Friday, February 12, 2010

Free Burma Campaign Singapore statement on the 2010 Burma elections (Media release)

Free Burma Campaign Singapore statement on the 2010 Burma elections (Media release) « Free Burma Campaign Singapore


Today, February 12, marks the 63rd anniversary of the Union Day of Burma. To commemorate this important date, Free Burma Campaign Singapore (FBCSG) is issuing a statement with regards to the upcoming 2010 elections.

We call upon the regime to respect the voices and choices of the people by carrying out a free and fair election. Before the elections take place, we insist that the regime meets three crucial benchmarks:

1. The immediate release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
2. National reconciliation: Inclusive dialogue with key stakeholders from democracy groups and ethnic nationalities, including a comprehensive review of the 2008 Constitution.
3. Total cessation of the systematic abuse of human rights and criminal hostilities against ethnic groups, political activists, journalists and civil society.

These benchmarks must be fulfilled before the elections in order to provide equal opportunities for opposition politicians and Burmese society at large. The elections cannot be presumed free and fair without first meeting these conditions.

We at FBCSG also express concern at the fundamentally flawed structure of the Constitution, which binds the electoral process and beyond.

A high proportion of parliamentary powers is allocated to the military; any proper mechanism for the protection of human rights is lacking. Any election that takes place without a thorough review of the Constitution will not bring about any political and social change in Burma.

Contact us at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Defining Graciousness - Tampines Rental Flats

1. Gracious: behaving in a pleasant, polite, calm way
2. Gracious: having the qualities of great comfort, beauty and freedom made possible by being rich

HDB says it is building rental flats for the poor and needy, and some residents are dismayed that the quality of their neighbourhood may decline, safety may be compromised, "smokers and drinkers may gather at the void deck" and the view and breeze may be blocked. What a gracious attitude.

It was quite disappointing to hear what some residents had to say. The people I do agree with, however, are the residents who are in an uproar not due to a diminished breeze but because of the lack of consultation from Tampines GRC MPs. If something was being built in my backyard, I'd appreciate a bit more than a notice in the lift lobby.

With the recent news of three opposition parties keen to contest Tampines GRC,it would make sense for the current MPs to work towards maintaining their positions.

Instead, this move has left many residents very unhappy, with one saying, "Mr. Sin should have had the decency to consult his constituents, but he conveniently bypassed us."

Mr Sin, a Tampines GRC MP, said that "consulting the residents...would have led to the premature release of price-sensitive information affecting people's decision to buy or sell flats in the area".

I understand this to mean that they predicted residents would be opposed to the rental flats and didn't want a sudden selling spree to decrease the value of the flats. Maybe they also feared that if the information was known, sales of the flats might be affected.

UPDATE: TODAY reports that Mr Sin assures residents, "the peace won't be disturbed, the quality of the estate won't be hurt". If that's the case I wonder why residents were not informed and assured of this beforehand.

So from the recent HDB issues, we can conclude that:
- Under the current conditions, existing HDB flat owners were not consulted about major changes to their estate.
- Neglecting to consult residents is okay as long as MPs give their delayed assurance in response to an uproar.
- Singaporeans who vote against what they are unhappy with are daft.
- If an opposition party wins, flats will "no longer be of any value".

A simple analogy: If your boyfriend is going to leave you for another girl, calling him stupid is not the best way to win him back. Carrying out renovations on his house without telling him about it is not a good idea either. And badmouthing the other girl doesn't put you in a better light.

Monday, February 8, 2010

SFD's Direction for 2010

A gathering at Dr. James Gomez's place on Saturday, 6 February 2010 was the first Singaporeans for Democracy meeting after being officially approved as a political association by the Registry of Societies.

There was a report in Today about how the group was gazetted as a political association, complete with opinions from political analysts.

SFD's response to these comments went unpublished, which I found quite disappointing. Well, Walter Fernandez says no need, means no need. It's good that we have the internet at our disposal these days.

SFD will have a flagship event this year, the Singapore Human Rights film festival, while working on recruitment drives and fund-raising. More details about becoming a member can be found here.

The core of what SFD stands for stems from our National Pledge - mainly, 'to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality'. We've said it so many times, at school, on National Day, hands on hearts.

Originally written in 1966, it's about time to take a step towards those words; it's about time we make those words count.

