Tag Archives: Inequalities & Income

Singapore’s Budget: Towards an Inclusive Society?

By ShuQi Liu

Following a watershed election last year that signalled public resentment towards a paternalistic state, the AWARE roundtable discussion conducted on 24 March 2012 sustained the political momentum with an honest discussion about this year’s Singapore Budget.

“We have not witnessed inclusive growth in the Singapore budget for a very long time,” says Yeoh Lam Keong, an economic and social policy commentator affiliated with the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Despite additional funding for a number of social programmes, panelists at the forum generally agreed that the government’s budget does not do enough to assist the most vulnerable elements of our society — children, elderly, the disabled and low-income families — particularly when it comes to education and health care.

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Health Care

The 2012 Budget signals an increase in healthcare spending from S$ 4 billion to S$ 8 billion over the next 5 years, an increase from 0.7 to 2.2 percent of GDP. But Yeoh notes that Singapore still lags behind other Asian Tigers – Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea — which commit approximately four percent of public spending to healthcare.

In fact, overall spending on social programmes is lower now than it was in the 1980s. While GDP has increased four times since the 1990s, public spending on social programmes has dropped from 20 to 16 percent of GDP.

These issues are particularly particularly pertinent as Singapore’s society ages. Medical expenses, especially for common long-term chronic ailments like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, can overwhelm individuals and families.

Increased spending on hospital beds alone will not produce better health outcomes adds Vivienne Wee, a founding member of AWARE. Singapore’s health care system needs to be reorganised, she argues, to better meet the needs of patients and the general population, rather than the demands of healthcare organisations.

Education

Rising inequality meanwhile is giving children from wealthy families a leg up at school, as early as Primary 1. P1 students are expected to be able to read and write upon enrollment, but students from low-income families generally score worse than their classmates. The problem: these children lack access to pre-school education.

NTU sociology professor Teoh You Yenn argues that the government should level the playing field by providing more funding for low-income families to send their children to preschool.

A government’s budget reflects a society’s understanding and value systems, argues Teoh, adding that people’s actions have the power to shape imaginations of the present and future. “What is pragmatically possible is not fixed independently of our imaginations, but is itself shaped by our visions,” Teoh says, quoting from “The Real Utopias Project“.

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Disabilities

“Maximising Potential, Embracing Differences” – that’s the theme of Singapore’s four-year “Enabling Masterplan” for integrating people with disabilities into mainstream society. But until activist Judy Wee stepped forward, the recommendation committee didn’t have any disabled representatives.

Wee argues that if Singapore is to be a truly inclusive society, we need to do a better job of providing people with disabilities with full access to public facilities, starting with our nation’s schools. Currently, only a select few educational institutions are equipped to teach disabled students.

“This would be an important step towards helping Singaporeans with disabilities realise their potential, while respecting the differences of all persons with disabilities,” Wee says, who also notes that data on the number of people with disabilities needs to be better documented and made publicly available.

Contributing to the discussion, hearing-impaired attendees from the Singapore Association for the Deaf, with the help of sign language interpreters from ExtraOrdinary Horizons, called on the government to provide more ‘resource teachers’ for deaf students in mainstream schools.

“We – like any other healthy human beings – have dreams and aspirations to fulfill,” says one SADeaf member.  “It is very hard to tell our children that you cannot be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, because you are deaf.  Unlike Singapore, the United States has deaf societies filled with hearing impaired professionals. This is a strong limiting factor.  And it’s very stifling for the members of the Singapore Association for the Deaf.”

Welfare and Social Services

Better implementation and less duplication is needed in the provision of social services, according to another member of the public participating in the discussion. The “Many Helping Hands” programme can result in cases where several social workers approach the same person with the intention to help. But they end up overwhelming the person instead.

Reflections

In my humble opinion, an inclusive society begins when the government has open dialogues with its citizens. When drafting the budget, our government should actively engage Singaporeans from all levels of society. It’s too late to make changes once the budget is announce in Parliament. A more consultative process, rather than the top-down approach, will be more effective in meeting the needs of all Singaporeans.

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If Girls Spoke Up, the World Would Change

By Jaswinder Thethy

“Things won’t change overnight. We have to wake people up,” exclaims Sampat Pal, the founder of the “Gulabi Gang,” a group comprising hundreds of lower caste women in Uttar Pradesh, India that stands up to violence against women.

