DemocracyNews: Newsletter of the World Movement for Democracy
On May 1 (Labor Day), 2002, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) leaders Dr. Chee Soon Juan and Gandhi Ambalam were arrested by the police for planning to organize a rally for workers’ rights without a government license. SDP’s application for a license was rejected by the Public Entertainment Licensing Unit citing “law and order problems.” The two activists were arrested when Chee refused to leave the premises after the police threatened to arrest them. Critics have recently been accusing Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party of using judicial proceedings and limitations on public speech to suppress political opposition. Recent information indicates that the condition in a prison has a negative impact on his health condition.
On October 8, 2002, a Singaporean Court sentenced Chee and Ambalam to five-and four-week imprisonments, respectively, for violating the Public Entertainment and Meeting Act by organizing the Labor Day rally.
SDP is a major opposition political party in Singapore, which, together with the other opposition parties, holds only two of the 84 elected seats in Parliament. In addition to serving as a leader of the SDP, Chee is a founding member of the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA), which organized an Asia regional workshop at the Second Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November 2000.
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