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新加坡因回应徐顺全而改变

10/01/09

Singapore maneuvers in response to Chee
作者:Garry Rodan 新加坡文献馆译

远东经济评论
2008年12月5日

2008年对新加坡而言是一个丰收年,在法律诉讼,在对付国际媒体和人民行动党的政治对手的这些事件上都大有所获,反映了政府决心要把政治言论和意见控制在一个紧密的范围之内。虽然李显龙总理在国庆日演说上宣布了政府要放宽管制电子媒体的政治用途和户外的抗议集会。

“我们的管制条令必须跟上时代,”李显龙先生如是解释。

这看起来好象是一种规矩上的变更,只在政治边沿线上略微做些许改变是人民行动党惯用的技俩,这可以确保其政治系统的根基不受动摇。对人民行动党领袖而言他们是不会太在意这一类的改变。他们最难接受的是让民主党领袖徐顺全的策略影响了人民行动党的政治斗争和对政治系统的调整。徐顺全或许在选举势力上已经不成气候,但是人民行动党的政治议题却是与日俱增的要受到徐顺全的影响和左右。

在已故惹耶勒南的示范下,徐顺全有胆量勇气敢去监视审查人民行动党的自夸成就和专制体系必要性的假说前提,他所表现的信念决心和在国会里的人民行动党的典型对手是全然不相同的。他和惹耶勒南的作法也不一样,惹耶勒南几乎把他的有生之年用在法律诉讼上以至于拖垮了他的竞选政治。徐顺全把政治战场扩大到国会之外的政治运动上。这部分的解释了为何徐顺全在新加坡政坛内的两极化情势。许多自认有激进政治思想意识的中产阶级专业人士认为,徐顺全为了自已的政治信念甘冒风险,並因付出一切而变得一无所有的牺牲性做法是过度的对抗行为。这不仅是策略上的看法不同,更显示了在力度上反对人民行动党的深浅不同。

新加坡政府已经享有世界上最善于诉讼的声誉,但即使以当地尺度来看,今年 (2008) 还是一个特殊的年头。不仅是远东经济在九月份里被判诽谤李总理和李资政,上诉还在进行中,华尔街日报亚洲版也被罚巨款,因为在上一个月被控蔑视法庭罪名成立。

与此同时,3名民主党党员在11月被判入狱。他们的罪行是因为穿上印有穿着法官袍的袋鼠T衫,在5月份时候他们聚集在最高法院外,声援正在因诽谤罪受审讯的民主党同僚,徐顺全和他的妹妹徐淑真。徐氏兄妹本身也因为蔑视法庭罪名被判入狱,法官指责徐氏兄妹指控法庭偏袒而且在审讯之前发表评论,徐氏兄妹也不顾法官反对他们的发问方式而继续以这种发问方式进行盘问。此外,博客高巴兰奈尔因为在网上批评了这名承审法官处理审讯的过程而被判入狱3个月。陆续的会有更多人入狱,因为另外还有19名民主党党员在10月份里被控非法集会和参与在今年3月份的一个非法游行。

在今年的这一股法律诉讼的劲风里出现了一件新鲜事,那就是新近崛起的总检察长温长明肩挑蔑视法庭的指控。温长明在他以新总检察长身份做第一次的公开发言里就批评了他所谓的人权狂热份子。值得注意的是,他的评论是在法律公会与国际法委员会主办的法律讲座上向一群律师和外交官员的发言。这个新成立委员会的首项工作是研究联合国人权宣言和新加坡法律的关系。在1990年代,温长明是一名官委议员,当年有好些新加坡人曾期待他的言论能夠成为代表自由意识的心声。

今年6月的诽谤案里接受徐顺全的盘问时,李光耀形容民主党领袖是一名政治失败者,批判他远远不如国会里的两名反对党议员,新加坡人民党的詹时中和工人党的刘程强。然而,徐顺全的策略是挑战 – 从而违抗 – 那些用来约束政治活动的不公正法律,这一方法不仅是受到国际的关注更是鼓励了民主党的同僚不再害怕面对法律诉讼的威逼。徐顺全在这一审讯过程中直接面对並盘问了李光耀。

