To Minister Wong from Uncle Yap

August 16, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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

11 August 2005

Dear Minister for Home Affairs,

Today, my fellow activists and I took part in a non-violent (NV) civil action against the lack of transparency and accountability of your government, outside the CPF Building. Our cause is the public interest of the entire nation’s assets and well-being.

Our protest was peaceful, and we took much care to avoid breaking the law or causing problem to the public.

By writing you this email, I assume you have the integrity to act impartially in the capacity of Home Affairs Minister (HAM) – even when we seek transparency and accountability against your government and political party. For the public interest again, I ask you to look into the issue of improper and excessive use of police force to the extent that it is an abuse of power and that is negative to public interest.

By planning and conducting a peaceful NV protest, via use of the Internet, we called for orderly and lawful public observation of this small but meaningful event (too small compared to NDP celebrations, I admit). I, personally, called the public to cooperate with police, observe safety and not to obstruct traffic and walkways, etc, during our short protest.

Everything went perfectly for at least 45 minutes. The members of public, the international press groups, and the officers of Singapore Police Force (SPF) were witnesses to this peaceful protest. There are videos and photos to prove this.

However, with the lame excuse of public nuisance, your police force moved, heavily armed and protected with riot gear. It was an excessively large number. The officers unnecessarily barricaded large areas and prevented public passage and access to CPF Building entrance.

This stupid action of the SPF caused a major public nuisance, not the protesters. Why do we waste so much police resources to act (so wrongfully) against the public interest, Minister Wong? You, as HAM, are accountable to the public for the SPF action.

This is directly connected to the concerns expressed by our protest in terms of accountability.

For the next 15 minutes or so after arrival of riot squad, nothing was done in the interest of the public, such as helping to maintain order of the peaceful and lawful crowd, assuring safety of traffic and passage at entrance of CPF Building.

Your SPF seem to know what to do to control the crowd for events like NDP, road accidents, Santa Claus’ procession, or Chinggay for CNY. Why for such a tiny scale of 4 person protest, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have to make such an international laughing stock?

The act to disperse the protesters and on-lookers displeased the public. Blockage of CPF Building entrance by your officers was a big nuisance. Was it your order, Minister Wong? Is it your regime’s policy to intimidate our citizens with the abuse of riot-gear mata?

Besides being a joke, I think MHA reflected kiasu, kiasi, cowardice as well as incompetence.

A squad of riot-police to break up a 4-person protest is indeed another world’s first.

I am concerned that abusive use of police force will discredit the police force itself, and render it unable to perform police duty to uphold law and order, and public safety in the future, especially during regime change, as seen recently in some countries.

I had previously written to you about the video discs that were seized during Dr Chee Soon Juan’s book launch which I demand be returned to me. Now please add our 4 T-shirts and placards to that demand.

I complain that your police falsely claimed that we were a nuisance. DSP Dominic John Baptist confirmed that the protesters had been most cooperative with police and had thanked us for that. But he accused us of committing an offence of public nuisance based on complaints he claimed to have received. He did not say that he had investigated and found us really being a public nuisance. He failed to tell us how and in what way we, the protesters, had been a public nuisance.

The public was cheering for us and happily watching the protest. We were not noisy; we were peaceful and orderly. Your plainclothes police were filming and observing everything since the beginning. I have no reason to believe that DSP Dominic John Baptist is not aware of all this.

Now the public saw that we as protesters have been considerate and avoided being a public nuisance as compared to your police.

We cooperated with DSP Dominic John Baptist by agreeing to disperse slightly earlier than 1330 hrs which was our scheduled end. And he was
happy with that.

Our consideration to end a few minutes early was to prevent your riot- police causing a public nuisance with their blockage of the CPF Building, and the sidewalk of Robinson Road. I observed there was the lunch crowd rushing back to their office to work. Unfortunately, your police won’t allow anyone to pass through that entire area. I suggest that you instruct your men to do normal crowd management in the future. Keep all roads and passage-ways open, and the public safe and orderly.

As NV activists, we ensure that our actions are peaceful and for righteous causes. We don’t want to inconvenience the public. We take measures to prevent infiltrators to sabotage our event by causing disorder or harm to public.

Thank you minister, have a Happy National Day.

As a citizen I hope to see better ministers by next national day without having to be paid so much by our state.

Sincerely,

K. H. YAP