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新加坡的公敌:徐顺全

10/12/08

作者: Fred Hiatt 新加坡文献馆译

徐顺全的一整个星期五是花在法庭内。这并没有什么不寻常。他是一名反对党领袖,他要不是把时间花在监狱里边,就是花在法庭内作为一名被告。

新加坡执政党己经掌权半个世纪- 自1959年自治开始- 而反对党民主党从来没有争取到超过3个议席。这或汻是因为新加坡人满足于自已的生活方式。这也或许是没有几个人愿意尝试过徐顺全式的生活。他是民主党的秘书长。

徐顺全在1990年从乔治亚大学取得神经精神病的博士学位后回返新加坡。2年后他以民主党身份竞选国会议席但失败了。这不是什么大事,你或汻会这样认为,因为是发生在在一个自称为民主政治的国家里。但是他即刻被大学解雇,表面上的理由是因为他泛用办公室的邮费- 这只是一个开始。

根据一名协助徐顺全的加拿大律师罗柏安特丹的时事发展记录的资料:1999年:2度因为没有演讲准证而在公开场所发言而被监禁。1999年:因为没有准证而兜售书本被罚款。2002年:因为就回教妇女带头巾事件而发言被罚款。2002年:因为组织五一劳动节活动而被监禁。2006年:因为指责司法缺乏独立性而被监禁。2006年:因为没有演讲准证而在公开场所发言而被监禁。2006年:因为没有准证离开新加坡而被监禁。2008年:因为指责司法缺乏独立性而被监禁。

这只是部分在刑事罪名下的处分,徐顺全也被控诽谤罪,而最近的一起诉讼来自李光耀和李显龙。李氏父子抗议民主党党报的一篇文章把政府和一家涉及丑闻的慈善机构做出比较。法官判决徐顺全赔偿李氏父子约40万美元。

徐顺全早已因为之前的诽谤官司赔偿而宣告破产,所以他在电话上开玩笑的说:我告诉他们将这笔款项记到我的欠单上。但法律上的破产并不是一件玩笑的事:这意味着他不可以竞选或者在没有政府许可的情况下离开新加坡。他自2006年以来就曾经有过20次的申请,但每一次的申请都被拒绝。

陈庆珠,新加坡驻美国大使告诉我,当她的领袖感觉到他们的名誉受污蔑时就会向法庭提出控诉,因为要维持人民的信任是很重要的。人权观察组织认为新加坡是在使用诽谤官司来杜绝温和的政治言论,这种作为也是在嘲讽新加坡宣扬的民主模式。这更使到徐顺全和妻子为了养育分别为9岁,6岁和4岁的孩子的谋生上十分艰难。

星期五,徐顺全花了一整天在法庭内为‘企图参与游行’的罪名进行辩护。(他说:新加坡的律师不愿意承办他的案子)这是9项指控罪名中的一项,有2项是涉及尝试在世界银行和国际货币基金在2006年在新加坡举行会议时进行抗议活动。政府指控他有明显意图要进行触犯新加坡法律的行动;徐顺全却认为即然他的依法申请准证每次都被拒绝,他已经没有其他依法行动的选择,可以让他在新加坡宪法权力下进行自由的言论和集会。

我问他为何在必须付出如此代价的情况之下还是要坚持下去,他认为民主,人权与开放式政府都是很重要的价值观。他反问我:那为何李氏父子也要坚持下去?

他问,假如政府的所作所为真的是做的那么完美,那他们为什么害怕说:我们只要向人民索取委任,我们就会得到委任。徐顺全问:为什么要做到这一种地步以杜绝与封杀独立言论和相背意见?

新加坡在很多不同的标准上都做的很完善。根据经济人学报,每人平均生产额为2万7千美元,在全球排名第31,远远超越邻近国家。在中国的共产党党校里新加坡是如何在一党专政下取得经济增长的模式- 同时,也不必把太多的人关在牢房里。

陈庆珠大使认为新加坡必须有一个比美国更‘紧控的民主’,因为新加坡是一个小地方和有多元民族的国家,处于一个竞争的区域-有如在美国战舰旁边的一艘小船。

‘在战舰上你可以在一个角落踢足球,在另一个角落让战斗机升降,战舰依然平稳前行。在小船上理所当然的每个人必须朝一个方向划桨。’

安特丹从他的经验,包括在俄罗斯和一些其他国家为人辩护,认为政府不会极限的垄断新闻传媒和严禁言论,除非他们有些不可告人的秘密。假如他的说法是正确的,那么从对徐顺全的控诉中可以反映出这个政府有许多讯息是不可以和民众分享的。

A Public Enemy in Singapore

By Fred Hiatt
Monday, December 8, 2008; Page A19

Chee Soon Juan spent much of Friday in court. Nothing unusual in that. An opposition leader in Singapore, Chee spends quite a few days in prison and, when he’s not in prison, quite a few more in court, as a defendant.

