MARUAH Statement on arrest and prosecution of Jolovan Wham

3 December 2017

MEDIA STATEMENT

For immediate use

3 December 2017

MARUAH condemns the arrest and prosecution of Jolovan Wham.

Civil society activist Jolovan Wham was arrested and charged with organizing public assemblies without a permit, vandalism and refusal to sign statements made to the police. The protests that Mr Wham is charged with leading are well-documented in mainstream and social media, and it is readily apparent that none of them posed a credible threat to public order. Mr Wham’s actions are merely public criticisms of the government’s stance on detention without trial, capital punishment and free speech. It is revealing that in the police press release announcing the arrest of Mr Wham, the police make a great deal of Mr Wham’s “recalcitrance” as if he were a child defying parental authority.

Singapore’s Constitution guarantees citizens of Singapore the right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to assemble peaceably. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” while Article 20 (1) provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

MARUAH urges the government to drop the charges against Mr Wham and to remove all unnecessary and unreasonable restrictions on the right to free speech, expression, and assembly in Singapore.

Ngiam Shih Tung
Vice-President
MARUAH


The Death Penalty – Yea or Nay? – presentation slides

28 May 2017

Please see below for slides presented at MARUAH’s forum on the death penalty, on 28 May 2017.

1. Chan Wing Cheong – The Singapore story

2. Tan Ern Ser – Public Opinion on the Death Penalty Survey Findings

3. Jack Lee – DeathPenalty-WorldwideView

4. M Ravi – DP Presentation

5. Interview with Sister Gerard Fernandez by Alan John for his book ‘The Unholy Trinity_


Electronic attendance-taking at polls

28 May 2017

The Straits Times reported on May 20, 2017 that the Elections Department plans to introduce electronic registration of voters at polling stations during elections. As this potentially affects the ability of polling agents to monitor the polling process, MARUAH wrote a letter to the editor to raise our concerns and to urge the Elections Department to provide advance notice of any changes, and to take public feedback into account before making any changes.

Don’t trade security for convenience (Straits Times, May 25, 2017)

The Elections Department recently revealed that it was testing a system that will electronically register voters during elections (Elections Dept to pilot electronic voter registration; May 20).

Thanks to the efforts of the civil service, Singapore has a very efficient and fuss-free polling process, without problems which even some well-established democracies face – long queues, voter fraud and other electoral misconduct.

However, there is always a trade-off between security and efficiency.

Elections officials must guard against not just the risk of external interference but also the misconduct of voters and candidates.

To ensure that a person is entitled to vote and to prevent him or her from voting more than once, presiding officers check the electoral register and physically mark against the name of the voter.

Crucially, this is done within earshot of polling agents appointed by candidates so that the polling agents may also check against their own copies of the electoral register.

Whether registration is done electronically or manually, it is imperative that polling agents have an independent means of verifying a voter’s eligibility and of preventing plural voting.

The goal of reducing waiting time is laudable but this cannot be allowed to undermine the safeguards in our system against electoral fraud.

We urge the Elections Department to publicise any proposed changes to voting procedures far in advance of implementation and to take feedback from the public, political parties and other stakeholders into account before making any changes.

Ngiam Shih Tung
Vice-President
Maruah

The Elections Department replied to the letter two days later, saying that the electronic system was only for registration of attendance, and not for issuance of ballot papers. They also said that they would hold roadshows to collect feedback before implementation.

No sacrificing voting security for convenience (Straits Times, May 27, 2017)

We thank Mr Ngiam Shih Tung for his letter (Don’t trade security for convenience; May 25).

The current registration procedure at a Polling Station requires an election official to manually search for and strike off the voter’s name from the hard copy of the Polling Station Register (PSR).

The proposed eRegistration procedure registers a voter by electronically scanning his identity card and marking his record in the electronic copy of the PSR.

This will allow registration to be done in a shorter time, and reduce waiting time for voters. The electronic registration system will also alert the election official if an individual not eligible to vote turns up to register, or if a voter who registered earlier turns up again to register.

After a voter has been registered in the proposed new system, he will proceed to a different counter to be issued with a ballot paper.

During the issuance of the ballot paper, election officials will continue to read out the name and serial number of the voter in the PSR.

Polling agents will be seated within earshot of these counters to enable them to check against their own copies of the PSR, as per existing practice.

The Elections Department (ELD) plans to pilot eRegistration on a small scale first. Ahead of the pilot, we will conduct roadshows to familiarise voters involved in the pilot with the new registration procedure.

We will take into account feedback from the roadshows before we commence with the pilot. We will also review the lessons from the pilot before assessing the approach for full implementation.

Security will not be traded off for the sake of convenience. The ELD is fully committed to ensuring the integrity of voting procedures and of the entire electoral process.

