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22 Nov 06
The Lord Alderdice, President of the Liberal International and peer of the British House of Lords, and Sam Rainsy, MP, leader of the Cambodian opposition, expressed concern regarding the situation of Dr. Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party.
Dr. Chee is currently under trial for speaking in public without a permit and is expected to be fined or imprisoned. Dr. Chee who has been declared as bankrupt by the Singapore courts has repeatedly been imprisoned and barred from leaving the country. As a bankrupt person, Dr. Chee has to apply for a permit before leaving the country and is barred from seeking any elective post.
Lord Alderdice expressed deep dismay at the continued political abuse of power by the Singapore government in its treatment of fellow Liberal, Dr. Chee, who has been bankrupted through a policy of abuse of the courts to quell legitimate freedom of speech and criticism of the Government.
Lord Alderdice said that ‘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. Dr Chee has not even been allowed his own choice of lawyer and was not permitted to use the services of Mr Martin Lee QC, an internationally recognized legal authority.
“Singapore has some of the world’s toughest restrictions on press freedom and freedom of assembly. Reporters without Borders recently ranked Singapore as 146th out of the 167 countries surveyed for press freedom. Outdoor gatherings of five or more people or speaking in public without a permission are already prohibited in the city-state.”
Upon receiving the prestigious LI Prize for Freedom 2006 yesterday at the Palais Stylia in Marrakech, Sam Rainsy remarked that “In Singapore courageous freedom fighters are facing unjustifiable political repression.
Dr. Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, which is a member of LI sister organization CALD, was recently taken to trial for holding a public political speech without a permit. A verdict will be delivered later this month, and he is expecting to face a heavy fine. He has refused to pay as a matter of principle, and will thus be sent to jail. This will be the fifth time he has been imprisoned, simply for his unwavering commitment to the defense of fundamentals freedoms in his country.”
Several liberal organizations including LI, the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and the Alliance for Liberals & Democrats in Europe (ALDE) have all issued statements and resolution expressing concern over the curtailment of civil liberties in Singapore.
The Sam Rainsy Party and the Singapore Democratic Party are both members of CALD. Mr. Sam served as CALD Chairman from 2000 to 2002. CALD is a cooperating organization of LI.
November 11, 2006