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Singapore, a city-state of 3.3 million people, is a 
parliamentary republic in which politics are dominated by the 
People's Action Party (PAP), which has held power since 
Singapore gained autonomy from the United Kingdom in 1959.  The 
PAP holds 77 of the 81 seats in Parliament.  Goh Chok Tong 
completed his fourth year as Prime Minister, and Lee Kuan Yew, 
who served as Prime Minister from independence in 1965 until 
1990, remains active politically, holding the title of Senior 
Minister.  The majority of the population is ethnic Chinese (78 
percent), with Malays and Indians constituting substantial 

The Government maintains active internal security and military 
forces to counter perceived threats to the nation's security.  
It has frequently used security legislation to control a broad 
range of activity.  The Internal Security Department (ISD) is 
responsible for enforcement of the Internal Security Act (ISA), 
including its provisions for detention without trial.  All 
young males are subject to national service (mostly in the 

Singapore has an open free market economic system.  The 
construction and financial services industries and 
manufacturing of computer-related components are key sectors of 
the economy which has achieved remarkably steady growth since 
independence.  Gross domestic product rose 9.5 percent in 1994, 
and Singaporeans have an annual per capita income over 
$18,000.  Wealth is distributed relatively equally in what is 
essentially a full-employment economy.

There was no improvement or deterioration in the human rights 
situation.  The Government continued to intimidate opposition 
parties and their candidates.  There continued to be credible 
reports of police mistreatment of detainees.  The Government 
has wide powers to detain people arbitrarily and subsequently 
restrict their travel, freedom of speech and right to associate 
freely, and to handicap political opposition.  There was no 
evidence of a change in the Government's willingness to 
restrict human rights when it deemed that necessary in pursuit 
of its policy goals.  There is some legal discrimination 
against women, which, in practice, affects only a small 
percentage of the population.  The Government has moved 
actively to counter societal discrimination against women and 
the Malay minority.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits torture, and government leaders have stated 
that they oppose its use.  However, there have been credible 
reports during the past year of police mistreatment of 
detainees, some of which has been reported in the press.  
Reliable reports indicate that police sometimes interrogate 
prisoners in very cold rooms where the prisoners may be 
stripped of their clothes and doused with water.  In August, 
after 16 months in custody, murder charges were withdrawn 
against a suspect who claimed that he was forced to confess as 
a result of police interrogation methods.  The police 
maintained that all proper procedures had been followed in 
obtaining the confession.  The court said that it appeared the 
accused had been assaulted while he was in police custody and 
that his confession, therefore, could have been coerced.  In 
1993, of the 94 complaints of police abuse investigated, 14 
were substantiated.

The Government reserves the right to use indefinite confinement 
to pressure detainees to "rehabilitate" themselves as well as 
to make admissions of wrongdoing.  In the past, the Government 
has acknowledged that in the case of detentions without trial 
under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, the 
indefinite nature of the detentions served to pressure the 
detainees.  Persons alleging mistreatment under detention may 
bring criminal charges against government officials who are 
alleged to have committed such acts, but they may be 
discouraged from making accusations for fear of official 

The Penal Code mandates caning in addition to imprisonment as 
punishment for offenses involving the use of violence or threat 
of violence against a person, such as rape, robbery and 
extortion.  The law also mandates caning in other areas, such 
as for certain convictions under the Vandalism Act and for 
specific immigration offenses.  The Government opted to apply 
the Vandalism Act in the widely publicized case of foreign 
teenagers accused of spray painting privately owned 
automobiles.  Previously, damage against private property had 
been classified as mischief, which does not include caning as a 
means of punishment.  Many critics expressed the view that 
caning was an excessive penalty for youthful, nonviolent, 
first-time offenders whose actions were reparable and 
questioned why the Government chose to punish these teenagers 
more harshly than in past cases.

Caning is discretionary for convictions on other charges 
involving the use of criminal force, such as kidnaping or 
voluntarily causing grievous hurt.  The law prescribes a 
maximum or minimum number of cane strokes in many of these 
cases, although the court does not always abide by these 
guidelines.  Women are exempted from caning, as are men over 
50, under 16, and those determined unfit by a medical officer.  
In 1993 the judgment included a caning sentence in 3,244 

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The ISA, the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, the 
Misuse of Drugs Act, and the Undesirable Publications Act all 
have provisions for arrest without warrant.  Those arrested 
must be charged before a magistrate within 48 hours.  At that 
time, those detained under criminal charges may obtain legal 
counsel.  A functioning system of bail exists for those 
charged, and there were no reported abuses of it.

