Wong Kan Seng says no to rally against price hikes but SDP to proceed

Mr Wong Kan Seng has rejected the appeal of the Singapore Democrats to hold a rally outside Parliament House this Saturday, 15 Mar 08.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in its reply (which came only three weeks after the appeal was first made):

“Parliament House is a high security installation. The Police accordingly rejected the SDP’s application. Outdoor protest activities organised by political parties are not allowed given its potential for public disorder and disruption to community life.”

Despite this rejection, the SDP will go ahead with the planned rally. This is because the Minister is abusing his powers yet again. The reasons he has given is, to put it mildly, disingenuous, and it must be challenged:

a. Parliament House is a high security installation

If this is the case, then why was CASE allowed to conduct its march on 18 Mar 2007 when thousands of people assembled, carried placards, and made speeches at the exact spot that the SDP has applied to do?

How is it that Parliament House is a high security installation only when it comes to the SDP and not CASE when both events are open to the public?

b. Outdoor protest activities by political parties are not allowed

Who is Mr Wong trying to kid? In the first place, other activities organised by non-political parties such as People Like Us, Sg Human Rights, Burmese nationals, and international students, etc. have also been disallowed. His answer demonstrates his complete disrespect for the people’s intelligence.

Secondly, where in the Constitution does it say that the Executive can ban a certain class of groups, much less opposition political parties, from exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly as laid out in Article 14?

Article 12(1) distinctly states that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law. The Government cannot show favour to CASE and discriminate against the SDP.

c. There is potential for public disorder

If this is the case, then Mr Wong should also ban all football matches, New Years’ Eve countdown celebrations, and Swing Singapore parties because the potential for public disorder is always there.

In fact, there were many incidents that male revellers were groping and molesting women during such celebrations. Fights and gang violence occur at many gatherings that are open to the public. Why not ban all these as well?

Even PAP meet-the-people sessions should be disallowed because members of the public can cause disorder and disruption. It was at such a session where PAP MP, Seng Han Thong, was assaulted by one of his constituents.

And why is it that there is not a potential for public disorder in CASE’s event

Singaporeans can see through Mr Wong Kan Seng’s lame excuses in rejecting SDP’s application. It is plain that the Minister is abusing his powers to suppress any demonstration of public anger at the ruling party.

Such abuse must be stopped.

In view of this the Singapore Democrats will proceed with the planned rally this Saturday at 2 pm at the concourse between Parliament House and the Singapore River.

The protest is targeted at the recent spate of price hikes that have caused inflation to rise to an unprecedented high. This has severely affected the middle- and lower-income Singaporeans.

Much of the problem stems from the Government’s economic policies. And yet, the Ministers think nothing of increasing their own salaries to $3 million a year – up by 85 percent in one year!

We ask all Singaporeans who cannot stomach PAP’s bullying anymore to join us this Saturday. More details will be announced over the next few days.

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