Head of state
Tony Tan Keng Yam (replaced S.R. Nathan in September)
Head of government
Lee Hsien Loong
Death penalty
5.2 million
Life expectancy
81.1 years
Under-5 mortality
2.8 per 1,000
Adult literacy
94.7 per cent

Opposition candidates made small but unprecedented gains in the May parliamentary elections, winning six out of 87 seats. The government used restrictive laws to silence its critics, bringing criminal defamation cases against them and censoring the media. The death penalty, administrative detention and judicial caning were retained in law and practice.

Freedom of expression

The authorities continued to threaten and punish government critics, using sweeping criminal and civil defamation laws.

During the parliamentary election, the government eased some restrictions on the use of new media (such as blogs and Facebook) for political campaigning.

  • British author Alan Shadrake was imprisoned on 1 June, charged with contempt of court for his book which criticized the Singapore judiciary’s use of the death penalty. He was released and deported on 9 July.
  • Opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, declared bankrupt after a defamation lawsuit by the country’s two former prime ministers, was denied government permission, required as a bankrupt, to travel to Dubai to address an International Bar Association conference in October.
Top of page

Detention without trial

In September, the Home Minister rejected a call by former political detainees to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The government alleged that two ISA detainees, Jumari bin Kamdi and Samad bin Subari, were members of Jemaah Islamiyah, and that a third, Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad, was a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. All three were arrested in neighbouring countries and transferred to Singapore.

  • On 1 September, the authorities released one ISA detainee, Mohamed Khalim bin Jaffar, an alleged Jemaah Islamiyah member detained in 2002.
Top of page

Death penalty

At least four people were executed and five were sentenced to death. In early 2011, Singapore posted some of its death penalty statistics on the internet. According to the Singapore Prison Service, there were six judicial executions in 2008, five in 2009 and none in 2010. No official information was available on executions carried out in 2011.

  • Yong Vui Kong, a 23-year-old Malaysian national, exhausted his judicial appeals and remained on death row, pending a decision on clemency from the President. He was sentenced to death in 2009 for drug trafficking, a crime which carries a mandatory death sentence.
Top of page

Torture and other ill-treatment

Judicial caning was imposed for some 30 offences, including immigration violations.

  • Ho Beng Hing, aged 21, was convicted in September of running away from a reform centre for offenders. He was sentenced to three strokes of the cane, more than three years in prison and a fine.
Top of page

International scrutiny

In May, Singapore’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review. The government rejected recommendations to end its use of mandatory death sentences and impose a moratorium on the death penalty. Singapore supported some recommendations to protect the rights of migrant workers.

Top of page
World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas

Jump to a Country Report


The popular movements across North Africa resonated with people in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in countries with r ...


On 11 August 2011, Judge Patrícia Acioli was shot 21 times outside her home in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro state, Braz ...

Asia Pacific

As winds of political change blew in from the Middle East and North Africa, several governments in the Asia-Paci ...

Europe and Central Asia

Early one spring morning in a small village in Serbia, one of Europe’s biggest manhunts came to an ...

Middle East and North Africa

For the peoples and states of the Middle East and North Africa, 2011 was a truly momentous year. ...

Amnesty International on social networks