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                  AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANADA

 

 

 

 

                  SINGAPORE/MALAYSIA NEWS

 

                  December 10, 2002

 

 

                  Dear Friends,

 

                  The following news is, to my knowledge, accurate. Further

                  information is most welcome on any of the items below.

 

                  Given that many in our circle are also concerned about other

                  countries and human rights issues,  I would like to remind you

                  that Amnesty has an all-encompassing website:  

                  www.amnesty.org

                  AI Canada:  www.amnesty.ca

 

                  I wish you all the best of seasonal greetings and hopes for a

                  new year of peace and justice.

 

                  Margaret John

                  Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia

 

 

                  Human Rights Day and real security:   Includes human rights

                  protection -- Canada sponsors UN resolution.

 

                  Singapore:  Further action re. Liberal International;

                  Singapore campaigners' meeting in Melbourne; prison

                  strengthens Dr Chee Soon Juan's resolve; white paper planned

                  on alleged terrorists; death penalty -- Michael McCrae and

                  associate; torture - canings; etc.

 

                  Malaysia:  High Commission replies; 72 terrorist suspects

                  held, one rearrested after court release;  Irene Fernandez

                  continues efforts for migrant workers; death penalty --

                  information on DDA?; torture - hundreds of caning sentences

                  for migrant workers; etc.

 

                  General:   Ethics and business conference;  UN Optional

                  Protocol to Convention against Torture a "tremendous victory";

                   Canada ratifies Optional Protocol to CEDAW; etc

 

 

 

 

                                                          HUMAN RIGHTS DAY,

                  December 10

 

 

 

                  On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly

                  adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which

                  states:  "All human beings are born with equal and inalienable

                  rights and fundamental freedoms".

 

                  The Declaration holds true more than ever today.  As we mark

                  Human Rights Day, we are once again hearing the beating of the

                  drums of war.  In contrast, Amnesty is calling on the global

                  human rights movement to stand up for justice and human

                  dignity, and to create a culture of peace based on human

                  rights and justice for all.

 

                  Human Rights Day is an important date in Amnesty's calendar.

                  Every year, Amnesty groups and individuals mark this day by

                  holding special events such as candle-lighting ceremonies,

                  vigils and special meetings.  This year the focus for December

                  10 activities is REAL SECURITY, which can be established only

                  through the promotion and protection of human rights.  Canada

                  has shown its commitment to real security by co-sponsoring a

                  resolution on human rights and terrorism in the UN's Third

                  Commttee, following urging by AI Canada.  The resolution,

                  which was proposed by Mexico,  demands that human rights

                  figure more prominently in any terrorism legislation.    As of

                  15 November, Canada was the only Western government to

                  co-sponsor.

 

                  As in other years on this day, I will have a large candle

                  burning in my window, for, to quote the Chinese saying, it is

                  better to light a candle in a darkened room than to curse the

                  darkness.

 

 

                  SINGAPORE

 

 

                  LIBERAL INTERNATIONAL: further action in EU Commission and in

                  Canada

 

                  - European Union Liberal Democrat Leader Graham Watson stated

                  that the EU Commission is to monitor the human rights

                  situation in Singapore following the arrests and prosecution

                  of opposition political critics Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ghandi

                  Ambalan.  Its delegation in Jakarta will consult with Member

                  State diplomatic missions in Singapore.  Mr Watson spoke of

                  the "blatant disregard of the Singaporean regime for

                  democratic freedoms."   According to the Singapore Democratic

                  Party(SDP), the US sent a letter to the Singapore authorities

                  on their continued undemocratic practice.   The SDP asks those

                  concerned to sign the Liberal International petition at

                  www.liberal-international.org   (SDP press release 2/12)

 

                  - Mr Watson  wrote to the Financial Times (UK) criticising

                  Imperial College, London (UK), for bestowing its highest

                  honour on Lee Kuan Yew as a "person of distinction".  Mr

                  Watson referred to Singapore's "abuse of democracy and the

                  increasingly intolerant one-party rule" and to the

                  imprisonment of Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ghandi Ambalan.  (FT

                  27/10)

 

                  -  Canadian MP Mme Raymonde Folco, one of two Canadian

                  delegates to the Liberal International, circulated the Liberal

                  International petition to Canadian Liberal MPs and senators

                  for their signatures.   Amnesty International Canada has

                  written to the Liberal Party of Canada urging action on the

                  Liberal International resolution and petition.  No reply has

                  been received at this point.

 

 

                  MEETING IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.