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Domestic abuse is still persistent in India even though there are laws against it. Rape and sexual abuse cases are rarely registered for fear of social stigma. Women often hide behind their veils rather than defend themselves. But the Gulabi Gang empowers women who are suffering from abuse and educates them about their rights.

Sampat and the Gulabi Gang are the focus of a documentary by British director Kim Longinotto called “Pink Saris,” which was recently screened at Singapore Management University by ONE (SINGAPORE) with the support of the British High Commission.

Being a woman, and coming from a British Indian background I was immediately drawn to this project. Plus it gave me an opportunity to wear a pink sari! I could hardly refuse to represent the High Commission on this one.

Longinotto’s documentary follows Sampat as she mediates on behalf of woman that turn to her for help. Sampat is assertive, fearless and extremely outspoken; she has a huge voice and her threats are often delivered in punchy one liners, though unfortunately the wit is at times lost in translation. Sampat herself is a former child bride and victim of abuse. However she took the unusual step of fighting back and risking disgrace by leaving her husband and village.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to her campaign is that Sampat can only do so much herself. She survives on donations and cannot always afford to lodge women who turn to her when they have nowhere else to go. In one case in the movie, Sampat returns a girl to her abusive in-laws. But first, she confronts the family in public. I can’t help but wonder if the young woman will continue suffering and I hoped the situation wasn’t made worse by Sampat’s intervention. In the end, it’s up to the girls to stand tall.

The documentary also reveals that Sampat still has complex personal issues to confront, especially when her motives are questioned. At one point, her longtime boyfriend asks if she is not being driven by ego, an accusation that appears to be at least partly true after Sampat proudly refers to herself as the “Messiah for Women”.

Regardless, there is no question that the Gulabi Gang is making a difference in the lives of women, men and children in Uttar Pradesh.

“If girls spoke up, the world would change,” Sampat says. “Be Brave”

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Jaswinder Thethy introducing “Pink Saris” at SMU.

About the Screening of Pink Saris in Singapore

The British High Commission supported ONE (SINGAPORE)’s screening of Pink Saris in collaboration with the Wee Kim Wee Centre to help mark International Women’s Day, the 8th of March, and to highlight the unjust treatment of many rural women.

Kirpal Singh, Associate Professor of English Literature, opened the event, after which, Jaswinder Thethy gave a short speech on the UK’s work in India, which includes investments in education for girls, providing access to finance, skills and low carbon energy, safe births, reducing violence against women, children’s health and nutrition.

Jaswinder Thethy is an Assistant Attaché at The British High Commission.

Related Links

Find out how to support the Gulabi Gang.

ONE (SG) to France: Set the right example with a Robin Hood Tax

By Thulasi Mahadevan

ONE (SINGAPORE) has joined an international campaign to send a clear message to France:  allocate a portion of new tax revenues from a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) to finance development and fight climate change.

France is about to become the first European country to adopt the so-called “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions.  But contrary to promises that French President Nicolas Sarkozy made when he hosted the G20 last year, France is now talking about using proceeds from the tax solely for domestic use.

“A small tax on financial transactions, if implemented globally, could raise billions of dollars to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and assist communities affected by climate change,” says ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow.  “France is taking an important first step by adopting a Robin Hood Tax, but it must follow through by using a portion of the money to finance development and fight climate change.”

French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel had been commended by many anti-poverty campaigners for their commitments to push forward with a European FTT, a very small tax on financial transactions which if implemented globally could raise up to US$600 billion a year, funds that could be used to eradicate poverty, fight climate change and reduce budget deficits.

However in a television interview on 29 January, Sarkozy said that the unilateral FTT would be used for the national “deficit” and did not mention development or climate financing. Under pressure from French civil society, Sarkozy later said that a French FTT would still go to fund development and fight climate change, but no concrete steps have been taken by his government yet in this regard.

Proper implementation of a Robin Hood Tax in France will “set a precedent for future taxes on the financial sector, both across Europe and internationally . . . to tackle the challenges of poverty at home and abroad and address the impact of climate change,” wrote ONE (SINGAPORE) President Vernetta Lopez in a letter to France’s Ambassador to Singapore.  Other civil society organisations like Oxfam GB and ONE.org also sent letters to French embassies.  The ONE.org petition was signed by more than 60,000 people.

