Was anti-death penalty activist harassed?

July 20, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

Rachel Zeng

Last Thursday, a Indian man visited Ms Rachel Zeng’s home in the evening. Ms Zeng was not home at that time. The man asked Ms Zeng’s parents for her mobilephone number, saying that he wanted her to sign an insurance form. Her parents declined.

When Ms Zeng returned home later that evening, she spotted an Indian man standing at the lift lobby staircase, balancing an opened laptop on one hand and talking on his cellphone with the other. She was with Mr Seelan Palay at that time. Both Ms Zeng and Mr Seelan are actively involved in the anti-death penalty campaign in Singapore.

The moment he saw Ms Zeng, the stranger started to react in an awkard manner, gesticulating frantically.

The two activists went up the elevator but decided to come back down awhile later. When he saw them again, he immediately took out his cellphone to make a call. He started to walk around the block, casting glances to make sure that his spotters couldn’t see him.

He then sat down by the walkway, placing himself at a spot when he could look up at Ms Zeng’s flat. He remained there for some time.

The two went to a coffeeshop where they called their friends to relate the strange happenings. After about 30 minutes they went back to Ms Zeng’s block and saw the man at the same spot. When he saw them, he cursed and walked away before getting on his phone again.

The following evening Ms Zeng spotted another man, this time a Chinese, also with a mini-laptop opened on his palm at the same spot she saw the first man the night before. This time, the stranger was less nervous. He smiled at Ms Zeng. As she entered the lift to go up to her flat, the man came to the lift door as it was closing and waved to her.

Rachel (sitting) and Seelan organising the book lauch

Did the incidents have anything to do with the fact that Ms Zeng was the organiser for Mr Alan Shadrake’s book launch that was held on 17 Jul 10? Mr Shadrake was arrested and is being investigated for criminal defamation and contempt of court. Bookstores have been ordered not to sell the book Once A Jolly Hangman.

Ms Zeng thinks so. “I’m suspicious because it came just two days before Alan’s book launch which I have been organising,” she tells the SDP website. “The first guy may have been just a weird stranger who just happened to be there. But there was this second guy who was carrying the same laptop and waved to me. How coincidental is that? That’s when I think they were trying to send me a message.”