Posted on January 12, 2006 by jeremy
To my amazement, AsiaOne (Singapore Press Holdings) ran an AP report today on Soros’ comments about the lack of openness in Singapore society. An article entitled ‘S’pore not an open society, argues George Soros’ also made p. 7 of the ‘Home’ section in the Straits Times (albeit minus the names of opposition MPs who have been bankrupted through law suits). The ST piece also reported that: ‘Responding to Mr Soros’ comments on Singapore, a spokesman for the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said: “If we are not an open society, George Soros would hardly be able to make the comments at an open forum in Singapore, and be reported in the Singapore media.”
So maybe Tommy Koh is right! A Singaporean friend of mine was not convinced. His comment was “What if you are a Singaporean/Malaysian and you said the same things. What would be the repercussions?” I don’t suppose there will be too many people lining up to test this one, unless the Government were to take steps to actively encourage it of course.
Filed under: Human rights, Media, Singapore | Tagged: freedom of speech, Soros | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 11, 2006 by jeremy
Image source: http://www.jeffooi.com
I attended a lecture this afternoon by squillionaire, George Soros, who is known more these days for his philanthropy and political activism (most notably in opposition to George Dubya) than his business acumen as a fund manager and destabiliser of national economies. Speaking on the topic of “A Global Open Society” in a country like Singapore was always going to be a bit of a challenge but in his speech he politely made no reference to the Singaporean version of democracy, preferring instead to concentrate on his criticism of US foreign policy. The discussants were equally as polite, although Dr Suzaina Binte Kadir from NUS did ask the question on many people’s minds by asking Soros whether a concern for an open society was something one only thinks about when one is rich. The response was pretty much as I expected, namely that getting rich requires an open society, just as an open society requires people to be rich. It was a shame that Amartya Sen didn’t get a mention because his Development as Freedom book certainly encourages sophisticated thought on this matter. Kishore Mabhubani is a bright bloke. He gave a good response to a question on what the international community should be doing to promote open society, the UN being the most obvious vehicle. Dr Mabhubani said that there first had to be reform of the UN in order to redefine what is understood by “international community”. An SMU student, Benjamin Lee, the final discussant asked — with the impetuosity of youth — whether Singapore could be classified as an open society. After much embarrassed laughter (but quite loud applause!), Soros said that Singapore could certainly not be considered open so long as libel laws were used as they are to stifle free speech. I remember Christopher Lingle having to do a runner from Singapore after touching on this subject in the IHT in the mid-1990s. It could be, as moderator Tommy Koh pointed out, that Singapore is becoming more open as countries like the US are becoming less open and that it is okay to make comments like this in Singapore now. On the other hand, if you are George Soros I guess you can say what you like!
Filed under: Development | Tagged: Singapore, Soros | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 31, 2004 by jeremy
Some time ago, I blogged on Dubya’s religious beliefs, and a report on the BBC web site today, Christian foot soldiers battle for Bush, indicates that his evangelical stance is set to pay electoral dividends in the southern states. George Soros, meanwhile, has other ideas. In an article appearing in the The Age, Bursting the Bush bubble, Soros (described by the author as ‘probably the only US citizen with his own foreign policy’) is reported as saying that ‘ending the Bush presidency’s “supremacist ideology” has become a “matter of life and death” for the planet’s future’.
Filed under: Bush, US politics | Tagged: Christianity, Republicans, Soros | 2 Comments »