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August 17, 2012 (TSR) – Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Thursday slammed the U.S. Department of State in relation to the latter’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2011 and note “with disappointment that it again includes the same gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the Singapore Government’s policies.”
“We are disturbed by the double standards applied to the US’ criticism of our Internal Security Act (ISA), which is meant to address threats to internal security, including threats to public order, communal and religious harmony, and subversive and terrorist activities,” the ministry said in an official statement.
The Internal Security Act, which has been in place in Singapore over the past decades, is meant to address threats to internal security, including threats to public order, communal and religious harmony, and subversive and terrorist activities, it said, hitting back on the criticism contained in the report.
The U.S. report alleged that Singapore used the controversial Internal Security Act, which allows preventive detention without trial under certain circumstances, against “alleged terrorists” in recent years. It also cited caning as a punishment for some crimes in Singapore as one of the “problems.”
“The US, in its own fight against terrorism, has come to realise that trade-offs between rights are inevitable,” the ministry explains.
Singapore said, “in this context we fail to understand how the US reconciles its criticism of the ISA with the continued existence of its own detention facilities at Guantanamo without applying a double standard.”
Singapore also reacted angrily to the annual U.S. human rights report last year, which it said contained the same misrepresentations and inaccuracies to which they have “rebutted in detail year after year.”
“This seems to suggest that the U.S. Department of State is really not interested in the facts, and indeed does not want the facts to come in the way of the conclusions it wishes to reach, pursuant to its own ideology. This approach undermines the objectivity of the report,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“Singapore does not claim that our system is perfect, or that our system would necessarily work in other countries. Our government is held accountable to the public through democratic elections and the rule of law,” it said. “We will adapt our policies in the interests of our people and as the balance of rights and obligations evolve in our society.”
Singapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy; the state owns stakes in firms that comprise perhaps 60% of the GDP through entities such as the sovereign wealth fund Temasek. It has an open business environment, relatively corruption-free and transparent, stable prices, low tax rates (14.2% of GDP) compared to other developed economies, and one of the highest per-capita gross domestic products (GDP) in the world. Its innovative yet steadfast form of economics that combines economic planning of Singapore Economic Development Board with free-markethas given it the nickname the Singapore Model. Exports, particularly in electronics and chemicals, and services provide the main source of revenue for the economy, which allows it to purchase natural resources and raw goods which it does not have.
Temasek Holdings manages a portfolio of about S$193 billion (US$157 billion) at end of March 2011, focused primarily in Asia. It is an active shareholder and investor in financial services, telecommunications & media, technology, transportation, industrials, lifesciences, consumer, real estate, energy & resources.
Temasek is one of a few global firms with the highest corporate credit ratings by both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, of AAA and Aaa respectively. It has also attained perfect scores quarterly on the “Transparency Index for Sovereign wealth funds”, a measure of the openness of government-owned investment funds.