Courts bankrupt activists

August 17, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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The courts today declared Ms Chee Siok Chin, Ms Monica Kumar and Mr Yap Keng. Attorney-General Chao Hick Tin had applied for a bankruptcy order against the three human rights defenders.

The activists had taken legal action against the Minister for Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police for sending in the riot squad to clear a four-person silent protest they had conducted in 2005. (See here)

At the bankruptcy hearing today the AG gave a whole new meaning to the word “concession”. Ms Mavis Chionh, from the AG’s Chambers (AGC), offered to rescind the bankruptcy application if the respondents paid $1,600 immediately (the amount owed for the months of July and August) and then to pay off the rest of $16,729 within six weeks.

She added that the AG’C “will not accept any proposals for instalments.”

This was no concession. It was a hard-line decision to ensure that the democracy activists were made bankrupts as quickly as possible.

Ms Kumar told the Assistant Registrar who presided over the hearing that the respondents are being persecuted by the State for exercising their rights.

Mr. Yap insisted that this entire bankruptcy hearing is politically motivated and that the State should have borne the cost of a hearing on citizens’ constitutional rights.

Ms Chee told the judge that she had nothing more to say and that she did not want to participate in the matter any longer. With that, all the respondents rejected the AG’s “offer”.

The fact that the State has bankrupted these activists shows the level of civil and political repression that persists in Singapore.

State organs are supposed to protect law-abiding citizens but in this instance they have gone to the extent of persecuting them for exercising their basic rights.

What the PAP-government fails to understand is that as long as it continues to wield its repression, democracy advocates will stand up to its autocratic ways. Bankruptcy orders and prison sentences will not deter us in our struggle for justice and freedom for Singapore.