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"
"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...