Last year, 1000 economists – including several Nobel Prize winners – called on the G20 to adopt a FTT.  More recently, faith-based leaders have added their voices to the call.

“The FTT comes at no extra cost for the average tax payer, who is shouldering the cost of responses to global crises,” notes a representative from CIDSE, the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity.  “The financial sector has hugely profited from globalisation.  Through the FTT it could contribute to tackling global challenges, share the financial burden of global crises and contribute to assuring a safe and healthy future for people and the planet.”

In the United States, meanwhile, the largest nurses union has pledged to march for a US version of the tax on Wall Street institutions ahead of the the G-8 and NATO summits. It’s unclear whether the Obama administration’s decision to move the G-8 Summit from Chicago to “Camp David,” a more remote location, will affect the planned demonstrations.

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ADDITIONAL ARTICLES &  RESOURCES

How do we stop Human Trafficking?

How do we stop Human Trafficking?
Discussing “Child Prostitution, Human Trafficking and Poverty”
By ShuQi Liu

Across the globe, states appear to be giving a higher priority to drugs and wildlife smuggling, not to mention media piracy, than human trafficking. And did you know that, here in Singapore, trafficking victims – who often do not have access to their own passports, much less the freedom to leave their place of ‘work’ – are caned and jailed for overstaying their visas?

These are just two of the points raised in front of a congregation of white collared workers, tertiary students, academics and social activists on a recent Tuesday evening at Singapore Management University at an event organised by ONE (SINGAPORE) in association with SMU’s Wee Kim Wee Centre. Trafficking issues strike a chord in the hearts of many in our community, myself included, and this was clearly evident in the packed seminar room in SMU’s business school, where additional chairs had to be brought in to seat participants.

Complex Politics and Twice Persecuted

Professor Kirpal Singh, one of Singapore’s most prolific cultural critics, strides up to the front with a purposeful sense of insight. He observes that Singapore, as a country which both exports sex tourists and is a destination market for traffickers to send their victims, is in a curious position on the night’s topic.

“We are perhaps not doing anything concrete,” Kirpal notes. “The politics of the situation is complex, we are not aggressively firm, but have also shown unhappiness at the diplomatic level.”
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“How are we talking about the issue of human trafficking? When a woman shares a story of being duped by a promise of quick money in Singapore, only to be forced into the sex trade, do we ask ‘how could she have been so blind?” As individuals we need to suspend judgement of the victims.” ~ Braema Mathi

“There are no disparities in human trafficking – it affects men, women, boys and girls”, adds Braema Mathi, a former president of AWARE (the Association of Women for Action and Research) and ex-Nominated Member of Parliament.

And worse still, individuals who have been coerced or tricked into coming to Singapore – with the promise of a high-paying manufacturing or service-industry job, when in reality the work is in a brothel or pays significantly less than promised – are often treated as law-breakers here rather than victims.

“Victims of human trafficking often undergo double punishment when the state’s identity pushes individuals into another dimension. In Singapore, those trafficked are first charged with illegal immigration and then sentenced to jail and even caning.”

Braema notes though that changes in Singapore’s political scene mean that ministers and government agencies are more open to feedback, which provides concerned citizens with greater opportunity to voice out about injustices.

Indeed, Singaporeans need to be more proactive, vocal and aware on this issue. We need to stop questioning or blaming victims and work instead to protect their rights and confront the roots of the problem.

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Eliminating poverty and empowering women are key components in the campaign to end human trafficking.

Four, no Five, P’s

The second speaker, Pia Charlotte Bruce, Executive Director of UN Women Singapore, addressed the topic from a social perspective, noting that high mobility, international travel and economic growth contribute to Singapore’s susceptibility. Like other activists, Pia calls for a 4P strategy to overcome these vulnerabilities:

→ Prevention  –   raise awareness, reduce poverty and improve health & education

→ Protection   –   align local laws with international standards and better training for police and immigration officials

→ Prosecution –   stronger penalties and protection of whistle-blowers

→ Partnership  –   to effectively implement laws at the regional and international levels.

