Sunday, March 22, 2009

Haiku 032209-a

Sentosa Island
"lets a hundred flowers bloom"
striped hyenas


Recently, we read the following:

Washington Times: "Singapore court rules [Wall Street] Journal editor in contempt"

" A Singapore judge ruled a senior Wall Street Journal editor was in contempt of court Thursday for two editorials and a letter to the editor published last year about the city-state's judiciary, the attorney general's office said. Prosecutors said the editorials and letter questioned the independence of the judiciary from the ruling People's Action Party and that they implied that the country's courts stifle dissent.... High Court Justice Tay Yong Kwang fined [Melanie] Kirkpatrick 10,000 Singapore dollars ($6,549)....

"Journalist rights groups claim the government uses lawsuits to quash dissent. Singapore's leaders have sued journalists and political opponents several times in recent years for alleged defamation, winning damages against Bloomberg, The Economist and the International Herald Tribune.

"The government's harassment of the Wall Street Journal indicates a chronic inability to tolerate criticism and is very harmful to the country's image," Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said.

"The New York-based group Human Rights Watch urged Singapore last year to stop using defamation lawsuits to stifle criticism and bankrupt opposition politicians, citing a High Court decision in October to order Chee Soon Juan and his Singapore Democratic Party to pay $416,000 to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, in damages from a 2006 case...."


And we thought:

.... We've marveled at how clean, orderly, safe, and prosperous Singapore is -- a true tourism haven with great hotels, fine restaurants, unique places of interest, and department stores of well-known, international consumer brands and labels.

"Singapore is such a 'fine' city,'' all Singapore tourists and visitors who've seen the ubiquitous "signs" will assure you -- with a knowing smile. And some will add, softly, that it is essentially a benign dictatorship -- but a dictatorship just the same.

How much might a people give up for a "clean, orderly, safe, and prosperous" place to live? Should one culture measure another using the former's own standards of behavior? Or are there universal standards one can in fact invoke?....

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