Witness might not have called police if SDP event “had a roof”

Singapore Democrats
27 Nov 07

The trial involving Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Yap Keng Ho, in which the two men are being charged for speaking in public without a permit, commenced today.

The first witness, Mr Loh Zhen Hong, for the prosecution took the stand. He testified that he had called the police when he saw “SDP members giving out speeches and newspapers” at the Woodlands MRT station on 8 Apr 06.

A police corporal at that time who was off-duty (he left the force in February this year), Mr Loh informed his colleagues to check if the SDP had a permit.

Upon cross-examination, the witness said that he “felt somebody was breaking the law” although he couldn’t remember which law.

“What I know is that to have a speech, speakers and banners, you need a permit.”

He testified that it was unlikely that the SDP’s activity had a permit.

Asked by Mr Yap, who is acting-in-person, if he knew that the period was close to elections in 2006, Mr Loh replied yes but said that he had never been to an election rally.

Asked if he had come across other people promoting and selling products (such as credit cards) along Singapore streets (such as Orchard Road), the witness replied in the affirmative.

Question: Did you think they had a permit?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Why?

Answer: Because they have a booth. SDP’s did not have a booth, no roof.

Question: So if there’s a roof, you think that it’s legal?

Answer: Yes.

Mr Loh added that he might not have called his police colleagues if the SDP had a roof at their event.

Dr Chee, who is also acting-in-person, then asked the witness that if he saw other people talking and selling products without a roof, would he call the police?

Mr Loh said yes.

Dr Chee then asked the witness if he had seen hawkers and street vendors selling and verbally promoting their ware “without roofs”, to which Mr Loh said no.

Dr Chee offered to show the witness video footage of such people. But the judge, Ms Jasvinder Kaur, said that it was not necessary.

Dr Chee argued that it was important for the defence to show that the police were selectively prosecuting the SDP when it was commonplace for Singaporeans to similarly make a verbal pitch for the items they were selling. (Think salesman demonstrating the Magi-Mop or Non-Stic Pan or Miracle Wax.)

Why should the SDP be singled out when hawkers do it all the time, Dr Chee queried?

The judge insisted that the video could not be shown as it was irrelevant to the case.

The second witness, Senior Investigating Officer Charles Soon, then took the stand during which a recording of the defendants at the MRT station was played in court.

The hearing was then adjourned and will resume tomorrow at Subordinate Court 7

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