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International Human Rights Day Commemoration

Celebrating our right to live with dignity and security
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Singapore Working Group for Asean
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February 17th, 2008

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Watch our video

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Check out the video of the Human Rights Day Commemoration 2007

December 14th, 2007

Celebrating Human Rights Day

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On the 8th of December 2007, the Singapore Working Group for ASEAN (SWGA) held an event to celebrate International Human Rights Day at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. This is its first event since the conclusion of the 3rd ASEAN Civil Society Conference in November. The event saw some 50 participants that were not only representatives from various non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, but interested individuals as well.

Many of us here in Singapore live a comfortable life, rarely do we hear cases of people dying of hunger on the street. So since our stomachs are full, does this mean that there’s nothing else to worry about?

The aim of the event was to examine and reflect what Human Rights now means for the average Singaporean. We also wanted to look at what milestones Singapore has made in the global arena as well as the local stage. But of course, we also wanted to look at specific areas to which we, as a society, can improve on together.

For this event, the limelight was cast onto 3 groups:
1) The Disabled
2) Single Mothers
3) Migrant Workers

We started out with Eric Chen, 27, sharing his experience growing up with autism and the challenges that he still faces. He recounted how society treated him as a misfit, but with the support of his family, he went on to write 2 books to create better understanding and awareness about people living with autism, one of which was an autobiograhpy entitled “Autism & Self Improvement”. For more information, visit www.iautistic.com.

Sinapan Samydorai, the focal point of the SWGA, opened the event proper with an introduction of the SWGA, its constituents, partners, goals and objectives. He also shared that although Singapore’s society has improved greatly, there’s still the need to create greater awareness and education of Human Rights.

To warm up and interact the participants, Alvin Tan from The Necessary Stage conducted some icebreakers to help everyone get to know each other better.

After everyone knew each other better, the two young mothers – Ginny Phang and Josephine Kuek – shared their experiences as Single Mothers in a talk show style discussion, moderated by Tan Joo Hymn. Both women shared their experiences as Single mothers with the participants, taking turns to reflect on how they dealt emotionally with their pregnancies, how their family members’ reactions affected them, how it was almost impossible for them to rent a flat from the HDB but above all, how they turned their experiences into something positive. Their candid sharing exposed the social and institutional discrimination faced by unwed mothers in Singapore.

To transition into the Migrant Worker issue, a voiceover by Sim Chi Yin, a journalist with The Straits Times, was played. Entitled “The Workers for Samsui”, she shared her experience photographing the last of Singapore’s Samsui women – who were one of post-independent Singapore’s pioneer migrant workers. The images, which were digitally presented during the voiceover, will be exhibited on bus stops islandwide for the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival in January 2008.

John Gee, President of Transient Workers Count Too, went on to share his research on the essay he wrote to couple the exhibition. He drew parallels on how Samsui women were treated as national heroes, whilst the migrant workers here today are being marginalized. Both groups came to Singapore with the same objective, and that is to provide for their families back home. For more information about the exhibition and to read the full essay, visit www.singaporefringe.com.

To give the participants a more comprehensive understanding of Human Rights in Singapore, Joo Hymn, former President of AWARE, presented information about the two conventions that the Singapore Government has signed - The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

She also touched on the other conventions that Singapore has yet to sign - International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The main programme was concluded with a final sharing with our Guest-of-Honour, Mr. Ron Chandran-Dudley – Founder and First Past President of the Disabled Peoples’ Association. He shared with us his childhood with an Ah Mah and how he started to get involved in Human Rights from a young age. He then went on to share his experience as a social worker for 42 years and to reiterate the discrimination against people with physical disabilities in the workforce. He also lamented on how society treated minority groups such as the migrant workers, disabled and single mothers with less required human dignity and unequal opportunities.

At the end of the event, the participants were given an opportunity to find out more about the 3 issues during a cell-group like discussion breakout. During the discussions, the participants discussed the rights of these people and developed a wish list of policies and legislations to safeguard these rights.

The notes from these discussions will be released on the SWGA blog soon.

This event will be the first of many that the SWGA will use to create awareness about other issues that civil society groups in Singapore face. These include the elderly, children, mentally ill as well as people living with HIV and AIDS.

