André Dao

The Future of Human Rights

This article was originally published in Issue 2 of the New Philosopher. Buy a copy here.

It has been 65 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, the world has witnessed a proliferation of international human rights treaties and organisations. The language of human rights has become the dominant moral language of our time. Yet that has not stopped the atrocities, from Rwanda to Syria, nor uplifted the wretched of the earth. Have human rights failed? Read the rest of this entry »


Softly, Softly

This article originally appeared in The Monthly. Subscribe here.

Almost three years ago, Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) approached Tey Tsun Hang, a Malaysian-born law associate professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), about becoming a “listening-post” –meaning that he would provide information about goings-on in the law faculty. In return, Tey, then 39, would meet the ISD’s boss: someone who could “protect” Tey in the future. Left unsaid was that the ISD, Singapore’s secret police, who hold the power to indefinitely detain without charge or trial those suspected of jeopardising national security or public order, could have easily revoked Tey’s permanent residency status. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Surveillance Society


This article was originally published in the New Philosopher. Get a copy here.

In the perfect prison, I am bathed in light. I don’t languish in the dark – I am put to work. There are no wardens, at least, none that I can see. But I am watched all the time. I know that I’m being watched, and in the beginning, I live within myself, where their eyes can’t follow. Despite these noble intentions, I start to slip up; I make a phone call to the outside, I start writing in a diary. Eventually, I don’t care – I can’t care – about the watchers. Eventually, it’s hardly like being in prison at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Out of Our Bodies

This piece was originally published in Going Down Swinging 33. You can buy a copy here.

It’s nearly midnight and we’ve been talking for nearly three hours before I think to ask him about religion. He shrugs before replying,

“Further away if anything. I think Mum’s been drawn to it, but not me.”

I nod and that’s it. For the rest of the night we talk about the funeral arrangements, medication, writing, mourning, living overseas. We don’t talk about the soul, or the afterlife or even really death itself at all – just the little things before and after, like song choices and Facebook notifications. At one point I notice the painting of the Last Supper on the wall opposite me but religion doesn’t come up again.

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