Why “Democracy Now”? – Report of the 1st anniversary of WB-IMF protest

Team sang "We shall overcome" before taking off at the Speakers' Corner.On 16 September 2007, five democracy advocates marked the first anniversary of a 72-hour protest when the police formed a human prison around the protesters last year.

The group consisting of SDP and non-SDP members wearing T-shirts calling for “Democracy Now!” and “Freedom Now!” marched the route that it had planned to take a year ago. We were joined by supporters and political activists along who walked the entire route which ended at Queesnstown Prison where Dr Chee is imprisoned.

Along the way, at a busy traffic junction, we were accosted by a group of police who made a feeble attempt to physically block us from moving ahead. The police warning was rattled off by a familiar policeman who identified himself as DSP Tan. After thanking him for the warning, we continued to walk on.

Team recited National Pledge in front of the Parliament House.It is no coincidence that those of us who took part in last year’s December 10 Freedom Walk were hastily issued police letters to warn us instead of prosecuting us for participating in a procession without permit.

These police letters dated 14 September 2007, are usually mailed to us were slipped these letters in our mailboxes or into our homes on the same day to warn those of us who were intending to commemorate the September 16 anniversary.

It is lamentable that the Singapore Police Force which is supposed to protect the people is plotting to persecute democracy advocates. Who or what are the police defending when they intimidate, charge and arrest activists who come together peacefully to voice their concerns? The excuse that public protests will degenerate into chaos and violence is the same tiresome rhetoric that the PAP Government uses to justify its despotic stance.

Team handed their letter to PM Lee at Istana.But why are the Singapore Democrats so fervent and adamant in our call for democracy? What has democracy to do with how we live our lives?

It is precisely because there is no democracy that callous regulations and policies such as the compulsory annuities, raise of GST, bus-fares, ERP fares etc. continue to plague Singaporeans. To add insult to injury, while we dig deeper into our pockets to survive, the ministers increased their already bloated salaries even further.

Democracy and “bread and butter” issues are not mutually exclusive. In order to speak up fearlessly about how governmental decisions affect our very lives, our basic rights and freedoms of expression must be protected. It is only in democratic societies that governments listen to and respond to the needs of the people.

Police gave warnings as procession is "illegal".Night vigil with Dr Chee's family outside the Queenstown Prison.

The SDP and democracy activists will continue in our work to bring democracy, freedom and justice to our country.

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