Chee to Judge:Protect freedom of speech in Singapore

November 12, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

Dr Chee Soon Juan said in court on Tuesday that all the legal contortions made by the Government cannot hide the fact that the PAP controls the political system with complete disregard for the rule of law and the Constitution. But it seems that the Courts cannot see this.

The SDP secretary-general said this in his submissions during his appeal on his four convictions for speaking in public without a permit in the weeks before the 2006 general elections. The appeal hearing took place before High Court Judge Steven Chong (pictured) ealier this week. 
Below are excerpts of Dr Chee’s submissions.

 

This case is about the freedom of speech in Singapore. The charge that I have made a speech in public without a permit is but a red herring. I have repeatedly explained that the Government has openly stated that it will not authorise public political activities.

Is freedom of speech important? Of course, it is. It is what civilises us human beings. It is what protects us from the rich and powerful. Most important, it is guaranteed to us Singaporeans in our constitution.

Without freedom of speech we remain at the mercy of those who rule over us. Without freedom of speech the poor will continue to live off the crumbs thrown from the table of the few who wallow in wanton abundance. Without freedom of speech society’s ills cannot be treated.

This hearing can throw up the finest legalese and the most intricate of points of law to convict me. But all these cannot hide one simple but stark fact: Singapore is run by a political system designed by the PAP, of the PAP and for the PAP. The reality is that the PAP controls the political system and comes up with laws and policies that allow it to conduct its political activities freely while preventing its opponents from doing the same.

The public sees this. The unfairness assaults the common sense of every common person. But it seems that the courts cannot see this.

The anger at the injustice is being discussed by the public, especially on the Internet, and with it the clamour for fairness and justice is growing.

The PAP has taken away the people’s right to free speech. I am asking this court to restore it for us. I am asking this court to intervene on the side of justice, on behalf of the people. But it seems that every time I ask for bread, I am given stone.

Your Honour, you have the opportunity to right many wrongs. The Chief Justice of Canada, Madam Beverly McLachlin, wrote in December 2005 that

Judges must resist…making ‘law’ out of what cannot be just, and hence, in a profound sense, cannot be legal. To do otherwise is to allow injustice to hide itself under the cloak of false legality.

On the other hand, you may convict me. But I am comforted that I stand before the judgment of a higher court, the court of History.

I do not live for the here and now. My words will speak louder in the future than presently. I rest assured I will be vindicated. It is with this knowledge that I remain an unrepentant defender of the people’s rights and an advocate of their freedom.

The four charges carry a total of $20,000 in fine or 20 weeks’ imprisonment in default. The Judge reserved judgment.