DPP fights to prevent questions on police discrimination

Singapore Democrats

Deputy Public Prosecutor Isaac Tan objected strenuously in court today to Dr Chee Soon Juan questioning the police witness on whether he was the one who made the final decision to reject the application for protest outside Parliament House on 15 Mar 08.

Mr Yeo Kok Leong, the officer in charge of the Compliance Management Unit resposnible for processing applications for processions and assemblies, took the stand and testified that he had written to Dr Chee in January this year to inform him of the permit rejection.

Under cross-examination, Dr Chee asked Station Inspector Yeo whether he had other officers working with him in his Unit.

Yeo: There are seven others working with me.

Chee: Are they all your subordinates?

Yeo: Yes.

Chee: Do you have any superiors in your Unit?

Yeo: Yes.

Many in the courtroom were confused. Mr Yeo says that he has seven fellow officers, all his subordinates and yet claims that he has a superior officer in that Unit.

Chee: Who are they and what are their designations?

DPP: What is the relevance of the question?

Chee: Your Honour, we need to establish who made the final decision to reject the permit.

The DPP objected to this and said that the decision-making process to reject the permit is irrelevant to the case. He stressed all that was important was that an application was made and rejected.

Dr Chee then contended that it was important to ascertain if the police had acted in a discriminatory manner. This goes to the heart of the Constitution where Article 12 states that “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”

Lawyer Mr Chia Ti Lik, who is also a defendant in the case, pointed out that the Judge had a duty to protect the Constitutional rights of the citizen. “One of the stars on the national emblem behind Your Honour represents equality,” Mr Chia pointed out, “we expect to be treated with equality as citizens.”

Another defendant Mr Jufrie Mahmood urged the Judge to allow the question adding that officer Yeo was just a civil servant: “How can a civil servant be allowed to override the Constitution?”

The back and forth continued for most of the day. Dr Chee rounded up the defence case by accusing the DPP of trying to undermine the Constitution. “What DPP Tan is saying is that the police cannot be questioned over the decisions they make. Clearly this is not what the Constitution says.

Article 12 says that there cannot be discrimination and in order to show that the police have unlawfully dsicriminated against us, we have to question Mr Yeo in order to prove our case. In this regard, the Constitution is crying out for transparency and accountability in the police’s decision-making process.”

The Judge wanted time to go through the arguments and reserved judgement until tomorrow.