To this, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, adds a 5th “P”, an underlying cause: Poverty. Chhoa-Howard argues that poverty in the region is a key driver of trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Sex Tourism and Trafficking

But if there was no demand, there would be no industry for traffickers to exploit. And unfortunately, Singaporeans are among the most numerous sex tourists in Thailand and at least 3000 Singaporeans and Malaysians take a ferry to neighboring Batam for sex every week.

Singaporean law provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents who exploit children in other countries. But this law goes unenforced. Rachel points out that Singapore has never prosecuted or convicted a citizen or PR for having sexual relations with a child outside the country.

Last but not least, Bridget Tan, founder and president of H.O.M.E., added a very personal perspective to the discussion.

“One of the girls we took in had escaped from a brothel in Geylang. She refused to talk for one month,” Bridget shared. “The only person she could relate to was a pet dog in the shelter. When she was finally ready to tell her story, we found out that she had been gang-raped every time. And she was old enough to be my daughter. Despite the experience of extreme violation and severe trauma, she was repatriated after six months without any compensation. Is this even justifiable?”

While I know that these things happen, stories like this shock me . . . particularly that something like this can happen in the heart of Singapore, my home.

Better Policies Needed

Bridget also highlighted several areas for change that H.O.M.E. is championing and which we can all work together to achieve, including

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Hani Mohamed produced the short film “Innocence” to move Asian leaders to put a stop to human trafficking and child prostitution.

→ a Victims Assistance Programme

→ drafting and advocating for a legal definition of trafficking, as none currently exists in Singapore

→ better training on the issue for police, lawyers and judges

→ equal partnerships between civil society advocates and government agencies

The presentations were followed by a short film produced by ONE (SINGAPORE) Secretary Hani Mohamed showcasing child sex and human trafficking in Geylang, the popular red-light district here. In the film, a man logs onto the internet, makes a booking on a pornographic website then proceeds to meet a locked-up girl, all within a few hours. In a choked voice, Hani recollects the inspiration behind the film, a segment on The May Lee Show that described how pimps and traffickers threatened unwilling sex workers by caging them and ‘stuffing chillies in their private parts’.

Clearly, no one should be subjected to the brutality of trafficking, much less because of poverty. And every child should be able to enjoy a carefree and joyful childhood. Together, we can work together to manifest a better world. As well-travelled and educated Singaporeans, we can engage ourselves . . . by volunteering at a shelter, boycotting services offered by illegal syndicates, raising awareness among our friends and family so that no one blames the victims and campaigning for policies that will put an end to these evils.

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Beans, Eggs & Tinned Fish: Room to Grow Fights Malnutrition, One Bite at a Time

Nearly 180 migrant children – forced to leave their homes in Burma following political violence and climate disasters – are eating more nutritious meals thanks to support from ONE (SINGAPORE) and its partners.  However funding for these programmes expires in April and May, unless new partners step forward.

The children stay or live near one of three schools and boarding houses, which provide shelter and education to children who have been orphaned, abandoned or separated from their families by conflict. Malnutrition is a serious issue in these communities. A recent survey by Room to Grow indicates that more than 40 percent of migrant students in this area are showing signs of stunted growth due to poor diets.

ONE (SINGAPORE) funding is used to purchase and deliver yellow lentils and eggs, which provide protein in a rice and vegetable diet that is otherwise protein deficient. During the last quarter of 2011, an additional contribution by ONE (SINGAPORE) provided money for rice, vegetables, protein, condiments, tinned fish and multivitamins to be served to children at the Shwe The Zin boarding school.

Not everything goes as smoothly as we’d like. Due to problems with a supplier, the delivery of vitamins did not start in November as planned, but in January instead. ONE (SINGAPORE)’s support will still provide a five-month supply of the multi-vitamins.

Room to Grow meanwhile organised nutrition workshops for cooks and teachers from 21 schools, including the three supported by ONE (SINGAPORE). The course equipped them with proper knowledge on preparing healthy meals.

“The children like to eat yellow bean soup more than the other curries. We also cook egg curry twice a week and tinned fish three or four times a week,” says a teacher/cook at STZ. “If we don’t go to the market, we cook tinned fish and veggies that are from our school garden.”

“The children get energy by eating those curries,” adds the school’s garderner who is also the assistant cook. “And it is very nutritious for the children. We also adjust children’s meals with nutrition sources that we learned from the nutrition training. One good news is that we use less MSG in the curries.”

