Ambassador Chan Heng Chee
Embassy of Singapore
3501 International Place, NW
Washington DC 20008
United States of America
Dear Ambassador Chan,
We write to express our grave concern at the treatment of Dr. Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), currently incarcerated in the Queenstown Remand Prison. We are also concerned at the continuing incarceration of two of his SDP colleagues, Mr. Gandhi Ambalam and Mr. Yap Keng Ho.
We are particularly disturbed to hear of the sudden deterioration in his medical condition. Although Dr. Chee is not on a hunger strike, the prison authorities interpret his failure to eat as such, and continue to punish him by depriving him of family visits and “yard-time”.
We urge Dr. Chee’s immediate and unconditional release to facilitate appropriate medical treatment. Precedent persuades us that Dr. Chee will not receive such treatment in prison. We have in mind recent unfortunate cases in which political prisoners subsequently revealed that they had been deliberately misdiagnosed and received inappropriate medication.
You will be aware that on November 23, 2006, the Subordinate Court sentenced Dr. Chee to a five-week imprisonment for speaking in public without a valid permit. Two of his SDP colleagues, Mr. Gandhi Ambalam and Mr. Yap Keng Ho, were also sentenced to shorter terms for speaking to passing citizens while selling the party newspaper on the street on April 22, 2006.
We consider it unacceptable that Dr. Chee will also have to attend trial on December 21 for attempting to leave Singapore without a permit (to attend the World Movement for Democracy’s Fourth Assembly in Istanbul), as well as another pre-trial on January 4 for a suit brought against his family. These actions and charges give the appearance of orchestrated efforts to restrain Dr. Chee and his SDP colleagues in their efforts to advance democracy in Singapore.
We trust that you will give this matter your urgent attention and we await your reply.
National Endowment for Democracy
1101 15th St, N.W., Suite 800
Washington, DC 2005
U. S. A.