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Today is the World Consumer Rights Day. The Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) is organising a special event tomorrow (16 March 2008, Sunday) to “promote the basic rights of all consumers”, and to “raise the profile of the consumer rights movement in Singapore”.
True to the cause championed by CASE, the SDP also organised a peaceful “Tak Boleh Tahan!” protest today, similarly fashioned to last year’s CASE event during which crowd wearing specially designed T-shirts congregated in front the Parliament House, holding various placards in their hands, then walked around the Singapore River, etc.
There were about 20 odd people participating in today’s event, wearing the red T-shirts with the words “Tak Boleh Tahan” in white. In addition, there was a contingent of children holding red balloons, walking side by side with the grown-ups or being pushed along in their baby strollers.
In front of the Parliament House, the group also highlighted the recent price hikes by displaying an array of consumer goods which included a loaf of “no-frilled” bread, a pack of rice, a tin of Milo, instant noodles, biscuits, condense milk and cooking oil, etc.
The atmosphere was pleasant and joyful until the police showed up to gave the protesters their warnings, and asked them to disperse or risked being arrested.
Apparently uneasy with those images and messages prominently featured on the placards, the police tried to seize them from the protesters. As the group proceeded towards the Funan Centre, plain-clothes police surrounded the protesters and started making their arrests.
While the protesters locked their arms together to safeguard their properties, the police picked the first protester, forcefully pulled him out from the tightly inter-locked group, and swiftly dragged him to one of the police vans parked nearby. Then they went back to work on their 2nd victim. Making their arrests one by one, it took the police several rounds of spectacles in front of a big crowd of onlookers gathered around to finish their most important job of the day.
Finally, about 15 protesters, including Ms Chee Siok Chin were bundled into the police vans and sent to the Cantonment Police headquarters. Later on, when some family members of protesters went to the police HQ and tried to find out more about the list of people getting arrested and their charges, the police refused to give any information.
Meanwhile, lawyer M Ravi is representing the group when the protesters continued to be held up for holding a peaceful protest until they were abruptly stopped by the police by force.