Legal Consensus, by Tey Tsun Hang

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Whoa, I really went on a blogging hiatus!

Thanks to all who asked how I’ve been doing.

I’ll keep it short — in my early 20’s, I was not exactly very wise or practical with money matters. So I’ve spent the past couple of years reading up on topics like personal finance and sitting down to really think about my career direction.

With that out of the way, I finally got round to reading Legal Consensus. 

It is an excellently researched and painstakingly referenced book (the content is in no way “fake news” or figments of an overactive imagination — the footnotes are a very detailed list of the factual events that occurred).

I have collated a few excerpts which capture the essence of the substance of the content.

I have also included a quote by the author, Tey Tsun Hang, and a quote on why the rule of law matters.

legal consensus book 

You may order a copy of Legal Consensus from Select Books.


TEY TSUN HANG on his academic integrity

“I am no longer willing to self-censor,” Tey wrote to the colleague who had advised him. “I certainly do not want any longer to compromise my intellectual honesty.

Source: The Monthly

WHY DOES RULE OF LAW MATTER?

It requires that society be ruled by law, and not by the arbitrary (often self-interested) decisions of the small group of men and women who happen to wield public and private power at any given point in time. If the laws are unclear, secret, constantly changing, or retroactive, or if officials and judges do not comply with the law impartially without fear or favour, then it becomes impossible to act within the law.

Source: World Justice Project

QUOTES FROM “LEGAL CONSENSUS”

Pg 3: The imposition of Asian values [served] as a replacement for western liberal ideology, which was deemed by the PAP as threat to its political dominance. . .the importation of Asian values has been seen as artificial and selective; certain Confucianist values like obedience to authority were emphasised, while other values like validity of criticism against evil governments were conveniently neglected.

Pg 76: An accused [would] be found guilty as long as the statements scandalised the judiciary. Therefore, no one can make any adverse comments on the judiciary, regardless of the extent of truth there is in the comments. This is an untenable position [and] may potentially condone judges who do not act in the best interests of justice.

Pg 121: Such clinical and carefree approach in this area of jurisprudence, where execution of the condemned prisoner is the end product, leaves a lot to be desired.

Pg 127: …the perceived need for out-of-bound markers (OB markers) to set the limits of political participation even with an open and consultative government.

The basis for the existence of OB markers lies in a patronising view of society: citizens have to be protected from their own irrationality by a father-figure in the form of the state.

Pg 128: The ideology of pragmatism, together with a paternalistic and elitist mindset, has enabled the PAP to carry through unpopular policies, in the name of national interest.

[The political model] reflects a doubtful trust in society’s judgment…this conception of politics provides the rationale for the PAP’s “monopoly of power,” because it is able to denounce any political interference that does not follow the official rules.

Pg 131: Civil society [in Singapore] was not left to develop independently, but had to develop according to PAP guidelines.

The idea of a “civic society,” as opposed to civil society, was first mentioned by George Yeo. The notion of civic society highlights the civic responsibilities of citizens, instead of their rights, as in the conventional understanding of civil society. The key difference between civil and civic society is that civil society engages the state in political matters, while civic society does not. The emphasis on civic society reveals the Executive’s preference for a state-endorsed civic society rather than a liberal civil society.

The Executive was able to maintain control and consensus through a strategy [that included] circumscribing the limits of the Law Society’s statutory powers, reducing the legal profession’s independence in self-regulation, and creating a climate of fear which keep members of the legal profession safely within prescribed limits.

Pg 161: Civil society in Singapore, therefore, is not being genuinely liberated, but is being “steered in a fixed and institutionalised framework,” [and] should not be confused with a fully fledged civil society endowed with autonomous associations organised independently from the state.

