Harassment of Martyn See is an abuse of the law

May 12, 2005
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

Singapore Democrats

The recent ban on Martyn See’s documentary is yet more evidence that the PAP runs Singapore like it was a mini-empire. The arbitrariness with which it prohibited the showing of Mr Sees Singapore Rebel while it ran on prime time features on PAP ministers is breathtaking.

None of this is new, however. Through the years the PAP has been making sure that while it enforces the law to the hilt (and then some), it bends the rules for its own members. Here are some examples:

In 1995, the SDP had put up National Day bunting in the Bukit Gombak conctituency which the Party had held following the 1991 elections. The flags congratulated Singapore on its birthday, much like the kind the PAP puts up. The ruling party quickly sent workers from the PWD to pull down the flags. Obviously we were stunned because it the neighbouring constituency of Hong Kah PAP flags, with no National Day greetings, were fluttering freely. We have photographs to prove our case.

Also in 1995, Mr Ling How Doong, then SDP MP, was not allowed to give a speech during a National Day Dinner he organised in his own constituency and for his constituents. In came as quite a shock therefore when only days later, PAP MP Mr Lim Boon Heng and another official of the Residents’ Committee, came to the constituency and gave two very public speeches. To rub raw the insult, the PAP speeches openly criticised the SDP.

In 1988, the NTUC staged a mass demonstration against the US for “interfering” in Singapore’s domestic affairs over the 1987 “Marxist” conspiracy detention of 22 Singaporean activists. About 4,000 members of the trade union congregated at the Singapore Conference Hall, made fiery speeches, and then moved to the US Embassy (which was then at Hill Street) to continue the demonstration there. The police was even on-hand to facilitate the protest.

But when Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Gandhi Ambalam tried to address the issue of poverty and workers’ rights on May Day in 2003, the police swiftly hauled them away into prison. More recently, Mr J B Jeyaretnam’s application to hold a protest march against the casino was rejected, as are all other non-PAP applications for public protests.

The one that takes the cake, however, is the incident where PAP candidates are allowed unauthorized entry in to polling stations during the 1997 general elections. Dr Chee was even stopped from entering polling stations in his constituency because he had not put on his candidature label. Mr Goh Chok Tong who was not a candidate in the GE nor a polling agent, freely sauntered into polling stations in Dr Chee’s ward. The law clearly states that no unauthorised persons (except candidates and their assistants and agents, voters, and election officials) are allowed to be within 200m of a polling station. When a complaint was lodged against Mr Goh and other PAP ministers who had done the same in other constituencies, the Attorney-General replied that because the PAP ministers had been inside the polling stations as opposed to “loitering” on the outside, no offence had been committed.

As tit-for-tat, PAP supporters lodged police reports against SDP leaders for “canvassing” for votes in the polling stations. There was absolutely no evidence to prove that this was the case as nothing of such nature took place. Nonetheless, Dr Chee asked for a copy of the report that the PAP supporters had lodged. The police refused saying that this was against the rules. If this is the case, then why did they hand the report that Mr Tang Liang Hong made about PAP leaders in the 2001 elections to the PAP leaders who then proceeded to sue Mr Tang? Remember, the ministers had taken the report from the police and then used it to sue Mr Tang in their personal capacities.

Such abuse of the law is wholly against the Constitution and an insult to right thinking people. It is undemocratic and, more important, it must be rectified.