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After the Judge found the TBT protesters guilty of taking part in a protest on 15 Mar 08, the defendants rose and pointed out to the court its error. Instead of being cowed into submission, every one of the defendants rose in defiance to speak of democracy and pledged to continue to fight for a free and just Singapore.
When asked if they had anything to say in mitigation, the defendants used the opportunity to speak out on the lack of freedom and democracy in Singapore. Here is what they said:
Chee Siok Chin: “I maintain that we are not guilty of the charges and that the police and prosecution had acted in bad faith and in a discriminatory manner. They have been led into believing that it is their duty to protect the ruling party and its leaders. It is my hope that you and your fellow judges are able to see this and to steer the Singapore’s judicial system back to protecting the people.”
John Tan: “When I was here sitting listening to the DPP read out the list of past convictions of my co-defendants it is evident of the lack of rule of law in Singapore, of the authoritarian system, of the bullying of its citizens, and the suppression of liberty and hope. It is clear we live under the tyranny of this regime. This is not really a list of shame for the defendants but a list of shame for the regime we live under.”
Gandhi Ambalam: “It is regrettable that we are found guilty. It is deplorable that the judiciary was dragged in to sit in judgment of people who are exercising their politcal rights. The actions and the activity of the defendants are in keeping within the constitutional framework of the country. It is regrettable that the authoritarian regime we live under is criminalizing legitimate political activity. The rightful judges should be the people.
Seelan Palay: “I know exactly why I am here and why I am being charged. It is clearly a politically motivated charge. I have been put in the lock-up a number of times now, but for the government to jail a citizen like me is only going to prove to young Singaporeans how oppressive this regime is. So it is a good thing that we are going to jail.
“This only goes to show that what we do is a threat to the PAP. This is why our demonstrations will continue and I will personally see to it that young Singaporeans understand what the consequences are in living under tyranny.”
Chong Kai Xiong: “With respect to the convictions read out earlier regarding Chee Soon Juan, Chee siok Chin and Gandhi Ambalam the question that pops into my mind is in every one of these instances, was there public disorder? If not then what is the point of this law and the charges?”
Shafi’ie: “The law under which we have been charged is vague. Are we really charged for a real offence or is our real crime really standing up to the PAP? The demand for democracy cannot be stopped, the PAP is trying to stop the inevitable.”
Carl Lang: “I am proud to be associated with my co-defendants and I have no regrets doing what I did.”
Jaslyn Go: “I was there to do my part as a mother to ensure that my kids grow up in a society that is not driven by wealth and greed and intimidation; that my children grow up in a Singapore that thrives on compassion, trust and respect of individual rights. As a mother, I will do everything to imbue in my children moral and ethical values so that they can grow up to be men and women who are not afraid to stand up for justice and speak up against any wrong doing, even by the Government.”
Jufrie Mahmood: “Sir, I wish to express my regret that so much time has been spent on such a small matter. In any free society, this would not even be an issue. No wonder we are so low in productivity.”
Chee Soon Juan: “I was not being facetious when I said that I was proud of the previous convictions that the DPP read out against me. I am proud of standing up for what is right, what is rightfully ours. The criminal justice system is meant to deter criminals, not defenders of democracy. In this respect the law has failed because it has failed to deter us. Instead, it has steeled our resolve to continue our fight for democracy.”