Tuesday, June 20, 2006



She doesn't want to talk about it

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is visiting New Zealand at the moment, and media attention is focusing on his country's human rights record. While Singapore doesn't torture people, political freedoms are significantly curtailed - a fact exemplified by opposition politician Chee Soon Juan's facing charges for speaking in public without a permit.

As a progressive politician leading a party and a country which cares deeply about human rights, you'd expect Helen Clark to raise this issue with Mr Lee. Instead, she didn't want to talk about it, saying at a press conference this afternoon

"No, we haven't discussed that today"

And later

"I haven't raised that specific issue with him"

It's nice to know where her priorities lie. When trade is on the line, Clark will remain silent, rather than speak up for the values of the people she is supposed to represent.

Meanwhile, Mr Lee took the opportunity to slag off his opponent on New Zealand television, calling him

a liar, he's a cheat, he's deceitful he's confrontational and it's a destructive form of politics designed not to win elections in Singapore but to impress foreign supporters and to make himself out to be a martyr.

Note that if the roles were reversed, and Mr Chee said that about Mr Lee, he'd be looking at another defamation suit. But I guess the rules are different for the Singaporean government...

2 comments:

"I think it's a question of what the threshold for that is. We always raise arbitrary arrest, detention, gross abuses," she said. "But I don't have a brief that Singapore has breached that threshold." - Helen Clark, reported in the NZ Herald

Obviously freedom of speech isn't such a big issue for Clark. But then, doesn't she support hate-speech legislation in New Zealand?

It shouldn't come as any surprise that she doesn't think highly of freedom of speech in Singapore, either.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 6/20/2006 05:47:00 PM

Here is an example of a type of fascism in what is essentially a free country (don't most commentators call Singapore the most econimically free country in the world?)

By destroying freedom of speech Lee is totally undermining democracy in Singapore, which is a step down the road to fascism.

Apologies if that sounds like hyperbole, but economic freedom and personal freedom are not the same thing.

Posted by PabloR : 6/21/2006 10:20:00 AM