CSJ to LHL: Let’s put observation to test

September 3, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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3 September 2003

Mr Lee Hsien Loong
Deputy Prime Minister
Prime Ministers Office

Dear DPM Lee,

Responding to the increasingly controversial move to cut CPF rates, you said in Parliament that you did not see one million people demonstrating on Parliament Square and then concluded that this showed the people had trust in the Government.

For those unfamiliar with the PAP system, this might seem a reasonable deduction especially if the party in power respected the rights of citizens to exercise their freedom of speech and assembly.

But, of course, most of us are familiar with the PAP system and know that you need to do a better job when it comes to balancing your rhetoric with reality. Surely you remember that your own Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng recently declared that the Government does not authorise protests and demonstrations of any nature.

It may be hard for you to figure this out but it is not easy to see one million people demonstrating on Parliament Square when even one person exercising his right to free speech is hauled away by the police. Remember my arrest outside the Istana on May 1, 2002?

Surely you have also not forgotten that I was prosecuted on two other occasions just for speaking to my fellow citizens during lunchtime at Raffles Place? You will agree that this is a far cry from demonstrating on Parliament Square.

Even the application by the Open Singapore Centre (OSC) to organize a marathon run to commemorate International Human Rights Day in 2000 was rejected by the authorities. When participants gathered for the occasion minus the run, they were warned by the police because they had committed an offence when they raised their fists and shouted Abolish ISA! And mind you, this was at the Speakers Corner!

This year when the OSC applied for a protest march to take place from the Ministry of Manpower at Havelock Road to Parliament House on May Day, it was again rejected.

The Government even banned a rally that was planned outside the Burmese Embassy at St Martins Drive to protest against the continued incarceration of Burmas democracy leader, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.

Then there were the six individuals who were arrested for protesting against the Iraq war. That same day six million people did the same thing all over the world.

Be that as it may, let me give you the benefit of a doubt and assume that you either did not know anything about what I have just related or could not remember any of it. Why dont we put your claim to the test: Grant us the permit to hold a demonstration outside the Parliament House and let us see just how much the people trust the Government.

Until you show courage and let the people exercise their right to free speech and assembly rights, I might add, that you and your colleagues have robbed from the people your observation remains highly suspect, one that is certainly not worthy for a future prime minister to hold.

I await your reply.

Sincerely,

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party