Appeal for Singaporean activists – Dr Chee Soon Juan & Yap Keng Ho

11 Sep

This e-mail appeal was first spotted on Singabloodypore.  Dr Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party and another Singaporean activist, Yap Keng Ho has been convicted of speaking in public without a permit under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act. Dr Chee is appealing against the decision while Yap Keng Ho is currently being imprisoned for twenty days for refusing to pay his fine.

These charges were filed against both activists during the 2006 general elections when they were selling the party’s newspaper, The New Democrat.

In Dr Chee’s closing submission, he said,

… The across the board refusal of the Executive to issue permits is not consistent with the rule of administrative law, which requires rationality and good faith in the exercise of discretion, a willingness to consider situations on their merits rather than adopting rigid rules that have no basis in enabling legislation, and the interpretation and application of legislation in a manner that is consistent with the basic principles of a human rights, customary international law, Singapore’s solemn international commitments, and parliamentary democracy…

Below is the letter appeal from AI Canada, Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia,  Margaret John:

To: Singapore/Malaysia Network
Dear friends,
PLEASE SEND IMMEDIATELY SUPPORTIVE MESSAGES TO JAILED ACTIVIST

I am sorry — once again — to share with you concern about the treatment of Singapore’s most prominent opposition leader and human rights defender, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and his colleague Yap Keng Ho. In yet another trial, Dr Chee was convicted of speaking in public without a permit under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act and fined S$10,000 or 10 weeks in prison. He is lodging an appeal. Yap Keng Ho, was similarly convicted and is serving a 20-day jail term after refusing to pay a S$2,000 fine (roughly equivalent to the Canadian dollar). The charges were related to the selling of their party newspaper during the 2006 elections.

Dr Chee argued that the charge against him is a red herring, since the Ministry for Home Affairs and police have stated that no permits will be issued for outdoor political events. Dr Chee said that such a ban clearly violated the Constitution and was therefore legally invalid. He pointed out that, as a citizen of Singapore, he is guaranteed fundamental freedoms of speech, expression and peaceful assembly.

I AM ASKING YOU TO SEND IMMEDIATELY MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO YAP KENG HO, NOW HELD IN CHANGI PRISON. SUCH MESSAGES ARE OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE, AS RECENTLY EXPRESSED BY THE SDP’S ASSISTANT SECRETAR-GENERAL JOHN TAN, WHO HAD RECEIVED MESSAGES WHEN IMPRISONED.

All good wishes,

Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia

TAKE ACTION

1. Please send IMMEDIATE messages saying you support his right to freedom of expression to:

Yap Keng Ho
Detainee
Changi Prison
982 Upper Changi Road North
Singapore 507709

2. Please write a courteous letter:

* Express your concern about penalties continuing to be imposed on government critics, including Dr Chee Soon Juan, for exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly;
* Urge that Singapore should ensure that government critics and human rights defenders be accorded all the rights guaranteed in Singapore’s Constitution and international human rights treaties, including the Un Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
* Refer to the government’s promises of a more open society allowing greater diversity of views and request information on the implementation of such developments.

WRITE TO:

President S R Nathan
Office of the President of Singapore
Orchard Road
Singapore 238823
E-mail: s_r_nathan@istana.gov.sg
Fax: 011 65 6737 5522
Salutation: Dear President
COPIES TO:

His Excellency Koh Yong Guan
Singapore High Commissioner to Canada
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tanglin
Singapore 248163
E-mail: yong_guan_koh@cpf.gov.sg
Fax: 011 65 6474 7885


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