Source: Legal Consensus, by Tsun Hang Tey (2011)

Get a Copy @ Select Books

 

Excerpts from “Scandalising the Singapore Judiciary”

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Excerpts from “Scandalising the Singapore Judiciary”

by Tsun Hang Tey (2010)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Informit.com.au | Ebscohost

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Definitions:

1. Rule of Law: The legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials (Wiki).

2. Scandalise: To dishonor and disgrace (TFD).

3. Jurisprudence: Legal system.

Extracts from Article:

1) [This article] hopes to open up a new line of debate over the extent to which it is ‘rule of law’ or ‘rule by law’ that is adopted in matters where criticisms of the ruling party and its leaders in Singapore are involved.

2) Scandalising the Singapore judiciary [is] an archaic phrase which embodies ‘any act done or writing published calculated to bring a court or a judge of the court into contempt, or to lower his authority’.

3) The Singapore courts have dealt firmly with these contemnors through the contempt of court committals, shaping a jurisprudence that places [emphasis on] maintaining good public perception of its ‘integrity and impartiality’, at the expense of freedom of political speech and critical reporting.

4) It is said that the rationale behind the law of contempt is ‘not to vindicate the dignity of the court or [judge], but to prevent undue interference with the administration of justice’, as well as to preserve public confidence in the integrity and competence of the judiciary.

5) The 11 November 1974 issue of Newsweek magazine that was alleged to have had the effect of scandalising the court of Singapore. . .ended with the shocking allegation – that ‘in the courts in Singapore it makes a vital difference whether it is the government or the opposition that is in the dock.’

6) Christopher Lingle, the author of an article published in the International Herald Tribune was convicted [of] contempt by scandalising the court [by] suggesting that the Singapore judiciary was ‘compliant’ to its government.

7) [The Singapore judiciary] has failed to undertake a searching or meaningful analysis of the issue of the permissibility of derogation from the constitutional right of free speech, and has also failed to appreciate the importance of achieving an appropriate balance between the social benefit of preserving its integrity, and the freedom to report critically.

8) The Singapore judges have sworn to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’, [where] the purpose of the Constitution is in protecting and guaranteeing the rights of citizens. Where freedom of speech and expression is considered to be a basic human right, it is all the more important that the courts provide a proper rationale for derogation of such a right.

9) It is common to observe the courts citing from other judgments without giving much input into the rationales and reasons for doing so. . .the rigour and depth in the reasoning employed in judgments pertaining to other areas of the law seem to be lacking in contempt of court judgments handed down in Singapore.

10) One’s right to freedom of speech and expression can be abrogated rather easily – so long as the criticism made is ‘scurrilous abuse’ or ‘excites misgivings as to the integrity, propriety and impartiality brought to the exercise of the judicial office’, one would be found guilty of scandalising the court.

11) It does not matter if one had made such criticisms honestly in exercise of one’s recognised right to freedom of speech and expression. Such an approach amounts to the imposition of a strict liability offence and renders the right to freedom of speech and expression almost obsolete (at least with regard to criticisms one can make of the courts). This renders the recognition of the right to freedom of speech and expression superfluous and meaningless.

12) While the court will expressly recognise a right to freedom of speech and expression, it will be quick to note that such a right is not absolute and subject to multiple limitations.

13) While no right can be absolute, the courts ought to engage in a rigorous analysis to find the right balance between the competing interests, and before setting down limitations on the rights it is sworn to protect.

14) The rights of the people should be given its maximum space and recognition, for the entire purpose of rights is to guarantee the fundamental liberties of the people. If such rights were to be curtailed and limited right from the start, there is not going to be much to guarantee and uphold.

15) An accused, regardless of whether he or she was justified in their statements, would be found guilty as long as the statements scandalised the judiciary. Therefore, in effect, no one can make any adverse comments on the judiciary, regardless of the extent of truth there is in the comments. This is an untenable position for it amounts to a derogation from the right to freedom of speech and expression without a proper justification, and it may potentially assist judges who do not act in the best interests of justice.

16) This right to criticise is explained by Lord Atkin in Ambard v A-G of Trinidad and Tobago [[1936] AC 322]:

. . .no wrong is committed by any member of the public who exercises the ordinary right of criticizing, in good faith, in private or public, the public act done in the seat of justice. . .Justice [must] be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments, of ordinary men.

