New York man calls Singapore a child sex destination

From ‘Unemployed man in New York attacks Singapore’, 29 June 2011, article in ST online

A MAN has been seen in New York City’s Time Square holding up a sign attacking Singapore and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Most of the words on the sign have been masked out, as they are libellous. Some commuters have sent in emails and pictures of the man to Stomp, the popular Singapore citizen journalism website.

They say that he has been doing it for some weeks now. One of them, identified only as Edwin, said that the man had apparently lost his job in Singapore, is unhappy, and had decided to try and paint a bad impression of Singapore to tourists at the famous Times Square.

Another reader of Stomp – JJLim – said he saw the man while on holiday in New York City. He said: ‘My wife and I were on holiday in New York when we saw this strange guy near Times Square, New York. Holding a self-written cardboard, he displayed unfounded accusations at our Prime Minister and our nation.’

(Stern disclaimer here: I happened to find the ‘uncensored’ version off the internet. It’s a matter of time before this makes the rounds, no matter how Stomp or ST try to mask it. I hereby state for the record that I do not endorse what’s written on the placard with regard to our dear leaders and do not encourage anyone viewing this to take it seriously either)

Ignoring the wild allegations against our PM and his wife running a sex trafficking ring, and the bits of irrelevant nonsense at the end, it’s worth noting that the US State Department has indeed ranked us a middling Tier 2 in terms of anti-trafficking efforts (does not fully meet standards on human trafficking but are making efforts to do so) recently. According to it is clearly stated as follows:

Singapore is a destination country for women and girls who are trafficked from Thailand, the Philippines, the People’s Republic of China, and Indonesia for commercial sexual and labor exploitation. Some women voluntarily migrate to Singapore to work as prostitutes but are later coerced into sexual servitude.

According to the tier rankings, Singapore is on par with the likes of Zambia, Cambodia, Pakistan and India, and beaten to the top spot by countries like Nigeria, Colombia and Taiwan. In 2010, we were languishing in the 2WL (Watch List) spot, sharing the rank with Thailand. Naturally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs isn’t happy even with the improvement, refuting this year’s report as ‘riddled with inaccuracies’, even hitting back that ‘the US has a more serious trafficking problem compared with Singapore” (US is ranked Tier 1, obviously). Seriously, what does the MFA know about US trafficking? We weren’t happy either in 2002 (Baffling report, 9 July 2002, Today), when then Senior Minister of State Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee asserted that prostitutes came to work here voluntarily, and were not ‘coerced or tricked’. I wonder how one comes to that conclusion without having a heart to heart talk with the victims themselves. How many sex workers do what they do ‘voluntarily’ anyway? According to the Philippine embassy in Singapore, ‘there were 212 cases of human trafficking involving Filipinas in 2007, up from 125 in 2006 and from 59 cases in 2005’ (Women lured into prostitution, 1 Sep 2008, AFP), and this excludes victims too afraid to come forward. So why are we acting like it doesn’t exist?

As for child trafficking, it was reported in 2004 that Singapore and Timor Leste were the last remaining countries to sign an international protocol pledging a commitment to reduce child prostitution and child sex tourism (Protocol against child sex remains unsigned, 3 Aug 2004, Today), with suggestions that this unwillingness to commit to the cause is a reluctance to admit that it’s even a problem, in spite of what clandestine trips to Batam for child sex by many local men imply. According to this ECPAT factsheet, Singapore is ‘primarily considered as a destination country’ when it comes to child trafficking, and has yet to adopt the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action circa 2007. It also cites case studies of traffickers caught for smuggling children into the city state, all of which provides some evidence that we are in fact, a child sex destination, if not child sex tourists encouraging the trafficking elsewhere (Batam). It’s ironic that we are willing to hang someone for smuggling a few grams of heroin, but not for trafficking an entire living person, sometimes even a child, who’s likely to be marred by this injustice forever.

Naturally, the MFA didn’t let out a squeak when it was reported that we’re fast becoming one of the top gambling capitals of the world. Gambling, of course, a profitable vice which ruins as many, if not more lives than sex trafficking, where sufferers are slave not to a pimp but an addiction. Yet we’re eerily silent on being labelled a ‘gambling’ hub, but throw a fuss when Americans call us a ‘sex’ hub too. We’ll never have enough hard reliable data on the problem nor agree on the definition of ‘trafficking’, but complaining about a poor ranking is not going to stop the suffering. And perhaps once we get over the shame of not being number one, it’s time to sue the pants off this guy. If the Government can sue the entire New York Times for libel, this one fellow is nothing. Meanwhile we continue to be bashed silly by our Western counterparts, Germans included. Give us a break, lah.


One Response

  1. If Lee Hsien Loong does not sue that man, can we take it that there is some truth to what that man is alleging?

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