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It has become an offence for Singaporeans to come together to demonstrate opposition to Government action. This is the subject of another trial that will commence tomorrow in the Subordinate Courts.
Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee Siok Chin, and Mr Tan Teck Wee are charged with participating in an assembly “intended to demonstrate opposition to the actions of the Government.”
And what was the “opposition” about? They were distributing flyers announcing the protest at Hong Lim Park during the WB-IMF Meeting in September 2006. (Read about the incident here.)
The other two accused, Ms Harikat Kaur and Mr Jeffrey George, had pleaded guilty. Mr George issued a statement that he pleaded guilty because he needed to be overseas due to work commitment and not because he conceded his right to freedom of assembly. Mr Tan Teck Wee is presently away.
Tomorrow’s hearing is one of four that are taking place concurrently:
The first is the hearing regarding two charges against Dr Chee for speaking without a permit during election period in 2006. The hearing commenced in July last year. As it could not finish in the allotted time, it was continued for another two weeks in September and then for three days in December. It is still on-going (see next post). District Judge Thian Yee Sze is presiding the case.
The second is the charge against the 18 Tak Boleh Tahan protesters outside Parliament House for assembly and procession without a permit. The hearing is before District Judge Chia Wee Kiat and commenced on 23 Oct 08. It will continue on 26 Feb 09 because it could not conclude during the allotted period.
The third case involves the protest conducted at Hong Lim Park during the WB-IMF in 2006. Six activists are charged with attempting to participate in a procession. The hearing took place before District Judge Toh Yeong Cheong between 26 Nov 08 – 12 Dec 08. For reasons similar to the above two trials, this one will continue this year. Dates have yet to be fixed.
The fourth will commence tomorrow.
You are charged that you, on the 10th day of September 2006at about 12:15 pm, in the vicinity of Raffles City Shopping Centre, North Bridge Road, Singapore, which is a public place, together with 5 persons did participate in an assembly intended to demonstrate opposition to the actions of the Government, which assembly you ought reasonably to have known was held without a permit under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance) (Assemblies & Processions) Rules, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Rule 5 of the said Rules.
Senior Investigation Officer
Central Police Division
29 December 2008
Rule 5 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance)(Assemblies & Processions) Rules:
Any person who participates in any assembly or processions in any public road, public place or place of public resort shall, if he knows or ought reasonably to have known that the assembly or processions is held without a permit, or in contravention of any term or condition of a permit, be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.