 

                  A major meeting of critics, including Dr Chee Soon Juan,

                  Francis Seow and Tang Liang Hong, is planned for 10-12 

                  January, 2003.    The topic:   Political Change in Singapore:

                  An Agenda for Action.   (Chan news Asia 30/11)

 

 

                  DR CHEE SOON JUAN: resolve strengthened; government responds

 

                  - On his release after five weeks detention, he stated at the

                  prison gates that his imprisonment had  "strengthened [my]

                  resolve and given me deeper insight...to want to see democracy

                  come to Singapore."  In a letter to supporters and friends, he

                  later wrote of his experiences in prison, referring to hearing

                  the screams of those who are whipped,   and to two inmates

                  held under the Criminal Law Temporary Provisions Act  (which

                  empowers the government to detain suspects indefinitely when

                  it is unable to secure a conviction in open court), one of

                  whom said he wanted to commit suicide.  Dr Chee stated his

                  conviction, however, that "change must ultimately come for us

                  Singaporeans...success will come, it is only a question of

                  when and how."

 

                  - During his imprisonment, the Asian Human Rights Commission

                  issued an Urgent Appeal, stating that, according to his

                  lawyer, Dr Chee was experiencing worse conditions than

                  previously:  he was in a badly ventilated cell with two other

                  prisoners, was sleeping next to the toilet "bucket",  and

                  sleeping only two or three hours a night, was feeling nauseous

                  and dizzy, was unable to eat properly and was losing weight.  

                   His wife was reportedly harassed by the authorities. The AHRC

                  stated that Singapore's restrictive laws gave "sweeping" and

                  too much discretionary powers to the "one-party run Singapore

                  government and must be abolished." (24/10) The World

                  Organization Against Torture (Organisation Mondiale Contre la

                  Torture)(press release 31/10) and the Council of Asian

                  Liberals protested his imprisonment and treatment.

 

                  - In a response to Jake Lloyd-Smith's critical article in the

                  South China Morning Post (5/12), Ong-Chew Peck Wan, Director,

                  Corporate Communication Division, Ministry of Home Affairs,

                  commented "There is no repression of opposition political

                  parties in Singapore....The insinuations that Dr Chee was

                  ailing, or abused, or suffering nausea and weight loss in

                  prison, are baseless."  (SCMP 16/12)

 

                  - Dr Chee visited Hong Kong at the end of November to speak to

                  a number of organizations, including the Foreign

                  Correspondents Club and Amnesty International.

 

 

                  ALLEGED TERRORISTS: 31 ISA suspects held; white paper

 

                  - Singapore says it plans to publish a white paper early in

                  2003 on the terrorist threat in the country.  Detained under

                  the ISA are 31 men believed to be members of Jemaah Islamiya.

                  (AFP 12/11)   The Singapore government has asked the UN to add

                  Jemaah Islamiyah to its list of terrorist organizations. (AFP

                  24/10)   Zulfikar Mohd Shariff remains in Australia.   He

                  asserts that he wants Singapore to become a "transparent and

                  just"country where Muslims can practise their faith without

                  hindrance. He rejects claims that he is an extremist and an

                  Al-Qaeda sympathiser and says he does not condone violence. AI

                  is monitoring developments. (Malaysiakini 1/11)

 

                  - Singapore is reported to have a new security network of at

                  least five organizations, each looking at different aspects of

                  security, from police intelligence to operations, to

                  coordinate responses to potential threats. (ST 25/11)

 

 

                  DEATH PENALTY

 

                  - An Australian magistrate has ordered Briton Michael McCrae

                  to be extradited to Singapore.   An appeal will be made on

                  humanitarian grounds.  Singapore has undertaken not to impose

                  a death sentence.  Mr McCrae wrote to the BBC saying he is not

                  guilty of the double murders committed in January. (ST 17/11, 

                  21/11)   His Singaporean business colleague Audrey Ong, who

                  was implicated in the murders, has been extradited from

                  Australia to Singapore. (ST 12/11)

 

                  A Thai woman, charged in August with carrying nearly 1.3 kg

                  methamphetamine,could face the death penalty.

                  Another Thai woman, caught in October trying to smuggle 4,000

                  methamphetamine tablets,  could face five or more years in

                  jail for importation of a controlled drug.

 

 

                  TORTURE/ILL-TREATMENT:canings

 

                  - A man was sentenced to a maximum 24 strokes of the cane  and

                  24 years' jail for sexually abusing his young stepdaughter.

