Singapore judge denies human rights activists’ appeal

August 26, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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He Feng
The Epoch Tmes
26 Aug 07
http://en.epochtimes.com/news/7-8-25/59065.html

Defendants’ objections not addressed

The appellants stand before the Singapore Supreme Court building. Dr. Wang is on the right. (The Epoch Times)Singaporeans often say, “When you take someone’s money, you need to solve his or her problems.” Lee Kuan Yew pays our Prime Minister a salary five times that of the President of the United States. Senior civil servants in Singapore are the highest paid in the world. This may help us to understand what motivates some of our senior civil servants to make peculiar decisions.

In July last year when Li Lanqing, former Executive Vice-Premier of the Chinese Communist Party, came to visit Singapore, six Falun Gong practitioners were charged with “assembly without permit” for distributing flyers at Orchard Road nine months earlier. During the trial, the practitioners were also charged with “contempt of court.” Two of the six practitioners then appealed these charges to the high court.

Wang Yuyi, one of the appellants, explained in her statement, “We did not disrespect the court nor do we have that intention. The right to an ‘open trial’ is a defendant’s basic right. Boycotting the ‘secretive trial’ was an act of safeguarding our legitimate constitutional right as defendants. After exhausting all other forms of negotiation, we had to take this action to safeguard our rights.”

In their statements, the appellants explained that the trial for the six defendants on January 22, 2007 was arranged and held in a courtroom with only 8 seats. During the trial dozens of bailiffs inside and outside the court prevented people, including media and family members of the defendants, from entering the courtroom, which effectively prevented news regarding the progress of the trial from being widely known.

The appellants further explained that for several months leading up to the trial the accused Falun Gong practitioners repeatedly requested, both orally and in written form, for the trial to be held in a larger courtroom. All requests were rejected. The appellants stressed that deliberately holding such a “secretive trial” violated the defendants’ constitutional right to an “open trial.”

During the July 3rd case, the two appellants pointed out that prosecutor Hay Hung Chun failed to provide substantial evidence that the accused were in fact in “the accused place” at “the accused time.” Furthermore, the Subordinate Court Judge, Terrence Chua, used vague words in his verdict, based on inference rather than evidence.

After listening to the statements submitted by the appellants and the prosecutor on July 3rd, judge V. K. Rajah explicitly acknowledged that “the Prosecutor must provide evidence to prove the time and place of the charge”. The prosecutor, Hay Hung Chun reasoned that, “Although the evidence is not proof, witness statements can prove this” After fruitlessly going through hundreds of pages of court records at the expense of the court’s time however, nothing was found.

On July 24th, the long-awaited verdict for the appeal was finally handed down. After everyone was seated, the judge quickly declared that “the appeal was dismissed,” refusing to read out the reasons. The hearing came to an end in two minutes.

Out of the 90 sections in the judgment, only two sections refer to “assembly without permit.” Most of the judgment regards legal cases and particulars which are only vaguely relevant to the appeal. The appeal against the charge for “assembly without permit” was dismissed the same way the prosecutor, Hay Hung Chun, and the sub-court Judge, Terrence Chua, had done, reasoning that “Although the evidence can not prove the time [of the assembly], witnesses can.” (Judgment 5).

Regarding the charge of “contempt of the court”, V. K. Rajah reasoned that the trial was not a “secretive trial” because “the court door was not locked during the trial” (Judgment No. 7). He did not touch upon the size of the courtroom or the unnecessarily large number of bailiffs that prevented people from entering the courtroom, which was the basis of the appellants claim