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Statement of the World Movement for Democracy Steering Committee on charges leveled against Chee Soon Juan of Singapore
The Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy, a global network of democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and policy makers engaged in the promotion of democracy worldwide, condemns the recent charges leveled against World Movement participant, Dr Chee Soon Juan, by the Government of Singapore for attempting to leave the country without official permission.
The Committee has taken particular note of the fact that the alleged “offense” relates to Dr Chee’s efforts to attend the World Movement’s Fourth Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, in April 2006.
A nonviolent but outspoken critic of Singapore’s Government and secretary-general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, Dr Chee was forced to forfeit his passport as he was boarding a plane to attend the Istanbul Assembly.
If convicted of the charge, he faces a possible two years in jail and a fine of up to US$6,300. The Singapore Government also recently charged Dr Chee with speaking in public without a permit during a pro-democracy demonstration he attended with other activists in Singapore during the meetings there of the World Bank and IMF. A trial date on that charge has been set for October 25.
These actions and charges give the appearance of orchestrated efforts to restrain Dr Chee in his efforts to advance democracy in Singapore. In the circumstances, the Steering Committee calls upon the Singapore Government to drop all charges against him, to return his confiscated passport, to restore his right to travel freely abroad, and to permit him to exercise his democratic rights both within and outside the country of Singapore.
The World Movement for Democracy is based at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. (www.wmd.org)