MARUAH’s forum letter on Singapore’s participation in UPR process

4 February 2016

MARUAH’s forum letter on Singapore’s participation in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, has been published online.

http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-on-the-web/more-meaningful-engagement-needed-on-human-rights

On Jan 27, Singapore participated in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee led a delegation that comprised civil service officers (“UN praises Singapore’s social policies”; Jan 29).

Absent from the table were ministers and elected government leaders, who ought to take the lead to speak for human rights, explain the Government’s stance and address the issues raised.

Maruah hopes that our government leaders take the UPR process seriously enough to spare time for a discussion on human rights issues.

Singapore’s human rights record should be presented by a minister or deputy minister.

Issues raised during the UPR session included recognising migrant workers and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, questioning, intersex, asexual (LGBTQIA) community as people with equal rights, abolishing the death penalty, reviewing the Internal Security Act and certain laws such as Section 377A, removing corporal punishment, and ratifying several international conventions.

Race and security also featured in some observations and questions, with countries asking for clear ratification on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

There were also calls made for a National Human Rights Institution and an independent elections commission to be set up.

These are issues that civil society, Singaporeans and the Government will continue to negotiate on.

However, Maruah finds the approach and stance taken by the Government to certain issues disappointing.

The use of exceptionalism to defend the existence of anachronisms like the death penalty and arbitrary detention without trial shows the Government’s lack of commitment to the core principles of human rights.

Human rights are indivisible, inalienable and interdependent.

Yes, we live in difficult times, where security of the person and a country are real.

All the more we need to have meaningful engagement on these issues between our population and the Government.

Braema Mathi (Ms)
President
Maruah


Jakarta terrorist attack – Letter of support to Indonesia Government

17 January 2016

MARUAH, a human rights group in Singapore, condemns the senseless and cowardly terrorist attacks in Jakarta on 14 January 2016 that resulted in the needless loss of lives.

We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families and the people of Indonesia and support the efforts made by the Indonesian government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

MARUAH also supports the Singapore government in its offer of help to Indonesia and the calls made by our Ministers to remain vigilant against these threats in our own country. It is our hope that all people in Singapore will also remain resolute in the face of such challenges and will support peace and humanitarian efforts should the need arise.

Braema Mathi
President
MARUAH Singapore


MARUAH statement at UPR pre-session on Singapore

16 December 2015

Speech by MARUAH for MARUAH and Collective of Singapore NGOs (COSINGO)

DECLARATION MADE BY MARUAH Singapore
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR) PRE-SESSION ON SINGAPORE, GENEVA
16th DECEMBER 2015

Presentation of the Organisation
1. This statement is delivered by MARUAH Singapore, on behalf of Civil Society Organisations and individuals who have participated and followed the UPR process. “MARUAH” is a human rights NGO with special consultative status on the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

National consultations for the drafting of the national report (if any)
2. There were 2 government-organised consultations held in Singapore.

3. MARUAH held 3 open consultations with various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), individuals and university students.

Acknowledgment of work done by the Singapore Government
4. Since the 2011 UPR, the Government has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013, acceded to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UN TIP Protocol), often known as the Palermo Protocol in 2015, made legislative changes to the mandatory death penalty, thus introducing discretionary approaches and signed onto the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

5. The Government has organised more consultations without CSOs asking for it. Seemingly the government is becoming more open in discussing matters with civil society though the number of people being hauled up under various laws, continues as a deterrent to shut the voices down.

Plan of this Statement
6. The statement addresses the following issues:-
a. Freedom of expression, Freedom of information, Freedom of peaceful assembly and association
b. Impediments to free and fair electoral systems, specifically the GRC system, redrawing of electoral boundaries
c. Lack of Independent Institutions for elections and setting up a National Human Rights Body
d. Ratification of other core international human rights instruments, specifically CERD, and optional protocols for CEDAW, CRC, CRPD
e. Continued usage of preventive detention without trial, under ISA & CLTPA
f. Lack of human rights education in schools

7. This statement will not go into all details but we have introduced footnotes to highlight the notes and evidence. (https://maruahsg.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/maruahupr2015-final.pdf); (https://maruahsg.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/combinedupr-final.pdf)

8. The aim of asking for interventions through questions and recommendations is for people in Singapore to be able to move away from this fear-ridden climate that we are embedded in.