Singapore’s ruling party has been in charge for a half-century — since self-rule began in 1959 — and the opposition Singapore Democratic Party has never mustered more than three seats in Parliament.

This may be because everyone in Singapore is happy with life. It might also have something to do with the fact that few people would want to live the life of Chee Soon Juan, the SDP’s secretary general.

Chee returned to Singapore in 1990 after earning a PhD in neuropsychology at the University of Georgia. Two years later, he lost a bid for Parliament as a member of the SDP. No big deal, you might think, in a country that calls itself a democracy. But he was promptly fired from his university post, ostensibly for misappropriating postage stamps — and that was just the beginning.

A timeline assembled by Canadian lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who is assisting Chee, suffers from a certain monotony. An excerpt: “1999: Jailed for speaking in public without a permit. 1999: Jailed for speaking in public without a permit. 1999: Fined for selling books without a permit. 2002: Fined for speaking about the ban on Muslim girls’ wearing headscarves. 2002: Jailed for holding a May Day rally. 2006: Jailed for saying that the judiciary is not independent. 2006: Jailed for speaking in public without a permit. 2006: Jailed for attempting to leave Singapore without a permit. 2008: Jailed for saying that the judiciary is not independent.”

That is a partial list just of the criminal charges. Chee also has been sued for defamation, most recently this year by Singapore’s longtime leader — now “Minister Mentor” — Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The Lees objected to an article in the SDP newsletter comparing their government to a charity that had been enmeshed in scandal. A judge ordered Chee to pay them the equivalent of about $400,000.

Chee already had been bankrupted by earlier defamation suits. “I told them to put it on my tab,” he joked bleakly to me in a phone conversation Friday. But legal bankruptcy is no joke: It means he cannot run for political office nor leave the country without permission. He has asked for permission 20 times since 2006, he told me, and been turned down each time.

Singapore’s ambassador to the United States, Chan Heng Chee, told me that her leaders go to court when their reputation is unfairly sullied because maintaining the trust of the people is so important. Human Rights Watch says that Singapore is “using defamation laws to silence peaceful political speech,” which, according to the group’s deputy Asia director, Elaine Pearson, “makes a mockery of Singapore’s claim to be a model democracy.” It also makes it difficult for Chee and his wife to feed their children, ages 9, 6 and 4.

Friday, Chee spent the day defending himself against the charge of “attempting to participate in a procession.” (Singaporean lawyers are not eager to take his case, he said.) It is one of about nine charges he faces, two relating to his failed effort to hold a protest when World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials were in town in 2006, others related to his efforts to speak out during a 2006 political campaign. Officials say that he has a conscientious-objector strategy of wanting to break laws; he says that, since his applications for permits are always denied, he has no choice if he wants to exercise his right, under Singapore’s constitution, to freedom of speech and assembly.

I asked why he persists, against such odds, and he spoke of the importance of democracy and human rights and openness in government. Then he turned the question around: Why, he asked, do the Lees persist?

“If the government here is doing so well, why is it so afraid to say, ‘We’ll just ask for a mandate from the people, and we’ll get it?’ “ Chee said. “Why go to such extent to stifle free opinion and dissent?”

Singapore is, by many standards, doing remarkably well. Economic output per person is more than $27,000, 31st in the world and way ahead of its neighbors, according to the Economist. In China’s elite Communist Party school, Singapore is cited as a model of how to maintain one-party rule while growing economically — and not having to keep too many people in jail.

Ambassador Chan says that her country must have a “tighter democracy” than America’s, because it is a small, multiethnic city-state in a challenging region — a rowboat next to America’s aircraft carrier.

“In an aircraft carrier, you can be playing soccer in one corner and have jets taking off in another, and the carrier remains stable,” she told me. “In a rowboat, it makes sense for everyone to row in the same direction.”

Amsterdam says that in his experience, which includes representing persecuted clients in Russia and elsewhere, governments do not go to great lengths to monopolize the media and control speech unless there is something they would rather their people not know. If he is right, Chee Soon Juan’s rap sheet would indicate there is much this government would rather not share with its public.

fredhiatt@washpost.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/07/AR2008120701924.html?sub=new

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分类题材: 政治_politics , 人物_biogphy

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