28 September 2007
Mr Philip Jeyaretnam
Law Society of Singapore
I congratulate the Law Society on its annual run tomorrow (see poster on the left). At the same time, I hope you will reflect on one issue while you’re out there keeping fit.
Have you given thought to the fact that while the Law Society is given permission to stage this public event, other groups of citizens have been denied that same right?
In 2001, I had applied for the Open Singapore Centre, of which Mr J B Jeyaretnam was the Chairman, to run a marathon to call for the abolition of the Internal Security Act. The application was, of course, turned down.
More recently, a group of gays converged by the Singapore River for a jog. As I understand it, they were stopped by the police and told that what they were doing constituted an offence.
And yet you are doing tomorrow exactly what we were trying to do previously, that is, organise a run.
As legal body, can you perhaps proffer an explanation as to why your activity is allowed while ours were banned?
These are not the only examples. There have been numerous occasions when opposition parties and non-establishment groups have applied for permits to hold public activities only to find them all rejected.
On the other hand groups belonging to the PAP and its affiliates regularly conduct such activities. In 2005, for instance, some women PAP MPs were allowed to stage a walk-a-thon to commemorate International Women’s Day.
Not long ago, a group of Singaporeans gathered in a public place and conducted what seemed like a very public event with placards and raised fists, an act the Government decries and bans. Of course, this was no ordinary group. It was led, as you can see from the photograph (left), by at least one PAP MP.
Based on what constitutional provision or statute does the Government make its decision to allow, for example, the Law Society to conduct its run but not the Open Singapore Centre? If there is a legal basis, can you please refer me to it? If not, would you consider such decisions discriminatory and arbitrary, and therefore antithetical to the concept of the rule of law?
Of course, I know that you know the reason behind the two sets of laws. What I am despondent about is that the Law Society maintains an excruciating silence on the matter.
If the flagship professional body of lawyers in Singapore cannot ensure that the law is applied equally to all citizens regardless of their creed and beliefs, in other words that justice is served, then what good is it to society?
For the sake of the public, I hope you will reply to my letter. Otherwise I look forward to your response when we meet during the International Bar Association’s Rule of Law Symposium in October.
I wish you an enjoyable run.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party