                  (ST 31/10)

 

                  - Ng Hua Chye has been given 12 strokes of the cane.  He is

                  serving 18 1/2 years for manslaughter, convicted of hitting,

                  burning and starving his maid to death.  (ST 21/11)

 

                  ALSO NOTEWORTHY

 

                  - In an  article on China, writer Yoshiko Herrera, assistant

                  professor of government at Harvard University, USA, writes: 

                  "There isn't a magic process in which dictatorship is turned

                  to democracy and there is no link between economic growth per

                  se and democratization.  Growth may cause other things, like a

                  rise in education or changing values and interests, that can

                  lead to demands for democracy.  But to actually have a

                  democracy, you need democratic institutions.  You can't just

                  improve the economy; you need elections, freedom of

                  association, freedom of the press and so on...Singapore, which

                  has relatively low corruption, rule of law in economic

                  matters,  [has] no democracy." (Newsday.com 17/11)

 

                  - The Guardian (UK) (3/11):   "The prime minister's plans to

                  issue on-the-spot fines to vandals and litterbugs might sound

                  draconian to many British people but the penalties are nothing

                  compared to the canings, jail terms and public shamings

                  offenders face in Singapore".

 

                  - Jake Lloyd-Smith, in the SCMP,  wrote that Singapore's curbs

                  on free speech look set to stay.  In response to a question by

                  opposition politician Steve Chia,  Ho Peng Kee, Senior

                  Minister of State for Home Affairs and Law, said that the

                  country's free-speech rules were applied with a "light touch"

                  and remained essential in a multi-racial society.

 

                                 

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                  MALAYSIA

 

 

                  MALAYSIAN HIGH COMMISSION IN OTTAWA : replies continue; AI

                  members reiterate concerns

 

                  - The Malaysian High Commission continued to respond to the

                  many letters from AI Canada members about various prisoners,

                  including Wan Min Wan Mat and Tian Chua.  Members are

                  repeating their concerns in responding to a further appeal in

                  the current AI Canada newsletter, The Activist,  regarding

                  Tian Chua and five other prisoners of conscience, calling for

                  their immediate and unconditional release and the repeal or

                  amendment of the ISA.

 

 

                  SUSPECTED TERRORISTS: rearrest despite court's orders; AI

                  appeal

 

                  - Police said they had arrested a total of 72 people since

                  November 2001, all suspected of having links to terrorist

                  organizations.  (AFP 17/10)

 

                  - Suspected Muslim terrorist Nasharuddin Nasir was ordered

                  released by a High Court ruling on the grounds of lack of

                  evidence.  He was rearrested within ten minutes of his release

                  and served with a fresh two-year detention order, signed by

                  Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.    Malaysian

                  authorities said later that the ISA would be tightened up to

                  curb judicial scrutiny of the reasons for detention. (Reuters

                  9/11, AFP 10/11, ST 11/11)

 

                  - AI issued an Urgent Action 16/10 following the arrests under

                  the ISA of Abdul Murad Sudin and four others suspected of

                  having links to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, expressing

                  concern that their whereabouts were unknown,  and that there

                  was no access to their families or lawyers.  AI called for

                  them to be charged or released and for the ISA to be repealed

                  or amended.

 

                  - In his Eid al-Fitr speech at th end of the holy month of

                  Ramadan, PM Mahathir described  the country's religious

                  militants as "traitors to Islam". (SMH 7/12)

 

                  - A UN report was seen as linking Malaysia's ruling coalition

                  indirectly with the al-Qaeda network.  The government demanded

                  removal of the offending section of the report.  Angry

                  Malaysian politicians called for the banning of a book by

                  Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror,

                  which was reportedly a source for the UN report.  Rohan

                  Gunaratna rejected such accusations.  The book urges that the

                  "social, political and economic flaws in countries such as

                  Indonesia and the Philippines"  not be overlooked as such

                  action "will not help us make any headway in the war against

                  terror." (Sunday Times 20/10,  FEER 5/12) )

 

                  - Malaysia will require foreigners seeking jobs in Malaysia to

                  have endorsement letters from their governments certifying

                  that they are not involved in terrorist activity. (SCMP 21/10)

 

 

                  - A US-proposed regional anti-terrorism centre is planned for

                  Malaysia and may be opened to countries outside southeast

                  Asia. (AFP 3/11)

 

                  - The authorities in Kedah are setting up recording devices in

                  mosques to deter prayer leaders from delivering

                  anti-government sermons to Muslim congregations.  (ST 5/11)

 

                  - Yoon Szu-Mae,  in the article "Combatting terrorism,

                  compromising human rights," writes:  "In Malaysia's case, it

                  is easy to look beyond patchwork policies created to deal with

                  terrorism and conclude that human rights will continue to play

                  second fiddle to political expediency."  (Received 6/11)

 

 

                  ANWAR IBRAHIM: hospital visit

 

                  Anwar Ibrahim was taken to hospital seeking medical attention

                  for his back, which is believed damaged by ill-treatment in

                  custody. His lawyer, Sankara Nair, said "He is in great pain."