Read the rest of this entry »


Human Rights Day 2015 – MARUAH statement

10 December 2015

The UN Human Rights Office is launching on Human Rights Day “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” a year-long campaign to shine a light on the inalienable and inherent rights of global citizens — now, and always.

“Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” revolves around the timeless themes of rights and freedom and the relevance of the work that continues in securing and ensuring them. At its core, FREEDOM, underpins the International Bill of Human Rights – freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want.

In-line with the theme chosen, MARUAH is issuing the following statement for Human Rights Day 2015, 10th December.

Fifty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted two international treaties that would forever shape international human rights: The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Fifty years ago, Singapore also gained full independence. Till date, the Singapore government has not ratified the 2 original core international human rights instruments, the ICCPR and ICESCR.

Singapore still has much to do to build political institutions, judicial systems, and economies that allow ordinary people to live with dignity. The growth of hate speech against religious and racial minorities, the justification of rights violations in the name of combating terrorism, the clawing back of economic and social rights in the name of economic crises or security, and the failure to respect the right to privacy in the digital age, show the relevance of the 2 Covenants and the need to respect them.

On this Human Rights Day, we call on our Singapore government to ratify both the the ICCPR and ICESCR, as a commitment to the citizens of Singapore.

MARUAH Singapore

References
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2015/Pages/HRD2015.aspx


MARUAH’s responds to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s comments on the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee

14 July 2015

MEDIA STATEMENT

For immediate use

13 July 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament today (13 July 2015) that he has asked the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee to have smaller Group Representation Constituencies, and to have at least 12 Single Member Constituencies. This committee was formed two months ago. The Committee, Mr Lee said, is in the midst of deliberations and will make recommendations to the Prime Minister when it is ready.

MARUAH would like to raise its objections to this approach as advocated by the Prime Minister.

Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH’s statement at #FreeAmosYee event

6 July 2015

Date: 5th July 2015

Thank you for coming to this event. Thank you to Community Action Network (CAN) for organising this event.

My discussion will be in four parts: – I will share a story; I will then share views on us, as a society; then it will be on Amos Yee; before ending off on what the government may do. This is not an easy piece to speak on and there is an ongoing trial. I will try my best.

I would like to begin by first telling a story. It is a story of Mr Alan Turing. A very bright Londoner who spent most of his time at University of Manchester. He was a pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. I, shamefully, never heard of Turing till last year when I was on a Commonwealth Leader’s Programme and we visited the University. Turing was a genius. During World War II he decoded Nazi messages, helping the British to be one-step ahead in the War against the Nazis. His genius inspired many at the University. But he had one ‘flaw’ (as it was seen then) – he was a homosexual. When he was found out in 1952 the government ordered that he be injected with female estrogen, a move towards chemical castration. He turned into a bloated man, lost his athletic frame, and also descended into “grief and madness”. Before his 42nd birthday he killed himself by eating an apple he had dipped in cyanide.

Today the University has a sculpture in his honour and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has apologised for the trauma and the torture that the government had inflicted on Mr Turing. I was very impressed that the government had realised the errors of its ways and apologised. A rare occurrence here, you might say. But I was also struck deeply by how this Mr Turing, a genius, a contributor to society, had to suffer, much, just because he was a homosexual; just because society saw homosexuality as demonic and made it, non-normal. I was struck by the story, the sculpture and the regret. Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH’s Statement on Defamation Law and the Case Against Mr Roy Ngerng

1 July 2015

MARUAH, a Human Rights Non-Governmental Organisation, objects to government leaders using the Defamation Law to institute defamation lawsuits against its critics, regardless of whether the offending statement is defamatory or not.

We make these remarks as the court assesses the damages that Mr Roy Ngerng has to pay for the remarks made against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In May 2014 Mr Ngerng, a blogger, was sued by Mr Lee Hsien Loong, whom we assume is acting in his private capacity and not as the Prime Minister. Mr Lee’s lawyers demanded that Mr Ngerng remove the article in question, issue an apology on his blog, and offer compensation to Mr Lee. Mr Ngerng acceded to all the demands, including removing four other articles, and made an offer of S$5,000 as compensation to Mr Lee. Mr Lee’s lawyers, however, dismissed the amount as ‘derisory’, and commenced legal action on 30 May 2014. In January 2015, Mr Ngerng was ordered by the court to pay $29,000 to Mr Lee. Today (1 July 2015) the courts will decide on the damages that Mr Ngerng has to pay to Mr Lee Hsien Loong. Read the rest of this entry »


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