When will our Judiciary protect this?

Singapore Democrats

It was a victory of historic proportions in Malaysia, yet it barely registered a ripple in the news here in Singapore. Last week, a Malaysian court ruled against the Barisan Nasional (National Front) government's ban against Bersih (Clean) and its rallies.

High Court Judge Rohana Yusof quashed Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s order made in 2011 that outlawed Bersih. (See here)

"The decision to declare Bersih unlawful was made without taking into account some relevant facts or by taking into account irrelevant facts,” the Judge said. "The decision to outlaw Bersih impinges on the rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and should not be taken in just a lackadaisical manner.”

Bersih
, a coalition of NGOs, has staged massive annual public rallies in Kuala Lumpur demanding free and fair elections and freedom of expression in Malaysia.

In 2011, the ruling coalition outlawed the group and declared its activities illegal using force to disperse the protesters who had gathered in the city centre calling for political change. Bersih organisers and the protesters defied the ban and gathered in the tens of thousands in May this year.

Bersih
organisers challenged the ruling in court and, last week, the High Court ruled in favour of organisation.

The situation up north contrasts starkly with the abject situation here in Singapore where our Judiciary refuses to uphold the rights of Singaporeans. Time and again, SDP activitists have demonstrated that the PAP Government issues a blanket ban on public assemblies in Singapore which transgresses Article 14 of the Constitution.

In addition, while it stops protests by opposition organisations, the Government allows assemblies and processions conducted by pro-PAP groups. Such evidence has not managed to change the minds of Singapore's judges.

Even when the Government introduces the Public Order Act which prohibits even a singular person from protesting, the Judiciary remains silent.

In the meantime, the freedoms of speech, association and peaceful assembly guaranteed to Singapore under the Constitution has been repeatedly trampled upon by the ruling PAP.

In a system that abides by the rule of law, the Judiciary acts as a bulwark against the overreach of the Executive ensuring that no public official or organisation crushes the fundamental rights of the citizenry.

Unfortunately in Singapore, it has become the accepted norm that public protest is illegal and bad. The island is mute even under the most provocative of PAP actions such as bringing in foreigners to replace citizens.

Unfortunately too, this will be the undoing of Singapore as a fearful citizenry quietly watches as dissidents are repeatedly prosecuted whenever they stand up to protest.

When will we learn?

Singapore Thursday, 02 August 2012 SDP Print

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