The appeal for the Tak Boleh Tahan (cannot take it anymore) case will be heard in the High Court next Monday, 4 Oct 10. The case involved activists conducting a protest against the escalating prices of basic necessities in March 2008 outside Parliament House. The courts convicted the protesters for participating in an assembly and procession without a permit.
The defendants will argue that, in the first place, no permit can be obtained because the Ministry of Home Affairs has repeatedly stated that it will not authorise outdoor political activities. This contravenes Artilce 14 of the Constitution which guarantees citizens the right of freedom of speech, assembly and association.
During the trial, District Judge Chia Wee Kiat refused to allow the defendants to argue on this point. The defendants will submit that Judge Chia was wrong.
Also, the Consumers’ Association of Singapore (CASE) had held similar protests in 2007 and 2008 outside Parliament House. The police, however, did not take action against the group because they were organised by PAP MPs.
Again DJ Chia refused to allow the defendants to question the police witnesses on this point. Under Article 12 of the constitution, citizens are equal, and must be treated equally, under the law.
If it is an offence for TBT activists to protest outside Parliament House, it must also be an offence for CASE activitists to do the same. If the police arrest one group while allowing the other to proceed, they would have contravened the constitution which expressly forbids such discrimination.
The defendants will argue that the courts must look into the use of the civil service, in this case the police, by the PAP to promote its activities while disallowing those conducted by its opponents. Such blatant political manipulation must be checked by the courts.
Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong recently wrote that, “Good governance, in my lexicon, refers to the institutional rules of procedure and decision-making process of administrative bodies in implementing government policies in accordance with the law…”
Monday’s appeal will shine the spotlight on whether good governance is practiced in Singapore. The appeal will be heard in Hight Court 6D at 9:30 am.