从探讨这些诉讼案件的发生原由与过程和政府为何要调整对电子媒体和公众示威法律这一些事件来看就凸显了徐顺全因素。让我们先回顾对远东经济月刊和华尔街日报的诉讼。前者的事发原由是2006年7月的一篇由主编撰写的报导:新加坡义士:徐顺全,文章批判了人民行动党的管治和反映了徐顺全的一些言论观点。这些言论空间在由新加坡政府控制的当地媒体上是不存在的。

同样的,对华尔街日报的蔑视法庭控诉也是来自两篇社论。2008年6月26日的《新加坡的民主》,和2008年7月15日的《审核新加坡司法》以及发表了徐顺全的一封来信。首篇社论是讲述有关起诉徐顺全的诽谤案,和刊登一封有关言论自由与集会和独立与公正司法的信件;其内容来自国际律师协会的人权组识的一份报告。事缘国际律师协会在2007年时选择在新加坡召开国际会议。然而这一个选择新加坡为会议地点的决定,却被新加坡政府渲染为国际律师协会肯定了新加坡的司法体系。在会议上徐顺全把握了在台下发言的契机,把国际律师协会的会议讨论焦点转移到新加坡法律体系的问题上。

人民行动党日益的被迫回应,向由徐顺全引发的国际听众,解释与辩护新加坡的法律与政治体系。徐顺全的新支持者之中的一名成员是由加拿大律师罗相安特丹领导的一团国际律师。安特丹在俄罗斯为被普丁政府指控的异议分子辩护。另外,在英国有诽谤官司专家安东尼朱力,在美国有法学教授威廉华特。这些律师决定了要帮助徐顺全为未来的诉讼辩护,並在国际场合包括联合国告发徐顺全所遭受的待遇。他们也计划把民主党纳入他们的组识内,让民主党在法人地位上进行活动,即使新加坡当局在诉讼案中判令民主党破产并从而因此失去了其法人地位。

李显龙总理在国庆日演说中所宣布的一些新措施,是对徐顺全做出的一点妥协让步。

1998年政府禁止有政治内容的影片,那是在徐顺全申请准证出售有关民主党的录像带之后的隔一年。2006年大选前的1个月,政府也下令禁止候选人和政党利用网络播放有政治内容的影像和广播。这也是因为徐顺全和民主党带头使用新科技进行政治活动。过后,政府允许政党网站播放候选人的个人履历资料。

虽然如此,在2006年大选时许多博客还是把反对党的群众大会录影,并上载到网络或者个人博客上传播。从2006的大选结果中,人民行动党意识到不必太惧怕新媒体。同时,囚禁夸尔的先例也起了杀一儆百的作用,应验了李显龙的警告;博客使用新媒体要承担责任,另外,政府在必要时也可以选择性的对付违法者。

与此同时,人民行动党在84个支部也准备应用影像媒体,包括使用网络上的知名社交网点。因此,有关的法令必须放宽,以方使执政党本身去联系年青的新加坡人。

政府之所以会决定划出一些指定户外空间让公众进行示威,是企图要避免徐顺全索求更大的和平集会空间。在多次不断的尝试申请警察准证以进行合法的户外示威游行都失败之后,徐顺全和他的民主党同僚别无选择,唯有明知故犯的违法以凸显出他们所面对的阻挠困境。徐顺全认为这是由于宪法赋予的自由权力和司法者在执行使用言论自由权力之间出现了分歧。2006年当世界银行和国际基金会在新加坡举行会议时,全世界都看到了警察和民主党活动分子之间的对待丑态,这种场合无益于新加坡的形象。

新加坡政府己经有条件的允许在市区内的芳林公园进行户外示威。现在若要举行抗议集会只需先行上有关官方网站登记,手续上更为简便。已经有几个集会在此进行,如抗议车资上涨,抗议大学审核学报,以及雷曼兄弟的迷你债卷事件。