The ISA, the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, and the 
Misuse of Drugs Act authorize detention without trial.  The 
Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act is used almost 
exclusively in cases involving narcotics and secret criminal 
societies and has not been used for political purposes.  
According to the Government, 46 detention orders were issued 
under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act during 1993, 
of which 27 were for secret society activities and 19 for drug 
trafficking.  Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, the Director of 
the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) may also commit--without 
trial--suspected drug users for up to 6 months, with subsequent 
extensions, to a drug rehabilitation center in cases of 
positive urinalysis tests.

Those persons detained without trial under the ISA are entitled 
to counsel but have no legal recourse through the courts to 
challenge the substantive basis for their detention.  Persons 
detained without trial under the Criminal Law (Temporary 
Provisions) Act are also entitled to counsel but may only 
challenge the substantive basis for their detention to the 
committee advising the Minister for Home Affairs on detention 
issues.  The ISA gives broad discretion to the Minister of Home 
Affairs to order detention without charges if the President 
determines that a person poses a threat to national security.  
The President may authorize detention for up to 2 years; the 
detention order may be renewed for 2-year periods with no 
limitation on renewal.  An advisory board reviews each 
detainee's case periodically, and detainees may make 
representations to it.  The board may make nonbinding 
recommendations that a detainee be released prior to expiration 
of the detention order.  If the Minister wishes to act contrary 
to a recommendation for release by the board, he must seek the 
agreement of the President.

The ISA empowers the police to detain a person for up to 48 
hours; any police officer at or above the rank of 
superintendent may authorize that the detainee be held for up 
to 28 days longer.  Once initial interrogation has been 
completed, the authorities normally allow ISA detainees access 
to lawyers and visits by relatives.

No one has been jailed under formal ISA detention since 1990.  
However, the Government maintains some restrictions on the 
rights of two former ISA detainees to travel abroad, make 
public statements, and associate freely.  Chia Thye Poh, a 
former member of Parliament, was released from prison in 1989 
after 23 years in preventive detention under the ISA, but was 
confined to a small island adjacent to Singapore during evening 
and night hours until 1992.  Now resident in Singapore proper, 
he cannot be employed, travel abroad, or issue public 
statements without ISD approval.  Vincent Cheng, a detainee 
released in 1990, may not issue public statements, publish, or 
travel abroad without ISD consent.

While the law does not specifically prohibit exile, the 
Government has never practiced exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system has two levels of courts:  the Supreme 
Court, which includes the high court and the court of appeal; 
and the subordinate courts.  In normal cases the Criminal 
Procedures Code provides that a charge against a defendant must 
be read and explained to him as soon as it is framed by the 
prosecution or the magistrate.  The accused has the right to be 
represented by an attorney.  Trial is by judge rather than 
jury.  Persons detained under the ISA and the Criminal Law 
(Temporary Provisions) Act, as well as suspected drug users 
detained under the Misuse of Drugs Act, are not entitled to a 
public trial, which is accorded in all other cases.

In 1989 the Government amended the Constitution and the ISA to 
eliminate judicial review of the objective grounds for 
detentions under the ISA and subversion laws.  This allows the 
Government to restrict, or even eliminate, judicial review in 
such cases and thereby restrict, on vaguely defined national 
security grounds, the scope of certain fundamental liberties 
provided for in the Constitution.

In February, completing a transition begun in 1989, Parliament 
approved a bill abolishing all appeals to the Privy Council in 
London.  The single Court of Appeal, established in 1993, 
combining the former court of appeal (for civil cases) and 
court of criminal appeal, therefore became the highest court of 
review in Singapore.

The President appoints judges to the Supreme Court on the 
recommendation of the Prime Minister in consultation with the 
Chief Justice.  Supreme Court justices may remain in office 
until the mandatory retirement age of 65, after which they may 
continue to serve at the Government's discretion for brief, 
renewable terms at full salary.

The President also appoints subordinate court judges on the 
recommendation of the Chief Justice.  The term of appointment 
is determined by the Legal Service Commission of which the 
Chief Justice is the chairman.  Subordinate court judges and 
magistrates, as well as public prosecutors, are civil servants 
whose specific assignments are determined by the Legal Service 
Commission, which can decide on job transfers to any of several 
legal service departments.  Judicial officials, especially in 
the Supreme Court, have close ties to the ruling party and its 
leaders.  These factors call into question the judiciary's 

There were no reports of political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Government can use its wide discretionary powers if it 
determines that national security is threatened.  In most 
cases, the law requires search warrants, normally issued by the 
magistrate court, for intrusion into the home.  Law enforcement 
officers may, however, search a person, home, or property 
without a warrant if they decide searches are necessary to 
preserve evidence.

