By the Singapore Democrats
17 May 2009
The police have declared that no licenses will be given for outdoor political events. This is no secret. However, they have repeatedly avoided stating this stand in court. Until now, that is.
Licensing officer Mr Yeo Kok Leong said in court last week that the police would not issue a permit if they received an application from a political party.
He was testifying in the continuing trial of five SDP members and activists (Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Ms Chee Siok Chin, Mr Chong Kai Xiong, Mr John Tan, and Mr Charles Tan who is away) who are charged with taking part in an illegal procession on 16 Sep 07 to mark the anniversary of the protest at the Speakers’ Corner during the WB-IMF annual meetings in Singapore in 2006.
Under cross-examination by Mr John Tan, Station Inspector Yeo said that even if the defendants had applied for a permit for the procession, it would not have been granted.
SEE ALSO: Changes proposed to Films Act and enhanced police powers by Ng E-Jay and Shameful piece of legislation by the Singapore Democrats.
Written by Ng E-Jay
24 March 2009
Article 14(1) of the Singapore Constitution states that every Singapore citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, and the right to form associations. Even though Article 14(2) states that those rights may be restricted by Parliament as it deems necessary in the interest of security or public order, it is understood that the spirit and meaning of this article is to enshrine in our Constitution a recognition that human beings have certain rights, and that these right should be respected.
Monday 23 March 2009 was a another sad day in our nation’s political history, as the ruling party took steps to further curtail the rights of Singapore citizens to freedom of peaceful assembly in the name of preserving national security.
As it stands, the authorities have repeatedly used the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act (Chapter 257) as well as the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Chapter 184) Section 5 — Assemblies and Processions to prosecute activists and politicians who have conducted public activities or campaigns of a political nature.
For instance, in June 2006, SDP leaders Dr Chee Soon Juan and Gandhi Ambalam, as well as activist Yap Keng Ho, were charged with eight counts of speaking in public without a permit during the run-up to the 2006 General Elections. They had been canvassing support from the ground for the SDP and selling the party newsletter in places like Jurong West, Woodlands and Yishun — activities which all political parties carry out during election periods, including the PAP.
Written by Ng E-Jay
07 Jan 2009
At the opening of the legal year in the Supreme Court last week, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, Attorney-General Walter Woon and Law Minister K Shanmugam launched an all-out offensive against civil rights activists campaigning for democratic change in Singapore as well as foreign media which have criticized our judiciary and the rule of law here.
In particular, CJ Chan insinuated that activists in Singapore have attempted to undermine public confidence in the courts by making “false and scandalous allegations“, and AG Woon said that “that there appears to be a campaign by certain people both here and abroad to attack the integrity and independence of the Singapore courts“, that “it is not permissible to undermine the courts and judiciary for political or ideological reasons“, that these “appear to be part of a broader campaign to force a change in our laws by extra-legal means“. (ST link)
K Shanmugam, which is also the Second Minister for Home Affairs, noted that “in the last few years, there have been people who did not like certain laws and the way they showed it was to go out there and protest“, but he countered that “the way to change the law is to get elected politically and argue in Parliament why the law should be changed“. Denouncing civil rights activists who have sought to highlight the unfairness of certain laws and how the Constitution has been violated by selective application of these laws, Shanmugam remarked that “… an aggressive small group of people think they can change those laws by going out there and protesting and the courts have repeatedly emphasized they will apply the law as it is.”
The remarks and comments made by the Chief Justice, Attorney-General, and Law Minister are consistent with the way the mainstream media has portrayed civil rights activists working for democratic change in Singapore as “radicals” who prefer to break the law and attract attention to themselves rather than work within the law and effect change by winning elections and arguing their case in Parliament — see for example this ST article by Peh Shing Huei entitled “The partitioning of the opposition”, my response to Peh’s article, and Dr Chee Soon Juan’s response to Peh’s article. This time round however, the rhetoric has been notched up to a new all-time high.