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FOCUS December 1998 Volume 14


To Be Free: Stories From Asia's Struggle Against Oppression
by Chee Soon Juan, with an Introduction by Martin Lee
(Monash Asia Institute, Paperback, 392 pages, A$24.95)

TO BE FREE tells the stories of some of Asia's most significant political activists and political prisoners. These include Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, South Korea's President Kim Dae Jung, the Philippines' assassinated presidential aspirant Benigno Aquino, Indonesia's internationally acclaimed author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Taiwan's parliamentarian Shih Ming-teh and the 'grandfather of Singapore's political prisoners', Chia Thye Poh.

Each account explores the corruption of power and how governments can prey on their citizens. Many of these stories are disturbing, exposing in graphic detail the indignities and injustices which prevail throughout Asia.

These dissidents fought no less fearlessly than Nelson Mandela; in fact, some of these battles have been even more bitter. But because theirs was an Asian to Asian struggle, their stories have not triggered the raw emotion, and together with it the publicity, that comes in a White-oppress-Black struggle.

Despite the unremitting bleakness, human courage shines through in this book. Each protagonist overcomes challenges, some by succeeding in spite of government oppression, others by simply refusing to be oppressed. In particular, this book refutes the idea that 'Asian values' limit human rights. Rather, these stories show that the fight against oppression is universal.

As the Secretary General of the Singapore Democratic Party, Chee Soon Juan has himself been persecuted by the Singaporean government. This book is, then, a testament to the author's own fight against oppression.

For more information and to order, please see the book's website at:

POP! A Training Manual for Community Organizers-Facilitators

This manual is a collection of "tricks of the trade" which have been tried and being used by many committed organizers in different Asian countries. It contains games, exercises and energizers to add more creativity and life to training sessions with the community. This manual comes with a complimentary 20-minute video featuring a collection of Action Songs and their lyrics. Place your orders with: Pusat KOMAS, No. 14-1, Jalan 16/38D, Taman Sri Sinar, Segambut, 51200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tel/fax (603) 635-66-02, e-mail:

Discrimination in Japan from the Perspective of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - Counter-Report to the Fourth Periodic Report by the Government of Japan

This is a publication on the comments by representatives of non-governmental organizations and human rights experts in Japan on the Fourth Periodic Report by the Japanese government submitted to the United Nations' treaty monitoring body for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Human Rights Committee) in June 1997. It highlights some of the issues which the government report failed to adequately discuss. This counter-report was published in September 1998. For further information contact: The Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute, 1-6-12, Kuboyoshi, Naniwa-Ku, Osaka City, Japan; tel. (816) 568 0905, fax (816) 568 0714; e-mail: