respect the rights of persons with disabilities.

Ms Braema Mathi
MARUAH Singapore

MARUAH expresses concern about cancellation of approvals for Speakers’ Corner event

23 October 2014

MARUAH is deeply concerned about the cancellation of approvals granted for the “Return our CPF” protest scheduled at Speakers’ Corner on 25th October 2014.

When Speakers’ Corner was first established in 2000, it was specifically designated as the one protected area in Singapore where speakers could speak freely (with the usual restrictions on race, religion and national security) without having to apply for a permit under the Public Entertainments Act (and its successor the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act). The reforms of 2008 further promoted free speech and civil society development in Singapore and were welcomed by all.

While the events of 27th September remain under investigation, we feel that it is highly inappropriate to cancel the approvals given for the 25th October “Return our CPF” event. Why should an ongoing police investigation about a past event be a reason for prospectively depriving an applicant of the right to hold future events? This move undermines the presumption of innocence which underpins the rule of law, and will have a chilling effect on free speech and democratic development in Singapore.

Any potential disturbances to other park users can surely be dealt with using appropriate scheduling of events. We therefore call on the Police and NParks to reconsider their decision and allow the event to proceed as scheduled.

Defending the Legitimacy of Singapore Elections, Part 3: electoral boundaries and CDCs

10 October 2014

MARUAH held a press conference on 9 Oct to highlight 2 research papers, as part of its ongoing project, Defending the Legitimacy of Singapore Elections. This is the third in a series of media and public engagements that MARUAH has arranged, with the first two focusing on citizens’ confidence in the secrecy of the ballot and what it considers are areas for reform in the GRC system.

The first paper deals with the issue of electoral boundaries, mapping out the frequency of the changes made to electoral boundaries and the impact these changes have on the electorate. The second paper deals with the roles Mayors and the Community Development Councils (CDC) play in elections.

MARUAH EBRC Position Paper
MARUAH EBRC Annex 1 pdf
Maruah EBRC – Annex 2 pdf
MARUAH Electoral Boundary Delimitation Powerpoint Presentation

MARUAH Mayors Position Paper
MARUAH CDC Mayors PowerpointPresentation

Position Paper to the Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons

22 September 2014

In June 2014, MARUAH submitted a position paper to the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons. We at MARUAH are pleased that the task of combating trafficking-in-persons in Singapore has gained momentum. A top-down mechanism in the form of an effectively enforced Anti-Trafficking Bill is a crucial step that cannot be foregone. We are also very happy that the Task-Force has held consultation with MP Christopher De Souza who is going to move a Bill in Parliament later this year. We would like to share our views, concerns and suggestions for the drafting of the Bill.

MARUAH’s Position Paper for Consideration to the Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons

International Day of Democracy 2014

15 September 2014

15 Sep is International Day of Democracy, as observed by the United Nations.

On this International Day of Democracy, it is prudent to take stock of the state of democracy in Singapore.

Since the last election, which was seen to be a watershed, there has been a proliferation of views from a wide range of people and groups. This is a heartening sign for the health of our democracy.

Many of these views are aired online. Needless to say, the internet is going to play a big part in shaping the issues to be contested in the next election.

Facebook, online news sites and blogs are all exceptional tools that have democratised information and people’s right to share their views.

MARUAH, a human rights organisation, is very encouraged by this level of democratisation, which has raised awareness on important social issues and highlighted the work done by many non-governmental organisations and concerned citizens.  Read the rest of this entry »

MARUAH letter on situation in Thailand

15 June 2014

MARUAH recently wrote a letter to the Thai ambassador in Singapore, and also the Thai representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission On Human Rights, regarding the current situation in Thailand.


6th June 2014

HE. Marut Jitpatima
Royal Thai Embassy Singapore

HE. Dr Seree Nonthasoot
Representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission On Human Rights (AICHR)

Respect For Human Rights And Democratic Values Is Paramount 

MARUAH, a human rights organisation in Singapore, expresses grave concerns over the manner in which human rights are being gradually but systematically eroded since the military takeover and also over the suspension of the Thai Constitution. The imposition of martial law allows the military sweeping powers to restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.  Read the rest of this entry »


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