Despite our different interest and focus areas, as civil society, it is important for us to interact with each other and to build capacity. Only by creating greater awareness and mutual understanding, can we truly be empowered to work towards the betterment of society.

December 9th, 2007

A big thank you for all who turned up on 8 Dec for our International Human Rights Day Commemoration!
- The Singapore Working Group for ASEAN

Hello hello!

It's all about trust...

... and sharing a neck massage or two.

Even the policeman seems to be having fun.

Alvin says: "Cover your elbows so that you protect people who bump into you."

And so they obey.

Eric Chen

Ginny Phang

Ron Chandran-Dudley with new friends

Discussion group on migrant workers

John Gee

Discussion group on people with disabilities

Ching Wi

Discussion group on single mothers

Jolovan hams it up with the police

November 25th, 2007

Our programme is confirmed!

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International Human Rights Day (IHRD) Commemoration
8 December 2007
NAFA Campus 1 Wing B Level 2 (Visual Arts Seminar Room)
For online map, go to http://www.nafa.edu.sg/location.htm
Venue is wheelchair accessible.
6.30pm to 10.00pm
Registration commences from 6.30pm
Programme begins at 7pm sharp

Organised by the Singapore Working Group for ASEAN

Free admission
Alvin Tan 96552841 or email swga07@gmail.com



6:30pm R E G I S T R A T I O N

7:00pm Prelude
Sharing and Reading of Excerpt from the Biography of Eric Chen.
Eric is living with Autism

7:10pm Opening
Welcome Remarks by Sinapan Samydorai

7.20pm Interaction with Participants

7:30pm Theatre Games

7:40pm Single Mothers Group
Ginny Phang and Josephine Kuek will share their experiences as Single Mothers in Singapore.

A short Q&A will follow.

8:05pm Migrant Workers
The Workers from Samsui
A Voiceover by Sim Chi Yin, a journalist with the Straits Times, on her experience with the Samsui Women.

Migrant Workers Then & Now
John Gee, President of Transient Workers Count Too, will share with us parallels on the past position of the Samsui Women and migrant workers here in Singapore today.

8.30pm CEDAW & CRC
Joo Hymn, Former President of AWARE, will share with us information about the two conventions the Singapore Government has signed:

- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW)

- The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Our Guest-of-Honour. Mr. Ron Chandran-Dudley, the Founder and First Past President of the Disabled Peoples’ Association, will share his experience as a social worker for 42 years.

9:00pm Group Breakouts
The participants will break out into the three interest groups to learn more and discuss what Singapore is a signatory of, what has been signed but not implemented, as well as a wish list of what needs to be done.

9:35pm Conclusion
Each interest group shall share their wish lists with everyone for 5
minutes and we will sum up by drawing common wishes that each interest group has.

10:00pm E N D


For over 25 years, Sinapan Samydorai, has campaigned for human rights, social and economic justice throughout the Asia-Pacific. Born in Singapore, Samydorai’s involvement in human rights issues and his commitment to justice was inspired by his personal experiences especially with local and migrant workers in Singapore during the 1980's. His life took a turn in 1987 when most of his friends were arrested by the Singapore government and held under the ISA [Internal Security Act].

In June 1987, he moved to Hong Kong to work and returned to Singapore in 2000. Since then, he has been actively involved in Think Centre (Singapore) [www.thinkcentre.org] of which he is the President.

Since 2001, he is the Focal Point for the Southeast Asian Migrant Workers Initiative and one of the focal persons in Singapore for the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.

Since 2006, he has been the Convenor for the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers and the joint Convenor for the Solidarity for Asian Peoples Advocacy [SAPA] - Working Group on Labour and Migration.

Ron Chandran-Dudley is a consultant counselor and social worker. He was the Founder-President of Disabled People's International and the Honorary Secretary of the Disabled People's Association. He has a degree from the London School of Economics – a BSc (Hons) in Social Anthropology, and a Diploma in Social Science and Administration. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the State University of New York, obtaining his Masters in Sociology of Medicine and Industry, as well as in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychotherapy. He has been fully involved in both national and international voluntary projects and programmes. In 1987, he was awarded a testimonial for his dedicated service for the promotion of the United Nations World Programme of Action concerning disabled persons (it’s a Magna Carta for people with disabilities). He is the author of children’s books and plays.