徐顺全或许能够多少影响了人民行动党的政治议题,但他要成为国内一股势力的努力还面对着许多重大的阻力。其中之一是中产阶级人士,他们在人民行动党的政策下享受到物质上的好处和社会地位,他们对徐顺全的政治操作方式感到焦虑不安,也不了解他坚决反对人民行动党价值观的理由。另外一点是,人民行动党能够很有效率的利用政府所控制的媒体去摧毁任何一个人的品格声誉。这或许解释了为何国际媒体给于徐顺全的同情之心会令新加坡精英们感到不快。

Singapore maneuvers in response to Chee

Far Eastern Economic Review
December 5, 2008

BY Garry Rodan

FOR Singapore, 2008 has been a bumper year for legal actions and decisions against the international media and political opponents of the ruling People’s Action Party, underlining the government’s resolve to keep political comment and expression within tight limits. Yet in his August National Day Rally Speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also announced a watering down of restrictions on political uses of electronic media and outdoor protest rallies.

“Our rules governing politics must also keep up to date,” Mr Lee explained.

While these may seem like divergent patterns, political change around the edges has long been a feature of the PAP’s approach to preserving the political system’s fundamentals. PAP leaders would not likely dispute that. More difficult for them to concede is the extent to which PAP political battles and system tinkering are shaped by the strategies of Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan. Mr Chee may have been neutralized as an electoral force, but he exerts a growing influence on the political agenda of the PAP.

In the mold of the late J.B. Jeyaretnam, Mr. Chee dares to scrutinize PAP governance claims and underlying premises of authoritarian rule with a determination uncharacteristic of the PAP’s few opponents in parliament. But unlike Jeyaretnam, who spent much of his life fighting legal battles undermining his electoral politics, Mr Chee incorporates these battles into extraparliamentary campaigns. This partly explains his polarizing effect within Singapore. Many middle-class professionals who like to think of themselves as politically progressive find Mr Chee’s preparedness to risk everything for his beliefs too confrontational. More than reflecting tactical differences, though, this highlights contrasting depths of opposition to PAP institutions.

Singapore’s authorities already enjoy a reputation as the world’s most litigation prone, but even by local standards this year has been exceptional. Not only was the REVIEW in September found to have defamed Prime Minister Lee and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, with an appeal now pending, but the Wall Street Journal Asia was also fined a record amount for contempt of court in a finding last month.

Meanwhile, three SDP members were given jail sentences in November. Their offence was to wear T-shirts adorned with a kangaroo in a judge’s robe outside the Supreme Court in May during a defamation trial against SDP colleagues Mr Chee and his sister Chee Siok Chin. The Chees too were sentenced to jail for contempt after the judge in the defamation case contended they had not only accused the court of being biased and pre-judging the case, but also disobeyed orders to cease particular lines of questioning. Comments about the way the presiding judge handled that case also landed blogger Gopalan Nair a three-month jail sentence. There could be more jail terms to come, as another 19 SDP members were charged in October for illegal assembly and participating in an illegal procession in March this year.

An interesting dimension to the flurry of legal actions this year has been the eagerness of the new attorney general, Walter Woon, to instigate contempt of court charges. Mr Woon took the opportunity of his first public address as attorney general to attack what he described as human-rights “fanatics.” Significantly, he directed these remarks to an audience of lawyers and embassy officials at a Law Society gathering to launch its Public and International Law Committee’s lecture series. The first project of the new committee is to study the relevance of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in Singapore law. In the 1990s, Mr Woon was, among other things, a nominated member of parliament who some Singaporeans hoped might be a voice for liberal reform.

Under crossexamination by Mr Chee during his defamation case in June, Minister Mentor Lee depicted the SDP leader as a political failure, contrasting him unfavorably with Singapore’s two elected opposition members of parliament, Singapore People’s Party’s Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Khiang of the Workers’ Party. Yet Mr Chee’s strategy of challenging – and breaking – what he sees as unjust laws circumscribing political engagement is not just drawing international attention, but inspiring more SDP colleagues not to be intimidated by the threat of legal actions. Mr Chee also gets to directly confront and question Mr Lee through the courts.