The Misuse of Drugs Act and the Criminal Law (Temporary 
Provisions) Act also permit warrantless searches in dealing 
with drug- and secret society-related offenses.  The courts may 
undertake judicial review of such searches at the request of 
the defendant.  Divisions of the Government's law enforcement 
agencies, including the ISD and the Corrupt Practices 
Investigation Board (CPIB), have wide networks for gathering 
information.  The authorities have the capability to monitor 
telephone and other private conversations and conduct 
surveillance, but there were no proven allegations that they 
did so in 1994.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution permits official restrictions on the freedom 
of expression and, in practice, the Government restricts the 
freedoms of speech and the press.  The ISA permits the 
Government to prohibit or to place conditions on publications 
that incite violence, that counsel disobedience to the law, 
that might arouse tensions among the various classes (races, 
religions, and language groups) or that might threaten national 
interests, national security, or public order.  The Government 
uses a broad definition of these laws to restrict political 
opposition and criticism.  It is clear from recent events that 
the Government will not tolerate discussions in the press of 
government corruption, nepotism, or a compliant judiciary.

The Government owns the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation 
(SBC) and operates it under a statutory board of the Ministry 
of Information and the Arts.  On October 1, the SBC was divided 
into four government-owned subsidiaries under a holding 
company, Singapore International Media PTE Ltd.  Also, the new 
Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) came into effect to 
regulate and promote the broadcasting industry.  The SBA 
develops censorship standards with the help of advisory panels 
whose membership represents a cross-section of society.  
Government-owned corporations have a near monopoly on 
broadcasting, operating all 3 free television channels and 10 
of 14 radio stations.  The three pay television channels are 
jointly owned by government-owned corporations and the U.S. 
Cablevision company.  Two of the other three radio stations are 
operated by the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), which is 
closely affiliated with the Government; the third is the 
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) world service, available 
24 hours a day on the FM band.  In addition to the BBC World 
Service, Malaysian television and radio broadcasts and 
Indonesian radio broadcasts are received uncensored in 
Singapore.  Cable News Network International, carried live, is 
available almost 24-hours a day on pay television.  Satellite 
dishes are banned with few exceptions.

All general circulation newspapers, with the exception of a 
small circulation Tamil language newspaper, are owned by 
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (SPH), a private corporation 
which has close ties to the national leadership.  SPH also owns 
20 percent of Singapore Cablevision, which operates the cable 
television system.  The SPH is required by law to issue 
ordinary and "management" shares; holders of management shares 
have the power to control all SPH personnel decisions.  The 
Government must approve, and can remove, holders of management 
shares.  Hence, while Singapore newspapers, especially the 
English-language Straits Times, print a large and diverse 
selection of articles from their domestic and a variety of 
foreign resources, editorials and coverage of domestic events 
closely parallel government policies and the opinions of 
government leaders.  Government leaders often criticize what 
they call the "Western model" of journalism, in which the media 
have unrestricted freedom to report the news as they see it.  
Government officials argue that the role of the domestic media 
is to support the goals of the elected leadership.

A case by the Government against the editor of the Business 
Times, the leading business daily owned by Singapore press 
holdings, and four other persons was settled in March.  The 
editor and four others--a government official, a journalist, 
and two employees of a foreign securities firm--were convicted 
of failing to protect the secrecy of official information in 
regard to a December 1992 report in the Business Times of 
unreleased government growth figures.  The defendants were 
fined but received no jail sentences.

A wide range of international magazines and newspapers may be 
purchased uncensored, although newspapers printed in Malaysia 
may not be imported (and vice versa).  A 1990 law requires 
foreign publications that report on politics and current events 
in Southeast Asia to register, post a bond the equivalent of 
$132,000, and name a person in Singapore to accept legal 
service.  These requirements strengthen government control over 
foreign media.  The Government may ban the circulation of 
domestic and foreign publications under provisions of the ISA 
and the Undesirable Publications Act.  Under amendments to the 
Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, it may limit the 
circulation of foreign publications which, by the Government's 
broad determination, interfere in Singapore's domestic 
politics.  It has done so on occasion in the past.

In its relations with foreign media, the Government relaxed 
restrictions on the circulation of some foreign publications.  
In January the restrictions on the circulation of The Economist 
were lifted.  The Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ), Asiaweek, 
and the Far Eastern Economic Review, all "gazetted" (limited in 
circulation) in 1987, remained gazetted.  However, the limits 
were raised to 7,000 per issue on the AWSJ, 15,000 per issue 
for Asiaweek, and 2,000 per issue of the Far Eastern Economic 
Review.  The Government also permitted the AWSJ to station a 
correspondent full time in Singapore beginning in 1993.  From 
1988 to 1991, the AWSJ was not permitted to have a 
correspondent in Singapore, and from 1991 to 1993, a 
correspondent was permitted on a part-time basis only.  
However, in June the Immigration Department refused the 
application from the Asiaweek correspondent to renew his 
employment pass.  Journalists from regional publications are 
required by law to apply annually for renewal of the employment 
pass which allows them to operate in Singapore.

