Dr Chee Soon Juan’s appeals on four convictions for speaking in public without a permit will be heard in the High Court on Monday, 8 Nov 10. Dr Chee was fined $5,000 and sentenced to five-weeks’ imprisonment in default for each offence.
The incidents took place in the weeks leading up to the general elections in 2006 where he was out with his colleagues selling the party’s newspaper The New Democrat.
Dr Chee had asked for the cases to be consolidated and hearings to be done in one trial. The AG’s Chambers (AGC) insisted, however, on proceeding with one charge at a time, hence, the dragging of the matter to 2010.
There were altogether eight charges that the AGC has taken out against Dr Chee. One was completed in 2006 where he was convicted and served a five-week jail sentence that year.
The prosecution dropped three other charges but did not explain why.
The remaining four charges, for which the SDP Secretary-General was convicted, were heard between 2006 and 2010.
Dr Chee has repeatedly argued that the charge of him not having a permit is a red herring. The Ministry for Home Affairs and police have stated that no permit will be issued for outdoor political events. Such a blanket ban on public speaking and assembly clearly violated the Constitution and is therefore legally invaild.
Citing legal authorities in common law jurisdictions, he drew the judges’ attention to the decision of the House of Lords in the UK that “a man commits no crime if he infringes an invalid [policy or administrative act] and has the right to challenge the validity of the [policy] before any court in which he is being tried.”
The Government has shown complete disregard for the fundamental rights of free speech of Singaporeans as guaranteed in the constitution. Yet, District Judges Eddy Tham, Jasvender Kaur, Thian Yee sze and Jill Tan all refused to hear these constitutional arguments.
The appeals will be heard in Court No 4C.