Chee Soon Juan

Dr Chee Soon Juan PhD (simplified Chinese: 徐顺全; traditional Chinese: 徐順全; pinyin: Xú Shùnquán, born 20 July 1962), is a Singaporean politician and currently the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

A figure in Singapore's political opposition, Chee joined the SDP in 1992, and became its Secretary-General following the departure of the party's founder, Chiam See Tong (with whom Chee and the rest of the party's leadership have had a number of disagreements). The party had three Members of Parliament (MPs) at the time Chee took over as Secretary-General, but was reduced to no MPs at the 1997 general election and has not had any of its members elected to Parliament since then.

Chee has been arrested and jailed several times for his political activities, mainly for making speeches and staging public demonstrations without a police permit. He has also been found guilty of defamation on multiple occasions for comments he has made about members of Singapore's governing People's Action Party (PAP). He was previously barred from standing in parliamentary elections because he was declared bankrupt in 2006 after failing to pay damages from a lawsuit owed to two former Singaporean prime ministers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. However, on 24 September 2012, Chee announced that he had raised the sum of S$30,000 needed to pay Lee and Goh. His bankruptcy has since been discharged, which has allowed him to contest the 2015 Singaporean general election.

Chee Soon Juan

徐顺全
Dr Chee Soon Juan
Dr Chee Soon Juan
2nd Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party
Assumed office
1993
Preceded byChiam See Tong
Personal details
Born20 July 1962 (age 56)
Singapore Colony of Singapore
CitizenshipSingapore Singaporean
NationalitySingapore Singaporean
Political partySingapore Democratic Party (1992–present)
Spouse(s)
Huang Chih-Mei (m. 1992)
ChildrenChee An Lyn (daughter)
Chee E Lyn (daughter)
Chee Shaw Hur (son)
RelativesChee Siok Chin (sister)
ResidenceSingapore
EducationBachelor's Degree in Psychology
PhD
Alma materAnglo-Chinese School
Mansfield University
University of Georgia
Professionpolitician, activist
Known forA figure of Singapore's political oppositions
Awards2003: Defender of Democracy, Parliamentarians for Global Action
2011: Prize for Freedom, Liberal International
Websiteyoursdp.org

Early life

Chee had his early education at Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore. From 1983, he studied psychology at Mansfield University. He earned a bachelor's degree in his field. Chee then trained as a neuropsychologist, earning a PhD from the University of Georgia in 1990. After completing his doctorate, he returned to Singapore to take up a teaching position in the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore.

Political career

First foray into politics

In 1992, Chee was recruited to join the Singapore Democratic Party by the party's founder and Secretary-General, Chiam See Tong. Chiam had become the party's first Member of Parliament in 1984 when he was elected to represent the constituency of Potong Pasir. At the 1991 general election, Chiam was joined in Parliament by two further SDP MPs (Ling How Doong as MP for Bukit Gombak and Cheo Chai Chen as MP for Nee Soon Central).[1]

Chee was first introduced to the public as a member of the SDP's team to stand in a by-election in the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency in 1992. Chee's candidacy attracted considerable public interest as it was the first time that an academic at a state-run university had stood against the governing People's Action Party in an election.[2] However, the SDP team was unsuccessful in the election, with the PAP winning 72.94% of the votes, the SDP 24.50%, and other smaller parties 2.56%.

Shortly after the Marine Parade by-election, Chee became the SDP's Assistant Secretary-General.

Dismissal from the National University of Singapore

In 1993, a few months after Chee joined the SDP, he was fired from his position at the National University of Singapore by the Head of the Psychology Department, Dr S Vasoo (who was an MP for the PAP at the time), for allegedly using research funds to send his wife's doctoral thesis to the United States and making false transport claims. Chee denied that he had misused university funds and claimed that he was the victim of a political vendetta.[3] He staged a five-day glucose-coated hunger strike to protest his sacking.