Government leaders sometimes use libel or slander suits or the 
threat of such actions to discourage public criticism.  In June 
a Former Singapore Law Minister sued the International Herald 
Tribune for publishing an allegedly defamatory letter about him 
in May.  The letter compared the leniency shown to the former 
law minister after a car crash when he had been convicted of 
"drunk driving and refusing a breathalyzer test" with the harsh 
punishment for persons convicted of vandalism.  In fact, the 
former law minister had not been convicted of the former, but 
was charged with "driving without care" and "failing to give a 
blood sample."  The suit was settled out of court after the IHT 
printed an apology and paid an unspecified amount in damages.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and 
his son, deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, are seeking 
damages from the IHT for an article, published in August, which 
suggested that the younger Lee had been appointed to his post 
on account of his father.  Damages of an unspecified amount are 
being sought, in spite of a printed apology, which appeared in 
the newspaper on August 31.  Lawyers for the two sides are 
still negotiating the amount of the damages.

In January 1995 Dr. Christopher Lingle, an American academic 
who had been a visiting lecturer at the National University of 
Singapore, the International Herald Tribune, and others were 
fined for contempt of court following the publication of an 
article about Southeast Asian governments by Lingle on October 
7, 1994.  Although Singapore was not mentioned in the article, 
the court focused on the article's reference to some 
governments as being "more subtle:  relying upon a compliant 
judiciary to bankrupt opposition politicians or buying out 
enough of the opposition to take control democratically" as a 
reference to Singapore.  Although the IHT published an apology 
for the article in December, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew filed 
a civil libel suit.  That action is pending.  In at least the 
three incidents cited above, the use of slander or libel suits 
appears to have successfully intimidated the press.

The authorities censor movies, video materials, and music.  
Some publications are barred from importation.  Censorship of 
materials and the decision to deny the importation of specific 
publications are based on a determination that such materials 
would undermine the stability of the State; are pro-Communist, 
contravene moral norms, are pornographic, show excessive and/or 
gratuitous sex and violence, glamorize or promote drug use, or 
incite racial, religious, or language animosities.  The 
authorities report that there is strong public support for 
continued censorship of sex and violence in films.

In January, after a performer's actions in a nude 
entertainment, the Government tightened its restrictions on 
drama groups.  It now requires organizers of scriptless plays 
to provide a synopsis when applying for a license.  The founder 
of the group responsible for the above performance was 
prosecuted for providing entertainment without a license 
because the play ran overtime.  The performer was fined and 
barred from future public performances.

Faculty members at public institutions of higher education are 
government employees.  A number of university lecturers are 
concurrently PAP Members of Parliament (M.P.'s).  Academics 
sometimes criticize government policies, but avoid public 
criticism of individual government leaders and sensitive social 
and economic policies because of possible sanctions, such as in 
the cases of Dr. Christopher Lingle and Dr. Chee Soon Juan (see 
also Section 3).  Publications by local academics and members 
of think tanks rarely deviate substantially from government 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Assemblies of more than five persons in public, including 
political meetings and rallies, must have police permission.  
Individuals wishing to speak at a public function, excluding 
functions provided by or under the auspices of the Government, 
must obtain permission from the Public Entertainment Licensing 
Unit, a division of the police Criminal Investigation 
Department.  Opposition politicians have experienced delays as 
long as 26 days, according to police records, before receiving 
notification of action on their applications.  The authorities 
do not approve all applications.  For example, according to a 
police spokesman, opposition M.P. Ling How Doon was not allowed 
to speak at his constituency's national day celebration dinner 
in August because the function was organized by a political 
party and held outdoors.  On the other hand, PAP M.P. and 
Minister Without Portfolio Lim Boon Heng was allowed to speak 
at a similar open-air function in August because it was 
organized by the Citizens' Consultative Committee under the 
People's Association, which is not a political party.

The Government closely monitors political gatherings regardless 
of the number present.  Most associations, societies, clubs, 
churches, and other organizations with more than 10 members 
must be registered with the Government under the Societies 
Act.  The Government denies registration to societies it 
believes likely to be used for unlawful purposes or for 
purposes prejudicial to public peace, welfare, or public 
order.  The Government has absolute discretion in applying this 
broad and vague language to register or dissolve societies.  It 
prohibits organized political activities, except by 
organizations registered as political parties.  This 
prohibition effectively limits opposition activities.  It has 
less of an effect on the PAP, which enjoys the support of 
residential committees and neighborhood groups ostensibly 
organized for nonpolitical purposes but whose leadership 
contains many grassroots PAP members (see also Section 3).

