Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A month of barring and banning - Joshua Chiang

An insightful sum up of recent draconian acts of the PAP government in recent month by Mr. Joshua Chiang

First there was the barring of former ISD detainee and 'Marxist conspirator' Vincent Cheng from speaking at a public forum organised by the NUS History Society at the National Library.


Then there was the forum held at Fort Canning Park two weeks ago where another ex-detainee, Teo Soh Lung launched her book "Beyond The Blue Gate" about the events surrounding Operation Spectrum and her days as a detainee in Whitley Detention Centre. That, surprisingly went ahead without incident. Despite the fact that there wasn't any official outcry over the book, only one major bookstore, Kinokuniya now sells it. (Though you can purchase it from other sources here -

a) Contact Rizal via cellphone: 91460944 or email: isrizal@function8.org
b) Online purchase through Ethos Books Online
c) Select Books (Tanglin Shopping Centre)
d) At Pagesetters Services Pte Ltd, 65 Ubi Crescent, #06-04 Hola Centre, Singapore 408559

There are no other major bookstores in Singapore whom I know will carry titles critical of the Government, for eg. books by Chee Soon Juan. (But you will find Men In White, The Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew displayed proudly at all other major bookstores)

But one book apparently got the authorities worried enough to ban its sales in Singapore, even going to the extent of asking Kinokuniya to remove it from its shelves. The book in question is Once a Jolly Hangman. It paints an extremely unflattering picture of the process in which Singapore carries out its Mandatory Death Penalty, except that, based on what the author unearthed, the process appears rather abituary. (see here - http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/07/new-book-puts-death-penalty-on-trial/)

You will also be surprised that the opposition party newsletter you pay a dollar for, for the past donkey years, is actually not allowed to be sold as the political parties do not have an NEA license to 'Hawk'.

(see here - http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/07/opposition-party-fined-for-selling-party-newspaper/)

Now this is worrying because not only is selling the newspapers the major source of income for most oppositional parties, it is the best way in which they can disseminate their views. We know of course that dropping political pamphlets into letterboxes is wrong (http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/04/that-anti-pap-flier/). Last I heard the chap who distributed the anti-PAP flier has been arrested. Getting around the lack of a hawking license to sell the party papers is not as easy as it seems because you will find all sorts of laws and legislation that are so loosely written that they can easily be used to stop you from selling anything.

Which leads us to the question of why did NEA act only now, considering that opposition parties had been selling their stuff on the streets for years. I've even bought a copy of The Hatchet Man from JBJ once.

Well I wouldn't presume to read the authorities' minds but you would be interested to know that most opposition parties nowadays regularly sold out their newsletters. Which means every time a party goes out to the housing estates and hawker centres, 3,000 copies of publications containing alternate views gets circulated around. It also means that there are many people sick and tired of reading the Straits Times.

And finally there is the ban on Martyn See's film on Dr Lim Hock Siew in the name of mantaining confidence in the government. (http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/07/breaking-news-mda-bans-sees-film-on-isa-detainee/)

All in all, it is a rather oppressive month, and not because of the weather. I remember a National Day speech by PM Lee in 2006. He said, "We have to debate. If we didn't have a debate, I think we will come to the wrong conclusion." Right now my impression of 'debate' is really the joke I keep using - "Debate is de thing that you catch de fish with".


On a very separate note, my brother's maid returned to Burma for good. (Sorry i can't bring myself to call it "Myanmar" - it is the name the regime, and those who recognize the regime uses) Just the day before she left, I asked if she could get me an autographed poster of Aung San Suu Kyi. It amused her to no end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Draconian it maybe, however, it cannot be ruled out that the worse is yet to come and 'worser' ones will follow.