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The price of freedom

Dr. Russel Norman

Co-Leader

Spokesperson on economics, electoral matters and trade


The price of freedom

19 June 2006

“Helen Clark’s reported comments that she did not intend to raise human rights issues with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee during his visit are quite shocking,” Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

“If true, it is inexcusable that the Government refuses to raise or criticise human rights in Singapore during the visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister. I can only presume that this is because of the sensitivity over trade issues,” says Dr. Norman, the Green Party trade spokesperson.

“The Singapore Government routinely suppresses free speech and the right to free assembly, as documented by Amnesty International reports.

“We have a duty to the ordinary citizens of Singapore to speak out about the human rights abuses of their Government because they are not allowed to speak out themselves.

The leader of the opposition in Singapore faces expulsion from parliament because he dared speak out against the Government. He was sued for defamation and fined $500,000 and now faces bankruptcy and expulsion from parliament, just as the leader of the opposition Workers’ Party was before him.

“If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, as Thomas Jefferson once said, then we shouldn’t let our vigilance lapse just because the Government is aiming at more free trade deals in Asia.

“If New Zealand MPs were thrown out of parliament for disagreeing with the Government, would we not expect other democratic nations to speak out,” asks Dr. Norman.

ENDS

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