SDP files case against MOM in High Court to fight for what little democratic space we have left in S’pore

The SDP has filed an Originating Summons against Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo in the High Court.

The legal action follows the rejection by Ms Teo of the SDP’s application for her to cancel the Correction Directions she issued under POFMA for three of our posts.

The court has set 16 January 2020, Thursday, for the hearing starting at 10 am. The SDP will not be engaging counsel but will, instead, argue the matter ourselves.   

The SDP had set out its case in a detailed submission to the Minister, including statistical analyses of the MOM’s own data, explaining why she is wrong to issue the orders.

We also indicated that MOM had cited different sets of data as well as accused us of making statement that we did not make in order to support its case.

Ms Teo arrogantly dismissed our application saying that it “does not provide sufficient grounds for the cancellation of the CDs” and refused, or was unable, to back-up her allegations in her rejection of the our submissions.

We are therefore left with no choice but to pursue the matter in the High Court. We look forward to Ms Teo explaining her decision on the witness stand.

Another important reason for the SDP’s legal action is that Ms Teo’s order is an abuse of the law.

If her POFMA order succeeds, then the last holdout where important national issues are openly and robustly debated on the Internet in Singapore would be irreparably closed. 

The employment of Ministerial decree to accuse the opposition of stating falsehoods when the statements are in fact true cannot be condoned.

In a political debate, the application of facts and logical reason to persuade the public must not be sacrificed for the whims and opinions of Ministers.     

By her action, Ms Teo has plunged a dagger into the heart Singapore’s political system already plagued by anti-democratic rules that keep the PAP entrenched in power.  

The PAP must not be allowed to be the accuser, prosecutor and judge on any political matter, let alone one like the foreign-worker issue which has been the source of much frustration and anger among Singaporeans.

If the ruling party gets away with using POFMA in such a slipshod and partisan manner, then every critic will be at its mercy.

The SDP would rather focus on the coming election campaign. But we have deliberated the matter at length and we undertake this legal action because, as difficult as it may be, we must stand up for our fellow Singaporeans and fight for what little space we have left in Singapore to uphold our democratic freedoms.

While the court of public opinion is on our side, we must nevertheless attempt to also succeed in the court of law.

This is not just the fight of the SDP but of every opposition party, every organisation and, indeed, every Singaporean who values our Pledge “to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality.”

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