Integrity of Human Rights Watch at stake

I am disappointed that Human Rights Watch said it was unavailable to give oral evidence or views during a Select Committee hearing on deliberate online falsehoods in Singapore (US-based NGO fails to show up for hearing; March 24).

This was despite Singapore's offer to fund the costs for a representative of the United States-based non-governmental organisation to fly in, or to arrange for video conferencing.

Select Committee chair Charles Chong noted during the hearing that Human Rights Watch was initially willing to come, but later said its staff member could not make it after being told he would be asked about its report.

If Human Rights Watch has no confidence to defend its published report, it should just be upfront and transparent about it. It should admit that it has made a mistake in publishing inaccurate or untrue statements and apologise.

This is the right approach.

In this way, the NGO will be able to preserve its integrity and still be respected.

Unfortunately, it has given everyone the impression that only Human Rights Watch has the right to criticise others, and its targets do not even have the opportunity to defend or clarify themselves on the criticisms made. Perhaps Human Rights Watch should be renamed to Only I Have The Right.

No one will accept such a bullying approach from the organisation.

Sim Lim Onn

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2018, with the headline 'Integrity of Human Rights Watch at stake'. Print Edition | Subscribe