Eric Chen is a 24 year old Singaporean who is living with autism.
Currently a writer, public speaker, web master and computer technician, he aspires to help create a positive future for Humanity. Eric is the author of “My journey to accept planet Earth”.

Co-founder and Director of Four Trimesters Pte Ltd Certified Doula, Childbirth Educator, 5PATH certified Hypnotherapist, HypnoFertility & HypnoBirthing Practitioner

“Every adversity presents itself an opportunity!”
When Ginny Phang made a choice to face adversity to give birth to her son, Kieran and embark on a single mother’s journey five years ago, it marked the beginning of many opportunities-to-come. Single motherhood did not deter Ginny from fulfilling her calling to be of service to others. With a strong conviction that birthing can be made easier and more comfortable, Ginny became a certified doula and childbirth educator to provide professional labor support to women. Dedicated to help more women, Ginny readily quit her stable job in 2002 and pursued her passion and career as co-founder of Four Trimesters Pte Ltd full time.

Ginny Phang has since supported hundreds of parents-to-be, giving them the knowledge and tools to have the most positive and memorable experience of birth possible. A believer in lifelong learning, Ginny went on to become the only HypnoBirthing Practitioner in Singapore who has taught the most couples in Singapore & Asia and the only HypnoFertility Practitioner in Singapore.

Ginny was recently voted as one of the 18 nominees for the Singapore Women’s Weekly Great Women of our Times Award 2006 in recognition for her passionate contribution to and is still making for the birthing scene in Singapore.

Besides dividing her time between being a mother to Kieran and being an entrepreneur, Ginny makes time to contribute back to society. She co-founded Flyin’ Solo, a support group for unmarried mothers in Singapore.

Sim Chi Yin is a journalist with The Straits Times and is now based in Beijing. She started out as a photographer, interning over the years at the ST Picture Desk, and at The Guardian and The Independent while studying in the UK. Chi Yin graduated with history degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Her portfolio of pictures from rural Siberia was among finalists' in the 1999 Ian Parry Awards -- a photojournalism competition run by The Sunday Times of London -- and was exhibited in the award show in London. She was the regional (Asia) winner in the 2003 Commonwealth Photographic Awards. Between 1999 and 2001, she documented a Maoist village in China and the Roma (Gypsies) in Romania.

Shooting mainly when she's off work, Chi Yin is particularly interested in social issues and has taken pictures for small NGOs in Russia, the UK, Romania, Vietnam and Singapore.

She did a short personal projects on the Samsui women and migrant workers, alongside her day job writing extensively on migrant labour issues while at The New Paper between 2003 and 2005.

In 2003, she was among six local photographers who created Day Off, which documented the lives of migrant domestic workers here, as part of an awareness campaign. The exhibition opened at Toa Payoh bus interchange and toured National Library branches. In 2005, she picked up on that theme again in a group project which taught migrant workers to photograph their own lives. 50 images by workers were exhibited in InsideOut, which was held at photo/video school – Objectifs during The Necessary Stage's M1 Singapore Fringe Festival in February 2006.

In 2006-7, she worked on a photo essay on the journeys of Indonesian domestic workers who leave their village lives behind for Singapore. She continues to work at telling more 'real' people's stories.

John Gee worked on Middle East issues, both on a professional and voluntary basis, before coming to Singapore from Britain in 1999. He also took part in many activities against racism and for the rights of immigrant people in Britain. He has worked as a freelance writer since arriving in Singapore. He was an early member of The Working Committee 2 and has continued to volunteer with Transient Workers Count Too, of which he is currently president.

Tan Joo Hymn is the Immediate Past President of AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research). She has been an active volunteer at AWARE for many years. Projects she has been involved in include Beyond Babies – looking at the total fertility rate and population issues, discrimination against pregnant employees, the White Ribbon Campaign, and the Penal Code review. Joo Hymn is also active in various social initiatives, including Raleigh Society, The Working Committee 1 (TWC1), The Working Committee 2 (TWC2, which became Transient Workers Count Too) and the petition to repeal s377A of the Penal Code.