The rise to leadership of the SDP

After initially backing Chee, Chiam became critical of Chee's hunger strike and his public comments condemning the PAP for his sacking.[4] Chiam wanted to censure Chee for his comments, but the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) backed Chee. Chiam then resigned as Secretary-General of the party. Chee, as the Assistant Secretary-General, then became the party's Acting Secretary-General (and was subsequently elected as Secretary-General in 1993).[5]

After Chiam publicly criticised the CEC, they attempted to expel him from the party (which would have forced him to vacate his seat in Parliament), but Chiam won a court case to prevent them from doing so on procedural grounds.[6] Chiam remained an SDP member and MP until shortly before the 1997 general election, when he left to join the Singapore People's Party (a party founded in 1994 by ex-SDP members who were supportive of Chiam).[7]

After taking over as the SDP's Secretary-General, Chee began regularly travelling abroad and to talk about his views on the lack of democracy in Singapore to the foreign media. He also published his second political book, Dare To Change: An Alternative Vision for Singapore. In 1994, to respond to criticisms of the book made by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Chee wrote a letter to The Straits Times. The PAP's Second Organising Secretary, Matthias Yao (a Parliamentary Secretary and MP for Marine Parade GRC), then wrote to the newspaper to reply to Chee's comments. This led to a two-month-long exchange of letters between Chee and Yao which were published in the paper, which ended with Chee issuing a challenge for Yao to stand against him in a single member constituency at the next general election. At Yao's request, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong agreed to separate Yao's MacPherson ward from the rest of Marine Parade GRC at the next general election so that he could take up Chee's challenge.

1997 general election

The SDP's first general election under Chee's leadership in 1997 proved to be a major setback for the party as they failed to win any seats in Parliament. Ling How Doong and Cheo Chai Chen were both defeated in their bids to be re-elected as MPs. And Chee lost the high-profile contest in MacPherson to Matthias Yao by 6,713 (34.86%) votes to 12,546 (65.14%).[8][9] Meanwhile, Chiam See Tong was re-elected as the MP for Potong Pasir, representing his new party.

2001 general election

At the 2001 general election, Chee stood as one of the SDP's candidates in the Jurong Group Representation Constituency. The SDP's team lost to the PAP team by 20.25% of the votes to 79.75%. The SDP's candidates were also unsuccessful in all the other constituencies in which they stood.

During the run-up to the election, Chee captured national media attention when he came across then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong while campaigning at a hawker centre, and used a megaphone to ask him: "Where is the S$18 billion that you have lent to (Indonesian President) Suharto?" The PAP took Chee to task for this, claiming that any accusation that Parliament had been misled about an alleged loan to Suharto was untrue, and demanding that he either apologise or face a defamation lawsuit. Chee apologised a day later, but later retracted his apology.

2011 general election

At the 2011 general election, Chee led the SDP into the contest. Although he was barred from standing, he assembled a team of individuals to stand as candidates. The party had envisioned its best team to stand in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC. Its candidates included Tan Jee Say, a former civil servant, Ang Yong Guan, a doctor, Vincent Wijeysingha, a social worker, as well as Michelle Lee, a former employee of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.[10] The team lost, attaining only 39.92% of the vote.[10]

Legal charges in 2002

On 15 February 2002, Chee made a public speech concerning the ban of Muslim headscarfs in schools at Singapore's Speakers' Corner.[11] For this, he was fined S$3000 because "Although Chee was registered to speak at Speakers' Corner, he did not have an additional police permit required for almost all public events, including concerts and political rallies."[12]

On 1 May 2002, Chee staged a rally in front of The Istana (the official residence and office of the President of Singapore), even though his application to the police for a licence to hold the assembly had been denied.[13] Chee was later charged for trespassing and for attempting to hold a rally without a police permit, for which he was sentenced to five weeks in jail.[14]

Defamation suit, bankruptcy, Tak Boleh Tahan trial: 2002 - 2012

After the 2001 general election, Chee was sued for defamation by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and former Prime Minister and elder statesman the late Lee Kuan Yew for remarks he had made during the campaign about an alleged loan to Indonesian President Suharto. Chee lost the lawsuits and was ordered to pay damages of S$300,000 to Goh and S$200,000 to Lee.

On 10 February 2006, Chee was declared bankrupt by the High Court after failing to pay the damages owed to Goh and Lee.

