Death Row in Singapore—We Need Answers, Not Silencing

I have just finished the not-banned-just-not-available-on-the-island book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Docks.

I feel like someone who took a long blink and missed a solar eclipse. How on earth could all this have been buried for so long?

So this is what happens when you don’t have freedom of the press, when you have a mainstream media cowered and adept at self-censorship. This is what happens when you get so used to the high level of secrecy involved in “politically sensitive” matters you don’t demand answers anymore (at least not after the first attempt is refused). Continue reading

Getting Jorge Home

This is my very first blog entry, and I dedicate it to Augusto Faustino Jorge – or, as he introduced himself, Jorge.

I first met Jorge face-to-face on Tuesday, 20 July 2010, at the Jurong Fishery Port here in Singapore. Jorge, 32, is from Mozambique (a country in southeastern Africa). He had been part of a crew on board the Tai Yuan 111, a Taiwanese fishing vessel. While the senior crew – for example the captain and engineers – were from China, the fishermen were made up of men from Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Mozambique and Kenya.

The ship had been out at sea for 15 months straight – yes, that’s right, 15 months without touching dry land – and finally docked at Singapore’s Jurong Fishery Port on 10 June 2010. The reason they docked here was because the ship’s chief engineer had died suddenly (apparently from a burst vessel in his brain). Otherwise, they would still be out at sea, fishing off the Indian Ocean, for at least another three months. Continue reading