17) See article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

‘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 Singapore is not a member of the Human Rights Council in the United Nations, it has obligations with respect to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948.

18) Recent developments indicate that the law enforcers are swiftly and decisively enforcing Singapore’s law of contempt against contemnors exhibiting behaviour of various types, namely, contemptuous blogging on the internet and the writing of insulting emails to judges (as seen in [Mr Gopalan Nair]; the wearing of T-shirts imprinted with images of a kangaroo dressed in a judge’s robe while appearing at [the] Supreme Court courtroom; and the Attorney-General’s committal for contempt proceedings [for] three allegedly contemptuous articles published in Wall Street Journal Asia in June and July 2008).

19) Harsh allegations made by a range of international bodies in questioning the integrity of the Singapore judiciary:

What emerges … is a government that has been willing to decimate the rule of law for the benefit of its political interests. Lawyers have been cowed to passivity, judges are kept on a short leash, and the law has been manipulated so that gaping holes exist in the system of restraints on government action toward the individual. Singapore is not a country in which individual rights have significant meaning.
— The New York City Bar Association (1990)

Source: “Scandalising the Singapore Judiciary,” by Tsun Hang Tey (2010)

PDF Download: Informit.com.au | Ebscohost

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AUTHOR:

tey_tsun_hang

Prof Tey obtained first class honours from Oxford University and practised law in Malaysia before being hired to teach at NUS Law faculty. Prof Tey entered the legal service in the Supreme Court as a Justice Law Clerk during the tenure of then Chief Justice Yong Pung How. Prof Tey went on to become a District Judge, after which he returned to academia at NUS Law Faculty.

In 2011, Tey decided to go ahead with publishing a number of articles highly critical of Singapore’s judiciary without approval from the ISD. “I am no longer willing to self-censor,” he wrote. “I certainly do not want [to] compromise my intellectual honesty.”

Of the 2014 sex-for-favours case against him, Tey maintains that the case was politically motivated from the start.

Tey Online: TOC | Yahoo | The Monthly (AU) | Legal Consensus (Tey’s book on Singapore’s judiciary) | Singapore Consensus (Tey’s articles)

Tey’s Court Actions: NUS | Singapore ICA (to show how high-handed and well-coordinated the executions were)

Singapore’s Democracy – The Truth Behind The Myth

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* Featured on The Real SG, FMT, SDP, SG Daily, and TR Emeritus.

This article on Singapore’s Democracy is presented in nine sections:

1. Introduction
2. Constitution of Singapore
3. Do Singapore Citizens have Freedom of Speech?
4. What is the Form of Government in Singapore?
5. Is Singapore’s Founding Father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, a ‘Despot’?
6. Internal Security Act (ISA)
7. “Operation Spectrum”
8. What do others think about Singapore’s Democracy?
9. Conclusion

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1. INTRODUCTION

When I was a student in primary and secondary school (1992-2002), not once did I ever hear that Singapore had a Constitution.

I am now a U.S. citizen and grateful I have these rights as a U.S. citizen.

I was mildly stunned during my naturalization ceremony when the judges extended me a warm welcome saying that I now had “rights” as a U.S. citizen. It was the first time I realized I had RIGHTS as a citizen of a country.

Did I feel like I had any rights as a Singaporean in Singapore?

No. None at all.

Let’s see why — beginning with what a constitution is and why it is so important.

2. CONSTITUTION OF SINGAPORE

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// Parliament House, William Cho

So, what is a constitution? It is defined as:

“The system of fundamental laws and principles that prescribes the nature, functions, and limits of a government.”
(The Free Dictionary)

Why is a constitution important to a nation?

“A constitution is important because it protects the rights of the citizens of a concerned nation, irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, sex or physical appearance. A constitution, thus, can be safely said to be a social contract between the government and the people it governs.”
(Ask.com)

The office of the Attorney-General of Singapore states that “one of the key aspirations of [Singaporeans] is to build a democratic society based on the fundamental ideals of justice and equality.”

