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Harassment and human rights reports

This week: Yet another investigation into human rights lawyer M Ravi, and Singapore doesn't look that great in human rights reports...

I had a full day off on Thursday this past week! I lounged about at home and binge-watched the Chinese donghua Cinderella Chef on Netflix (it’s very cute) and read a bit and went to the gym and basically only did things I wanted to do and it was very nice. I also drank a third of a bottle of soju and had a deliciously nice sleep — the problem only came up when I couldn’t wake up properly the next morning, which is why I’m writing this wrap late afternoon on a Friday still bleary-eyed. 😅

Investigation upon investigation

This past week, lawyer and anti-death penalty activist M Ravi was told by the police that they would be taking no further action against him in a contempt of court investigation. But as one case closes, another opens: he was given a notice summoning him for questioning for a new contempt of court investigation. This time, it has to do with the filing of an affidavit in 2020. WTF?

Ravi says that he hadn’t known of any issues with the affidavit before, not even when the case — brought by Ravi’s client, arguing that the general election shouldn’t be held during Covid-19 as the restrictions made it unfair — was before the courts in 2020. So why is it coming up now?

It’s ridiculous to have such investigations pop up years after the alleged offence took place. If there was really such a concern about contempt of court, shouldn’t they have acted earlier? Why didn’t they? And if they didn't then, what is this all about now?

Such cases are petty harassment, and it’s exhausting and infuriating in equal measure. 🤬

Also: the High Court will deliver judgment on yet another contempt of court case against Ravi (there are so many it’s hard to keep track) on 29 March, 9:30am in Court 5C at the Supreme Court.

Human rights reports

A couple of reports from international NGOs to draw your attention to this week:

First up we have Harm Reduction International’s global overview on the death penalty for drug offences. They found that at least 303 people (28% increase from 2021) were sentenced to death for drug offences in 2022, and at least 285 executed (118% increase from the year before). Singapore is one of 12 countries that has the mandatory death penalty for drug offences, and one of six countries with confirmed/assumed executions for drug offences last year. The other five are Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam and North Korea.

HRI also published a speech that I’d given at a side event at the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Berlin last year as the foreword to the report. Apart from in the report, you can also read it on my blog.

From HRI's Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2022

Next up we have the latest from the CIVICUS Monitor, where Singapore is still categorised as “repressed” for 2022, alongside Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand. We were downgraded in 2021, and haven’t pulled ourselves back up yet.

From the CIVICUS Monitor.

Rental housing for singles

The government is experimenting with a new model of public rental housing for low-income singles. They’re using the former Anderson Junior College hostel as a test site first, before deciding whether to invest more resources in the Single Room Shared Facilities scheme. It’ll be ready for singles to apply by the end of the year.

At the moment, we have the Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run model (what a mouthful), where singles have to share a one- or two-room HDB flat. The idea behind the new scheme is to give people their own space, while sharing common facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.

RICE Media calls it “Scandinavian Prisoncore”. Which isn’t an inaccurate description.

Do you have an idea for a piece or a story for this newsletter? Is there something Singapore-related that you would like to write about, only you think you'd like some guidance/feedback? Check out the Kaya Toast Mini-Mentorship!

Checking in on the neighbours

🇹🇭 Thailand is headed for elections. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says that he’s prepped a decree to dissolve Parliament. This will take effect once it’s approved by the King and published in the gazette. The election must then take place 45–60 days after Parliament is dissolved.

A black cat is lying lazily in a soft grey marshmallow bed, staring straight into the camera.
Is it possible for a cat to get too comfortable?

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