As an undischarged bankrupt, Chee became ineligible to stand in general elections and was required to seek the Official Assignee's permission before making any trips abroad.[15]

On 24 February 2006, Singapore's Attorney-General filed contempt of court charges against Chee for refusing to answer the court's questions and scandalising the Singapore judiciary during the bankruptcy petition hearing on 10 February.[16] As a result, Chee was sentenced to one day in jail and a fine of S$6,000, but he failed to pay the fine and was thus jailed for an additional seven days.[17] [18] He was released on 24 March 2006.[19]

In April 2006, Chee was stopped at the airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Istanbul because, as an undischarged bankrupt, he could not leave Singapore without official approval of the Official Assignee, which he had not obtained.[20]

Chee was unable to stand in the 2006 general election. In view of that, the SDP did enter candidates in some constituencies, but none were elected.

On 20 June 2006, Chee was charged in court for eight counts of speaking in public without a licence between 13 November 2005 and 22 April 2006 in violation of the Public Entertainments and Meeting Act. Two other SDP members were also charged.[21]

On 22 August 2006, Chee announced that he was planning to hold protests in Singapore during 61st Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group in September 2006 (as part of Singapore 2006), to protest against the rising income gap and raise awareness of the hardships of working-class people in Singapore.[22][23][24] The application for a police permit for the protest was rejected on 30 August 2006.[25] Even without a permit, Chee still used the SDP website to continue to urge people to participate in the protest.[26][27]

On 9 September, Chee was distributing leaflets for an upcoming "Empower Singaporeans Rally and March", when he was stopped by the police for doing so. The police warned the public that anyone participating in Chee's planned rally and march would be committing an offence.[28][29]

On 13 September, Chee invited both World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and IMF managing director Rodrigo de Rato y Figaredo to his planned rally. At a press conference the next day, Chee announced that his application to be a civil society representative to Singapore 2006 as a representative of the Open Singapore Centre was rejected by the IMF and World Bank. An application by his sister, Chee Siok Chin, to represent the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia was approved by the IMF and World Bank but was rejected by the Singapore government.[30][31] On 15 September, Chee released a podcast that warned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that the Singapore 2006 event was a "public relations disaster" for Singapore.[32]

On 16 September, Chee started off the "Empower Singaporeans Rally and March" at 11.00 am at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park, but was stopped by the police who formed a human barricade around him.[33][34] He then announced that there would be a rally the following day in front of Parliament House.[35] But the police refused to let him leave the park until he called off the protest, so he remained in the park with his supporters.[36]

On 17 September, Chee announced his plan to continue his protest by remaining in Hong Lim Park until the start of the IMF and World Bank meetings which were two days away. On 18 September, after hours of negotiations with police, Chee went to Raffles City to hand out pamphlets to the public and then returned to the park.[37] He stopped the protest at noon on 19 September, and proclaimed that the protest had achieved its purpose.[38] He further announced that the 72-hour protest was just a start, and that over the next few months he intended to recruit and train more activists for a campaign to bring pressure on the Singapore government to reform.[39]

Despite a rule in Singapore that bans podcasting during elections,[40] Chee released a political podcast on 23 April 2006. However, on the order of the Elections Department, it was taken down by 25 April 2006.[41] Another defamation lawsuit was brought against Chee following an article published in the SDP's party newspaper, The New Democrat, which questioned the role of the Singapore government in the 2005 National Kidney Foundation scandal. Chee was ordered to pay damages to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as a result of this.

Chee was fined S$5,000. On 23 November 2006, he was jailed for five weeks for failing to pay the fine. Two other SDP members, Gandhi Ambalam and Yap Keng Ho, were also imprisoned.[42]

While in prison in November 2006, Chee reportedly became ill, leading to speculation from the SDP that he had been poisoned. A statement released by the SDP[43] noted that Chee was feeling nauseous and dizzy, and was unable to sleep. Four days later, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asserted that Chee was treated the "same as other prisoners", and that the SDP's claims were "baseless, malicious and seek to undermine the reputation of the Singapore Prison Service".[44] On 3 December 2006, after the doctor at the Queenstown Remand Prison had found traces of blood in Chee's urine, he was admitted under guard to Changi General Hospital.[45] On 10 December, about a dozen of Chee's supporters, including members of his family, held a protest march starting at the Speakers' Corner and ending at Queenstown Remand Prison, where Chee was incarcerated.[46] Several foreign non-government organisations released statements expressing concerns about Chee's health and treatment in prison.[47]

Chee was released on 16 December, two weeks short of his full sentence as a result of good behaviour in jail.[43] Two days later, he published a statement on what happened during his stint in prison. He claimed that his food tray was marked, and that the light in his cell had remained on during the night, causing sleep deprivation.[48] Two days later, the MHA replied to this, claiming "Chee's insinuations about being the victim of a food conspiracy are ridiculous and a product of his own mischief...", and that "Chee's purported 'ailment' in prison served only to provide an expedient story for his associates and foreign supporters to faithfully distort and exploit for political mileage".[47] Chee immediately released another statement rebutting this, claiming "the MHA's statement is riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and outright lies".[49]

On 8 January 2007, a hearing began for charges that Chee had attempted to leave the country without a permit despite being a bankrupt.[50] As a result of this, he was jailed for three weeks.

