Liberal International expresses grave concern over Dr Chee’s continued detention

December 10, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Liberal International (LI)
9 Dec 06

Liberal International expresses grave concern over Dr Chee Soon Juan’s continued detention by the Singapore Government. Dr Chee Soon Juan and his SDP colleagues, Mr. Gandhi Ambalam and Mr. Yap Keng Ho have been imprisoned since 23 November 2006. Dr Chee was sentenced for speaking in public without a ‘valid’ permit and his colleagues were sentenced for speaking to citizens while selling the party newspaper on the street on 22 April 2006.

The President of Liberal International, Lord Alderdice said:

“This policy, which has also affected other opposition politicians in Singapore and prevented them from communicating actively with colleagues is intended to intimidate into silence all criticism of an increasingly authoritarian government.”

Amnesty International’s country report states that Singapore’s ruling party, People’s Action Party (PAP) has an array of laws restricting rights to freedom of expression. It also points out that further restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly placed by PAP has brought about an increase in both domestic and international condemnation.

In September 2006, the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) met in Singapore. During these meetings, Dr Chee planned a series of rallies to protest about the restrictions on freedom of speech in Singapore. The rallies were prohibited by the Singapore authorities on the grounds that permits to march had not been obtained. Dr Chee pointed out that permits have never been issued to political parties.

Liberal International agrees with Amnesty International and shares its concerns over the detention of Dr Chee and the Singapore Government’s restrictions on freedom of expression. Further, Liberal International calls for the Government of Singapore to adhere to the natural laws of human and peoples’ rights as enshrined in the Human Rights Charter, to which it is a party.

Take action with:

1. Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Government of Singapore whether it is of the opinion that a license restriction on political parties might cause an erosion of the rights to free speech and expression.

To ask the Government what it is doing to encourage Singapore to move the restriction on rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

To ask the Government whether it agrees with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 28: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

2. Write (or fax) a letter to the Singapore authorities

Ask the authorities why they refused Dr Chee Soon Juan a permit to exercise his fundamental right of peaceful protest;

Ask the authorities under what circumstance they would grant a permit to political parties;

Express concern over Dr Chee Soon Juan’s imprisonment, which will contribute a climate of self-censorship in Singapore and restrict the right of those Singaporeans with dissenting opinions to participate fully and freely in public life;

Express concerns about Dr Chee Soon Juan’s health and urge the government to ensure Dr Chee receiving appropriate medication;

State that freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Call for an end of another pre-trial on January 4, 2007 for a suit brought against his family.

To: His Excellency President S R Nathan

Salutation:
Your Excellency
Office of the President

Istana Annexe
Orchard Road

Singapore 238823

Fax: +65 6738 4637

3. Write (or fax) a courteous letter to your country’s embassy in Singapore and Singapore Embassies worldwide

With copy to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs, enclosing a copy of your letter to the Singapore authorities and asking for a diplomatic initiative in this case.

Embassy contact information is available at: http://www.embassy-worldwide.com