                  (AFP 29/10)

 

 

                  IRENE FERNANDEZ:  warns against abuse of migrant workers

 

                  - In October, Irene Fernandez, chair of Kuala-based

                  Caram-Asia,  told a week-long seminar in Mae Sot district that

                  more than 10 million transnational workers in Asia/Pacific

                  were at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking and

                  human rights violations.  She said that protective measures

                  were needed against abuse such as slave labour, unfair wages

                  and poor welfare.The workshop was attended by NGOs from

                  several Asian countries,

 

                  - Her next trial hearing, in connection with Tenaganita's

                  report on migrant workers, is due January 14-31, 2003.

 

                  - AI Canada's Women's Action Network continues to be active on

                  her case.

 

 

                  ISA

 

                  The government has warned that the ISA may be used against

                  those opposing the introduction of teaching Mathematics and

                  Science in English in primary schools in 2003.

 

 

                  DEATH PENALTY: further information needed on DDA

 

                  - AI needs further information on planned amendments to the

                  Dangerous Drugs Act. An article in April reported on a number

                  of proposed amendments tightening up the DDA.  For example,

                  one provision -- the possession of  50 gm or more of any

                  combination of dangerous drugs -- would be taken as evidence

                  of trafficking.  And those convicted on a second or further

                  drug offence, or after treatment at a rehabilitation centre, 

                  were to be punished with a 7-13-year jail term and possibly 3

                  - 6 strokes of the rotan.   Please contact me if you have any

                  details about the status of such amendments -- are they in

                  committee stage,  have they become law, or have they been

                  dropped?

 

 

                  - Noor Mahani Shahar Shah, wife of a Perak prince, was

                  remanded in custody for a week in connection with

                  investigations into the murder of her husband's second wife.

                  (st 25/10)

 

 

                  TORTURE/ILL-TREATMENT: migrant workers; whipping for

                  polygamists?

 

                  - AI is seriously concerned about caning sentences that have

                  been handed down to hundreds of undocumented workers.

 

                  - Nik Aziz Nik Mat, Leader of PAS and Chief Minister of

                  Kelantan, said that Muslim polygamists should be whipped until

                  they become impotent. (AFP 28/10)

 

 

                  ALSO OF NOTE

 

                  - Engineering work has been started on the controversial Bakun

                  Hydroelectric dam. Critics protest the costs, the flooding of

                  an area the size of Singapore, the displacement of 10,000

                  local people and the effect on the environment.  (AFP 29/10)

 

                  - PM Mahathir comments on Myanmar:  Progress is being made

                  towards democratic reforms, but they will take time and the

                  world needs to be patient.   Malaysian Razali Ismail says he

                  may quit as UN Special Envoy to Myanmar for lack of progress

                  in reconciliation talks. (Malaysiakini 11/11)

 

 

                                      

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                  GENERAL

 

                  1. Ethical Corporation Asia 2003 Business Conference will be

                  held February 18-19. 150 - 200 senior executives from

                  multinational and large domestic Asian and Western companies

                  will discuss managing corporate citizenship, strategy

                  formulation and policy integration into their local and global

                  operations.   Location: ?

 

                  2. UN General Assembly has adopted the Optional Protocol to

                  the Convention against Torture. 104 countries voted in favour,

                  with eight against (USA, China, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Nigeria,

                  Syria and Viet Nam), and 13 abstentions. The protocol will

                  help prevent acts of torture before they occur. An independent

                  committee will be allowed to inspect the facilities of any

                  country that ratifies the protocol "whenever necessary and

                  without prior consent." AI Canada Secretary General Alex Neve

                  described its adoption as a "tremendous victory."  AI Canada

                  will press Canada to ratify the protocol, despite early

                  indications that several Canadian provinces appear unwilling. 

                  (7/11)

 

                  3. Canada has nominated Philippe Kirsch, currently Canada's

                  ambassador to Sweden, as judge to to the International

                  Criminal Court.  He chaired the Rome conference that led to

                  the Rome Statute and the ICC.  He has also chaired the ICC

                  Preparatory Committee in recent years.

 

                  4. Canada strengthened its commitment to women's rights when

                  it ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the

                  Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

                  (CEDAW).   The treaty gives individuals and groups of women

                  the right to make complaints to the UN about violations of the

                  Convention, and allows for a UN body to conduct inquiries into

                  grave or systematic abuses of women's rights in countries that

                  have ratified the protocol.

 

                  5.  IPI issued a press release calling on states not to use

                  terrorism as an excuse to impose restrictive measures that

                  limit press freedom.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

                  Sergio Vieira de Mello is quoted as insisting that "human

                  rights be at the centre [of responses to the threat of

                  terrorism], particularly freedom of expression.

 

                               

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