Singapore’s national pledge also states that the citizens aspire to build a democratic society (NLB).

What is valuable about democracy? The UN explains:

“The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections. . .are essential elements of democracy. In turn, democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.”
(United Nations)

The Constitution of Singapore states that every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression.

3. DO SINGAPORE CITIZENS HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

If they do, I am curious about the following three cases.

(a) The following line was removed from an article that appeared in The Straits Times:

“And [the Singapore government shows] no sign of loosening their grip on mainstream media as a vehicle for reaching out to the public.”

At the time of this posting, Mr. Cherian George (author of that article) states on his blog post that the “sentence was deleted by ST editors and does not appear in the published version…which illustrates how the Singapore press does not like to say too much about the controls it faces.”

(b) Section 8 of the Broadcasting Act states that:

“Every broadcasting licence, other than a class licence, granted by the Authority shall be in such form and for such period and may contain such terms and conditions as the Authority may determine.”

As former NMP Siew Kum Hong writes:

“Basically, the MDA can decide what the terms of the individual licences are, and presumably can also decide that the terms are confidential, such that the public will never actually know what the licences say.”
(Why the new MDA framework is censorship)

(c) Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson’s comments in 2012:

“Singapore’s claims of exemption from human rights standards are just lame excuses for abuses. . .the people of Singapore deserve the same rights as everyone else, not more clever stories justifying government oppression.”
(Singapore: Stop Hiding Behind Old Excuses)

Would people like Phil Robertson from internationally respected organizations put their reputation on the line by making false declarations?

4. WHAT, THEN, IS THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN SINGAPORE?

According to Wikipedia, a political ideology typically contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government (e.g. democracy, autocracy, etc.), and the best economic system (e.g. capitalism, socialism, etc.).

This section gives a quick overview of the different sorts of political ideologies.

Let’s take a look at the following three terms: illiberal democracy, authoritarianism, and fascism.

(i) “A classic example of an illiberal democracy is the Republic of Singapore. An illiberal democracy, also called a pseudo democracy, empty democracy or hybrid regime, is a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties…”

(ii) “Authoritarianism is characterised by absolute or blind obedience to authority, as against individual freedom and related to the expectation of unquestioning obedience.”

(iii) “Fascism is a system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, [and] suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship.”

And what is a dictator?

“A dictator is an absolute ruler; a despot. A despot is a person who wields power oppressively.”

5. IS SINGAPORE’S FOUNDING FATHER, MR. LEE KUAN YEW, A ‘DESPOT’?

At least one person thought so, and said so, in public.

William Safire, the late New York Times columnist, called Lee a dictator at the World Economic Forum in 1999. Safire accused Lee of showing disregard for the principles of liberal democracy.

Mr. Safire said: “The determinedly irreplaceable Lee Kuan Yew is the world’s most intelligent, and to some most likable despot.”

Mr. Lee’s response to the accusation of dictatorship was: “Do I need to be a dictator when I can win, hands down?”

Years ago, NUS student Jamie Han had a lively exchange with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew during a dialogue with NUS students at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum.

Jamie Han: “No matter how enlightened a despot is, ultimately, he’ll turn into a tyrant if there are no checks and balances in place.”

Mr. Lee’s reply: “I was no despot. [That older] generation knew that I fought for them. . .you don’t put your life at risk in calling me a despot.” (The Straits Times)

A collection of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s quotes is available on Lee Kuan Yew – Wikiquote.

