MDA censorship of Les Miserables

15 June 2016

MARUAH notes with concern the recent Media Development Authority’s (MDA) censorship on a same-sex kiss in the musical Les Miserables. This, together with the Ministry of Home Affairs’s ban on foreign corporate support of Pink Dot, panders to narrow minded prejudices. It limits freedom of expression and wrongly presumes that Singaporeans are not mature enough to make up our own minds on such issues.

The tragic events in Orlando, Florida remind us of the prejudice, discrimination and even hatred the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community often faces.

Smothering discussion of issues just because someone may be offended does not advance tolerance and understanding. Civilised and robust debate does. We are a diverse society with multiple races, religious groups, languages and sexual orientations.

Tolerance makes difference possible, difference makes tolerance necessary. And yet tolerance and/or accommodation are all not great steps. We ask that Singapore engages on the issues of same sex expressions by providing equality. 

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 »


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 »


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 »