Open letter to Mr Tan Jee Say: any views regarding the five activists?

Written by Ng E-Jay
05 August 2011

Dear Mr Tan Jee Say,

Firstly, I would like to express my appreciation to you for submitting yourself for the Presidential Election and offering voters a good choice. Having a choice is essential for democracy. Although I do not know you personally, I believe you would make a great President.

Like many other voters, I also watched the recently concluded Parliamentary General Elections with great interest. I believe I speak for many others when I say that I was very excited to see a diverse slate of very credible opposition candidates contest in GE2011. Certainly I felt that your presence greatly strengthened SDP’s Holland-Bukit Timah team and gave the PAP a good run for their money. My only disappointment was that your team did not win (maybe next time!).

Many opposition members like Ms Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, and Ms Nicole Seah, have also openly declared their support for your Presidential bid. Talk about opposition unity! Even if not all of us agree who should get in, at least we can all agree on one thing — the PAP candidate must not get in!

Today when I visited the SDP website, I was saddened to learn that a few SDP members and other activists, namely, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee Siok Chin, Mr John Tan, Mr Seelan Palay and Mr Chong Kai Xiong, had been charged and convicted in Court on 19 October 2010 for participating in an assembly without permit on National Day 2008.

According to the most recent SDP article on the subject, the police had in fact made a statement earlier in the year 2008 declaring that a similar Tak Boleh Tahan outreach event conducted by the SDP in May was lawful.

This prompted High Court Judge Quentin Loh to openly ponder in Court during the appeal hearing if it is right for a person to be found guilty of committing an offence when law enforcers had in fact given him permission earlier to carry out that activity.

The Judge indicated that he needed time to think over the issue and reserved judgement on the appeal.

Mr Tan, having stood on the SDP platform and gained much prominence as a result, I would like to know your views on the matter. In particular:

(a) Do you agree or disagree with the conviction of SDP members and activists, and your reason why.

(b) What are your views on the current laws regarding public assembly? Do you think the laws are being correctly framed, and are they being correctly applied? Do you think there is ambiguity in the laws, or even potential for misuse and abuse?

If you are elected President of our nation, you would have the opportunity to work with the government (in this case, the ruling PAP) on important matters such as the appointment of key public servants and the use of the reserves.

But more than that, you would also have the chance to bring your own personality, charisma, and political convictions to the Office of the President, and become a potent political symbol for Singapore.

While you would not be able to compel the government to change the laws you don’t like or disagree with, at least you can make your views known and leave an impression on the citizens.

It is in this light that I am seeking your views on the conviction of the five SDP members and activists for participating in a peaceful activity to spread their political message. These five activists surely must be your closest colleagues during the GE2011 campaign.

Finally, I would like to wish you the very best of luck in obtaining the Certficate of Eligibility and fighting a good and clean Presidential race.

  1. Most Singaporeans are shallow and selfish to see the SDP’s fight for freedom of assembly as just a personal struggle.

    When this fight is finally won, everyone is happy to uterlise it such as gathering at the Speakers’ Corner “legally”. No credits to those who used to be persecuted and publicly ridiculed for their “stupidity”.

    Plenty of silent opportunists around!

  2. Dear Ejay,

    There are 2 points I would make:

    1. The case is still sub judice and it is illegal for anyone to comment.
    2. If a question is to be asked in connection to a presidential election, it should be asked to all presidential candidates eg What are your views on mandatory death penalty? What are you views on the appointment of judges.

    It is alright to ask a specific candidate and only him alone if all the other candidates have made their views known and he is the only one who had kept quiet.

    It is also fair play to ask a particular candidate a specific question if the issue had involved him personally eg about son doing NS.

  3. To be fair to Mr Tan Jee Say, me thinks that the letter should be addressed to all the President Election hopeful and let us gauge them by their replies.

  4. TJS – I want to hear the views of all other presidential hopefuls.
    TKL – I have done it at the Speakers’ Corner, legally.
    TCB – I was misled by the information given to me to believe so.
    TT – I don’t know what to say!

  5. If there’s any relevance to SDP’s Tak Boleh Tahan on the National Day of 9 August 2008, the Speakers’ Corner was officially allowed for protests on 1 Sept of the same year.

  6. Should a Elected Presidential Hopeful, not even selected yet by the PEC as a candidate for the Presidential Election, answer such a loaded question, then he must be damned stu….pid, is it not?

  7. Tan Jee Say is GOD
    Tan Jee Say is GOD
    Tan Jee Say is GOD
    Tan Jee Say is GOD
    Tan Jee Say is GOD
    Tan Jee Say is GOD