On 15 March 2008, the SDP decided to stage the "Tak Boleh Tahan" (Malay for "Can't take it anymore") protests.[51] On 15 March 2008, Chee and 17 others were arrested at a demonstration held outside Parliament and later charged with unlawful assembly. The trial began on 23 October 2008.

Chee was not eligible to run for the 2011 general election due to the undischarged bankruptcy.

On 11 September 2012, former prime ministers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong said they had no objection to accepting Chee's offer to pay the reduced sum of S$30,000 to annul his bankruptcy.

On 24 September 2012, Chee announced that he has raised the S$30,000 from the sale of his latest book, Democratically Speaking, and will be making payment to the Official Assignee in the course of that week.

2015 general election

On 23 November 2012, Chee was formally discharged from bankruptcy in court. This allowed him to travel freely outside of Singapore, as well as stand in future General Elections.[52]

Chee Soon Juan ran as a candidate of Singapore Democratic Party, in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC for the 2015 general elections. Chee began his campaign by raising the issue of the high cost of living in Singapore, stressing that there was a need for Singaporeans to have an alternative voice in Parliament.[53] In subsequent election rallies, Chee unveiled the SDP's proposals, which included the raising of personal income taxes on the top 1 per cent of taxpayers to the year-2000 level, the introduction of a minimum wage, as well as the creation of a national healthcare plan to be funded by cutting the defense budget by 40 per cent. In response, the People's Action Party (PAP) team described the proposals as "unrealistic", saying that the SDP's policies involved "tax-and-spend" programs that would set Singapore "on the road to (debt-stricken) Greece".[54] Chee responded by saying the PAP had previously criticized the SDP’s ideas, only to adopt them later. According to Chee, the SDP had in the past proposed pooling individual healthcare risks, an idea that has been adopted by the Government, through the implementation of the MediShield Life universal healthcare insurance scheme, as well as the Government’s Fair Consideration Framework, which he stated was an adoption of the SDP’s proposal that employers must try hiring Singaporeans first before considering foreigners.[55]

At a PAP rally on 7 September, the PAP team also called to attention Chee's history in ousting Chiam See Tong as secretary-general of SDP in 1993, saying that the PAP "did not have a tradition of "backstabbing" its mentors".[56] In response, Chee, as well as the SDP's Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC candidate Bryan Lim, provided an account of the incidents that led to Chiam’s resignation on the party’s website, saying that Chiam resigned on his own accord. Lina Chiam, the chairman of Singapore People's Party (SPP), confirmed that the two sides had held “friendly talk” on the issue.[57] At the same PAP rally, Sim Ann accused Chee of being adept at "chut pattern", a Singlish phrase meaning being full of antics.[58] Chee responded the following day at a SDP rally by stating that he would not respond to personal attacks and would stay focused on policy issues during the election season, saying, "If you attack, you attack the policy, not the person... In football terms, you play the ball, not the man."[59] Chee also addressed the different target population figures cited by government officials in the past, including the much debated 6.9 million figure in the Population White Paper, asking if the PAP would consider the SDP's proposal to base the optimal population on the happiness of residents, and a point system when bringing in foreigners for skilled jobs.