In 1971, Mr. LKY said:

“Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of the integrity of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government.”
(The Exotic World of Singaporean Journalism)

In 1984, Mr. LKY said:

“I make no apologies that the PAP is the Government and the Government is the PAP.”
(Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy)

Some other quotes by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew include:

WE are in charge. Every government ministry and department is under our control. And in the infighting, [Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam] will go down for the count every time…I will make him crawl on his bended knees, and beg for mercy.”
(as recounted by C. V. Devan Nair — who said he was “alarmed” at some of the things Mr. Lee said during that lunch — in Requiem for an unbending Singaporean)

We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
(Lee Kuan Yew / Straits Times, 20 April 1987)

“Please do not assume that you can change governments. Young people don’t understand this.”
(Lee Kuan Yew / Post-2006 General Elections)

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// “Knuckle Dusters” | Image by Colourbox

“Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister…She would not dare, right?…If you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac…Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society.”
(Lee Kuan Yew / Hong Kong University Press)

“I started off believing all men were equal. I now know that’s the most unlikely thing ever to have been. . .by observation, reading, watching, arguing, asking, and then bullying my way to the top, that is the conclusion I’ve come to.”
(Lee Kuan Yew / The Man & His Ideas, 1997)

These are things Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has said. So if he or the ruling party in Singapore wishes to sue Wikiquotes or the contributors to that page for defamation, it’s going to be a bit of a roundabout if you are suing your own self for defamation (since such compilations are based on things Mr. LKY has actually said on record).

I leave it to you, the reader, to decide if the above quotes depict an individual who is dictatorial in mind, spirit, and action.

6. INTERNAL SECURITY ACT (ISA)

What is the Internal Security Act (ISA) of Singapore?

“[The ISA] grants the executive power to enforce preventive detention, prevent subversion, suppress organized violence against persons and property, and do other things incidental to the internal security of Singapore.” (Wikipedia)”

The law is a controversial one. Why?

Because it allows for detention without trial (for potentially indefinite periods). Indefinite detention is in violation of many national and international laws, including human rights laws.

The ISA has been used to imprison political opponents, including Dr. Chia Thye Poh, who was held for 32 years without trial before being released.

ISA | Maruah Singapore has a timeline and brief history of ISA detainees, with an explanation of why the Internal Security Act continues to be the elephant in the room of Singapore’s political history.

Amnesty International’s Report on Singapore (1980) is also available online (you can also download the original PDF).

These quotes cast more light onto the ISA:

“Debate rages on over Singapore’s controversial Internal Security Act despite the government’s unequivocal rejection of calls to repeal the act or form a Commission of Inquiry to investigate detentions made under it.”
(Asian Correspondent, 2011)

“Amnesty International has been concerned for many years that journalists, newspaper editors and publishers who have been critical of government policy have been detained without trial in Singapore under the ISA. ”
(Amnesty International Report, 1980)

“Although the government’s use of the ISA for political purposes elicited negative reactions from the public, it was not prepared to abolish, or make amendments to the Act. . .the absence of explicit definitions of national security threats. . .renders the ISA susceptible to political misuse.”
(Damien Cheong, 2006)

Note that Martyn See’s films on ex-political detainees (Said Zahari and Dr. Lim Hock Siew) are banned in Singapore.

As Mr. See says:

“You would think that with the opposition completely neutralised and the PAP firmly secured in the driver’s seat, LKY would relax a little and give civil society some breathing space. Instead, the government passed more laws to curtail civil activities — and if all these laws do not deter you, the ISA will.
(Martyn See, 2013)

7. OPERATION SPECTRUM

I didn’t know anything about this (when I was growing up in Singapore) — I was less than a year old when this was happening in 1987.

Operation Spectrum” was the code name for a covert security operation that took place in Singapore on 21 May 1987. 16 people were arrested and detained without trial under Singapore’s Internal Security Act (ISA) for their alleged involvement in “a Marxist conspiracy.”

Tan Wah Piow was a former student activist and president of the University of Singapore’s Students’ Union (USSU) in 1974. He was accused by the Singapore government as being the alleged mastermind behind the conspiracy.

