Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is Human Rights taboo in Singapore's legal scholarship and education?

The Online Citizen, Oct 25, 2012 (source)

Oct 25, 2012 was to see the opening of the 'Handa Centre for Global Governance and Human Rights' at the Law School of Singapore Management University (SMU).
However, the opening has been cancelled and the centre closed, the government's objection to the centre's focus on human rights being the speculated reason.

 SMU pulls plug on human rights centre
Today Online, Nov 3, 2012 (source)
SINGAPORE - The Singapore Management University (SMU) has pulled the plug on a research centre focused on global governance and human rights only days before its launch.

The Handa Centre for Global Governance and Human Rights had been slated to be launched on Oct 25. A member of the SMU law faculty had already been identified to helm the centre and staff was being recruited. The launch was abruptly cancelled and no reason was given.

Responding to TODAY's queries, an SMU spokesperson said: "After careful re-assessment, the university has decided not to proceed with the organisation of a centre. Going forward, SMU remains committed and will continue with the study and research at the current level and scope."

The centre was named after Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa who is known for his active involvement in social causes around the world. He is believed to be the main person who funded the setting up of the centre, donating a few million dollars.

Dr Handa, who is the founder and chairman of Tokyo-based non-profit organisation Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), has also provided funding for Curtin University's Centre for Human Rights Education.

Dr Handa could not be reached for comment yesterday. But he was quoted by website Singapolitics as saying that, after consulting SMU, the WSD leadership "has decided not to proceed with the organisation of a new centre". He added that WSD "remains supportive of SMU and will continue to consider future projects in Singapore".

Sources told TODAY that the setting up of the centre would have raised many red flags, not least its name and the fact that it was largely funded by a foreigner.

"Human rights remain a topic that has to be carefully managed in Singapore. The Centre would lack credibility if it critiques the human rights situation in other countries but not Singapore's." a source said.

"We are not quite ready yet for foreign funding, to be matched by a matching grant from the Government, on human rights research. It is a prudent move by SMU but one wonders how things went as far as they did before the plug was pulled. There were just too many red flags. The embarrassment could have been avoided."

TODAY sent queries to the Ministry of Education (MOE) asking when it came to know of the centre and whether the Government had stepped in on the matter.