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is provided for in the Constitution and 
usually respected in practice.  There is no state religion.  
The Government has determined that every public housing estate 
must have a mosque.  It therefore provides some financial 
assistance to build and maintain mosques.  The Government also 
facilitates contributions to the construction of Indian and 
Chinese temples.

Missionaries are permitted to work and to publish religious 
texts.  However, all religious groups are subject to government 
scrutiny and must be legally registered.  The Government 
restricts some religious sects by application of the Societies 
Act and has banned others, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and the 
Unification Church.  Four Jehovah's Witnesses were convicted, 
and their appeals dismissed, for possessing banned publications 
under the Undesirable Publications Act.  All four were fined.  
The 1990 "Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act" made illegal 
what the Government deems to be the inappropriate involvement 
of religious groups and officials in political affairs.  The 
Act also denies the judiciary the competence to review possible 
denial of rights which could arise from the application of the 
Act, and it specifically denies judicial review of its 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government requires all citizens and permanent residents 
over the age of 12 to register and to carry identification 
cards.  After the completion of national service, enlisted men 
remain liable for reserve training until the age of 40 and 
officers to age 50.  Reservists who plan to travel overseas for 
less than 6 months must advise the Ministry of Defense; for 
trips longer than 6 months, reservists must obtain an exit 
permit.  Males approaching national service age must obtain an 
exit permit in order to study outside Singapore.  The 
Government may deny a passport, and has done so in the case of 
former ISA detainees.

The ISA allows the Minister for Law and Home Affairs to suspend 
or revoke a detention order or to impose restrictions on former 
detainees' activities, places of residence, and travel abroad.  
The right of voluntary repatriation is extended to holders of 
Singaporean passports.  In 1985 Parliament provided for the 
loss of citizenship by Singaporeans who reside outside 
Singapore for more than 10 years consecutively.  Action under 
this law is discretionary and has been taken in at least one 
case involving a well-known government opponent, Tan Wah Piaow.

The law stipulates that former Singaporean members of the 
Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) residing outside Singapore must 
appeal to the Government to be allowed to return.  They must 
renounce Communism, sever all organizational ties with the CPM, 
and pledge not to take part in activities prejudicial to the 
nation's internal security.  In addition, the law requires them 
to be subject to interview by the ISD and to any restrictive 
conditions imposed on them.

Singapore neither accepts the Comprehensive Plan of Action for 
Indochinese seeking refugee status nor offers first asylum to 
refugees.  Prior to 1991, the Government permitted Indochinese 
asylum seekers to disembark if a resettlement country promised 
to remove them within 90 days and if the rescuing vessel was in 
Singapore on a scheduled port of call.  In June 1991, the 
Government halted disembarkation on the grounds that 
resettlement countries had not honored their guarantees of 
removal.  As of September 1, there were 98 asylum seekers at 
the Hawkins Road camp, all of whom were denied refugee status 
through screening procedures conducted by the local office of 
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  The 
authorities permit persons of other nationalities who make 
claims for asylum to have their status determined by the UNHCR 
for possible resettlement elsewhere.  There is no forcible 

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change 
their government peacefully through democratic means and the 
voting and vote-counting systems in elections are fair, 
accurate, and free from tampering.  In practice, however, the 
Government uses its extensive powers to place formidable 
obstacles in the path of political opponents.  It also attempts 
to intimidate the opposition through libel suits and potential 
loss of employment or professional licenses.  Parliamentary 
elections may be called at any time, but must be held no later 
than 5 years from the date Parliament first sits.

Opposition parties have been unable seriously to challenge the 
PAP since the late 1960's.  Consequently, the PAP's domination 
of the political system continues as it had for three decades 
under Lee Kuan Yew.  Opposition politicians currently hold only 
4 seats in the 81-member elected Parliament, 3 for the Social 
Democratic Party and 1 for the Workers' Party.  In addition to 
the 81 elected members, the President appoints 6 "prominent 
citizens" to serve as nominated M.P.'s for 2-year terms.  The 
PAP's political success in part results from restrictions on 
opposition political activities, but also from government 
policies which helped Singapore achieve rapid economic growth, 
thereby enabling the Government to provide a wide array of 
public services.  The PAP has a broad base of popular support, 
sustained in part through neighborhood, youth, and labor 

Although political parties are legally free to organize, the 
authorities impose strict regulations on their constitutions, 
fundraising, and accountability.  While the PAP has been able 
to enjoy the support of ostensibly nonpolitical organizations, 
the Government has used its broad discretionary powers to 
hinder the creation of comparable support organizations for 
opposition parties.  The PAP's grip on power has also been 
enhanced by patronage; political control of the press, courts, 
and religion; strong party discipline and performance; and its 
access to the instruments of power.  For example, a government 
program to refurbish public housing gives priority to PAP 
constituencies.  Government regulations also hinder attempts by 
opposition parties to rent office space in government housing 
estates or to establish community foundations which run private 
kindergartens.  The PAP claims the lack of an effective 
opposition is due to disorganization, lack of leadership, and 
lack of alternative policy programs.