About Operation Spectrum, Mr. Tan says:

“If one goes down to the truth of Operation Spectrum, it was an exercise to wipe out a generation of potential political leaders who could challenge Lee Hsien Loong. One must not underestimate the impact of Operation Spectrum. It was not merely ostracizing those 22 political detainees at that time. It was to teach a lesson to everyone else who were in the NGO (non-governmental organizations).”
(Asian Thinkers)

Tang Fong Har, a lawyer and member of the Law Society, was arrested in 1987 under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

She describes what it was like to be a prison detainee:

“One of the interrogators slapped me across my left cheek [with] the full force of his body. . .I was completely shocked by the assault. . .I continued vomiting until the fourth day, by which time I felt quite famished. I had never felt more terrible in my life.”
(A detainee remembers / August 1989 issue of Index on Censorship, a UK-based NGO)

Francis Seow was a member of Singapore’s elite class who was also arrested under the ISA in 1988. A review excerpt of Mr. Seow’s book, To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s Prison, states:

“The confrontation between [Lee Kuan Yew] and [Francis Seow] began when the Law Society, under the leadership of Seow, began to criticize parliamentary legislation, in particular the proposed Newspaper and Printing Press Amendment. The friction between Lee and Seow increased when the latter stood up to Lee during the Select Committee hearings on proposed amendments to the Legal Professions Act.”
(James Gomez, 1996)

Tan Wah Piow eventually obtained political asylum in the UK and now practises law in London. Tang Fong Har is a lawyer now residing in Hong Kong. Francis Seow sought political asylum in the United States, became a Visiting Fellow at Yale University and then at Harvard Law School — he now resides in Massachusetts.

8. WHAT DO OTHERS THINK ABOUT SINGAPORE’S DEMOCRACY?

Here are some quotes and opinions people have about the type of democracy — or form of governance — in Singapore.

“If it’s taken me all this time to arrive at such a definite definition of Singapore, imagine how alien ‘fascism’ is to the average Singaporean. . .”
(X’Ho: Hushed Fascism, Singapore Style)

“A look at authoritarian democracy in Singapore, where the same party has won every election for more than half a century. Because of its strength, the government is able to exert control over the media, civil service and society.”
(BBC – Learning Zone)

“China is a paradise of academic freedom” after Singapore. [In Singapore] public humiliation is a more common tactic for dealing with those who do not toe the party line.”
(Daniel Bell in Dissent)

“[Singapore Inc] would be aghast at — and quite likely arrest — anyone compelled to spend 17 minutes publicly justifying democracy and why it matters.”
(The Age, AU)

“Singapore is essentially a third-world country that has a developed business district that allows corporatists, expats, and the upper class to pretend they live in anything but a backward fascist state.”
(The Fascism of Singapore)

“The Court casts significant doubt as to whether Singapore will ever recognize the fair and honest reporting privilege accorded to responsible journalism — a privilege available in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries with diverse histories and cultures.”
(Dow Jones Corporation, 2006)

Fareed Zakaria calls Singapore an illiberal democracy: “a democratically elected regime that routinely ignores constitutional limits on their power and deprives their citizens of basic rights and freedoms.”
(CIS, Australia)

“In pursuit of prosperity, the PAP regime has managed to cow a large section of Singaporeans into not valuing democracy and human rights.”
(Ang Hiok Gai / Asian Human Rights Commission)

“Disdain for intellectuals and the arts…Obsession with crime and punishment…Rampant cronyism and corruption…Controlled mass media…Disdain for recognition of human rights…Singapore is a full-fledged fascist state.”
(Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism)

“Under the PAP rule, there is no genuine parliamentary democracy. In essence, it has been practising a one-party rule. The opposition parties will never be allowed to grow strong…there is always the danger of one-party rule slipping into one-man rule, and worse still, into dynastic rule. The PAP government does not like critical newspapers or publications, and is intolerant towards sharp criticisms. They seem elitist and arrogant, regarding themselves as the best and the most suitable to rule Singapore. And they rule it with iron-handed policies.
(Dr. Chia Thye Poh, 1989)

9. CONCLUSION

Refer to Section 3 of this blog post, which defines the political ideologies of illiberal democracy, authoritarianism, and fascism.

