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26 Nov 07
Dr Chee Soon Juan will be back in court tomorrow to face charges for speaking in public with a permit. Mr Yap Keng Ho is the other defendant.
The two men are charged for speaking at the Woodlands MRT Station on 8 Apr 06 during the elections period. This is the second of a total of eight charges.
In Nov last year Dr Chee, Mr Yap and Mr Gandhi Ambalam were convicted of a similar charge for speaking at the Yishun town centre, also during the election period. The three served prison sentences of five weeks, ten days and three weeks respectively.
In all the eight incidents Dr Chee was selling the SDP’s newspaper, The New Democrat, with party members and supporters in the run up to the general elections held in May 06.
The defendants will make the case, as they did in the previous trial, that the charges are politically motivated and that the police, as with cases involving political issues, are acting at the behest of the PAP Government.
The courts did not want to consider this argument even though the defendants have evidence that the police allow PAP and its affiliated organisations to conduct political activities in public while prohibiting opposition and NGO groups to do likewise.
Also street vendors often verbally advertise their wares to potential buyers. And yet when the SDP does the same, it is prosecuted. The only difference is that Dr Chee is advertising and selling The New Democrat which focuses on political issues.
But the rule of law and the Constitution categorically states that every citizen must be treated equally under the law. To prosecute the Dr Chee and Mr Yap for acts that other citizens widely and openly conduct is discrimination
Worse, the discrimination is against the PAP’s opponents – and during the elections to boot where parties are trying to reach out to the electorate.
Without the ability to effectively communicate with supporters during election time especially when the media is owned and run by the PAP Government, how are opposition parties going to succeed at the polls?
The courts have, however, repeatedly ignored such arguments.
The hearing will take place at Subordinate Court No. 15 at 9:30 am tomorrow.