Guilty(?)

December 22, 2009

I was hardly surprised when the judge Ch’ng Lye Beng pronounced me and my Party colleagues guilty last week (read report here).

However, I must say that the maximum sentence that was generously doled out was unexpected. You see, this is the first time I have been “convicted” of any offence. In other words, I do not have a record, in legal parlance, no antecedence. Yet, the judge decided that I would have to be sentenced to the heaviest fine possible.

I guess I didn’t quite sound as contrite as the judge would have liked me to when asked if I had a mitigation plea. I told him “I continue to say that what we did was not a crime. Criticising one’s government is a right guaranteed in a democratic society. By finding us guilty you are as good as saying that we do not have this right. By pronouncing us guilty you are also saying that Singapore is not a democratic society and that this government is an undemocratic one.”

Let’s see what happens when the appeal for this matter is heard in High Court next year.

Happy 2010!

Source: Singapore Democrats

District Judge Ch’ng Lye Beng found Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin guilty of distributing pamphlets criticising the PAP Government without a permit and fined the three SDP leaders the maximum amount of $1,000 each with one week’s jail in default.

The Judge agreed with the Prosecution that distributing flyers in a group of 5 or more persons criticising the PAP Government’s policies is an offence. He gave the decision in court yesterday morning, adding that most of the evidence submitted was irrelevant. The group had distributed flyers at the Raffles City Shopping Centre on 10 Sep 06 questioning the ministers’ salaries as well as the denial of political rights to Singaporeans (see here).

Judge Ch’ng did not give reasons for his verdict. The Defendants will appeal the conviction whereupon the Judge will then have to give his grounds of decision. The sentence will be held in abeyance pending the appeal.

The SDP leaders argued that to make illegal criticism of the Government is itself unlawful under the Constitution and a breach of the principles of the rule of law.

In particular they emphasized that the Miscellaneous Offences Act under which they have ben charged has been abused by the police to target and criminalise legitimate political activity conducted by the opposition.

After the sentence was passed Ms Chee rose to tell the Judge:

“I continue to say that what we did was not a crime. Criticising one’s government is a right guaranteed in a democratic society. By finding us guilty you are as good as saying that we do not have this right. By pronouncing us guilty you are also saying that Singapore is not a democratic society and that this government is an undemocratic one. That is all.”

Wakey wakey Mr. Lee

November 30, 2009

https://i1.wp.com/www.lee-kuan-yew.com/leekuanyew-listening.jpgFirst he caused the catastrophic shortage of Singapore’s population by making us stop producing after two kids, then he opened his mouth to proclaim the “Golden Period” only to have global economy plunge into depths of depression, and now he says the bilingual policy that has left an indelible scar on hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans,  is a mistake.

Good grief.

For someone who has been showered with awards and accolades for his leadership, Lee Kuan Yew sure screwed up a lot of lives through his erroneous decisions and wild proclamations.

We don’t have to pay over $3,000,000 for someone to make social policies (unilaterally, probably) that destroy lives only for him to do an about face decades later and admit to his mistake.

An awakening, perhaps, when you become an octogenarian.

Here is a list of wrong decisions Mr. Lee might want to awaken to some really really time soon. Of course this list is not exhaustive:

  1. Making the death penalty mandatory for drug mules
  2. Wasting our money in paying his ministers millions of dollars each year
  3. Withholding our CPF savings even after we have retired
  4. Still insisting that the ISA was used to protect Singapore from the left-winged groups and worse, that the detainees were never tortured
  5. Criminalising homosexuality
  6. Ensuring that public institutions such as law enforcement agencies, the legal entity, media etc work for the interest of the public, not the ruling party
  7. Suppressing our wages through employing cheap foreign labour

Minister Lee should wake up soon to realise the senseless waste of lives and human potential that his government is perpetuating.

Cheap petrol and no rights

November 2, 2009

trafficIt was a nightmare on the roads last Saturday. I was caught in at least three traffic jams on my way to Eunos.