In August 1993, citizens elected their first President.  The 
Presidency has expanded powers over civil service appointments, 
government and statutory board budgets, and internal security 
affairs.  Presidential aspirants must be certified by the 
Presidential Elections Committee (PEC), a body composed of the 
Chairman of the Public Service Commission, the Chairman of the 
Public Accountants Board, and a member of the Presidential 
Council for Minority Rights.  The PEC was responsible for 
screening applicants on the basis of integrity, character, 
reputation, ability, and experience in managing the financial 
affairs of a large institution.  Eligibility was considered 
automatic if the candidate had 3-years' experience as a 
high-ranking public servant or chief executive officer of a 
large corporation.  These requirements limit the pool of 
potential presidential candidates.   The Committee rejected the 
applications of two opposition figures--J.B. Jeyaretnam, 
Secretary-General of the Workers' Party (WP) and a former M.P., 
and another WP member--for not satisfying the eligibility 
criteria regarding character and financial expertise.

Government leaders continued to use civil libel or slander 
suits or the threat of them to discourage criticism or 
challenges by opposition leaders.  The Legal Code also provides 
for criminal defamation offenses, but these provisions are 
seldom used.

A prominent opposition figure who was the target of 
investigation by government entities was Dr. Chee Soon Juan, a 
lecturer at the National University of Singapore and Deputy 
Secretary General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).  
Chee was dismissed from his teaching position in March 1993 
after a university audit of his financial records uncovered an 
alleged irregularity involving his use of research funds to 
express mail his wife's doctoral thesis to her university 
adviser in the United States.  He defended his action by 
arguing that his wife's thesis was relevant to his own research 
and that he had received prior approval for the mailing from 
his Department Chairman, Dr. S. Vasoo, a PAP M.P.  Chee, one of 
the first university lecturers to join an opposition party, 
rose to prominence during an unsuccessful bid against Prime 
Minister Goh in the December 1992 by-election.

In April 1993, Chee was sued by Vasoo for making allegedly 
defamatory remarks.  After selling his house, Chee paid 
$200,000 in damages to his former university department 
chairman and two other university employees as compensation for 
his allegedly defamatory remarks.  The high court also ordered 
Chee to pay all legal costs and refrain from repeating his 
allegedly defamatory remarks.  According to the law, if Chee 
had been unable to pay and had declared bankruptcy, he would 
have been ineligible to run for Parliament for at least 5 years.

Although there is no legal bar to the participation of women in 
politics, they are underrepresented in government.  There are 
no female cabinet members and only 2 of the 81 elected 
parliamentary seats are occupied by women.  Two of the six 
nominated members of Parliament are women.  Women are also 
underrepresented in the highest levels of the civil service.  
There is no restriction in law or practice against minorities 
voting or participating in politics.  Malays currently hold 12 
percent of the seats in Parliament, in part the result of 
government legislation requiring a minority representative in 
selected group representation constituencies.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are no nongovernmental organizations, with the exception 
of the opposition political parties, that actively and openly 
monitor alleged human rights violations.  While the Government 
does not formally prohibit them, efforts by any independent 
organization to investigate and criticize publicly government 
human rights policies would face the same obstacles as those 
faced by political parties.  The Government denies that 
international organizations have any competence whatsoever to 
look into human rights matters in Singapore.  Visa regulations 
do not recognize monitoring human rights as a "business 
purpose" for visiting Singapore, but neither is such activity 
regarded as a "social visit."  Amnesty International is not 
allowed to operate in or to visit Singapore.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Mindful of Singapore's history of intercommunal tension, the 
Government takes affirmative measures to ensure racial, ethnic, 
religious, and cultural nondiscrimination.  Social, economic, 
and cultural facilities are available to all citizens 
regardless of race, religion, or sex.  Minorities are 
constitutionally afforded equal rights, actively participate in 
the political process, and are well represented throughout the 


Women enjoy the same legal rights as men in most areas, 
including civil liberties, employment, commercial activity, and 
education.  The Constitution contains no explicit provision of 
equal rights for women; instead, it states that all persons are 
equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of 
the law.  The Women's Charter, enacted in 1961, gave women, 
inter alia, the right to own property, conduct trade, and 
receive divorce settlements.  Muslim women enjoy most of the 
rights and protections of the Women's Charter, except that 
Muslim men are allowed to practice polygyny and may divorce 
unilaterally whereas Muslim women may not.

