Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Human rights in Singapore

In 1996 I worked on Alick Shaw's campaign for Wellington Central during which David Lange spoke at a fundraising dinner. I was reminded of this because of comments by various bloggers, No Right Turn and David Farrar particularly, about Helen Clark's recent meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. At the fundraiser, Lange told a story about one of his first meetings with the then Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. Lange had been advised by his officials that he should raise New Zealand's concerns with Singapore's tendency to imprison people without trial. Lange agreed and raised the matter only to be told that "it was so much less controversial than executing them". Progress of sorts?

I can't help but note that some of the less sensible commentators on Farrar's blog regularly refer to Singapore's economy as an example for New Zealand to follow but seem conveniently ignorant
of the poor state of human rights.


proud2bkiwi said...

The National Party seem to think that NZ should try to be like any country other than New Zealand.

Notable that Brash argues the Resource Management Act prevents us building roads etc at the speed they do in Asian countries. Ironically, a few days after he said it an elevated highway in Asia collapsed!

Do we really want to be like Singapore or Thailand? Frankly, I quite enjoy my personal freedoms and the fact that we place a high value on our environment (and people)!

backin15 said...

I certainly envy their growth but wonder about whether its sustainable or equitable. I can't imagine NZ or Australia tolerating the lack of personal freedoms either.

I agree that Brash and the Nats are off beat talking down NZ - it's never a smart strategy and alienates as many people as it might appeal too.

Learning from other countries is important but not without recognising the values inherent in NZ society.