The young migrants staying in these boarding houses clearly appreciate the meals.

“I am a boy who overeats,” says a Grade 3 student at SAW who loves the meals at the centre. “Sometimes, I get in eating competitions with my friends. For breakfast, I usually have rice and egg but we eat beans and rice also every week. For dinner, I like to eat bean and meat curries. I want the donor to watch us when we are eating so they can see how much I eat.”

During the funding period, nearly 245 kilograms of yellow lentils, 1445 eggs and 57 kilograms of rice were delivered and consumed by the children.

Additional Resources

Voices from “Room to Grow”

ONE (SINGAPORE) and its partners support a nutrition programme run by the Room to Grow Foundation in schools and boarding houses near the Thai-Burmese border. Nearly 180 migrant children – forced to leave their homes in Burma following political violence and climate disasters and currently living in areas where malnutrition is common – have been eating better meals, with more protein and vitamins, thanks to this initiative. However funding expires in April and May, unless new partners step forward. Here are some of the ‘Room to Grow’ voices . . .

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“We’re Youth. We’re the upcoming Generation.”~ ACJC Stands Up

Students at Anglo Chinese Junior College have once again joined the global movement to Make Poverty History!

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ACJC’s Arts Council organised a two-day event to Stand Up and Take Action Against Poverty and the collective response from their classmates was:
“We feel it’s particularly important to Stand Up because we are Youths. We’re the upcoming generation and it’s important for us to instill the aim of eradicating poverty and of Stand Up in our generation.”

On 24-25 October, Arts Council members went around the school asking students why they felt it was necessary for them and others to stand up against poverty.  Students also set up a booth, which was prominently displayed at the school’s void deck, to raise awareness of the global poverty crisis.

Over 800 students participated. Many took photos with placards announcing why they are Standing Up.  Support for this movement has become a yearly tradition at the school since ACJC students first joined Stand Up in 2009.  This year, students were once again eager to show their support as they felt that the movement against poverty encapsulates many worthy causes.

“It’s great to know that so many of my fellow students are enthusiastic and supportive of the Stand Up movement,” says student organiser Yustynn Panicker, who adds that he was overwhelmed by the support of his peers.

A number of students requested that the the two-day event be extended so that even more of their classmates could speak out against poverty.  This is the third year running that ACJC students have joined the international Stand Up Take Action Against Poverty campaign.

“I love that our school is taking up such an important cause and I’m proud to Stand Up,” says Saira Roop, a student participant.

The ACJC Arts Council also sold ONE (SINGAPORE) Make Poverty History t-shirts and whitebands to raise funds for Care + Share, an organisation that provides milk to primary school students in Indian slums. The students raised S$ 424. ONE (SINGAPORE) is topping up the amount to S$800, which should purchase more than 4500 glasses of milk for the students.

ACJC Stand Ups for LOVE, the impoverished and more. . . . check out their photos!

Fighting Malnutrition & Encouraging Dreams among Climate Refugees

ONE (SINGAPORE) is teaming up with the Room to Grow Foundation for the second time to provide nutritional support to orphans and other ‘unparented’ migrant children along the Thai-Burmese border.

More than 180 students at the Shwe The Zin school near Mae Sot, Thailand will receive multivitamins three times a week for the duration of the school year, from 1 November 2011 to 31 March 2012. Twenty-five students who are boarding at the facility will also enjoy better meals with beans, eggs, vegetables and other forms of protein.

“Room to Grow does an excellent job fighting malnutrition and working with children from a marginalised community,” says ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow. “The children and their families have fled violence, conflicts and ‘natural’ disasters in Burma. Their home region is actually a frontline victim of climate change.”

Most of the students at the Shwe The Zin school come from families that fled Burma after Cyclone Nargis ripped through the Irawaddy Delta in 2008, leaving untold numbers of people homeless. They now live in villages in Thailand that do not offer educational opportunities for Burmese children.

Shwe The Zin is one of 60+ informal migrant schools in the Mae Sot community. Approximately 85 per cent of the school’s students live in surrounding plantation zones where their parents work as day laborers; other students live in factories where their parents are employed.