In 1962 the Government instituted the principle of equal pay 
for equal work in the civil service and announced the abolition 
of separate salary scales by 1965.  Other areas of 
discrimination remain.  For example, children born overseas to 
Singaporean women are not granted citizenship automatically as 
are children born to Singaporean men.  Female civil service 
employees who are married do not receive health benefits for 
their spouses and dependents as do male government employees.

There is no evidence of any widespread practice of violence or 
abuse against women.  Laws such as the Penal Code and the 
Women's Charter protect women against domestic violence and 
sexual or physical harassment.  A battered wife can obtain 
court orders barring the spouse from the home until the court 
is satisfied that he will stop his aggressive behavior.  The 
Penal Code prescribes mandatory caning and a minimum 
imprisonment of 2 years for conviction on a charge of outraging 
modesty that causes the victim fear of death or injury.

Women make up over 50 percent of the labor force and are well 
represented in many professional fields, but they still hold 
the preponderance of low-wage jobs as clerks and secretaries.  
As a result, their average salary levels are only 70 percent 
those of men.  Women hold few leadership positions in the 
private sector.


The Government is strongly committed to the rights of 
children.  In 1993 the Government updated and reenacted the 
Children and Young Persons Act.  This revised Act establishes 
protective services for those children who are orphaned, 
abused, disabled, or refractory, and it creates a juvenile 
court system.  The Ministry of Community Development works 
closely with the National Council for Social Services to 
oversee children's welfare cases.  Voluntary organizations 
operate most of the homes for children while the Government 
funds up to 50 percent of all child costs, which includes 
normal living expenses and overhead, as well as expenses for 
special schooling or supervisory needs.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Constitution acknowledges the "special position" of Malays 
as the indigenous people of Singapore and charges the 
Government to support and promote their "political, 
educational, religious, economic, social, and cultural 
interests."  The Government has concentrated on creating 
equality of opportunity, especially in education, and does not 
promote the concept of equality in result.  A Presidential 
Council on Minority Rights examines all current and pending 
bills to ensure that they are not disadvantageous to a 
particular group.  It also reports to the Government on matters 
affecting any racial or religious community and investigates 

Unlike the Indian or Eurasian communities, which have achieved 
economic and educational success rates on a par with the 
majority Chinese, Malay Singaporeans still have a lower 
standard of living, although the gap has diminished in recent 
years.  Malays remain underrepresented at the uppermost rungs 
of the corporate ladder, a reflection of their historically 
lower education and economic position, but also a result of de 
facto employment discrimination.  Advertisements sometimes 
specify the ethnicity and gender required of applicants or 
require fluent Mandarin speakers.

     People with Disabilities

The Government implemented a comprehensive code on barrier-free 
accessibility in 1990 which established standards for 
facilities for the physically disabled in all new buildings and 
mandated the progressive upgrading of older structures.  
Although there is no legislation that addresses the issue of 
equal opportunities for the disabled in education or 
employment, the National Council of Social Services, in 
conjunction with various voluntary associations, provides an 
extensive job training and placement program for the disabled.  
Informal provisions in education have permitted university 
matriculation for visually handicapped, deaf, and physically 
disabled students.  The Government allows the equivalent of a 
$2,000 tax deduction for families with a disabled person.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides all citizens with the right to form 
associations, including trade unions.  Parliament may, however, 
impose restrictions based on security, public order, or 
morality grounds.  The right of association is delimited by the 
Societies Act and by labor and education laws and regulations.  
The Trades Union Act authorizes the formation of unions with 
broad rights, albeit with some narrow restrictions, such as 
prohibitions on the unionization of uniformed employees.  The 
national labor force comprises about 1.6 million employees, of 
whom some 233,000 are organized into 83 employee unions.  
Seventy-four of these unions, representing almost 99 percent of 
all unionized workers, are affiliated with the National Trades 
Union Congress (NTUC), an umbrella organization which has a 
close relationship with the Government.

