Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Alan Shadrake verdict affect Yale's plan to set up a college in Singapore?

Singaporean prosecutors on Wednesday wrapped up their case against Alan Shadrake, the 75-year-old British writer charged with contempt of court after publishing a book critical of the use of the death penalty in the city-state.

Judge Quentin Loh is expected to issue his verdict next week and, if found guilty, Shadrake could be facing a jail sentence as well as a fine.

The case has been followed closely by the small community of civil society activists in Singapore, as evidenced by the extensive reports on The Online Citizen, a popular citizen journalism website.

But international eyes are also on Singapore.

Yale University is in the final stages of discussions with the National University of Singapore to set up a "liberal arts college" in a state not exactly famed for its promotion of academic freedom.

A number of Yale academics have kicked up a stink about the deal, which they fear will boost the university's coffers at the expense of its reputation for independent academic inquiry.

In a prospectus designed to reassure weary dons, Yale's president and provost say they were "greatly concerned" by the arrest of Shadrake.

"This gave us reason to inquire even more deeply to understand how free faculty and students would be to express themselves in scholarly publications, in the classroom and on campus," they wrote.

Presumably, they will be eager to see what transpires next week before concluding their talks.


  1. Had Shadrake's book been written by an academic, would he still face charges? The answer is probably yes. So there shows the state of academic freedom in Singapore.

  2. Shadrake, who was tricked into coming to Singapore will not get off easy. He won't serve as much time as convicted terrost Balldev Naidu (co-founder of the Reform Party with buddy, Kenneth Jeyaretnam), but prison in Changi is harder than prison in the USA.