Here's the video we recorded at the meeting on Saturday about the future of SFD.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When Your Life Depends on a Presumption

Because possession is presumably trafficking.

In Singapore, a person presumed to be trafficking a stipulated type and amount of drug receives a mandatory death sentence - no questions asked.

Heroin – more than 15 grams
Cocaine – more than 30 grams
Crystal Meth – more than 250 grams
Cannabis – more than 500 grams
Cannabis mixture – more than 1000 grams
According to Central Narcotics Bureau

If you're found with less, e.g. 3 grams of Cocaine, the burden of proof that you're not trafficking is on you. This has led me to question the technicalities of key points in this whole equation: mandatory, trafficking, possession, presumption.

Mandatory - according to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, describes something which must be done, or which is demanded by law.

So, more than 30 grams of Cocaine, the law demands that you're hanged. More than 3 grams and the burden of proof is on you - DP if you can't prove you weren't trafficking.


According to the Misuse of Drugs Act,
Presumption concerning trafficking
17. Any person who is proved to have had in his possession more than —

* see Part III (17) for full list of drugs and amounts

- whether or not contained in any substance, extract, preparation or mixture, shall be presumed to have had that drug in possession for the purpose of trafficking unless it is proved that his possession of that drug was not for that purpose.


Basically, possession is deemed trafficking unless you can prove otherwise. Which brings us to another important factor: what constitutes possession?


Presumption of possession and knowledge of controlled drugs
18. —(1) Any person who is proved to have had in his possession or custody or under his control —
(a) anything containing a controlled drug;
(b) the keys of anything containing a controlled drug;
(c) the keys of any place or premises or any part thereof in which a controlled drug is found; or
(d) a document of title relating to a controlled drug or any other document intended for the delivery of a controlled drug,
shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have had that drug in his possession.


A word that keeps coming up is presume.

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary,
Presume - to believe something to be true because it is very likely, although you are not certain.

So it comes down to this.
The punishment for drug trafficking: A person found with drugs, or with access to a premises where drugs are found, can and/or will be hanged as is demanded by law because it is very likely that he/she owned, had control of and intended to traffic the drugs, although no one can really be certain.

Or, to keep it simple:
DP for drugs in Singapore = When your life depends on a presumption.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Young PAP - Platform for women and youth?

There was an article in The Straits Times today about the recent surge in Young PAP members - over 1,000 to be exact.

On the very same page is an article on how Singaporeans for Democracy has successfully received approval for its registration.

A quick search on facebook showed that Young PAP (YP) has over 2000 members, while the newly approved Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD)has over 500. This is heartening considering YP has been around for more than ten years and SFD has officially been around since Tuesday.

What I take issue with from the article is this:

"A new trend among the newcomers is the large number of women, a change the male-dominated organisation is proud of, said Mr. Ismail.

Almost 45 per cent of the recruits are women, partly a result of YP urging its male members to coax their wives, girlfriends or sisters to be members."

Fortunately, women now have a place in politics as our brave, smart boyfriends, husbands and brothers have "coaxed" us. After all, if you join YP it means you're a chio bu, right?

"The YP also has, according to some netizens, another pull factor: Pretty girls. One netizen highlighted recently several "chiobu" - a Hokkien slang for pretty girl - in its executive committee and among its members.

MP Teo shrugs it off: "I don't know how the ladies feel, but I think it's quite flattering. If they join us, then they join. If they are good-looking... that's a plus!"

If YP had any intention of using their recent statistics to portray themselves as a platform to empower youth and women, this is an epic fail. It's flattering to be seen as a chio bu and a girl, instead of an informed, intelligent member?

Or perhaps I speak too soon. Let's give the 45 per cent some time to check with their male significant others/brothers how they should feel about this.

While checking the Young PAP facebook page today, I came across something I didn't know. The PAP cheer is strangely similar to our national anthem. My extensive research into Majulah Singapura recently made this information very surprising.
Had to say something so I joined for comment-making purposes, bracing myself for "is now a fan of Young PAP" comments.

How did our National Anthem become the PAP Party Cheer?
This makes me really sad.
Government and Country is not the same thing.

First of all.

This is blog no. 3.
The first has been abandoned, the second is still very much active but I've been meaning to set up another where I can talk about things other than music and personal issues.

Online revolution and all.

It really is about time.