I always wish I could make the newsletter more chipper and share more good news... I worry that it's all too negative! But one big reason for this newsletter is to highlight issues and incidents that need more public attention and consideration, and often that means not-very-nice things that the powerful would prefer be kept quiet.
Committee of Privileges publishes their report
Here we go... the Committee of Privileges has released its report on the "Complaint against Ms Raeesah Khan for Untruth Spoken in Parliament" (yes, that's the title they're going with). It's a very chonky report with lots of annexes, but basically they're recommending that Raeesah be slapped with a $35,000 fine, and for both Workers' Party leader Pritam Singh and vice-chairman Faisal Manap be referred to the public prosecutor for further investigations and possible criminal proceedings. The Committee says that all three WP seniors — Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and Faisal Manap — lied to them, but that the latter two played a "subsidiary role" compared to Singh. So the Committee says Singh needs to be referred because he bluff them, and Faisal needs to be referred because he refused to answer some of their questions, which they think is in contempt of Parliament. Singh, Lim and Faisal will be speaking on the report in Parliament on Tuesday.
The final decision on what to do is up to Parliament, but it doesn't take a genius to work out what the PAP-dominated Parliament will do with recommendations made in a report produced by a PAP-dominated Committee of Privileges.
I wrote about this drama in a special issue back in December last year, so I'm not going to rehash stuff about the Committee proceedings. What's frustrating about the recommendations of the Committee, though, is just how predictable it all is. While we should hold all politicians accountable regardless of which party they come from, the double standards are galling. It's not like this is the first untruth we've ever heard in Parliament — what about the whole TraceTogether saga, huh?! — but when was the last time we've seen a Committee of Privileges put together to grill PAP MPs, much less the suggestion of criminal proceedings? I've seen numerous comments on social media describe this new development as an example of "fixing the opposition", and I can't say I disagree.
More executions scheduled at Changi Prison
The Singapore Prison Service has published their annual statistics. The good news is that there were zero executions in 2021, just like the year before. We know that this was not for the lack of trying on the state's part, so thank you everyone who has supported the #SaveNagaenthran campaign thus far. Nagen's next court hearing will be on 1 March 2022.
I have bad news, though. Two prisoners on death row, Roslan bin Bakar and Pausi bin Jefridin, have been scheduled for execution on Wednesday, 16 February (the prison seems to have broken with the Friday-at-dawn tradition). They were both sentenced to death, as co-accused in the same case, in 2010. According to a family member who visited him, Roslan was represented by M Ravi — who, according to latest news reports, is still on medical leave) — and is questioning why his execution date has suddenly been scheduled while he's still trying to work out if he needs new legal counsel for his case, and if so, who to engage.
Meanwhile, Pausi's family, who told me that they only received the news of his scheduled execution on 9 February, have so little time (half the time that Nagen's family had) to make arrangements to travel to Singapore from Malaysia before he is hanged. I'm absolutely disgusted by how little time they've been given to deal with something so awful and traumatic. Even though there are now Vaccinated Travel Lanes between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, we've spent all day combing through a bunch of different websites and companies only to come to conclusion that all VTL routes — be they by air, or by bus from Johor Bahru — have been sold out. So they have to enter Singapore via non-VTL routes, and, like Nagen's family before them, shuttle between the hotel where they're quarantining and prison.
The Transformative Justice Collective (of which I'm a member) is helping Pausi's family with travel arrangements. We'll be using the TJC Support Fund to help them cover costs. If you'd like to contribute to this support fund, you can do so by following this link and selecting "TJC Support Fund" in the dropdown menu. Please note that this support fund isn't specifically for Pausi and his family — unlike Nagen's case, we haven't had time to put together a dedicated crowdfunder — but to help families like his who might need help covering costs related to their loved ones' cases/incarceration.
Got some more...
👩🏻💻 I wrote about spyware in last week's wrap, but here's Singapore Samizdat going above and beyond with a great timeline of Singapore's relationship with surveillance and spyware.
🦠 Soldiers have been deployed to support the Ministry of Health in the midst of an Omicron surge. 100 soldiers have been sent to provide support to the national call centre. Meanwhile, healthcare workers are exhausted by a spike in patients seeking treatment in emergency departments.
👷🏼♂️ NTUC says they're going to start paying more attention to youth entering the workforce, as well as women who need flexible work arrangements to juggle their career and family responsibilities. While they're at it, can they do something about this shitty practice of offering incentives to workers not to take medical leave?
Checking in on the neighbours
🇲🇲 An army officer who defected and fled into northeastern India has told Reuters about losses that the Myanmar military sustained in fighting in Chin State, where they been facing strong armed resistance.
🇵🇭 Election season has kicked off in the Philippines. The son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos is predicted to win. 😬 You can follow Rappler's election coverage here.
And there we are with another week. I really hope I can be back with more cheery news in the coming weeks.
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