In response, an MOE spokesperson would only say: "We were informed by the SMU that it had decided not to go ahead with the launch of the centre."
Dr Haruhisa Handa
Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University (here)
Dr Haruhisa Handa
Dr Haruhisa Handa Chair in Human Rights Education has been endowed to Curtin University's Faculty of Humanities by the renowned Japanese philanthropist and chairman of World Mate, Dr Haruhisa Handa, through his organization.
Dr Haruhisa Handa (also known as Toshu Fukami) was born in Japan in 1951 and graduated from Doshisha University (Economics). He pursued post-graduate studies in voice at Japan's prestigious Musashino Academia Musicae.
Dr Handa took lay ordination and studied Tendai Buddhist chanting under Reverend Denchu Amano, Daisojo of the Tendai sect. He received the Buddhist name "Toshu." He also received the lay practitioner name (koji) of "Daigaku" at the Rinzai zen temple of Tofukuji in Kyoto.
Deeply involved in social causes, and with his profound knowledge in Shinto and various other faiths, Dr Handa serves as president of the International Shinto Foundation (ISF), a NGO with United Nations ECOSOC status , chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture(IFAC), and vice-chairman of the Sihanouk Hospital, an emergency intensive care hospital servicing the poor in Cambodia.
Dr Handa is honorary patron of the International Blind Golf Association and honorary chairman of the Japanese Blind Golf Association. He has also served as the chairman of the Perth International Arts Festival 50th anniversary and has been a major benefactor to the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Opera Australia through IFAC.
In recognition of his years of philanthropic work, Dr Handa has been granted several honorary titles in Cambodia and has been appointed Advisor to the Prime Minister and Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia with the rank of Minister.
In recognition of his artistic and cultural accomplishments, he has been appointed visiting professor at China's Zhejiang University. In recognition of his generous benefactions to Western Australian universities, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by both Curtin University and Edith Cowan University.
Dr Handa operates more than ten companies in Japan and abroad, which are engaged in a variety of activities ranging from management consulting to sponsorship of symposia.
Dr Haruhisa Handa (also known as Toshu Fukami) graduated from Doshisha University in Kyoto with a degree in Economics. He was a postgraduate student at Musashino Academia Musicae, where he studied voice theory, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Edith Cowan University in Australia.
Dr Handa heads B C Consulting, Tachibana Publishing, Japan Pegasus Tour and Misuzu Corporation.
Dr Handa also constructed a free emergency hospital in Cambodia, for which he was honoured with the decoration of Commander of the Royal Order of Sahametrai, Grand Officer of the Royal Order of Sowathara, and Commander and Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Monisaraphon.
He is co-founder and Chancellor of the University of Cambodia, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Fukuoka, and also advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. companies in Japan and worldwide.
His artistic and cultural accomplishments have led to his appointment as Tenured Visiting Professor in Japanese Studies at Zhejiang University and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Tsinghua University in China, and Visiting Professor in Management at Wolverhampton University in the United Kingdom. He is also an Honorary Fellow of SOAS.
Dr Handa is known as an authority in the field of Japanese arts, culture and spirituality and has written more than two hundred books on subjects related to modern civilization, religion and economics, and has been awarded the Medal with Dark Blue Ribbon of Japan.
Haruhisa Handa is founder of new Shintoist sect
Worldmate (formerly Cosmomate)
Encyclopedia of Shinto (source)
A Shinto-derived new religion founded by Fukami Seizan (aka Fukami Tōshū) (1951-). Fukami, whose real name is Handa Haruhisa, was born in Nishinomiya in Hyogo Prefecture and is a graduate of Dōshisha University. From his teenage years he was influenced influenced by the thought of Sekai Kyūseikyō and then of Ōmoto, and he became strongly inclined towards Shinto, but it was from around 1985 that he embarked on concrete religious activities. In 1978 he set up a private preparatory school (juku) known as the Misuzu Gakuen in Nishi-Ogikubo in Tokyo, and this became a pillar of anexpanding organization, while he also brought together devotees with the help of Tachibana Kaoru and other confederates. He also set up a young people's association under the name Seizan Juku (Seizan academy). 

       Overall, Fukami's group has had relatively weak organizational cohesion and has largely focused on proselytizing activities designed to readily attract younger people. For example, it has marketed various pendants, rings, and other so-called "religious goods." The movement also carries out practices for members aimed at redeeming bad spirits—practices known as kyūrei ("spirit-salvation") acts—while it proclaims that a special aspect of its teachings is that they incorporate secret rituals connected to ancient Jewish spiritual laws. The movement's shrine, Kōtai Shrine, is located in Izu, and the group has the status of a registered religious corporation. Fukami has also written numerous books, such as Koi no shugorei (Guardian Spirit of Love) and Kiseki no kaiun(Cultivating Miraculous Fortune).

       Headquarters: Tokyo
       Nominal membership: approximately 30, 000 (No source given)
The activities of World Mate were started in 1984 by Toshu Fukami (1951-). Fukami was previously known as Seizan Fukami until 1995. The group has also changed its name to ‘Cosmo Mate’, then to ‘Powerful Cosmo Mate’ and finally it became ‘World Mate’ (Worldmate) in 1994.
Fukami was born as Haruhisa Handa in Hyogo Prefecture, west Japan, and when he was at school he was affiliated with a Japanese new religion, Sekai Kyusei Kyo, where his mother was a member. He later joined another Japanese NRM, Omoto, when he was reading Economics at Doshisha University, Kyoto.

After graduating from university, he continued to pursue his religious interests while working for a construction firm in Tokyo as a member of the sales department. In 1977 Fukami met a female psychic, Kaoru Tachibana (1934-), and left the company to pursue his spiritual life with her, becoming a lodger at Tachibana’s house along with a few others. He then created his own firm and cramming schools in 1978.  

He started lecturing in 1984 in his newly established religious movement, which was a Shinto study group. In 1985, with his new name, Seizan, he published a religious book which sold well. The group, now called World Mate, is categorized as a Shinto new religion and has about 20,000 - 30,000 members (World Mate claimed 41,000 members in 2003). The teaching includes the salvation of spirits, in the sense of the comforting of ancestors and other spirits that are negatively affecting the lives of humans on earth; this is believed to be the key to a better life. 