A graduate of Warwick University in the United Kingdom, Joo Hymn trained as a lawyer and qualified in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore. She is also a qualified early childhood educator and had been working as pre-school teacher for four years before becoming a full-time mum. She is continually reinventing herself and enjoys challenges, and believes passionately that every person should be allowed to achieve his or her fullest potential, without being hemmed in by gender stereotypes.

Josephine is a Singaporean who graduated as a Registered Nurse from Nanyang Polytechnic in 1997. She started volunteering in community service during her school days and lives her life with 'RYTHM' (Raise Yourself To Help Mankind) as her mission. Believing that Life is the greatest gift from God, she is always seeking for ways to improve herself as a better mother, a better daughter, a better friend and a better servant to the Community in
every little way she knows how. Currently an unwed mother with an
18-month old boy, Arjuna, Josephine works in the Occupational Health industry and is a Business Aspirant who is growing an International Network of likeminded friends that embrace RYTHM with Passion!

"For the World to change, I must Change!"
Having gone through all kinds of challenges, especially the pain of a torn relationship with her Dad due to her present situation, Josephine realizes her fallen state and with great remorse she is sharing her story to advise against Pre-Marital sex, as she feels that a woman is always at the losing end.


SWGA is proud to partner the following groups for the International Human Rights Day Commemoration:

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.) - a registered society and charity that looks into the welfare and interests of migrant workers in Singapore. http://www.home.org.sg/

Transient Workers Count Too - committed to encouraging greater consideration for migrant workers in Singapore and promoting good employer-employee relations. http://twc2.org.sg/site/

Disabled People's Association - established to be the voice of people with disabilities, and help them achieve full participation and equal status in the society through independent living. http://www.dpa.org.sg/

Think Centre - aims to critically examine issues related to political development, democracy, rule of law, human rights and civil society. Think centre advocates on the need for national human rights education to be part of the school curriculum, to set-up national regional human rights mechanism, and for regional framework instruments on the social-labour rights of workers including all migrant workers.http://www.thinkcentre.org/


Alvin Tan Programme
Yap Ching Wi Programme
Shaun Teo Programme
Ryan Chua Programme
Benjamin Low Venue & Logistics Coordinator

Samydorai Sinapan (Think Centre)
Alvin Tan (The Necessary Stage)
Jolovan Wham (H.O.M.E.)
Michael Cheng (Think Centre)
Tan Kong Soon (Think Centre)
Christopher Ng (UNI APRO)
Hashim Lobe (UNI APRO)
Shuan Teo
Yap Ching Wi
Sha Najak
Tan Hui Yee
Ovidia Yu
Peter S H Chen

Ayna Nejad, Layla El-Deeb

November 24th, 2007

Join us!

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Dear Friends,

We would like to invite you take part in a special celebration on 8th December, 2007. This event is organised by The Singapore Working Group for ASEAN.

Around the world, every year, the United Nations' Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 10th December to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here in Singapore - our government has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) - we are commemorating this day with a special sharing session with individuals from various walks of life.

Come join us as we listen to the stories of people with disabilities, single parents and migrant workers, as we look back on how far we have come, and reflect on how much further we have to go, in our quest for a better life for all.

Please RSVP to swga07@gmail.com by 7 December 2007 and feel free to forward this email to anyone who may be interested to come along.

Together, we can forge a more caring society.

Yours sincerely,
The Singapore Working Group for ASEAN

International Human Rights Day Commemoration

8 December 2007

NAFA Campus 1 Wing B Level 2 (Visual Arts Seminar Room) Visual Arts Seminar Room, 80 Bencoolen Street Singapore 189655
For online map, go to http://www.nafa.edu.sg/location.htm
Venue is wheelchair accessible.

Time: 6.30pm to 10pm


On the Singapore Working Group for ASEAN
We are a group of individuals and civil society organisations which aim to create a connected, compassionate and people-centered ASEAN community together with our partners in the region. Through a holistic approach covering the arts, research, inter disciplinary practice, public education and constructive consultation with the government and other stakeholders, we aim to create a common platform for cooperation on human rights, economic, social, cultural and environmental issues.
Email us at: swga07@gmail.com
Updates on our activities can be found at http://swga.livejournal.com
Find us on Facebook by searching "Singaporeworkinggroup forAsean"
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