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Cartoonist’s arrest – not just about alleged sedition

By Andrew Loh The news is all over the Internet now – cartoonist Leslie Chew, 37, of Demon-cratic Singapore, arrested for alleged sedition. Since the news broke late on Tuesday night, the number of “likes” on his Facebook page has jumped by about almost 2,000. Apparently, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were waiting for Leslie at his parents’ house on Friday evening, around 10.30pm. Leslie had just returned from an overseas trip. When I spoke to him on Tuesday afternoon, he told me that initially there were just 3 officers, but the number grew to about 10 or more as they started to look through his things in the house. Eventually, they confiscated his handphone, hard disk, laptop, and asked him to surrender his passport. He was then brought to the police station at Cantonment complex. There, he stayed for the night – in a lock-up, on a hard floor with just a blanket – until about noon the next day. That was when the “interview” took place. Leslie said there was only one investigation officer who spoke to him. The officer, one ASP Alvin Phua, pointed to two cartoons in particular, which are the subject of the…

Cheering bigotry in the House

By Andrew Loh When a hate speech is delivered in the august chambers of Parliament, you know something is not quite right. Yet it did happen. In Singapore. In 2007, during the debate on the issue of Section 377A of the Penal Code. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred to that debate recently. So did justice Quentin Loh. Let’s revisit that debate. Law professor Thio Li Ann, then a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), made an admittedly passionate speech against repealing that section in our law books. Unfortunately, Thio did so by also taking “tasteless digs at homosexual sex”, as academic Dr Cherian George put it. “Thio also did a disservice to the majority of God-fearing Singaporeans – we who would like to believe that our faiths are ultimately about compassion, not the hateful, hurtful cheap shots that Thio felt compelled to deliver on our behalf,” Dr George said. “How I wished a theology professor or other religious scholar would have stepped into the debate at that point, to show how it might be possible to express a faith-based objection to homosexuality – minus the hate speech.” What disturbed this writer was not the hate-filled content of Prof Thio’s speech,…