Ang Boon Chin

Deputy Head (Operations)
Elections Department

MARUAH Election Watch has been monitoring Parliamentary and Presidental elections in Singapore since 2011 and has published several position papers on electoral issues such as Group Representation Constituencies(GRCs) and constituency boundaries  in Singapore. We will continue to monitor issues affecting Singaporeans’ right to free and fair elections.


The Death Penalty – Yea or Nay?

17 April 2017

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-17 at 2.33.35 PM

Date: 27th May 2017
Time: 2.00 – 5.00pm
Venue: The Seminar Room, 51 Cuppage Road, #07-22, Singapore 229469
(behind Centrepoint Shopping Centre, opposite Somerset MRT)
See map – https://goo.gl/maps/MFkeHBYXzBw

The Death Penalty – Yea or Nay? Have your say
A discussion on the relevance of the death penalty in Singapore
To discuss capital punishment/the death penalty in Singapore and Singaporeans’ perspectives and feelings about it.

1: The Singapore story on the death penalty
A/Prof Chan Wing Cheong will share the history of the death penalty in Singapore, cases by law on the Death penalty and share some cases that ask for our greater discussions.

2: What do Singaporeans have to say on the Death Penalty in Singapore?
A/Prof Tan Ern Ser will speak on Singaporeans approach to the Death Penalty and share findings done by the NUS and SMU teams who had as their consultant Prof. Roger Hood from Oxford University who started this whole survey for Commonwealth countries and also shared his views with Dr Michael Hor, when he was at NUS.

3: Why Some countries believe in the Death Penalty?
Assistant Professor Jack Lee  Tsen-Ta will highlight countries that have death penalties and why they justify the DP as a form of punishment.

4: Why the death penalty should not be in Singapore anymore?
Mr M. Ravi will highlight countries that do not have the death penalty, as a means to punish perpetrators.

5: A Good Shepherd Mission Sister will share her experiences in a speech that the moderator will read.

Workshop, objectives and structure for Participants
– participants to be divided into 2 groups, one to discuss the pros/for the death penalty and the other the cons/against the death penalty
– each group will nominate a rep to present their arguments
– This is to create awareness, emotions, impact and thought processes on the subject of the death penalty
– flip boards, markers and paper will be provided

Outcomes
A paper based on the results of the forum will be put together and shared.

To attend this discussion, please register at our Facebook event page below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1711517559145939


Singapore Survey on Public Opinion on the Death Penalty

14 December 2016

The results of a public opinion survey on the Death Penalty, led by Professor Chang Wing Cheong and Professor Tan Ern Ser was released by the National University of Singapore on Thursday.

Ms Braema Mathi from MARUAH supported the survey by providing a NGO perspective. MARUAH is very happy this survey has been carried out, with the kind help of NUS and Prof Roger Hood from Oxford University, who led similar studies in Trinidad, Malaysia etc.

More on the issue of the Death Penalty can also be found on The Death Penalty Project website
http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/ 

The following findings of the survey report may be of interest

  • only 10 – 12 % of those profiled would support the mandatory death penalty for all cases (murder and drug trafficking);
  • when respondents were asked to rank five policies which they believed would be most likely to reduce very violent crimes leading to death and which four policies most likely to reduce the trade in dangerous drug, in both instances “better moral education of young people” was placed first by a majority of the respondents. Only 5% and 7% of the respondents ranked “greater number of executions” as being most effective to reduce violent crimes and drug trafficking respectively; and
  • those with degree qualification are 1.7 times more likely to support the death penalty than those with primary or lower education.

The survey report can be accessed below.
nus-public-opinion-report


The Sorry State of Human Rights in Singapore

5 December 2016

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Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Singapore, MARUAH, a human rights organisation, will mark the day with a public meeting at Hong Lim Park to draw much needed attention to the state of Human Rights in our country. Speakers at the event include: Teo Soh Lung; Paul Tambyah; Terry Xu; Sean Francis Han; Jolovan Wham; Han Hui Hui; Gilbert Goh; M Ravi; Tan Kin Lian and Leong Sze Hian.

As highlighted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Conflicts and deprivation are forcing families from their homes. Climate change darkens our horizons – and everywhere, it seems, anxieties are deepening. Humane values are under attack, and we feel overwhelmed – unsure what to do or where to turn.’

‘Join us. Help break the toxic patterns of a fearful world and embark on a more peaceful, more sustainable future. We don’t have to stand by while the haters drive wedges of hostility between communities – we can build bridges. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media, at home and on the sports field.’

‘Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone’s right to live free from fear and abuse. We can raise our voices for decent values. We can join others to publicly lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity.’

Event details
Date : 10 December 2016
Time : 4.00pm to 7.00pm
Venue : Speakers’ Corner
Hong Lim Park
[map]


The role of the press in Singapore

5 December 2016

Please see below for a research paper written by Ms Elsy Byuma, a law student from Belgium, on the role of the press in Singapore.

the-role-of-the-press-in-singapore