Jolovan goes to do "field research" in prison again
For anyone out there who likes watching Asian dramas, I’d just like to say that over the past week I sacrificed sleep and watched The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊) in three days, so you can take this as a recommendation.
Okay, just wanted to start off with something light-hearted because 2020 is such a wreck.
Jolovan goes to prison for the second time this year
He won’t be able to read this, but here’s a shout-out to Jolovan Wham, who went to prison yesterday (in lieu of a fine) for organising an indoor forum in 2016, during which Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong Skyped in as a panellist. Because Wong isn’t a Singaporean, the authorities said that the event needed a permit under the Public Order Act; because Wham didn’t get one, he was convicted of organising an illegal assembly. It’s a farce, and has already been condemned by Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists.
Jolovan is going to prison on principle, and will be using the opportunity to learn more about prison conditions in Singapore. He’s already started a website called Prison Life, after his last week-long stint, so as to build up a public repository of data and knowledge about what being in prison in Singapore is like.
He also points out that, while the case is concluded, the police still haven’t returned the laptop used to Skype Joshua Wong (naughty, naughty laptop), which they seized as evidence. ⬇️
Related to prisons: over the past week, British national Yuen Ye Ming was given 24 strokes of the cane in one day for drug offences. I wrote about Yuen, and about judicial corporal punishment in Singapore, for the Guardian last year.
I haven’t done a specific COVID-19 update for some time, so let’s take a quick look at where we are:
As of 20 August, the total of number of cases reported in Singapore stands at 56,099, and 27 deaths. There are glimmers of hope on the horizon: a common mutation of the coronavirus is more infectious, but might be less deadly. Researchers in Singapore also say that they’ve found a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes less symptoms and opens up possibilities for vaccine development.
The government has announced that the national exams will continue as planned, but students who are in isolation or have the virus won’t be allowed to take them. Those who miss the exams can apply for special consideration to get a grade that will take into account a range of factors, “such as the candidate's performance in the other papers for that affected subject in the national and school-based examinations, as well as the school cohort's performance in the national and school-based examinations.” Lots of details in the Ministry of Education’s press release.
Border restrictions are also easing for Brunei and New Zealand—from 1 September on, general travel and travel for overseas studies will be allowed. Travellers will have to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival, but won’t be required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice. For other countries/areas judged “low risk” — i.e. Australia (excluding Victoria State), Macau, mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia — the 14-day stay-home order will also be reduced to seven days.
I really don’t get how this can still be an issue when Singapore consistently claims itself to be a multiracial, multi-religious, pluralistic society. A part-time employee at a pop-up booth in Tangs says she was told by staff that she would have to remove her hijab to continue working there. Although the department store has since said that they would “never” tell anyone to take off their headscarf immediately, they do have a dress code that does not allow for religious headgear.
With the public outcry, Tangs has since said that they will allow the hijab to be worn in their department store from now on. President Halimah Yacob, who wears a hijab at her job, has also spoken out against discrimination, so this has ended well for the employee, but we’ve so far not seen any evidence that there is going to be wider change. Tangs isn’t the only employer or organisation that has made things difficult for Muslim women wearing the hijab.
Dee Kosh under investigation for sexually harassing boys
Not going to waste words on this.
Check the election expenses
Election expenses are now open for inspection, and will remain so until 20 February 2021. (Anyone know why this is a limited period?) You have to make an appointment at least one working day in advance with firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, and it costs $2 per candidate’s returns.
wares mutual aid
This week, I’d like to highlight the following three entries in the spreadsheet:
Devi (Row 59) is a single mother of a 16-month-old boy who lost her job during the pandemic. She doesn’t have childcare and needs funds to make ends meet. You can contact her at 87539674.
Nurin (Row 159) has a $2,035 debt for her scooter, which she’s currently repaying at $50 per month. But it’s hard to repay the full sum because of late fees, so if anyone can help her, you can reach her at 83573054.
Asraf (Row 178) moved out of his father’s house and into a rental room due to issues with his father. He has to pay rent and also support other family members, so would appreciate any help he can get. You can PayNow him at 8874 3124.
NOTE: Please only contact them if you want to make a contribution, so they won’t be inundated with calls and messages!
I haven’t been in touch with these individuals, so I don’t have more information than what’s already in the spreadsheet. I’m highlighting these three in the hopes that they’ll be able to get help during this tough time — I’ll highlight another three next week.
If you found this useful, please spread the word about this newsletter!
Milo Peng Funders are really important because they are the ones who enable me to keep running this newsletter, and writing and reporting independently about Singapore. This means I can produce features, analysis, and commentaries like this one on immigration and xenophobia. It also goes a long way to help me devote time to working on a book project. If you can, please consider becoming a Milo Peng Funder, or getting a gift subscription for someone.
We, The Citizens Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.