World Mate is active in charity and welfare movements; it created a hospital in Cambodia (1996), offers scholarships to support foreign students and aids various research centres overseas, particularly in Australia, China and the UK, to support their research into Shinto and other Japanese religions. As a result, Fukami has been appointed to be a number of honorary positions, including an Honorary Fellowship at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London.


Haruhisa Handa's legal tangles: tax evasion and sexual harassment

(Source, Google translation from Japanese)  
Haruhisa Handa and World Mate sued  a Japanese magazine in Tokyo District Court for defamation in publishing the following assertions:
Dr Haruhisa Handa (a.k.a. Toshu Fukami), is the leader of a new religion "World Mate" which has 26,000 followers and which was assessed a \3.3 billion deficiency by the Tokyo National Tax Bureau for hiding its income of more than \6 billion.
Toshu was sued by his female followers for sexual harassment. His way of spreading his religion is to tell the follower that he or she is possessed by a black dragon and will be cursed by an evil spirit unless it is removed and receive \50,000 to \300,000 as his fees for removal of the evil spirit. Some followers who are husband and wife paid as much as \10 million. Another follower paid \100 million in her desperate hope to cure the disease of her child, by selling her house and borrowing money. It is just the same trick as the one used by Hogen Fukunaga who was arrested by the Prosecutor's Office for his "Sole Diagnosis".
The court's judgment (as follows) on Feb 24, 2003 is that the assertions in question are true.
C. Next, the truthfulness of the published or premised facts is considered. 

(A) First, the court considers the truthfulness of the fact that Plaintiff World Mate was assessed a deficiency of \ 3.3 billion by the Tokyo National Tax Bureau for its hiding of over \ 6 billion income. 

 According to evidence, it is recognized that it was Cosmo World Co., Ltd. Rather than Plaintiff World Mate, an unincorporated religious body, that was assessed the \ 3.3 billion deficiency for concealment of more than \ 6 billion income. 

However, another evidence shows that the Tokyo National Tax Bureau (Ogikubo Tax Office) assessed the deficiency after determining that Plaintiff World Mate is part of Cosmo World Co., Ltd. And Cosmo World should have filed its tax return for the income of Plaintiff World Mate as the income of the former. Evidence, the by-laws of Plaintiff World Mate and the tenor of the entire pleadings show that Plaintiff World Mate and Cosmo World have their directors in common and are in inseparable relationship with each other with Plaintiff World Mate as an unincorporated religious body and Cosmo World as an entity to conduct legal affairs, both functioning and acting as a single body by complementing each other and recognized as such by society. 

In view of the aforementioned facts, "World Mate" in the Article is interpreted as meaning a social existence comprising Cosmo World as its integral part by the standards of the normal care and interpretation of general readers. Thus, said published facts are recognized to be true as long as the fact that Cosmo World was assessed the deficiency for its concealment of income is true. 
(B) Next, the court considers the truthfulness of the fact that Plaintiff Handa was sued by his female followers for sexual harassment. 

Evidence and the tenor of the entire pleadings show that Plaintiff Handa was sued for damages on the ground of sexual harassment by his plural female followers and that in Case No. (Wa) 889/1993 of the Yokohama District Court, two female followers each claimed damages of \ 5.85 million against Plaintiff Handa and that Plaintiff Handa made ​​an in-court settlement with the followers after three hearings and without the testimonies of himself and the followers by paying \ 5.5 million to each of the followers as a settlement money in exchange for her promise not to disclose the the settlement to a third party. 

In view of these facts, the lawsuit filed by the female followers against Plaintiff Handa on the ground of sexual harassment is sufficient to raise a suspicion that Handa did sexually harass them. Thus, the aforementioned published fact is true and there is no unlawfulness in publishing the fact. 

(C) Evidence and the tenor of the entire pleadings show that Plaintiff World Mate collected a large amount of money from followers as its fees for removal of evil spirits by taking advantage of the difficulties on the part of the followers. 

(D) It is undisputed among the parties that Plaintiff Handa is the leader of Plaintiff World Mate and the Plaintiffs admit themselves that Plaintiff Handa has a strong influence over Plaintiff Tachibana Publishing as its Representative Director and President. 

(E) As discussed above, each of the published facts in the First Part of the Article and the material part of the premised fact in the Second Part of the Article are true. 


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