Human rights activist Mr Seelan Palay is serving a 12-day prison term for taking part in the Tak Boleh Tahan (Malay for “cannot take it”) protest on 15 Mar 08 outside Parliament House.
Mr Seelan was convicted together with 8 other activists by District Judge Chia Wee Kiat in Mar 2010. All of them have appealed the conviction. The appeal hearing date has yet to be fixed. Some of those convicted, including Ms Chee Siok Chin and Dr Chee Soon Juan, have served their two-week sentences.
Mr Seelan, who produced One Nation Under Lee (ONUL), is facing another charge of participating in an illegal assembly on 9 Aug 08 together with 10 other activists (see here).
The record-breaking video (which has nearly 100,000 views) has awakened many a young Singaporean. In fact, a few of the SDP’s Young Democrats joined the party after watching ONUL.
The activist is also behind much of the campaigning against the mandatory death penalty. In fact, he has taken with him Once A Jolly Hangman written by Mr Alan Shadrake into prison to read. The book is for all intents and purposes banned in Singapore and Mr Shadrake himself is being charged with contempt of court.
Mr Seelan was taken to court this morning in prison garb and shackled. When the Judge, Mr Kessler Soh, began the session, Mr Seelan said: “Before we begin, I’d like to clarify that I’m in the dock in shackles, cuffs and chains not because I have committed any crime. I am here in this state because of another unjust law administered on behalf of the PAP Government.”
Mr Seelan’s conviction involved the case where the Government-affiliated Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) had also held a protest in the same vicinity and had carried out similar activities as the Tak Boleh Tahan (TBT) protest.
CASE had staged a protest two years in a row including protesting with placards and marching outside Parliament House. No action was taken against its organisers and participants.
Such blatant double standards can only happen in an autocratic state where there is one set of rules for the rulers and another one for the rest.
The TBT defendants raised the issue of illegal discrimination and exercise of police powers in bad faith when they allowed the CASE protest to proceed but clamped down on the TBT protest.
The TBT activists cited Article 12 of the Constitution which states that all citizens must be treated equally under the law.
However, DJ Chia Wee Kiat did not allow the defendants to raise the matter during the hearing and proceeded to convict the defendants.