This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.
The Subordinate Courts have directed that lawyers representing those charged for the 15 Mar Tak Boleh Tahan! protest appear for the pre-trial conference set for 27 Aug 08.
Lawyer Chia Ti Lik had represented the 18 charged for assembly and procession without a permit in chambers this afternoon. He informed the judge that a few lawyers have agreed to act for the activists but will need to be briefed by the defendants. He asked for a three-week adjournment.
But the judge ordered that parties return next Wednesday with their lawyers to sort out preliminary matters for the trial. It s unprecedented for the courts to handle so many defendants in one trial, some of whom face more than one case.
This hearing will continue to put the issue of freedom of speech and assembly on the front burner. The activists have maintained that the courts have a duty to protect the fundamental freedoms of citizens if the rule of law is to be observed and practiced.
Protests are not a luxury that can be dispensed with when the Government feels like it. It is right that citizens are born with that may not be removed by the ruling party except in extreme circumstances such as in a time of war or when national security is threatened, and even then for stipulated periods only.
In present circumstances, the Government has bestowed upon itself the power to outlaw peaceful assemblies under the ruse of maintaining public order. Such an act is itself unlawful and unconstitutional.
In a separate matter, Mr M Ravi has been interned at the Institute for Mental Health after a District Court Judge agreed with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to hold the lawyer for examination.
The Singapore Democrats have stated that Mr Ravi needs medical attention and his situation must not be subjected to political manipulation by the PAP or its detractors. The SDP will monitor Mr Ravi’s status and will keep our readers updated as and when information becomes available.