All of them were caused by the petrol discount that Shell was offering that day. I was appalled by the congestion that the cars queuing up for cheap petrol was causing. The slip road from the PIE to Paya Lebar Road was choc-a-bloc. There was obvious frustration for road users near any Shell station that day.

However, all the news that was reported by Mediacorp that night was how long some drivers had waited to get tanks filled and how much savings they made. Nothing was said about the havoc that these cars-in-waiting had caused.

Compare this major disruption to traffic flow in many areas to the fear of public disorder that the police were concerned about, leading them to charge me and four others for distributing flyers at Raffles City in 2006.

So it’s okay for public disorder to occur when it’s for commercial purposes but if it is to advocate for rights of citizens, it is an offence.

I guess you can buy cheap petrol but you can’t buy dignity and rights.

8I’m two shades darker and my face more freckled than a couple of weeks ago. No, it’s not because I’ve been frolicking at the beach. It’s because I’ve been moving from place to place in the blazing noon sun to sell The New Democrat (TND).

It’s been exhausting as my colleagues and I have been standing at street corners and hawker centres to sell my party newspaper. But this is necessary. With all the demonization, persecution and then black out by the local media about the SDP, this is the only way we can get accurate information out to the public.

Almost invariably, strangers come up to tell us that they support us or push a $10 note into our hands and tell us to keep the change.

Even though it sometimes gets gruelling, my colleagues and I will continue to ensure that the TND gets into the hands of as many people as possible.

Here is a promotional video for The New Democrat:

The Visit

September 23, 2009

https://i2.wp.com/yoursdp.org/images/stories/the-party/nursing_home_group1.jpgI really enjoyed our visit to the home for the elderly last weekend. I spoke to several residents at some length. One was a 93 year old lady. She spoke fantastic English and that made it much easier for me to converse with her. She is still healthy and mobile.

Then there was this other resident who spoke some kind of dialect that none of us understood. She held my hand and smiled and cried at the same time. All I could do was to say in a mixture of Hokkien and Chinese that we will be back to see her. It was hard to leave her.

The noisy atmosphere was brought on by the eight kids we had in tow. At first they were wary and shy. They didn’t even dare to offer the pastries and drinks to the folks. But in about 10 minutes, I saw the kids whizzing by asking for more drinks and cakes for them to serve. They went from room to room to make sure that everyone was visited and had their makanan. At the end of the visit, one of my nieces asked if we could go visit another home that afternoon.

It was so good to see the faces brighten up and thanking us for visiting them. The residents told me that they hardly get out. There just isn’t enough staff to take them out. Well, I hope to take several of them to the park not too long from now. This will be such a treat for them… and us.

Related: Democrats visit nursing home as part of community service

Indignation

August 17, 2009

images(2)Indignation is Singapore’s Gay Pride season where events to create awareness of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) take place for a month. The first season started in 2005.

This year, several of us from the SDP and our friends attended the opening that was launched on 1 August at Theatreworks. The organisers of the event were the folks from People Like Us (PLU). Mr. Siew Kum Hong was conferred the Dignity Award from PLU for speaking up for the dignity and equality of gays. The former NMP was given a rousing applause and standing ovation when he gave his brief acceptance speech.

Mr. Alex Au and Dr. Russell Heng who spearheaded the event spoke about how gays or any other minority group in Singapore should be not be discriminated against.

The evening ended with poetry reading by Mr. Koh Jee Leong a poet who is based in the US. The audience was told that the Media Development Authority (MDA) had at the last minute required the three poems entitled Brother, Blowjob and Hungry Ghosts to be submitted for review. The MDA came back with a M18 rating. Amidst sniggers, the compere was obligated to ask those who were under 18 years of age to leave the room before the poems could be read.

I believe that every citizen regardless or creed, religion, race or sexual orientation should be treated with respect, equality and dignity. We hope our LGBT friends will not be subjected to harassment by the government for the activities that they have organised during their Pride month.

Click on this banner to visit Indignation’s website:banner_horiz400