SDP to Police: Stop the excuses and issue licence

August 17, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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Below are the exchanges of the letters between the SDP and the Police on the matter of the permit for the SDP’s National Day Rally planned for 26 August 2001.

 

13 August  2001

Assistant Director Operations
Licensing Division
Police Cantonment Complex
391 New Bridge Road #02-701
Singapore 088762

Dear Sir,

With reference to your letter dated 10 August 2001, the SDP views it with great suspicion that you have suddenly stipulated that one of the conditions for the SDP to stage a public rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium on 26 August 2001 is that the Party must pay for CISCO personnel.

The SDP has in the past staged public rallies of this nature during which the Police were on hand to perform crowd control duties. Why are you suddenly now insisting that the organiser provide its own security?

As this is a public event (hence the requirement for the application for a public licence) the Police is duty bound to provide personnel for security measures. May I remind you that your duty is to serve the people of Singapore and the PAP. Hence I implore you to immediately grant us the licence and not continue with this political nonsense to deny Singaporeans the opportunity to hear the SDP’s message.

Sincerely,

Wong Hong Toy
Assistant Secretary-General

 

15 August 2001

Mr Wong Hong Toy
Singapore Democratic Party
1357A Serangoon Road
Singapore 328240

Dear Sir,

POLITICAL RALLY ON 26 AUG 01 AT YIO CHU KANG STADIUM

1 Please refer to your letter dated 13 Aug 01.

2. From our records, this is the first time we have received an application from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) to hold a political rally in an open stadium. You may have mistaken this to be the same as your previous meetings held indoors. The law and order considerations for both are different.

3. Police has all along been concerned with potential law and order problems posed by political rallies at such venues and would thus require sufficient resources to be deployed to maintain law and order.

4. When Police issues a licence for a privately organised public meeting or entertainment, it is a standard condition that the organizer of such a private event has to employ sufficient resources to maintain an orderly conduct of the event. This may include the deployment of security guards or other personnel to manage the crowd. The Police will discuss with the organizer to assesss the resources he will need to deploy and the conditions to be imposed. THe organizer must be held accountable for any breach of the peace arising from the private event he organises. The Police cannot be providing security for such privately organised events, and diverting resources from crime enforcement and protection for the general public.

5. You may recall that a similar arrangement was made by the organisers of the “Save JBJ rally held in April this year.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed)

Gan Ah Lek
Asst Director Operations (Licensing)
Licensing Division
Singapore Police Force

 

17 August 2001

Gan Ah Lek
Asst Director Operations (Licensing)
Licensing Division
Singapore Police Force
Via fax: 226-1089

Dear Sir,

With reference to your letter dated 15 August 2001, you are wrong about the SDP not having staged political rallies in an open stadium. We have held numerous such rallies in various stadiums including Bedok, Bukit Merah, Clementi (19 August 1989), Hougang (5 May 1989), Jalan Besar, and Toa Payoh. Check your records again.

In all of those instances, the Police have always provided manpower for crowd control. This latest stipulation that the SDP must pay for CISCO guards is most certainly not a “standard condition” that you claim. Do not try to deny that this condition was only recently imposed.

The question is why? Your explanation that the Police cannot be providing security for privately organised events because it will divert resources from crime enforcement and protection is ludicrous. In the first place, these are political rallies and, therefore, necessarily involve the public. If the general public has access to this rally, then it is incumbent upon the Police to ensure the safety of the people in attendance. Football matches at the National Stadium are not State events and yet the Police are called on to provide security. Secondly, it is rare that Opposition parties organise public rallies in open stadiums (according to you, the SDP has never done it before). If this is the case, how can such events, which occur once in a while, divert resources from crime fighting? The Police must be involved in more PAP ministerial walkabouts and grassroots functions in one year than all of the Opposition rallies put together since Independence. Are these PAP organised events not diverting resources away from crime enforcement?

You have still not answered the question of why your Licensing officers told the court in 1999 that application for licences for public talks were required to give the Police time to organise security personnel. Is this excuse no longer valid?

Your explanation is full of holes and unsupportable. The truth of the matter is that the decision to require the SDP to pay for its own security personnel is meant to erect yet more obstacles for the Opposition as well as to place upon it even greater financial burdens.

The SDP calls on the Licensing Division not to make it difficult for the Party to hold its National Day Rally by removing the said condition. The Police must discharge their duties with impartiality and not give the public the impression that they are taking sides with the PAP. Otherwise, the decision will be seen to be a political one designed to muzzle the SDP in an election year.

Sincerely,

Wong Hong Toy
Assistant Secretary-General