Asia

Singapore's death penalty laws

Long-drop hanging on Friday at dawn. In the modern metropolis of Singapore, with its gleaming skyline, wealth, and a regional and international reputation for travel, accessibility, and thriving business opportunities, this is how inmates are killed under the sovereign state’s harsh laws: the death penalty.

Malaysia deports 1086 to Myanmar

On 23 February, the Malaysian government deported 1,086 people back to Myanmar. This was against the orders of the Malaysian High Court, which ruled on the same day that the Myanmar nationals should be allowed to stay temporarily. There are millions of exploited migrants in Malaysia, and over a hundred thousand Burmese refugees. The government announced plans to deport 1,200 people, including children. 114 people are unaccounted for by the government as they were not handed over to the Myanmar navy. Despite the Malaysian government’s claims that they would not deport any Rohingya or official...

Singapore Airlines and "just transition"

In its recent Budget, the Singapore government announced plans to give $870 million to the aviation industry in an attempt to rescue it. Yet, in the third quarter of last year alone, Singapore Airlines — the national carrier — reported a net loss of $142 million. So, a whopping $870 million is not likely to go very far, especially if travel takes time to pick up after the pandemic. Singapore Airlines laid off 4,300 workers last year while its CEO continued to draw an annual salary of around $5 million, causing outrage on social media. At the beginning of the pandemic, flight attendants had...

Fix schools, not students

Three people were arrested for protesting outside the Ministry of Education in Singapore on Tuesday 26 January. The Ministry has come under fire for telling a transgender student to reduce her hormone replacement therapy or face expulsion. Ashlee, the student, had previously been sent home for having long hair and not obeying the dress code. Gay sex is a crime in Singapore. An annual LGBTQ rights event, Pink Dot, has helped to educate people and exert mass pressure on the government. Students, teachers and school workers must join together to demand that schools be safe for LGBTQ students.

Belarus: crackdown and gestures

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, opposition candidate in Belarus’s rigged 9 August election, declared on Telegram on 13 October: “The regime has 13 days to fulfill three main requirements: 1. Lukashenko must leave. 2. Street violence must stop completely. 3. All political prisoners must be released. If our demands are not met by 25 October, the whole country will peacefully take to the streets with the People’s Ultimatum.” Evidently the opposition assesses that it is strong enough at least to have a chance of this “ultimatum” having at least some force. Sunday 11 October saw street protests again...

Singapore: birth of a new left

After three weekends of fantastic discussions on issues like climate change and migrant workers’ rights, Activism in Crisis (AIC) — a huge activism festival in Singapore, 3 to 23 August — has wrapped up triumphantly. The freedom to speak and to organise in Singapore is quite stifled. Yet, in many ways, AIC is a model for organising and hosting events online — a model not just for organising under repressive regimes but a model for organising in the time of Covid. The festival took place over Zoom with extensive measures to keep the conversation going and to grow a coalition of activists in the...

Left voices in Singapore's election

With the pandemic still raging within the migrant worker dormitories, Singaporeans will go to the polls on 10 July 10. Despite migrant workers' inhumane living conditions making world news last month, it has become a non-issue in the elections. In fact, parties such as the Singapore Democratic Party have continued to deploy Malthusian narratives of Singapore being overrun by foreigners in order to win votes. Such tactics have detracted from the SDP's otherwise progressive policies for a minimum wage and better protections for workers. The Workers' Party has pro-worker policies that are even...

Migrant labour, racism and class struggle in Singapore

With migrant workers making up the vast majority of recent Covid-19 cases in Singapore, there are renewed calls for the government to reduce Singapore's dependence on migrant labour. On the surface, this appears to be a progressive proposal, given that it is being made in response to the cramped and unsanitary nature of the migrant worker dormitories. In reality, however, these are xenophobic demands to reduce the number of foreigners and these demands have nothing to do with improving conditions in migrant worker dormitories. Many have compared migrant labour to a drug to which Singapore is...

Singapore in the pandemic

Of the 728 new COVID-19 cases reported in Singapore on 16 April, 654 were linked to migrant worker dormitories. In a statement that best captures the racism against foreign workers in Singapore, Cabinet Minister Lawrence Wong said: “We are already having to deal with a foreign worker dormitory cluster. “Let’s not have more clusters emerge outside of that in our own community as well.” An estimated 62,500 migrant workers have been quarantined in just eight foreign worker dormitories. Workers have reported that they are subject to cramped and unhygienic living conditions and have been served...

Trans women arrested in Aceh

On 27 January, 12 trans women were arrested in Aceh province in Indonesia and made to undergo a “re-education programme”. They were subjected to beatings, had their hair forcibly cut, were stripped and forced to wear men′s clothes, and otherwise humiliated. Trans women are reportedly fleeing the province, an area with an autonomous status meaning it can have some of its own laws, including on homosexuality. Many run beauty salons which have been shut fearing a wave of attacks after far-right and Islamist organisations put out calls for regular Friday protests to ″cleanse the province″. The...

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