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When the trial for the Tak Boleh Tahan 18 resumed yesterday, Mr Jufri Salim pleaded guilty to the two charges and was fined a total of $1,200. The young protester said that he could not get more time off from work and the trial looks set to drag on for a while yet.
But Mr Jufri refused to pay the fine because he had done no wrong, adding “I am glad to serve time for a cause I believe in.” He will serve an eight-day jail term in default beginning tomorrow. The SDP salutes a courageous and true Singaporean.
Eighteen activists are charged with participating in a protest outside Parliament House on 15 Mar 08. They had raised the matter of rising costs of living in Singapore and how it was affecting the poor.
Young Jufri seemed a little nervous at the prospect of going to jail. Everybody does. But he did not allow that fear to overcome his principle of yielding to an unjust law. Wearing his Tak Boleh Tahan t-shirt, he read out the following statement in court:
I wish to make this statement:
It is with a heavy heart that I have to plead guilty. I am doing it because of work commitments and the fact that I have 3 kids and a wife to provide for.
I am making it clear that I did no wrong. In fact what I did with the 17 others who exercised our constitutional rights on 15th March 08 is very noble and no one can take those rights away from us, citizens of Singapore. We stood up for Singapore and our fellow Singaporeans. The only regret is that I am unable to continue to fight this case.
And because I have done no wrong and committed no crime, I will not pay the fine although money has been raised. I am glad to serve time for a cause I believe in.
I hope that my fellow citizens will wake up one day to the fact that we have been oppressed for too long. Join us in our call for freedom and democracy in Singapore.
Mr Jufri will report to Subordinate Court No 26 at 9:30am tomorrow to begin his sentence. In the meantime his wife, Ms Suraya, continues on with the trial. Read also A portrait of love, honour and courage