The Propaganda Wing swings into action

October 9, 2007
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

We don’t normally post reports by the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) but this one is so exceptionally bad that we have made…well, an exception.

It’s the report by The New Paper of the proceedings at the Burmese embassy and the Istana.

The headline, subtext and text all have one purpose and one purpose only – and it’s not to keep its readers informed.

To be sure, there has never been any love lost between the Singapore Democrats and the PAP media.

But the folks at SPH would even slant the report to make the Burmese embassy officials look good in order to take its swipe at the SDP.

Our relationship is really that bad.

Ms Liew Hanqing tried to present the Burmese ambassador as some sort of respectable diplomat that the SDP leaders were trying to meet.

She described that even the ambassador’s representative refused to “entertain” us. We must have been doing something wrong to deserve such a snub. Shame on us!

Ms Liew also covered up the fact that the official repeatedly said that he did not want his picture taken and refused to give his name and position when asked.

The SDP has dealt with diplomats from all over the world and none of them have objected to their photographs taken, much less try to hide their identity. Ms Liew, by not reporting such facts, tries to give a favourable impression of the official.

The report also mentions that Dr Chee Soon Juan tried reading the letter to the embassy official when in fact it was Mr Ambalam.

In her eagerness to run-down the SDP secretary-general she got her facts wrong. But so what? They’re just facts, this is the SPH we talking about.

The report is so over-the-top, even by PAP standards, that we reproduce it here for readers to judge for themselves.

SDP’s attempt to deliver peition to Myanmar embassy and Istana ends in farce and arrest: What a Wash-Out
Liew Hanqing
[email protected]
The New Paper
9 Oct 2007, Tuesday

Dr Chee Soon Juan’s attempt tp ptotest against the Myanmar crackdown became a farce yesterday when he ended reading his petition letter to a security guard.

This was after he failed in his efforts to meet the ambassador at the Myanmar embassy.

The day was to get worse for the secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), who is no stranger to grandstanding antics.

He and his group were arrested when they tried handing a letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

Other SDP representatives with Dr Chee were chairman Gandhi Ambalam, assitant secretary-general John Tan and central executive committee member Chee Siok Chin.

The SDP group – all dressed in red – arrived at the Myanmar embassy around 10.40 am. Dr Chee asked a security guard to invite the ambassador U Win Myint out to receive the letter.

The ambassador didn’t appear. Instead, an embassy official came out to accept the letter on his behalf.

When Dr Chee asked if he would invite the ambassador out, the official said firmly: “Thank you for coming, but the ambassador cannot meet you.”

Instead of handing the letter over immediately, Dr Chee began reading it aloud. The official refused to entertain him and hurriedly went back to the building.

Then the group asked a security guard wnether they would be able to meet the ambassador.

The security guard told the group again that the ambassador would not meet them, but offered to receive the letter on his behalf.

Dr Chee read the letter aloud to the guard. The guard then took it back into the building.

The SDP group left in a car for the Istana, where they had planned to stage a protest.

The arrived at Plaza Singapura slightly past noon, in the middle of a heavy downpour.

Dr Chee told reporters the group would wait till the rain eased before walking to the Istana, so that their documents and placards wouldn’t get wet.

Asked if he felt snubbed by the Myanmar ambassador’s refusal to accept the letter earlier, Dr Chee replied: “What can we do?”

He added, however, that what happened was not unexpected.

Out To Lunch

When the rain began to ease up about 1 pm, SDP members proceeded to the Istana gates.

The spoke to an Istana officer, and requested to see the PM’s private secretary to hand over a letter addressed to the PM.

They were told the private secretary was out for lunch and would only be back at about 2 pm.

Dr Chee said the group would wait. they then unwrapped four placards and held them up at the area beside the Istana gates.

A police officer told them they were not allowed to stand there and asked them to move elsewhere to wait for the private secretary.

They left, holding their placards, for an area across the road from the Istana where they stood in a line and held their placards up.

Soon after, a plainclothes police officer warned them that what they were doing was unlawful and that they would be arrested if they refused to disperse.

When the group remained there, police officers then proceeded to arrest the four around 1.50 pm.

Other antics

Five SDP members march from Hong Lim Park to Queenstown Remand Prison where Dr Chee was serving a three-week jail term in 2007.

Police stop Dr Chee and six others from going on a protest march from Hong Lim Park to Parliament House in 2006.

During the 2001 General Elections, Dr Chee heckles then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong at Jurong East hawker centre. High Court rules he defamed Mr Goh and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Dr Chee ordered to pay damages.

Dr Chee runs 42-km marathon wearing a T-shirt with the words “Abolish ISA” on it in 2000.

Dr Chee stages a week-long hunger strike in 1993 to protest his dismissal from the National University of Singapore.