Friday, July 20, 2012

" a manner sensitive to the Singapore context"

Human Rights Watch reports that Yale University, in choosing to enforce repressive laws at its new joint campus with the National University of Singapore, is violating its commitment to basic freedoms and core academic values. Yale's decision to cave to repressive Singaporean restrictions, contradicting the university's own policy on academic freedom, comes despite faculty protests.

Yale’s willingness to curtail rights on its Singapore campus lends credence to those who would deny the universality, inalienability, and indivisibility of human rights on the basis of a country’s historical and cultural context and its economic development, Human Rights Watch said. Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Minister of Education, argued this position, claiming that Yale’s Singapore campus could have “academic freedom and open inquiry…in a manner sensitive to the Singapore context.”

...Many Singaporean laws are incompatible with the basic policies of a university such as Yale, Human Rights Watch said. Singapore has broad restrictions on basic freedoms for reasons of security, public order, morality, and racial and religious harmony. Censorship, supported by the Films Act, Broadcasting Act, the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, the Undesirable Publications Act, the Internet Code of Practice, the Official Secrets Act, and the Sedition Act extends not only to broadcast, print, and electronic media but also to music, film, and computer games. Laws restricting freedom of assembly include the 2009 Public Order Act, which requires a permit to meet for any “cause related activity.” Outdoor gatherings of five or more people require police permission, and the authorities may prohibit indoor meetings they judge to be too political or which take up religious issues. Limited demonstrations and rallies are restricted to Singapore’s Speakers’ Corner. Moreover, associations of 10 or more members may be denied government approval to operate if the Registrar of Societies judges the organization “prejudicial to public peace, welfare, or good order.”

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