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


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.

#rights365 – Human Rights Day 2014

7 December 2014

maruah - rights365On 10 December every year, Human Rights Day commemorates the date on which the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This year’s slogan, Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.

Make your voice heard now: explain on your social media of choice (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc.), why Human Rights matter 365, e.g. how human rights issues affect our lives and people around us everyday, both positively and adversely.

Use the hashtags #rights365 and #maruahSG, so that your submissions can be easily identified

  • example 1: 8.30am – as you squeeze yourself into the MRT to rush to work, spare a thought for the FDW who wakes up at 6am and earns approximately S$500 a month; in her first few months in Singapore, her salary does not go to her, as she needs to repay a loan; she had to borrow money from the agency to travel to Singapore. She may or may not have a day off a week [UDHR Article 23, Article 24] #rights365 #maruahSG
  • example 2: 10.15am – while your teacher tries to get you to concentrate on today’s lesson, did you know that a quota was put on the number of women entering medical school, limiting it to a third or less of the total number accepted. It  was lifted in only in 2002 [UDHR Article 26] #rights365 #maruahSG
  • example 3: 6.30pm – as you check your Facebook feed on the way home, looking at the latest controversial comments brewing online, remember that exercising your right to express your opinion should also be balanced with recognition and respect for the rights of others [UDHR Article 19, Article 29] #rights365 #maruahSG

Do check the UDHR to see what are your fundamental human rights (and responsibilities).

This social media campaign will run from 8th-15th December 2014.

World Day Against Child Labour

12 June 2014

World Day Against Child Labour was started by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2002 to draw attention to the need for political will to combat the scourge of child labour.

According to the ILO there are currently over 168 million child labourers all over the world. That is, globally an average of one in ten children is being exploited. They work in industries as diverse as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, fishing, retail, transportation, food and beverage and even hospitality. The majority of child labourers are involved in hazardous work or work that poses a risk to their health and safety.

In Singapore we are fortunate enough to be in environment where children are not exposed to such exploitation. But as consumers we need to be cognizant that eliminating child labour must become a priority for each and every one of us. The Asia and Pacific region alone has the largest number of child labourers at 78 million or 9.3% of the total child population. Read the rest of this entry »

Debate and Panel Discussion: Education & The Rights Of The Child

8 October 2013

Education & The Rights Of The Child

MARUAH invites you to commemorate Universal Children’s Day by spending an afternoon considering the rights of the child in the Singapore education system.

The Debate
Student debaters from Debate Association (Singapore) will be debate the responsibilities of the parents, schools and policy in the education and well-being of the child. Watch this space for the release of the hot topic motion.

The Discussion
The panel discussion will focus on the development of rights-based education policies including the right to quality education, the right to a child-friendly and healthy learning environment and the provision of a broad-based curriculum.

Join in the discussion with our panel of educators, parents and Adrian Tan- lawyer and author of the bestselling novels The Teenage Textbook and The Teenage Workbook. Read the rest of this entry »

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

23 August 2013

Today, the 23rd of August is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, as designated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The day is in remembrance of the atrocities and gross human rights violations committed during the transatlantic slave trade.

The date is of particular significance because it commemorates the 1791 uprising on the island of Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic), which was a major milestone and catalyst in the eventual abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

This August 23rd, MARUAH would like to remember the men and women who were denied the very basic right of being a free human being.

For more details, visit the link below.