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The SDP has applied for a license to stage its National Day Rally on 26 August 2001 at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium. The Police has stipulated that the Party has to engage 13 CISCO (Commercial and Industrial Security Corpn.) officers for crowd control purposes (see condition no. 11 below). The expenses would have to be borne by the SDP. This would amount to several thousand dollars.
This condition which has just been recently imposed is completely unacceptable. First, this rally is a public event to address national issues such as the current recession. It is not an event for commercial or industrial purposes. As such, it is the Government’s duty to provide personnel for crowd control. To ask the organiser, the SDP in this case, to engage and pay for private security guards is nonsensical.
The Police had told the court during Dr Chee Soon Juan and Mr Wong Hong Toy’s trial (when they were prosecuted in 1999 for not applying for a public license to speak in public) that one of the reasons why the Government insisted that applications be made was because advance notice was needed for the Police to arrange for security and crowd control measures. Now that the SDP has complied with procedures and submitted an application on 18 July 2001–more than 5 weeks before the rally–the Government now changes its tune and says that the rally organiser must pay for security personnel.
It is clear that the Government is arbitrarily imposing conditions to make it increasingly difficult for the Opposition to stage public rallies. This strikes at the very heart of free speech in Singapore.
At a time when the economy is in a severe recession and with the elections drawing near, it is crucial for the SDP to reach out to the electorate and communicate the party’s alternative ideas and policies. Making it prohibitively expensive to stage the National Day Rally is another one in a long series of attempts by the PAP to prevent the SDP from achieving this. Unfortunately, Singaporeans will ultimately be the ones to pay for the autocratic control.
The Party has written to the Licensing Division of the Singapore Police Force to demand an explanation for the imposition of the above-mentioned condition and for it to grant the permit without any more excuses and delays.
Cheo Chai Chen
CONDITIONS FROM THE SINGAPORE POLICE FOR THE PROPOSED SDP PUBLIC RALLY
1. Only the proposed speakers, Ling How Doong, Cheo Chai Chen, Chee Soon Juan, Wong Hong Toy, Abdul Rasheed, Yong Chu Leong, Seow Yong Chew, Mohd Isa B. Abdul Aziz, Mohd Shariff Yahya, Mohd Juffrie, Gandhi Ambalam, Lai Kin Kheong, Wee Kia Eng, Kwan Yue Keng, Lim Boon Heng, and Kevin Liew shall be allowed to make speeches.
2.The licence holder shall be present with the licence during the entire proceedings of the rally.
3.There shall be no procession before, during and after the rally.
4.There shall be no other forms of public entertainment other than the delivery of speeches by the proposed speakers stated in condition 1.
5.The applicant shall obtain PELU’s (Public Entertainment Licence Unit) permission for any amendments or additions to the list of speakers, programme and venue at least one week before the date of the event, failing which the proposed amendments and additions may be refused.
6.Persons attending the rally must be confined within the premises.
7.The rally shall not start earlier than 5.00 pm and shall end by 10.00 pm.
8.No banner or posters will be permitted to be displayed during the rally.
9.The public address system used at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium must not cause any annoyance to the public or the residents living in the vicinity. If such annoyance is caused, the police may direct the licensee to have the volume reduced or turned off, if deemed necessary and the licensee is required to comply with this direction. If additional loudspeakers are required, only 2 loudspeakers are allowed and must be inclined to face the audience.
10.The organisers of, and the speakers at, the rally shall not use indecent, threatening or abusive words or documents with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or whereby one is likely to be occasioned.
11.Thirteen CISCO officers, comprising 1 Assistant Superintendent, 6 Sergeants and 6 Corporals, shall be engaged to maintain law and order from 4.30 pm to 10.30 pm on 26 August 01 at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium. The Engagement of the CISCO officers shall be paid for by the organisers. If in the opinion of these officers, a breach of the peace is likely to occur, and they order the proceedings to be terminated, the licence holder shall immediately declare the end of the proceedings and ensure that those attending leave quietly and peacefully. In addition to the engagement of the CISCO officers, the licence holder shall deploy a minimum of 18 private marshals, at his own cost, to be stationed at various locations of the event.
12.Any breach of any of the above stipulated conditions and restrictions may render the licence liable to cancellation and the licence holder liable to prosecution.