MFA's rebuttal of US Country Report is red herring


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in rebutting US Department of State’s Country Report on Singapore's Human Rights Practices for 2011, said that they "are disturbed by the double standards applied to the US’ criticism of our Internal Security Act (ISA)" and  "fail to understand how the US reconciles its criticism of the ISA with the continued existence of its own detention facilities at Guantanamo without applying a double standard" (link: http://sg.sg/MAgTN8)

This line of argument by the MFA is a complete red herring.

Although the United States of America's holding of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay camp indefinitely without charge is deplorable, almost all detainees at that American detention facilities are non US citizens.

The list of Individuals detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, which is available to the public (link: http://1.usa.gov/NLi4pm) states that during the period of January 2002 to 15 May 2006, there was only one US citizen, Yasser Himdi (aka Yaser Esam Hamdi), detained at that facility.

Yaser a Saudi national, who was citizen by birth of the USA, was raised almost entirely outside of the USA. When Yaser was captured in Afghanistan during the 'war on terror' in November 2001, he was reportedly not identifiable as an American citizen; which was why he was sent to the detention facility in Guantanamo in January 2002. When his American citizenship was established, he was sent to another detention facility, Brig, in Virginia, in April 2002. Yaser has since been released from detention, returned to Saudi Arabia, and has renounced his American citizenship.

In contrast, almost all detainees detained under the Internal Security Act of Singapore are Singaporeans.

In the USA, even if the Government has the power to detain citizens it has classified as 'enemy combatants', the citizens have a right to challenge the 'enemy combatant' status before an impartial judge.

In Singapore, even if there is a legal framework and prescribed rules for citizens of Singapore detained under the Internal Security Act, they do not have this right to appear before an impartial judge to challenge that they are not 'Euro Communists', or 'Marxist Conspirators', or 'Jemaah Islamiyah members'.

The Internal Security Act is an archaic law inherited by us from our former colonial masters; created especially to oppress and intimidate us into subservience.

It appears that MFA has repeated inaccuracies about the ISA year after year to the international community, and seem to have paid scant attention to the developments in the global scene on terrorism-related preventive detentions; the most recent being Malaysia repealing its own Internal Security Act to replace it with terrorism-specific laws.

Citizens of Singapore who have been detained in the past, have come out in recent years to dispute the Government's version for their detentions (link: http://bit.ly/Q64xrS). The Government of Singapore has not responded in an appropriate enough manner to them, nor will it convene a Commission of Inquiry to review the allegations against these detainees and the supporting documents.

It certainly seems that the Government of Singapore is not interested in facts, and does not want facts to come in the way of the conclusions it wishes to reach, pursuant to its own ideology.

This ideology has also undermined objectivity of MFA's rebuttal of US Department of State’s Country Report on Singapore's Human Rights Practices for 2011.

The Government of Singapore should stop justifying inefficient systems that are not on par with international norms, as being unique to Singapore.

Democratic elections and the rule of law are surely not the only means by which the Government is accountable to the people. If those were the only means, there was no necessity for the Government to convene a Commission of Inquiry on the last December's MRT breakdowns. They could have just waited for the next election to account to the public about public transportation.

While the Government adapts its policies supposedly in the interests of its people and as the balance of rights and obligations evolve in our society, it should not deprive its citizens of their right to judicial review of government discretion for preventive detention.

Since the 1960s, more than 2500 citizens have already paid a heavy price because they were denied this right. Some citizens have spent close to three decades in preventive detention, being denied even simple joys, like seeing their children grow up.

Comments

teo soh lung said…
Thank you Ravi for making the distinction. Imagine more than 2500 former ISA detainees. Add their families and friends. And thousands banished from our shores. All of them would have been our local talents today to make Singapore a more vibrant and humane society.
bryant3000 said…
You said: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in rebutting US Department of State’s Country Report on Singapore's Human Rights Practices for 2011, said that they 'are disturbed by the double standards applied to the US’ criticism of our ISA' and 'fail to understand how the US reconciles its criticism of the ISA with the continued existence of its own detention facilities at Guantanamo without applying a double standard'.

This line of argument by the MFA is a complete red herring.

Although the United States of America's holding of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay camp indefinitely without charge is deplorable, almost all detainees at that American detention facilities are non US citizens...."

Are you implying that some humans (from some countries) have more human-rights than others?
Ravi Philemon said…
bryant3000, human rights are universal.