At a rally at UOB Plaza, Chee spoke about income inequality and said that the SDP was "not against wealth, but wealth inequality as the widening income gap harms the common good, erodes cohesiveness and corrodes the values that fosters social cohesiveness." Chee also called for checks on the Government and raised what he described as "failed or questionable decisions" by sovereign wealth fund GIC and investment company Temasek Holdings, implying that the money would have been better used on healthcare as "our hospitals face repeated shortage of beds and have to put patients along hospital corridors and makeshift tents."[60] Chee also explained his decision to stand in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, which includes wealthy private housing estates, saying that "the wealthy segment of our society cares - and cares deeply - about what is happening around them. I believe that compassion is innate in all of us."[61]

Local media reported the popularity Chee had garnered during the election, stating that Chee's "more moderate image" and "articulate speeches proved to be a big draw," adding that "If the buzz on social media and the queues of people that have formed after the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) rallies to have their books signed are any indication, there is considerable interest in SDP chief Chee Soon Juan this General Election."[62] Observers attributed Chee's improved public image to a greater level of transparency and accessibility to information than in the past, as a result of technology like social media.[63]

Despite expectations of a close result,[64] Chee was unsuccessful with his team winning only 33.38% of the votes, losing to the incumbent PAP team.[65] Despite his participation, the SDP fared worse in the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (GRC) than in the 2011 election. Chee described the result in as “hugely disappointing”, but also noted the swing against the Opposition in every other constituency. Chee also raised the possibility of his party "working closer together" with the Workers' Party at the next general election.[66]

2016 Bukit Batok by-election

Chee contested in the Bukit Batok by-election, 2016. He garnered 38.8% of the total votes cast, bringing a swing of -11.78% to the votes favouring the ruling party's hold in the Bukit Batok constituency as compared to the 2015 general elections result. On his election loss, Chee was more opinionated than introspective. In an interview immediately after the announcement of the election results, Chee was critical of the 'vicious campaign' and personal attacks by leaders from the ruling party and the mainstream media. Sympathizers of this view have started an online petition (Singaporeans Against Gutter Politics) during the period leading up to the polling day.

International activities

Chee is the Chairman of the Asian Alliance for Reforms and Democracy[67], and has been engaged by the National Endowment for Democracy.[68]

Chee's party has been granted observer status to Liberal International, a world federation of liberal political parties. "SDP has signed an agreement with the Commonwealth countries, where Singapore is a party, to include respect for fundamental human rights and civil liberties," said Chee, who had also hired Amsterdam & Peroff to take up his case against the government, The Repression of Political Freedoms in Singapore: The Case of Opposition Leader Dr. Chee Soon Juan - Robert Amsterdam whose members have filed lawsuits against news publications that have run Chee's critical comments. "We are trying to pursue this and some of the international community would hopefully pay more attention and encourage Singapore to be part of the civilized world."[69]

He has since served as a research fellow at the Monash Asia Institute (1997), the University of Chicago (2001), the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Program at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. (2004),[70] and most recently as a visiting fellow at the University of Sydney (2014).[71][72]

In an op-ed, Chee stated that "free trade agreements cannot continue to ignore human rights."[73]

Awards

Personal life

Chee was married to Dr Huang Chih-Mei (黄智美). The couple have two daughters, Chee An Lyn and Chee E Lyn, and a son, Chee Shaw Hur.[81][82] His younger sister Chee Siok Chin is also a member of the Singapore Democratic Party.

Documentary

In 2004, Martyn See directed a documentary on Chee called Singapore Rebel. It was supposed to be screened at the Singapore International Film Festival, but was withdrawn from the festival and later banned by the Singapore government because of its political content. Singapore's Film Act forbids the production and distribution of "party political" films, which are defined as films "made by any person and directed towards any political ends in Singapore". The ban on the film was lifted on 11 September 2009.[83]

Works

Chee has written the following books:

  • Dare to Change: An Alternative Vision for Singapore (Singapore Democratic Party: 1994) Out of Print
  • Effective Parenting for the Asian Family – With Huang Chih Mei (Heinemann Asia: 1994) Out of Print[84]
  • Singapore, My Home Too (1995) Out of Print
  • To Be Free: Stories from Asia's Struggle Against Oppression (Monash Asia Institute: 1998) Out of Print
  • Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom: A Democratic Blueprint for Singapore (Singapore Open Centre: 2001) Out of Print
  • The Power of Courage: Effecting Political Change in Singapore Through Nonviolence (2005)
  • A Nation Cheated (2008)
  • Democratically Speaking (2012)
  • Never on Bended Knees (2019)

[85]

Biographies

  • Teacher, Thinker, Rebel, Why? Portraits of Chee Soon Juan (2015)*[85][86]

*This book is a biography of the said person written by various authors

External links

References

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1992 Marine Parade by-election

A by-election for the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency in Singapore was held on 19 December 1992. The by-election was called after the resignation of all four MPs of the GRC from their seats, including then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. The nomination day was held on 9 December 1992.