Examination of the issues behind the surge in court cases and adjustments to electronic media and public demonstration laws underscores the Chee factor. Let us look first at the legal actions against the REVIEW and the Journal. The former centered around a July 2006 article by editor Hugo Restall entitled Singapore’s Martyr: Chee Soon Juan that scrutinized PAP governance and afforded Mr Chee’s views a space not available in Singapore’s government-controlled domestic media.

Similarly, at issue in the contempt of court case against the Journal were two editorials – Democracy in Singapore (June 26, 2008) and Judging Singapore’s Judiciary (July 15, 2008) – and a published letter by Mr Chee. The first of these editorials centered on the defamation case against Mr Chee, the latter on a report by the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association critical of Singapore’s standards in the areas of freedom of expression and assembly and in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. The IBA’s decision to hold its 2007 conference in the city-state had earlier been portrayed by the government as an authoritative endorsement of Singapore’s legal system. However, speaking from the floor as a registered conference participant, Mr Chee exploited the meeting to turn the IBA’s critical spotlight on that very system.

Increasingly, the PAP is explaining and defending its legal and political systems to audiences aroused by Mr Chee. Among Mr Chee’s new supporters is a team of international lawyers headed by Canadian Robert Amsterdam, who defended Mikhail Khodorovsky and other high-profile Russians against the Putin regime, British defamation expert Anthony Julius, who represented Lady Diana, and American law professor William Burke-White. These lawyers have committed to assisting Mr Chee in future legal cases and to further highlighting his treatment in international fora, including the United Nations. They also intend to register the SDP in their jurisdictions to enable it to continue its activities as a legal entity, even if the unfolding legal cases bankrupt and disqualify the party in Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee’s National Day Rally announcements also concede something to Mr Chee.

Political films were banned in 1998, two years after Mr Chee applied for a license to sell a videotape on the SDP. A month before the 2006 general election, the government also banned political podcasts and vodcasts by candidates and parties during election campaigns. Again, Mr Chee and the SDP led the way in harnessing these new technologies for political engagement. Material was consequently restricted to candidate biodata on party Web sites.

However, this official position was defied by bloggers during the 2006 election. Mobile-phone videos of most opposition rallies were uploaded to the video-sharing site YouTube and crossposted on blogs. Given the 2006 election result, the PAP may have concluded that their fears about new media were exaggerated. At the same time, Mr Nair’s imprisonment serves as a powerful demonstration that Prime Minister Lee’s insistence on “accountability and responsibility” in the use of these media technologies can be imposed where authorities choose.

Meanwhile, the PAP is gearing up its video strategies at each of its 84 branches, including the utilization of the social-networking site Facebook. Liberalizing rules governing these technologies is necessary for the ruling party to better engage younger Singaporeans.

The government’s decision to sanction a designated outdoor space for public demonstrations is surely an attempt to defuse Mr Chee’s campaign for more expansive freedoms of peaceful public assembly. Being repeatedly unsuccessful in attempts to obtain requisite police permits for outdoor demonstrations led Mr Chee and his SDP colleagues to deliberately break the law to highlight what they see as a discrepancy between the Constitution and the practice of law on freedom of expression. The global spectacle during the 2006 World Bank/International Monetary Fund conference in 2006 in Singapore of an ugly stand-off between police and SDP activists did Singapore’s image little good.

The Singapore government has since cautiously and conditionally endorsed the concept of outdoor demonstrations at inner city Hong Lim Park. Protest meetings there now require less onerous online registration through an official Web site. A few groups have used the system, protesting transport-fare increases, censorship of university media and investment losses in Lehman Brothers minibonds.

But while Mr Chee may exert an influence over the PAP’s political agenda, there remain serious obstacles to broad domestic appeal. One is that middle-class professionals enjoying material and social status benefits under the PAP are uncomfortable with Mr Chee’s modus operandi and unambiguous rejection of PAP values. Another is the effectiveness of the PAP’s character assassination of Mr Chee through the government-controlled domestic media. This may explain why the international media’s sympathetic treatment especially irritates Singapore’s elite.

Garry Rodan is director of the Asia Research Centre and professor of politics and international studies at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.

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分类题材: 政治_politics , 新加坡模式_sgmd

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