Letter to Indian High Commissioner on gang rape case

31 December 2012

Please see below for MARUAH’s letter to the Indian High Commissioner to Singapore.

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Your Excellency,

We, members of a human rights group called MARUAH which is based in Singapore, would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and the people of India over the sad passing away of the 23-year-old woman who was brutally gang-raped. We are sorry that every effort made to save her life has failed. Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH letter to ST Forum on M Ravi

4 September 2012

MARUAH recently submitted a letter to the Straits Times Forum on actions taken by the Law Society of Singapore in respect of Mr M. Ravi.

The forum letter can be found at the link below.
http://www.straitstimes.com/archive/monday/premium/forum-letters/story/concerned-about-actions-taken-law-society-20120903


ST Forum letter – Monitoring of media coverage of Hougang By-Election

5 June 2012

Please see below for our letter to the Straits Times Forum.

NGO’s media coverage findings
We read with interest the recent exchange between Workers’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang (1)(2) and the editors of The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao (‘Low explains comments on media’; last Wednesday).

MARUAH believes media monitoring during elections is pivotal to free and fair elections. Such monitoring to ensure balanced coverage has to be done by neutral parties, and the conclusions shared with the public.

We conducted a media monitoring exercise during the Hougang by-election. Due to limited resources, the immediate analysis was limited to the English-language newspapers and Lianhe Wanbao. We had conducted similar exercises for the General Election and Presidential Election last year. Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH’s comments on the practice of threatening defamation lawsuits

5 March 2012

MARUAH is troubled by the recent incidents of politicians threatening defamation lawsuits against internet blogs and forums, and calls on our political and corporate leaders to refrain from using defamation lawsuits against political opponents and critics.

MARUAH recognises that individuals, including public figures, have a right to protect their reputations. However, that right needs to be balanced against the right to free speech.

When political leaders threaten defamation lawsuits against internet blogs and forums, there will invariably be a “chilling effect” on online political discourse. Such actions to protect one’s reputation carries a heavier “footprint” than necessary, and more appropriate responses to defamatory comments are possible, in today’s Web 2.0 world.

Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH’s letter to the ST Forum: A-G should give reasons for prosecuting a case

15 January 2012

A-G should give reasons for prosecuting a case
http://www.straitstimes.com/STForum/Story/STIStory_755360.html

We are troubled by the lack of transparency and apparent inequality in the different charges brought against two men (‘Apex court clears air on A-G’s power’; Wednesday).

Because of the different drug trafficking charges, Ramalingam Ravinthran faces the hangman, while Sundar Arujunan was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.

Read the rest of this entry »


The case of Ismil Kadar and the death penalty – MARUAH’s letter to the ST Forum

12 July 2011

Please see below for MARUAH’s letter to the ST Forum on the case of Mr Ismil Kadar and the death penalty.

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http://www.straitstimes.com/STForum/Story/STIStory_689614.html
A case for discussion on death penalty

I REFER to last Wednesday’s article (‘Man accused of murder freed after 6 years in jail’).

This case supports MARUAH’s position that various aspects of the death penalty in Singapore contravene international human rights norms.

The principle of proportionality requires that the death penalty applies only to the most serious cases.

Singapore also allows someone to be convicted based solely on his confession to the police. It is difficult, if not impossible, for an accused person to prove that his confession was involuntary.

MARUAH calls for the death penalty to be unavailable in cases where the conviction was based only on a confession, as well as especially rigorous supervision of police interrogations in potential capital cases, such as having video-recording of interrogations.

More importantly, Ismil Kadar reportedly has an IQ of 73. MARUAH is troubled by the apparent lack of safeguards when interrogating persons with mental disabilities, and asks the police to clarify the protections that are in place.

More fundamentally, MARUAH believes that it would never be just to hang a person with mental disabilities based solely on his confession.
The recent introduction of criminal discovery, 13 years after the Law Society first called for it in 1998, has addressed the historical disadvantages to the defence in the criminal justice system. But we have to wonder if there had been potential miscarriages of justice before this.

The irreversibility of the death penalty demands the most rigorous of processes before someone is convicted and hanged.

MARUAH believes that Singapore needs to have an open and informed debate on whether the death penalty has a place here, and if so, in what shape and form.

MARUAH also calls for a moratorium on executions in the interim. Cases like Ismil’s demand that we do this, to ensure that Singapore never comes close to hanging an innocent person.

Peter Low
Death Penalty Committee
MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)


Letter to Elections department on voting procedures for visually-handicapped Singaporeans

6 May 2011

MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore) has written to the Elections department regarding voting procedures for visually-handicapped Singaporeans. The letter is reproduced below.

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5 May 2011

Mr Lee Seng Lup
Head, Elections Department
Singapore

Dear Sir,

Re: Proper voting procedures for visually-handicapped Singaporeans

I write on behalf of MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore), a registered human rights NGO in Singapore. We are writing to you in respect of certain issues relating to the voting procedures applicable to visually-handicapped Singaporeans.

