World Movement Participant Chee Soon Juan of Singapore Found Guilty of Attempting to Leave the Country.
On February 26, Dr. Chee Soon Juan was found guilty of attempting to leave Singapore without permission. He was fined 4,000 Singapore dollars or 3 weeks imprisonment. Dr. Chee has indicated that he will appeal the decision, and the judge has given a stay pending the outcome of the appeal.
Dr. Chee, the Singapore Democratic Party secretary-general, sought to attend the World Movement for Democracy’s Fourth Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey in April 2006. As a bankrupt individual, due to official cases lodged against him for criticizing heads of government, Dr. Chee has to apply for permission whenever he wishes to leave the country.
However, to date, 11 of his requests for permission to attend various democracy conferences and workshops have been rejected. When he went to the airport on April 1, 2006, Dr. Chee was stopped by immigration officials and his passport was seized. He was subsequently charged.
In December 2006, Dr. Chee was released from prison after serving more than three weeks of a five-week sentence imposed when he refused to pay a fine of 5,000 Singapore dollars. He was fined for speaking in public without a police permit during party activities ahead of May 2006 general elections, which were won overwhelmingly by the conservative PAP, which has ruled since 1959.
Dr. Chee faces seven other charges for speaking in public without a permit and a civil lawsuit related to his political activities.
In October last year, the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy issued a statement condemning the actions of the Singapore Government against Dr. Chee for attempting to leave the country to attend the World Movement’s Fourth Assembly in Istanbul.
The Steering Committee also called upon the Singapore Government to drop all charges against him, to return his confiscated passport, to restore his right to travel freely abroad, and to permit him to exercise his democratic rights both within and outside the country of Singapore.