Dr Chee Soon Juan was at Raffles CityShopping Centre to sell his book Democratically Speaking yesterdaywhen security personnel stopped him because they said that the areawas private property belonging to CapitaLand.$CUT$
Dr Chee was surprised as he, togetherwith other SDP activists, was charged for assembly in a public placewithout a permit in 2006 at the same spot.
He told the security guards that if thearea was indeed private property, he would stop his sales but heneeded to be sure.
He then called the police to ask themto help verify if the area was private property. When thepolice arrived, Dr Chee explained the situation and asked them toascertain the veracity of Raffles City personnel’s claim.
After a few minutes, theofficer-in-charge said that one of his men had seen the documentationand confirmed that the area belonged to Raffles City. Dr Chee thentold the officer that he took the police’s word for it andstopped the sales.
This raises a question: On 10 September2006, he and other activists were distributing flyers at the samelocation.
They were stopped by the police and subsequently chargedfor illegal assembly in a public place (see the Charge sheet below). They were found guilty and jailed for 1 week in default of a fine of $1,000 each.
How could people be charged for public assembly without a permit in a public place at the same location if the areais private property?
Raffles City says it is private property, the Attorney-General’s Chambers says it is public property. If Raffles City is right, the AGC has a lot of explaining to do.
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You are charged that you, on the10th day of September 2006 at about 12:15 pm, in the vicinity ofRaffles City Shopping Centre, North Bridge Road, Singapore, which isa public place, together with 5 persons did participate in anassembly intended to demonstrate opposition to the actions of theGovernment, which assembly you ought reasonably to have known washeld without a permit under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order& Nuisance)(Assemblies & Processions) Rules, and you havethereby committed an offence punishable under Rule 5 of the saidRules.
Senior Investigation Officer
29 December 2008
Rule 5 of theMiscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance)(Assemblies &Processions) Rules: Any person who participates in any assembly orprocession in any public road, public place or place of publicresort shall, if he knows or ought reasonably to have known that theassembly or processions is held without a permit, or in contraventionof any term or condition of a permit, be guilty of an offence andshall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.