She The Zin has largely functioned without regular support from donors. The headmaster, a monk who was active during Burma’s 2007 Saffron Revolution, raises money to feed children boarding at the school by telling fortunes, doing astrological readings and selling herbal medicines. But these efforts are unfortunately not sufficient to provide the children with well-balanced meals. The Room to Grow Foundation — a charity that provides food and other necessities to children so “they can go to school with a full belly” — has been working with She The Zin since June 2011. R2G works to ensure that children can “go to sleep safely with a mind full of dreams they will one day be able to realize”.

“It has been inspiring to see the headmaster working hard to generate income for his school in order to pay for rent, utilities, school stationary and transport for children living far from school,” says R2G project coordinator Jennifer Jones. “It has also been difficult to see needs remain unmet. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with ONE(SINGAPORE) to ensure that the children living at the school receive regular meals and good nutrition.”

ONE (SINGAPORE)’s support for this programme was made possible by a donation from The Superseed Trust.

Additional Resources

  • Photos (Facebook | Flickr)
  • An update on ONE (SINGAPORE)’s first donation to Room to Grow
  • About Room to Grow
  • Radio broadcast about Room to Grow

ONE (S) urgent call to Commonwealth leaders to address health related MDGs

Tell the Commonwealth it’s time to take urgent actions to meet the MDGs!
5 Nov 2011

ONE (SINGAPORE) has joined some 400 civil society organisations and anti-poverty campaigners from across the globe in calling on leaders of the Commonwealth to take urgent actions to ensure that the health targets of the Millennium Development Goals are met for all two billion Commonwealth citizens by 2015.

While increased funding and attention to health issues have led to progress — including a significant reduction in child mortality, fewer deaths from malaria and greater access to life-saving drugs for people with HIV — much more work needs to be done in order to meet the MDGs.

Specifically, the Open Letter to the Commonwealth leaders calls on each country to take the following actions:

  1. Meet the minimum W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) standards, including providing at least 2.3 professional health workers for every 1000 people.
  2. Provide universal access to family planning services and ensure that all women are able to give birth with a skilled attendant.
  3. Scale up responses to tuberculosis and HIV
  4. Fully fund the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is working to eradicate the second disease in human history
  5. Ensure that all citizens have access to safe drinking water and effective hygiene by 2015.
  6. Improve food security and nutrition by increasing support to small scale agricultural producers, particularly women.

The open letter was organised by Make Poverty History Australia and signed by Oxfam, ONE (SINGAPORE) and Save the Children, among other organisations. MPH Australia planned to present it to the Australian government prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth at the end of October. Unfortunately, the Australian Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined requests for a face-to-face meeting. The Open Letter and an online petition will now be submitted to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

You can add your voice to the online petition through Friday 11 November.

The Commonwealth includes 54 nations, largely former British colonies in Africa and Asia. Singapore joined the Commonwealth in 1965 and the Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles provided the association with a set of ideals and shared values in 1971.

RESOURCES

“Don’t Cut Aid,” ONE (S) and int’l civil society tell Japan

As Japan prepared to host an international meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, ONE (SINGAPORE) joined with civil society groups in Japan and from across the world to call on the Japanese government to honour its international aid and development commitments.

Following the March earthquake and tsunami, Tokyo announced that it would cut overseas aid in order to concentrate on relief and reconstruction at home. These cuts – including a 100% reduction in funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – will cost lives and reverse gains made towards the achievement of the MDGs.

“The Japanese government must not abandon its commitments to eradicate poverty and disease in impoverished countries,” says Masaki Inaba of GCAP Japan. “My colleagues and I were shocked to see our government cut assistance to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Global poverty is a ‘silent tsunami’ which Japanese aid has been fighting. Pitting domestic reconstruction against overseas aid is the wrong approach. Japan must be do both.”

“Much as we understand the rationale behind these cuts, we urge the Japanese government not to abandon its commitments to eradicate poverty and disease in impoverished countries,” adds ONE (SINGAPORE) President Vernetta Lopez and co-founder Michael Switow in a letter to Japan’s Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Yoichi Suzuki. “By taking action now, Japan can save lives and set a prime example of commitment and solidarity for the protection of people’s lives and the elimination of disease, poverty and conflict.”

Read the full text of ONE (SINGAPORE)’s letter as well as a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan signed by the co-chairs of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

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