2006 in Singapore

The following lists events that happened during 2006 in Singapore.

2016 Bukit Batok by-election

A by-election for the Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency in Singapore was concluded on Polling Day of 7 May 2016, with Murali Pillai as the winning candidate. This followed the sudden resignation of incumbent Member of Parliament David Ong Kim Huat (of the People's Action Party) on 12 March 2016.

On 20 April, President Tony Tan Keng Yam issued the writs of election. On 27 April, two candidates were nominated, Murali Pillai of the People's Action Party, and Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party. The by-election was the 13th of its kind since Singapore's independence.

Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency

Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency (Chinese: 武吉巴督单选区; Malay: Kawasan Undi Perseorangan Bukit Batok; Tamil: புக்கிட் பாத்தோ தனித் தொகுதி) is a constituency covering a portion of Bukit Batok (Neighbourhood 1,6 and Parts of N2) in Singapore. It existed from 1972 to 1997, when it was merged with Bukit Timah GRC. It was carved out as an SMC again ahead of the 2015 general elections. It absorbed part of Bukit Panjang, Bukit Timah & Choa Chu Kang constituencies in 1972.

In March 2016, the elected MP for Bukit Batok SMC, Mr David Ong of the PAP, resigned due to an extra-marital affair with a fellow PAP member, precipitating the Bukit Batok by-election. On 7 May 2016, Murali Pillai won the seat of Bukit Batok against Singapore Democratic Party secretary-general, Chee Soon Juan by a vote count of 61.2% to 38.8%.

Elections in Singapore

There are currently two types of elections in Singapore: parliamentary and presidential elections. According to the constitution of Singapore general elections for parliament must be conducted within 3 months of the dissolution of parliament, which has a maximum term of 5 years from the first sitting of parliament, and presidential elections are conducted every 6 years.

The parliament of Singapore is unicameral with 89 seats. Since the legislative assembly election in 1959, the People's Action Party has had an overwhelming majority, and for nearly two decades was the only party to win any seats, and has always formed the government of Singapore.

Far Eastern Economic Review

The Far Eastern Economic Review (simplified Chinese: 远东经济评论; traditional Chinese: 遠東經濟評論; pinyin: Yuǎndōng Jīngjì Pínglùn; Jyutping: jyun5 dung1 ging1 zai3 ping4 leon6; also referred to as FEER or The Review) was an English language Asian news magazine started in 1946. It printed its final issue in December 2009. The Hong Kong–based business magazine was originally published weekly. Due to financial difficulties, the magazine converted to a monthly publication in December 2004, and simultaneously switched to an arrangement whereby most articles were contributed by nonstaff writers who had expertise in a given field, such as economists, business-community figures, government policymakers, social scientists, and others.

FEER covered a variety of topics including politics, business, economics, technology, and social and cultural issues throughout Asia, focusing on Southeast Asia and Greater China.

Francis Seow

Francis Seow, born Seow Tiang Siew (Chinese: 萧添寿; pinyin: Xiāo Tiānshòu; 11 October 1928 – 21 January 2016), was a Singaporean-born American writer, political dissident and former lawyer. He lived in exile from Singapore after facing lawsuits from Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister. He was educated at Saint Joseph's Institution in Singapore and at the Middle Temple in London, and was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School.

Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency

Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency (Chinese: 荷兰-武吉知马集选区; Malay: Kawasan Undi Perwakilan Berkumpulan Holland-Bukit Timah; Tamil: ஹோலண்ட்-புக்கிட் தீமா குழுத்தொகுதி) is a four-member Group Representation Constituency located in the central, western and northern areas of Singapore. The Group Representation Constituency has received two contests since 2011, which is the former presidential candidate and now the SingFirst secretary-general Tan Jee Say in 2011 and the current SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan in 2015 who was being sued for defamation, both of which were contested under Singapore Democratic Party.

Originally known as the Holland-Bukit Panjang Group Representation Constituency, it was renamed to its present name due to the Bukit Panjang ward of the GRC being carved out to form a Single Member Constituency, in return the Bukit Timah Single Member Constituency was absorbed. A large portion of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC is made up of jungle and nature reserve, namely the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Water Catchment.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC is led by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Minister of State Sim Ann.

