a community of singaporeans

TOC Breaking News: Police allow SDP march to Parliament

Posted by theonlinecitizen on September 16, 2007

The police have allowed a protest march by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) activists to take place without incident. At 3.10 pm this afternoon, a group of six SDP activists turned up at Singapore’s Speaker’s Corner at Hong Lim Park to commemorate the first anniversary of an abortive protest.

Wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words Democracy Now, the marchers were greeted by a handful of curious onlookers at Hong Lim Park. They then sang the anthem of the American Civil Rights movement, We Shall Overcome before moving off to Parliament House at 3.20 pm. On reaching Parliament House, the marchers recited the National pledge.

Last year’s march was prevented by scores of uniformed police, and resulted in a three day standoff that was covered extensively by the international press. In contrast, this year’s march saw no uniformed police presence, with only around five plainclothes policemen in attendance videotaping the procession.

The marchers intend to walk from Parliament House to Queenstown Remand Prison, where their Secretary-General Dr Chee Soon Juan is being held. He is serving a three-week prison sentence in lieu of paying a fine for attempting to leave Singapore as an undischarged bankrupt.

Two days before the march, police sent letters to the activists involved in last year’s event warning that ‘the same leniency may not be shown’.

Section 5 (4) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act makes it an offence to organize an ‘assembly or procession’ without a police permit.

The Online Citizen will continue to post live updates and pictures from the march.


16 Responses to “TOC Breaking News: Police allow SDP march to Parliament”

  1. Well, that’s interesting to hear. However, I would not call it progress or liberalisation so soon.

  2. Gerald said

    “five plainclothes policemen in attendance videotaping the procession”
    “Two days before the march, police sent letters to the activists involved in last year’s event warning that ‘the same leniency may not be shown’.”

    Perhaps the police have calculated that, rather than create a scene, they’ll just video tape it and then use it as evidence to arrest and charge them later. Also, CSJ was not there so that might have been a factor in their “light touch”.

  3. Perhaps they realised the cost of pursuing such an expensive move.

    Maybe one day, things might progress to such a point that any enforcement of Section 5(4)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act will be as costly (in the foreign policy and global image arena) as enforcing Section 377A because of the negative attention it might get.

  4. […] on September 17th, 2007 Democracy Now Hong Lim Park Protest March – The Online Citizen: TOC Breaking News: Police allow SDP march to Parliament – The Online Citizen: Hong Lim Park protest – revisited – News Release by UncleYap: Activists […]

  5. anon said

    Maybe they are getting some hints from The Community of Democracies.

    The diverse group of 16 governments that make up the Community of Democracies Convening Group, which is responsible for issuing invitations to the club’s fourth ministerial meeting, decided not to invite Thailand, Fiji, Singapore, Qatar, Venezuela, Bangladesh and Tunisia, all of whom had participated in or observed the last meeting held in Santiago in 2005. Their exclusion is consistent with the recommendations of the experts panel and underscores the Convening Group’s determination to keep out those governments which have failed to uphold the democracy and human rights commitments of the group.

  6. Pui Yee said

    i believe they will be sneaky – taping the “evidence” so that they could charge the activists at some crucial point in time e.g pre-election etc.

    it is ridiculous that a “clean” government cannot bear to see some peasants walking along together with a common objective. hahahahah…

  7. RaymondChua said

    There is without doubt that the gov is treating those opp party as terrorist ! Filming their movement, asking stupid question ,etc.

  8. loupgarou said

    we shall see, or they have learnt, making a scene results in people caring…

    so…today, its nothing to see here. move along….

  9. sevenleleven said

    for once, a march is approved but cycling not.

  10. It’s all about managing the spin. Post-modernism mah..

  11. James Chia said

    They allowed it probably because of the pressure from the exclusion of Singapore from the Global Club of Democracies. They didn’t want the foreign media to create more negative news about us at this moment of time.

  12. Daniel said

    I don’t think that plainclothes police should merely film an illegal act to use as evidence later. It is the duty of police to stop crimes in progress, not just document them. If police witness a bank robbery, are they supposed to just film it, or are they supposed to intercede? Because it looks to me as if the police aren’t doing their job. They are supposed to be enforcing the law, not being cameramen. So here we actually have two problems…we have police who videotape lawbreakers instead of arresting them, and we have a stupid law that they are embarassed to enforce in the first place.

  13. sarek_home said

    There are many situations where police will wait for a better time and situation to act. Let’s use the bank robbery case as example. The police may not intercede to avoid a hostage situation.

    While certain laws are “embarrassed to enforce” in the public, the police will just enforce them in a not so public situation. This current event is quite similar to the Freedom Walk event in December last year. The walkers were also warned by police and there was no arrest at the time. We have almost forgotten the event, but the police had started to call up the people involved in the Walk for investigation in recent months. Is this the reason why the few young people seen in the Freedom Walk were not involved this time round?

  14. Clarence said

    hahaha this is something only the Singapore police can do. Other countries’ policemen actually have crime on their hands.

    so what does it say about Singapore?

    we’re really safe! =)

    maybe the police force should start trimming its manpower to save taxpayers’ money.

  15. Well, whatever the reason for the delay in public enforcement, the fact is that Section 377A and Section 5(4) are outdated pieces of legislation and should be repealed to ensure that there is equality and suffrage.

  16. RaymondChua said

    Look like the police force start to have crude mentality and complacency. So many thief don’t catch, only want to catch innocent people to appease the dictator.

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