The NTUC unabashedly acknowledges that its interests are 
closely linked with those of the ruling PAP, a relationship 
often described by both as "symbiotic."  For example, President 
Ong Teng Cheong served simultaneously as NTUC Secretary General 
and Second Deputy Prime Minister before assuming his current 
position as President in 1993.  His successor at NTUC, Lim Boon 
Heng, was formerly Second Minister for Trade and Industry and 
continues as Minister Without Portfolio.  In addition, several 
other high-ranking NTUC officials are PAP M.P.'s.  NTUC policy 
prohibits union members who actively support opposition parties 
from holding office in affiliated unions.  While the NTUC is 
financially independent of the PAP, with income generated by 
NTUC-owned businesses, the NTUC and PAP share the same ideology.

Workers, other than those in essential services, have the legal 
right to strike but rarely do so; no strikes have occurred 
since 1986.  Most disagreements are resolved through informal 
consultations with the Ministry of Labor.  If conciliation 
fails, the disputing parties usually submit their case to the 
Industrial Arbitration Court, which has representatives from 
labor, management, and the Government.  These labor dispute 
mechanisms, along with the PAP/NTUC nexus, have played 
important roles in creating nonconfrontational labor 
relations.  The Government also attributes the rarity of 
strikes to a cultural aversion to confrontation, high economic 
growth rates, labor shortages in recent years that have 
sustained regular wage increases, and the popular conviction 
that strikes would undermine Singapore's attractiveness to 

The NTUC is free to associate regionally and internationally.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is a normal part of management-labor 
relations, particularly in the manufacturing sector.  
Agreements between management and labor are renewed every 2 to 
3 years, although wage increases are negotiated annually.  
Collective bargaining agreements generally follow the 
guidelines issued by the National Wages Council (NWC), a group 
composed of labor, management, and government representatives, 
that makes annual recommendations regarding salary and bonus 
packages.  The Industrial Relations Act makes it an offense to 
discriminate against anyone who is or proposes to become a 
member or an officer of a trade union.  The offense is 
punishable by a fine equivalent to $1,250 and/or a 2-month 
prison sentence.  Labor laws and regulations are enforced 

There are no export processing zones, nor are special 
concessions given to firms producing for export.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Under sections of the Destitute Persons Act, any indigent 
person may be required to reside in a welfare home and engage 
in suitable work.  The International Labor Organization (ILO) 
has criticized the coercive terms of this Act, which includes 
penal sanctions on the grounds that it is not in compliance 
with the ILO Convention on Forced Labor, ratified by Singapore 
in 1965.  The Government maintains that the Act is social 
legislation providing for the shelter, care, and protection of 
destitute persons; that no one is coerced to work; and that 
work programs are designed to reintegrate individuals into 

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Government enforces the Employment Act, which prohibits the 
employment of children under age 12.  Children over age 12 and 
under age 14 must receive written permission from the 
Commissioner for Labor for "light work suited to his 
capacity."  There are few such applications and the 
Commissioner for Labor has never approved one.  Employers must 
notify the Ministry of Labor within 30 days of hiring a child 
between the ages of 14 and 16 and must forward medical 
certification to the Commissioner.  The incidence of children 
taking up permanent employment is also low, and abuses are 
almost nonexistent.

Ministry of Labor regulations prohibit night employment of 
children and restrict industrial work to no more than 7 hours a 
day.  Children may not work on commercial vessels, with any 
machinery in motion, on live electrical apparatus lacking 
effective insulation, or in any underground job.  The Ministry 
of Labor effectively enforces these laws and regulations.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Singapore has no laws or regulations on minimum wages or 
unemployment compensation.  The labor market offers relatively 
high wages and good working conditions.  The Employment Act 
sets the standard legal workweek at 44 hours and provides for 1 
rest day each week.  The Ministry of Labor effectively enforces 
laws and regulations establishing working conditions and 
comprehensive occupational safety and health laws.  Enforcement 
procedures, coupled with the promotion of educational and 
training programs, have reduced the frequency of job-related 
accidents by a third over the past decade.  While a worker has 
the right under the Employment Act to remove himself from a 
dangerous work situation, his right to continued employment 
depends upon an investigation of the circumstances by the 
Ministry of Labor.

Because of the domestic labor shortage, over 360,000 foreign 
workers are employed legally in Singapore, 22 percent of the 
total work force.  Most are unskilled laborers and household 
servants from other Asian countries.  Foreign workers face no 
legal wage discrimination; however, they are concentrated in 
low-wage, low-skill jobs.  About 65,000 foreign maids, mainly 
from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, are employed in 
Singapore, and some have complained of abuse or poor working 
conditions.  The Government does not bar complainants from 
seeking legal redress and takes a firm stand against employers 
who abuse their domestic servants.  Foreign workers are 
ineligible for the limited free legal assistance that is 
available to Singapore citizens.  The authorities have fined or 
imprisoned employers who have abused domestics, often with 
great publicity.


[end of document]


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