Even before the trial against the 18 Tak Boleh Tahan protesters is concluded, another hearing will begin on Wednesday, 26 Nov 08. This one involves six defendants who were part of a protest during the World Bank-IMF Meeting in September 2006.
Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee Siok Chin, Mr Jeffrey George, Mr Charles Tan, and Mr Teoh Tian Jing were initially charged for participating in a procession without a permit from Speakers’ Corner to Parliament House.
However the charge was suddenly amended at the last minute (yesterday) to “did attempt to participate” in a procession.
The police had blocked the protesters at Hong Lim Park which resulted in a three-day stand off. The Government had also banned all groups from conducting protests during the Meeting which sparked off widespread criticism of the Singapore Government for not respecting freedom of speech and assembly.
The World Bank also chastised the Government for reneging on its promise to allow 28 accredited NGO representatives to attend the Meeting. Then WB president Paul Wolfowitz angrily raised the issue with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying “Enormous damage has been done…A lot of that damage has been to Singapore and it’s self-inflicted.”
Mr Lee backed-down and decided to allow 22 of the representatives in. But the activists boycotted the Meeting and refused to attend.
You are charged that you on 16 September 2006 at about 12 noon, at Speakers’ Corner, Hong Lim Park, North Canal Road, Singapore, which is a public place…did attempt to participate in procession from Speakers Corner to Parliament House intended to demonstrate opposition to the actions of the Government, when you ought reasonably to have known that the intended procession would have been held without a permit under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) (Assemblies and Processions) Rules (Cap 184), and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under rule 5 of the said rules read with section 511 of the Penal Code (Cap 224).
Rule 5 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) (Assemblies and Processions) Rules –
Any person who participates in any assembly or procession in any public road, public place or place of public resort shall, if he knows or ought reasonably to have known that the assembly or procession is held without a permit, or in contravention of any term or condition of a permit, be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Section 511 of the Penal Code –
Whoever attempts to commit an offence punishable by this Code or by any other written law with imprisonment or fine or with a combination of such punishments, or attempts to cause such an offence to be committed, and in such attempt does any act towards the commission of the offence, shall, where no express provision is made by this Code or by such other written law, as the case may be, for the punishment of such attempt, be punished with such punishment as is provided for the offence: Provided that any term of imprisonment imposed shall not exceed one-half of the longest term provided for the offence.