ASEAN parliamentarians concerned by Singapores new public order bill

General Press Releases Thursday March 22, 2018 13:07
Bangkok--22 Mar--ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Parliamentarians from across Southeast Asia today criticized the passage of a new bill by the Parliament of Singapore, which could be used to further curtail freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in the country.

Echoing previously voiced concerns from Singaporean civil society, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) called for the immediate revision of a series of concerning provisions in the Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Bill, passed yesterday, warning that the bill mirrors worrying legislative moves around the region curbing civic space.

"This bill suppresses fundamental freedoms and threatens the safety and important work of activists and human rights defenders. Singapore already heavily restricts the rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. More broad restrictions in the name of national security are a recipe for abuse," said Philippine Congressman Teddy Baguilat, an APHR Board Member.

The bill, which purportedly aims to better combat terrorist attacks, allows police to exercise a wide range of "special powers" in the case of so-called "serious incidents." However, APHR noted that the definition of a "serious incident" in the bill is overly broad, and includes "sit-down demonstrations" that occupy publicly accessible spaces and "interfere with normal trade or business activities in the area."

"This is a deeply worrying definition. It is preposterous that peaceful demonstrators would essentially be treated as terrorists and be subjected to unreasonable restrictions and punishments under the pretext of national security," Baguilat said.

Parliamentarians also expressed concerns about a provision of the bill that grants new powers to police to block various forms of communication, including recording and sending photos and video, during so-called "serious incidents." MPs said that such restrictions could impact the ability of individuals to undertake critical human rights documentation work.

"The documentation of human rights abuses is indispensable for ensuring accountability for violations, as well as preventing the repeat of abuses. If individuals are not allowed to record alleged violations as they happen, it would only encourage a culture of impunity," Baguilat stressed.

Additional provisions allow police to use lethal weapons against non-violent protestors, providing an unacceptable opening for security forces to employ excessive and disproportionate force to disperse assemblies, APHR said.

MPs said the bill is one of an increasing number of new and revised laws around the region, which undercut fundamental freedoms and civic space.

"We are increasingly seeing the law and institutions weaponized against the promotion and protection of human rights in the ASEAN region. This year alone, we have seen governments in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia introduce amendments that seriously undermine the rule of law and democratic norms," Baguilat said.

"Now Singapore is sadly following in their footsteps, where it should have been leading. A country, which prides itself on upholding the rule of law, should have worked to demonstrate that combatting threats to public security does not require sacrificing rights," he added.

Latest Press Release

Siamese neem tree with sweet fish sauce - Healthy Food

"Siamese neem tree" is the local plant that can be found in every region of Thailand. The quality of Siamese neem tree are maintain blood , helps digestive system, decrease the risk of tumor and cancer but the taste is bitter so it usually eat with sweet...

Usher in a Prosperous Year of the Pig at Hilton Hua Hin Resort Spa

Usher in the Year of the Pig with a sumptuous selection of Lunar New Year delights and specialities at White Lotus of Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa. Located on level 17, the highest level at the resort, diners will be greeted with stunning ocean views...

Valentines Day Dinner Buffet Spoil your loved one with a little romance and our delicious buffet on Thursday, 14th February 2019 at The SQUARE restaurant

This Valentine's Day, Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom presents a romantic dinner buffet featuring an array of seafood, international cuisine and free-flow drinks to celebrate the sweetest day of the year. The buffet will be highlighted with succulent grilled...

Chinese New Year in Style

2019, the 'Year of the Pig,' and according to legend, the last animal to show up at the Jade Emperor's party, so the twelfth animal of the zodiac. Make sure you're not late for our gourmet celebration at the Terrace@72 Restaurant of Ramada Plaza by...

Lalamove give away N95 mask to drivers to prevent air pollution

Lalamove, Thailand's leading professional delivery within 1 hour, led by Marketing Manager Pasit Thiannaparponchok recently give away 1,000 of N95 masks to Lalamove's drivers, in order to prevent air pollution from dust, PM2.5 which is over standard...

Related Topics