Judicial system of Singapore

The full Judicial power in Singapore is vested in the Supreme Court as well as subordinate courts by the Constitution of Singapore. The Supreme Court consists of the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Court of Appeal exercises appellate criminal and civil jurisdiction, while the High Court exercises both original and appellate criminal and civil jurisdiction. The Chief Justice, Judges of Appeal, Judicial Commissioners and High Court Judges are appointed by the President from candidates recommended by the Prime Minister. The prime minister must consult with the Chief Justice before recommending the judges. The current Chief Justice is Sundaresh Menon.

In 2006, the subordinate courts initiated a pilot scheme to appoint specialist judges to the Bench. These judges will come from the legal profession and academia and the scheme is aimed at bringing additional expertise to the subordinate courts as well as giving practitioners and academics an insight to the workings of the judiciary of Singapore.Jury trials were abolished in 1969 and the Criminal Procedure Code was amended in 1992 to allow for trials of capital offences to be heard before a single judge. The Court of Appeal is Singapore's final court of appeal after the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London was abolished in April 1994. The president has the power to grant pardons on the advice of the cabinet.Singapore practices the common law legal system, where the decisions of higher courts constitute binding precedent upon courts of equal or lower status within their jurisdiction, as opposed to the civil law legal system in the continental Europe. The current criminal code was preceded by the Indian Penal Code which was adopted when Singapore was a crown colony.

In 2004, the US Department of State claimed that although Singapore's judicial system provides citizens with an efficient judicial process, the judiciary is largely compliant and the government often uses defamation suits or the threat of such actions to discourage public criticism and intimidate the press.

List of Singaporean dissidents

This is a list of Singaporean political dissidents.

J. B. Jeyaretnam

Chee Soon Juan

Vincent Cheng

Chia Thye Poh

Francis Seow

Tan Wah Piow

Tang Liang Hong

Devan Nair

Amos Yee

Alex Tan

MacPherson Single Member Constituency

MacPherson Single Member Constituency (Chinese: 麦波申单选区; Malay: Kawasan Undi Perseorangan MacPherson; Tamil: மெக்பர்சன் தனித் தொகுதி) is a Single Member Constituency located in central area of Singapore. It existed from 1968 to 1991 (after which it was merged into Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency), and from 1997 to 2011 (after which it was merged into Marine Parade GRC again). In 2015, the area was carved out again as a SMC for the 2015 general elections. It carved out of Aljunied.

The ward consists of Circuit/Pipit Road , Geylang East Central, Aljunied Crescent/Ave 2 ,Mattar/Merpati Road ,Paya Lebar MRT/Square and several areas near MacPherson. The incumbent MP is Ms Tin Pei Ling.

Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency

Not to be confused with the defunct and smaller Marine Parade Single Member Constituency (Marine Parade SMC) that existed from 1976 to 1984.Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (Chinese: 马林百列集选区; Malay: Kawasan Undi Perwakilan Berkumpulan Marine Parade; Tamil: மரீன் பரேட் குழுத்தொகுதி) is a five-member Group Representation Constituency (GRC) located in the central, eastern and north-eastern areas of Singapore. The constituency consists of a section of Bedok, Chai Chee, Geylang, Kaki Bukit, Kallang, Kembangan, Marine Parade, Mountbatten, Ubi, Serangoon, Toa Payoh and Hougang.

Marine Parade GRC is both led by then-prime minister and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and the Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin.

Murali Pillai

K. Muralidharan Pillai (Chinese: 穆仁理, Tamil: கே முரளிதரன் பிள்ளை, born 30 October 1967), better known as Murali Pillai (Standard ) or Ah Mu (Chinese: 阿穆), is a Singaporean lawyer and politician, as well as a former police officer. Murali worked in the Singapore Police Force before his admission to practice law in 1996. Murali is currently a partner in Commercial Litigation practice at Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.

In his political career, he joined the People's Action Party (PAP) in 2001. He was the Branch Secretary to the late Dr Ong Chit Chung, MP for Bukit Batok division. Murali was part of a team of five from the PAP who contested and narrowly lost to the Workers' Party in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency of the 2015 General Election. In 2016, Murali was once again fielded in as a PAP candidate for the Bukit Batok by-election. Murali won 61.2% of the votes, securing his position as Member of Parliament for the Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency.