It has come to our attention that when visually-handicapped Singaporeans vote, their votes may not be secret, and they also have no assurance that their votes are being properly cast in accordance with their wishes. This appears to be causing significant concern within the visually-handicapped community in Singapore.

Read the rest of this entry »


MARUAH (Singapore Working Group on ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism) is a member of the International Council of Social Welfare

10 March 2009

The International Council of Social Welfare is a global network of civil society organisations promoting social welfare, social development and social justice.

Please see the attachment for more details.

Welcome Letter to MARUAH – 6 Mar 09


‘No One Solution’

9 June 2008

The Attorney-General, Prof Walter Woon, has responded to MARUAH’s forum letter to TODAY.

‘NO ONE SOLUTION’

A balance has to be struck between individual rights and overall good of society

Monday • June 9, 2008

Letter from :PROFESSOR WALTER WOON:Attorney-General

I REFER to the letter “Keep our door open to ideas” by Siew Kum Hong(June 6).

Mr Siew has misunderstood me. I surmise from his letter that he was not present at my talk.

In my address at the launch of the Law Society’s Public and International Law Committee, I said that for some people human rights has become a religion. This religion, like so many others, has its fanatics who display all the hypocrisy and zealotry of religious bigots.

They believe that there is only one permissible view of human rights — theirs. They assume that when they decide what human rights are, that decision is for the rest of humanity.

I gave the example of those who think that the right to free expression means that one can insult the Prophet of a great religion with impunity. I asked rhetorically, can we accept this in our society?

I pointed out that all our moral codes emphasise obligations rather than rights: The rule is “thou shalt not steal” and not “thou hast a right to property”.

I also said that the balance between rights and obligations is one for each society to decide.

Let me make my position clear lest I be misunderstood again. Human rights are a key component of good governance. But there is no consensus on where the line is to be drawn between the rights of an individual and the good of the society as a whole.

Human rights fanatics think that their opinion is the standard to which the rest of humanity must conform to and that they are entitled to issue reports criticising those who hold a different view. These are people who evidently believe that they and their values represent the apex of human moral development.

There is no one solution that will fit all societies.

I took pains to say that we must decide for ourselves where we draw the line between individual rights and the common good, because if we get it wrong, it will be our children who will pay the price. But that is a debate for us, not for those who know nothing of our history, culture or values and who do not have our interests at heart.

I have never dismissed the sincerely-held views of anyone who is genuinely interested in dialogue. A constructive debate about our obligations to our fellow citizens and the guests who live among us is healthy.

That is why I wholeheartedly supported the Law Society’s initiative in creating a Public and International Law Committee and having a series of lectures on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Human rights key to good governance but…

9 June 2008

Professor Walter Woon has replied to AWARE’s forum letter in the Straits Times

Human rights key to good governance but…
I REFER to last Friday’s letter, ‘Human-rights fanatics is what Singapore needs’ by Mrs Constance Singam. She misunderstands me completely. I surmise from her letter that she was not at my talk. Otherwise, she would have known that I did not attack human-rights activists.

In my address at the launch of the Law Society’s Public and International Law Committee, I said that for some people, human rights have become a religion. This religion, like so many others, has its fanatics who display all the hypocrisy and zealotry of religious bigots.

They believe that there is only one permissible view of human rights – theirs. They assume that when they decide what human rights are, that decision is a decision for the rest of humanity.

I gave the example of those who think that the right to free expression means that one can insult the Prophet of a great religion with impunity. I asked rhetorically, can we accept this in our society?

I pointed out that all our moral codes emphasise obligations rather than rights: the rule is ‘thou shalt not steal’ and not ‘thou hast a right to property’. I further said that the balance between rights and obligations is one for each society to decide.

Lest I be misunderstood again, let me make my position clear. Human rights are a key component of good governance. But there is no consensus on where the line is to be drawn between the rights of an individual and the good of the society as a whole.

Human-rights fanatics think that their opinion is the standard to which the rest of humanity must conform and that they are entitled to issue reports criticising those who hold a different view. These are people who evidently believe that they and their values represent the apex of human moral development.

There is no one solution that will fit all societies. I took pains to say – and Mrs Singam would have known this had she attended the talk – that we must decide for ourselves what is right for our society because, if we get it wrong, it will be our children who will pay the price.

A constructive dialogue on what our obligations are to our fellow citizens and the guests who live among us is healthy. We must decide where we draw the line between individual rights and the common good.

But that is a debate for us, not for those who know nothing of our history, culture or values and who do not have our interests at heart.

That is why I wholeheartedly supported the Law Society’s initiative in creating a Public and International Law Committee and having a series of lectures on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Professor Walter Woon
Attorney-General