High Court to rule on political freedom in Singapore

Singapore Democrats

High Court Judge Woo Bih Li will deliver his verdict tomorrow in the appeals of several SDP leaders and associates. The cases the Judge will decide on are those regarding: The distribution of flyers in September 2006 at Raffles City, the WB-IMF protest in September 2006 at Speaker’s Corner, and the protest outside Parliament House in March 2008.

During the appeal hearings in November 2010 Dr Chee Soon Juan repeatedly called on Justice Woo to protect the political freedoms of Singaporeans guaranteed under the Constitution. (See here and here)


Singapore remains one of the few places in the world whose government bans peaceful public assembly and free speech. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the police have repeatedly stated that they will not approve applications for outdoor political activities. The Singapore Democrats have argued that this is ultra vires the Constitution.

In addition, the Public Order Act introduced in 2009 bans even one person from conducting a protest.

But the law applies only to groups that are not affiliated to the PAP. It allows affililiated associations such as the Consumer’s Association of Singapore (CASE) and the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) to conduct their activities freely while disallowing other groups the same rights. Such discrimination is prohibited under Article 12 of the Constitution.

These arguments have fallen on deaf ears. All the judges in the High Court and Subordinate Courts have ignored them and have repeatedly ruled in favour of the Executive.

These decisions have crippled the functioning of the opposition and civil society, and allowed the PAP unbridled control of Singapore.

Without the ability to assemble peacefully, the PAP will not be under any pressure to hold free and fair elections. Without free elections and with the total control of the media, the PAP has ‘won’ every election since it came to power in 1959.

This is why the PAP has remained unaccountable and not found it necessary to listen to the wishes of the people. It has continued to implement policies in its own interests instead of in the interests of the people.

Involved in these appeals are: Gandhi Ambalam, Chee Siok Chin, Chee Soon Juan, Chong Kai Xiong, Jaslyn Go, Seelan Palay, John Tan, Shaff’ie and Jufrie Mahmood. The appellants have all served their sentences.

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