Offence of scandalizing the court in Singapore

In Singapore, the offence of scandalizing the court is committed when a person performs any act or publishes any writing that is calculated to bring a court or a judge of the court into contempt, or to lower his authority. An act or statement that alleges bias, lack of impartiality, impropriety or any wrongdoing concerning a judge in the exercise of his judicial function falls within the offence. The High Court and the Court of Appeal are empowered by section 7(1) of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap. 322, 2007 Rev. Ed.) to punish for contempt of court. This provision is statutory recognition of the superior courts' inherent jurisdiction to uphold the proper administration of justice. The Subordinate Courts are also empowered by statute to punish acts of contempt. Although Article 14(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore protects every citizen's right to freedom of speech and expression, the High Court has held that the offence of scandalizing the court falls within the category of exceptions from the right to free speech expressly stipulated in Article 14(2)(a). Some commentators have expressed the view that the courts have placed excessive value on protecting the independence of the judiciary, and have given insufficient weight to free speech.

In Singapore, an "inherent tendency" test has been held to strike the right balance between the right to freedom of speech and the need to protect the dignity and integrity of the courts. To establish the offence, the claimant must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the act or words complained of have an inherent tendency to interfere with the administration of justice. The inherent tendency test has been held to be justified by the small geographical size of Singapore, the fact that there is no jury system and that judges have to decide both questions of law and fact, and that the test renders proof of damage to the administration of justice unnecessary.

Although Singapore law does not set out the sanctions that may be imposed for contempt of court, it is accepted that the courts may impose reasonable fines and imprisonment. To decide what punishment is appropriate, the culpability of the offender and the likely interference with the administration of justice are considered. The only defence available to the offence of scandalizing the court is to prove that the allegedly contemptuous act or statement amounts to fair criticism, which involves showing that the criticism was made respectfully and in good faith.

Politics of Singapore

The politics of Singapore takes the form of a parliamentary representative democratic republic whereby the President of Singapore is the head of state, the Prime Minister of Singapore is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the cabinet from the parliament, and to a lesser extent, the President. Cabinet has the general direction and control of the Government and is accountable to Parliament. There are three separate branches of government: the legislature, executive and judiciary, though not necessarily meaning that there is a separation of power, but abiding by the Westminster system.Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Singapore. The legislature is the parliament, which consists of the president as its head and a single chamber whose members are elected by popular vote. The role of the president as the head of state has been, historically, largely ceremonial although the constitution was amended in 1991 to give the president some veto powers in a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of key judiciary, Civil Service and Singapore Armed Forces posts. They also exercise powers over civil service appointments and national security matters.

Robert Amsterdam

Robert "Bob" Amsterdam (born 1956) is a Canadian international lawyer of the law firm Amsterdam & Partners, with offices in Washington, D.C. and London.

Singapore Democratic Party

The Singapore Democratic Party (abbrev: SDP; simplified Chinese: 新加坡民主党; traditional Chinese: 新加坡民主黨; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் மக்களாட்சி; Malay: Parti Demokratik Singapura) is a social liberal political party in Singapore.

The party was founded in 1980 by Chiam See Tong, who as Secretary-General became the party's first Member of Parliament (MP) in 1984 when he was elected as MP for Potong Pasir. At the 1991 general election, the party's best ever performance, two further SDP members, Ling How Doong and Cheo Chai Chen, were elected to Parliament giving the party a total of three MPs. However, Chiam fell out with the party's Central Executive Committee in 1993 and subsequently left the party in December 1996. He was succeeded by Chee Soon Juan, who has remained the Secretary-General since the SDP's Ordinary Party Conference in 1995. The party has since focused more on a liberal human rights agenda but has yet to secure parliamentary representation since 1997 general election.

The party is a member of Liberal International and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats.

Tak Boleh Tahan

"Tak Boleh Tahan", colloquial Malay loosely translated as "I can't take it anymore", was a protest campaign launched by the Singapore Democratic Party over the escalating cost of living in Singapore. According to the SDP,

The Government's raising of the GST to 7 percent and its setting up of ERP gantries all over the island have all contributed to the inflation rate that is at its highest in a quarter of a century.

The result is that the crushing burden on working folks gets even more unbearable.

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