10th Anniversary of Think Centre

Posted by under Features on 7 August 2009

Extending beyond domestic issues, we have worked with NGOs from the region to discuss and facilitate cooperation within ASEAN.

This is the 10th anniversary of our organization's existence since 1999 when we were first registered as a business (RCB) on 16 Jul. The business registration was later converted into one for a society (under the Registry of Society) on 20 Oct 2001.

To date Think Centre is the only political organization in Singapore that has been critically examining issues related to political development, democracy, rule of law, human rights and civil society. We continue to welcome new members to join us in the research, publication, and awareness building activities for the various causes we feel passionate about.

Domestically, we have partnered local, regional and international NGOs to petition for better working conditions for migrant workers and have successfully organized official meetings between organizations from local civil society with the authorities to share our concerns. Our past records and experiences have made us a focal point for consultation for many regional and international NGOs working on issues as diverse as human rights reform, migrant workers issues, development of democracy and the rule of law.

Of note is the successful petitioning of the government for a space (Speaker's Corner) where Singaporeans can freely speak their mind without fear of arrest. The consistent pressure to push a wedge into the once impenetrable public sphere has allowed other civil society organizations to make use of the common area to create awareness for their issues. As the pioneer, constantly pushing at the frontier to open up the public sphere, we have changed the system from one based on licensing where permits were required for organizing each event to one based on notification.

Extending beyond domestic issues, we have worked with NGOs from the region to discuss and facilitate cooperation within ASEAN. ASEAN as a grouping makes decision that has great impact on our lives as the political, economic, social and cultural spaces of the South East Asian region coalesce. Think Centre is working to help create awareness of the work being done regionally and is plugged into the process of change by recommending and surfacing views from the grassroots level up to inform on policy matters beyond the economic which the various governments have been focusing on. It is also working to help Singaporeans internalize a sense of community by conducting seminars on the association.

Think Centre has also kept periodic meetings with local opposition parties and regional NGOs to help highlight issues of concern to Singaporeans and members of ASEAN. The most significant of which was the organization of 3rd ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC3) from 1-3 November 2007 as common platform for collective action on ASEAN advocacy where more then 200 activists from close to 70 organizations in ASEAN came together to discuss issues that affected members of the region and to coordinate efforts to make the lives of the people living in ASEAN a better one.

It has also kick started an initiative called the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers which took more than two years of "bottom-up" national consultations with major stakeholders to draft the Civil Society ASEAN Framework Instrument on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers. The proposal was delivered to the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW) for their consideration in the drafting of the ASEAN Framework Instrument. As a result better working and living conditions for all migrant workers would be ensured with the resulting legally binding instrument. This is another example of how Think Centre facilitates the creation of a people-oriented ASEAN. By promoting more active bottom-up participation of civil society prior to the drafting of legislation, it is hoped that a greater sense of ownership and belonging could be engendered.

For further information:

Sinapan Samydorai
President - Think Centre
Email: thinkcentre@hotmail.com

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