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It was time for party members and our friends to renew and re-charge for the work that lay ahead.$CUT$
The Singapore Democrats have been working hard and our annual retreat allows us a great time for some R&R as well as an opportunity to make plans for the coming year.
The event has become a regular feature in the SDP calendar since 2009.
The 2013 programme started off with a seminar conducted by lawyer Dr G Raman who talked to members about their legal rights as provided for under the constitution as well as some in of the statutes.
Dr Raman, who was himself detained under the Internal Security Act in the 1970s, spoke about the powers of the police and what they could and could not do in their course of carrying out the duties.
As the political opposition and civil society in Singapore expand our roles to entrench democracy in Singapore, and with the PAP Government trying to limit these roles, the question of police authority vis-a-vis the rights of citizens will feature more prominently.
Another seminar session discussed leadership skills and the qualities required of party leaders to continue to build a successful and forward-thinking SDP.
As we move into the second-half of the period in between elections, leadership will become increasingly important as the party machinery will expand and kick into high gear in preparation for 2016 GE.
But it was not all serious work. The first day of the retreat saw some of the members participate in a lung-bursting 5-km run (photo, top).
Democrats demonstrated that we were not just policy wonks but also that we had fitness buffs in our midst. Ms Chee Siok Chin, Ms Chong Wai Fung, and Dr Leong Yan Hoi, for example, all clocked below 30 minutes.
The run was also organised to help Ms Chee raise funds to pay off her debt to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to discharge her from bankruptcy.
Ms Chee was declared bankrupt when she, together with two other activists, mounted a legal challenge against the police for stopping a silent protest outside the CPF Building in 2005 and lost (see Video of the silent protest). Back then, under the law, any assembly of four persons or fewer did not require a permit. The AGC claimed costs which amounted to more than $20,000.
Day 2 saw several members take to the outdoors again, this time for Ultimate Frisbee where two teams compete to get the frisbee into the end-zones. Elbows and knees flew more that the plastic disc during the game which drew out the competitive streak in the players.
Food was also in abundance. Some of the more culinarily inclined member prepared all-time favourites like curry chicken with bread, lontong, assam prawns and other local delectables.
Of course, the company of our friends who had come to join us made the fare good down extra well.
With mind, body and spirit re-charged, the Singapore Democrats are confident and looking forward to the work ahead and to continue building up for that all-important electoral battle in 2016.
More even photos at SDP’s facebook photo album.