Which would be the most accurate description of the ruling party of the past five decades?

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* Websites With More Information:

(1) Why is the Government So Afraid of Ex-Detainees? (Sgpolitics.net)

(2) That We May Dream Again (the about page states that “more than 2,500 Singaporeans have been detained under the ISA since the 1960’s”)

(3) Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism (by Dr. Lawrence Britt)

(4) Detention of Journalists and Lawyers under the ISA (Amnesty International, 1980)

(5) What Needs More Regulation: The Government or Online Media? (Lucky Tan)

(6) A Chronology of Authoritarian Rule in Singapore  (Singapore Rebel)

* Interviews and Opinions:

(1) “Challenge Singapore’s Facade Democracy” (The Online Citizen)

(2) Singapore: Where Speaking Truth to Power is Considered Defamation (by Alon Levy, Math PhD)

(3) Interview with Tan Wah Piow, alleged mastermind behind 1987’s “Marxist Conspiracy” (AsianThinker)

(4) Chia Thye Poh: The Man Himself (by James Gomez & Susan Chua)

(5) Chia Thye Poh: Respected Recipient of the 2011 LLG Award (Asian Human Rights Commission)

Why You’re Gorgeous, Book Review

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Quick Review of Why You’re Gorgeous (by Katy Gilbert)

I interviewed Katy Gilbert a few weeks ago on this blog. Katy’s latest book is titled Why You’re Gorgeous, a book that’ll leave you “inspired, relaxed, smart, confident, and a hell of a lot more self-loving” (text from official blurb).

I have a print copy of the book. To me, Why You’re Gorgeous is what a mainstream book should really be all about.

It’s a relatively slim, non-fiction book at 147 pages, but there’s very little fluff, so what you get is information that is sincere as well as useful / inspiring (refer to blurb text above to see what you’ll be getting).

Why You’re Gorgeous is divided into 10 chapters, which cover topics such as media and society, sex/relationships, body/appearance, and self-love. The book gets straight to the point in terms of literally reminding the reader why he/she is “gorgeous.” I think this is especially important in a world that’s very much driven by consumer culture, where materialism and external looks are given a lot more emphasis than something that’s more intrinsic and that sustains us from within (genuine self-love, in other words).

What makes the book extra special is the inclusion of contributors’ quotes and perspectives throughout the text. This was a very nice balance to the author’s main text, as it creates a tone that’s both personal as well as social.

Some excerpts:

(Pg 53 — Section on Bullying)

I have a right to freedom of speech!

Yeah, you do, and you’re lucky. What you don’t have it unqualified liberty to be a jerk.

Having the fortunate right to speak your mind does not entitle you to force your opinions on other people, cause physical or emotional harm to anyone in any way, or suggest that other people or their views are worthless. With freedom of speech comes responsibility for consideration, kindness and respect. Exercise it.

(Pg 62 — Section on Style)

Personal style is a goldmine of confidence, respect, creativity and fun.

“It’s not who we really are, it’s type of character we’ve morphed ourselves into because we think it’s right…What happened to ‘personality matters’? That has been completely overshadowed by these ‘clones’.” (contributor’s quote)

(Pg 87 — The fame game, all the same)

When so many celebrities are hand-picked and trained to be a certain size, their entire community appears to be made up of that one size and shape (skin tone, hair colour, etc etc). This presents an entire mini-world that is completely unrealistic but comes off as “normal”, so the lack of variation is projected as the way the world is — not true.

The writing style is suitable for all ages (tween, teen, young adult, older adult). I would’ve loved to have read this book during my teenage years :)

If you know anyone who’s struggling with body image issues, or is trying to develop a genuine/lasting/healthy form of self-love, do consider getting them a copy of Why You’re Gorgeous!

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Why You’re Gorgeous is available in eBook and print formats (at Katy Gilbert’s Website and her Lulu Shop), written by a lovely person with a lovely heart (Katy’s interview link).