SDP leaders, Chee Soon Juan, John Tan and Chee Siok Chin, are back in prison to serve a one-week sentence for taking part in an assembly without permit in 2008 during the Tak Boleh Tahan protest outside Parliament House.
District Judge Chia Wee Kiat had found the defendants guilty despite the fact that the defence had pointed out that pro-PAP groups had conducted similar activities in the same area.
The defendants have appealed the convictions which are pending.
It is important that these matters be brought before the High Court on appeal as the Judiciary needs to make a ruling on these arbitrary decisions taken by the Executive.
In this matter, there is incontrovertible evidence that Consumers’ Association of Singapore (CASE), led by PAP MPs, had also conducted protests and marches outside Parliament House.
The police, however, treated these activities very differently from the Tak Boleh Tahan one. Under the constitution such discrimination is prohibited.
But despite the defendants repeatedly highlighting this point, DJ Chia ruled it irrelevant.
The defendants have also pointed out time and again the PAP Government’s declaration that it will not grant permits for outdoor political activities. Such a ban is unconstitutional.
Yet it continues to put up a show requiring citizens to apply for such permits and prosecutes when they don’t possess one.
The defendants will raise these issues during the appeals in the High Court. The higher levels of the Judiciary need to deal with such matters that is causing much consternation with the public.
The abuse of the law and law enforcement agencies by the PAP to crush legitimate political activity and for its own political interests must be addressed by the High Court.
Judges must take a serious look into the matter which runs to the very heart of our constitution and provide sound reasoning for dismissing the appeals if they do so.
Meanwhile, SDP Chairman Gandhi Ambalam has also begun a six day jail term for an illegal procession from Speakers’ Corner to Queenstown Remand Prison on 16 Sept 2007. The march was to mark the first anniversary of a standoff at the Corner during the World Bank-IMF meetings in Singapore in 2006. District Judge John Ng initially acquitted Mr Ambalam together with three other activists after a lengthy trial. But it was reversed on appeal by the AG’s Chambers.