Falungong members in court for illegal assembly

Associated Press

Two Falun Gong members on trial in Singapore, supporters throng court
Dozens of Falun Gong followers thronged a Singapore court Wednesday in support of two members of the spiritual group who faced charges of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs without licenses.

The group, banned in China as an “evil cult,” is legal in the Southeast Asian city-state. But members must comply with Singapore’s strict rules, which require a police permit for outdoor gatherings of more than four people.

Falun Gong members worldwide often protest Chinese authorities’ alleged mistreatment of fellow practitioners. In Singapore, small groups frequently gather near a popular downtown walkway to meditate and hand leaflets to passers-by.

Two women, Cheng Lu Jin, 37, and Ng Chye Huay, 39, face charges of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs without a license, the Straits Times newspaper reported Wednesday. Their nationalities were not given.

Seng Cheng Joo told Singapore’s Subordinate Court on Tuesday that she called police on Feb. 23, 2003 when she saw 10 Falun Gong members, all women in yellow T-shirts, the newspaper said.

“Some were meditating and some were handing out flyers in front of a poster with the Chinese characters of Falun Gong on it,” the report quoted Seng as saying.

The trial started Tuesday and continued Wednesday, with the public gallery packed with Falun Gong supporters. At least 40 more members waited outside.

A person convicted of participating in an unlawful assembly can be fined up to 1,000 Singapore dollars (US$611), according to online material from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Handing out VCDs without a license is punishable by a fine of S$10,000 to S$40,000, (US$6,111 to US$24,460) and a jail term of up to one year, the attorney general’s Web site said.