Appeals, Repeals and Foreign Intervention

We’re back with another edition of CAPE Curator! It’s been an exciting few weeks – from accusations of traitors, to a sudden re-emergence of the debate over Section 377A of the Penal Code, we’ve summarised these hot issues below.
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Five ‘non-governmental’ Singaporean individuals met Dr Mahathir for an 80-minute conference on democracy in Southeast Asia organised by former student union leader Tan Wah Piow, with historian Thum Ping Tjin, journalist Kirsten Han, activist Jolovan Wham, and author Sonny Liew as attendants. After the meeting, Kirsten Han, Jolovan Wham and Sonny Liew each individually posted on their Facebook pages, recounting takeaways from the meeting on politics and the struggle for democracy and human rights.
A day after said meeting, Thum posted on Facebook wishing Malaysia a “Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya!” and a “happy unofficial independence day” to Singapore. Subsequently, MP Seah Kian Peng posted on his Facebook claiming that “PJ Thum does not wish Singapore well” for proclaiming Singapore as part of Malaya or Malaysia, invoking Tan Wah Piow’s alleged involvement in a Marxist conspiracy in 1987 to call Thum’s intentions in meeting with Dr Mahathir into question. Mr Seah then noted that Thum invited Dr Mahathir to “bring democracy to Singapore”, and questioned why Thum “(thought) it permissible to ask (Malaysia’s) current prime minister to interfere in our affairs”.

Tommy Koh calls for gay community to challenge 377A

A day after India’s Supreme Court struck down their colonial-era ban on gay sex, calls arose for Singapore to do the same. Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh revived the debate over Section 377A by calling for the gay community to challenge the law, which states that a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years. Professor Koh made these comments on a Facebook post about the Indian ruling by Simon Chesterman, dean of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.

The comment that started it all…

Social enterprise hawker centres run into high costs

KF Seetoh, blogger and proprietor of digital enterprise Makansutra, has brought to attention several issues surrounding the operation of Social Enterprise Hawker Centres (SEHCs). SEHCs have been set up with the goal of maintaining affordability of dishes and are run by social enterprises — such as NTUC Foodfare. These social enterprises help hawkers to allay costs by purchasing basic items in bulk and distributing.
Seetoh has identified that the costs of operating a stall in an SEHC are becoming difficult. According to his conversation with tenants in newly built hawker centres, tenants are paying an average of $4,000 monthly. Some of the vendor contracts that Seetoh saw included clauses that stipulate separate charges for crockery washing, collection and return,and even payments for inspectors to conduct quality assurance tests. These charges are not common in NEA hawker centres nor are the rents above $2000-$3000 even at the most popular centres.

Apex Court grants permission for Li Shengwu to appeal against service of contempt of court papers

Li Shengwu, nephew of PM Lee Hsien Loong, was granted permission by the Court of Appeal on September 3 to appeal the Attorney General’s attempt to serve papers on him in the United States for contempt of court. This comes after his previous attempt in the High Court was rejected. The A-G started proceedings against Li on August 21 2017 over a Facebook post written a month earlier, related to the Oxley Road dispute, where he said “the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system”.
One of the main issues that will be argued before the Court of Appeal is whether a procedural rule that allows for the A-G to serve papers for contempt outside of Singapore can be applied retroactively. (The rule in question took effect on 1 October 2017)

Protest by Reuters journalists attracts police attention

A group of about 30 Reuters journalists were photographed holding placards outside their Singapore headquarters in an act of solidarity with the two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were convicted of breaching the Official Secrets Act in Myanmar. The two journalists have been imprisoned since December 2017 for reporting on the alleged killing of 10 Rohingya people by soldiers and Buddhist villagers in Rakhine state.

Plus food for thought on 377A, on Thum Pingtjin and Kirsten Han, and asking difficult questions!

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