Laws must not be applied selectively

August 5, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

Station Inspector Muhd Aziz said that he was in his patrol car on 16 Nov 05 when he saw Dr Chee Soon Juan at Bencoolen Link holding a microphone. He immediately radioed back to headquarters to say that an offence was being committed whereupon his fellow officers came to videotape Dr Chee.

Mr Aziz was testifying in the on-going trial were Dr Chee and Mr Yap Keng Ho are being charged with speaking in public without a permit at Waterloo Street near the Kwan Im temple.

The police witness said that he called his divisional headquaters because he could recognise Dr Chee.

“If it was someone else and not me,” Dr Chee inquired, “would you have called your Ops Room?”

The Prosecution objected to the question because it was irrelevant.

Dr Chee replied that it was very relevant because there were several other people at the location holding microphones and promoting their products or services. SI Aziz’s actions showed that the police were targeting him.

Such selective and discriminatory enforcement of the law is itself unlawful. Dr Chee pointed out that the Constitution specifically states that “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”

This is especially salient in that there are laws in Singapore that are not actively enforced by the Government. Section 377A of the Penal Code against male homosexuals is a case in point. Likewise, the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act (PEMA) is not actively enforced against individuals who use microphones to sell their services and products.

Instead it is only used against certain individuals. This, argued Dr Chee, goes against the Constitution. In the spirit of the law and of justice, such discrimination is reprehensible.

The judiciary is the bulwark that protects citizens from malicious prosecution by the government, the SDP leader continued. In this case it is even more important that the courts take notice that the persons being prosecuted are also the ones criticisng the government.

The judge, however, ruled against Dr Chee and disallowed his question to SI Aziz.

Such has been the pattern throughout the cases involving Dr Chee and public speaking. The courts have repeatedly refused to look into how the Government uses the PEMA to ensure that the opposition is prohibited from speaking to the public while not taking action against others, including PAP officials.

A few days earlier during the trial, Dr Chee had asked to be excused from the hearing because he did not wish to continue without legal representation.

Trial judge Thian Yee Sze turned down his application.

Dr Chee then applied for his trial to be dis-joined from Mr Yap’s so that he could end the proceedings quickly as he did not wish to pursue the case anymore given the circumstances.

“I will abide by whatever decision you make. I just don’t want to participate in it,” Dr Chee told Judge Thian.

The judge also dismissed this request thus forcing Dr Chee to sit through the trial even though he had indicated that he had no wish to take further part in it.

Dr Chee did not want to prolong the hearing because the matter would lead inexorably to its conclusion as the previous cases with identical circumstances have already been decided upon by the judiciary.

Rather than sit in court and make the same arguments over and over without a receptive ear, Dr Chee wanted to bring the proceedings to an end. In fact, he asked why all the remaining six charges could not be brought together and tried at one go.

The Prosecution said that this was not feasible and stuck to its position that subsequent charges would be proceeded with one at a time.

The trial for the present charges is into its fourth week and looks set to continue for a fifth.