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TOC Breaking News: 4 SDP members arrested outside Istana

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 8, 2007

LATEST: The 5 SDP members (including Jeffrey George who was taping the whole event on his video camera) were released at 9.28pm on $1,000 bail each. TOC understands that they have been charged under the Prohibition of assemblies and procession – Istana – Section 5 (2) Cap 184.

At about 1.30pm today (Oct 8), police arrested 4 members of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party for protesting against the Singapore government’s involvement with the Burmese junta.

The 4 were Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr John Tan.

Holding aloft placards with the words “No Arms, No Deals, With The Junta” and a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi, the four stood on the opposite side of the Istana. Swiftly, the police came and gave them warning that what they were doing was illegal and advised them to disperse.

The four declined. Shortly after, 2 police vans arrived and the officers proceeded to arrest the four, one by one – starting with Dr Chee Soon Juan.

Burmese ambassador refused to receive signed petition

Earlier in the day, at 11 am, the SDP members were at the Burmese embassy at St Martin’s Drive to deliver a petition to the Burmese ambassador. The petition had been signed by more than 1,200 people in the past 8 days.

In it, the petition called for the Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi, to enter into dialogue with opposition parties and to restore democracy to Burma.

Mr Ambalam spoke to an embassy staff member and told him that they were there to deliver the petition and requested to see the ambassador. The embassy staff replied that the ambassador declines to receive the petition personally and that he would deliver it to him.

The SDP members, after some insistence, relented and agreed. However, when Mr Ambalam started to read the petition out loud, the staff member refused to listen further and turned and walked back into the embassy, without the petition.

The SDP delegation then spoke with the embassy security guard and asked if he would request the ambassador to come to the gates and receive the petition. The guard went into the embassy while everyone waited. After about 7 or 8 minutes, he returned and confirmed that the ambassador would not be coming out. The guard then offered to deliver the petition to the ambassador instead.

The SDP agreed and Dr Chee read out the entire petition. He then put the petition, along with the stack of signatures, into an envelope and handed it to the guard.


After a delay of about an hour because of the heavy downpour, the SDP members proceeded to the Istana gates at about 1pm. There they spoke with an officer of the Istana and requested to see the private secretary of the Prime Minister in order to hand over a letter to him for the PM.

They were told that the private secretary was not available at the moment and would only be so at about 2pm. The SDP delegation said they would wait. They then unveiled the placards which they had brought along with them and stood at the side of the Istana gates.

A police officer told them that they could not do this and requested that they moved elsewhere to wait for the private secretary. The SDP members agreed and walked to the opposite side of the Istana, across the road.

There they again stood in a line and held up their placards.

Swiftly, a plainclothes police officer warned them that what they were doing was unlawful and asked them to disperse. He also told them that they would be arrested if they refused to do so.

2 police vans had by now arrived on the scene.

When the four SDP members continued to stand there with their placards, the police officers proceeded to arrest them one by one, starting with Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee, Mr Gandhi and then Mr John Tan.

Read also: Protecting the sacred cows behind electric fences


59 Responses to “TOC Breaking News: 4 SDP members arrested outside Istana”

  1. shamil said

    they did to be arrested and to make a statment.
    but to make a statment there must be coverage by the mainstream media.lets see what happens.

  2. And will someone tell the UN Security Council that while we were officially condemning Burma in New York, Singaporean activists are arrested for doing the same thing on their own level in Singapore.

    Hypocrisy at its raw truth. Regardless of whether an offence has been committed or not.

  3. […] Do also read TOC’s breaking news report with photos, 4 SDP members arrested outside Istana […]

  4. Roger said

    Hypocricy indeed,but then thats the trade mark of the PAP and its facist regime.Do as we say not as we do !

  5. Gary said

    Government practices double standard, on one hand it condemned the Burma Government of suppressing the civilians, on the other hand, the government arrested its own citizens for supporting Free Burma Cause.

  6. Ted said

    This is disgusting. The whole world ought to know the pathethic truth about the singapore government.

  7. LifesLikeThat said

    ASEAN Chairman Behaving Like Burmese Junta!

    What a disgrace!

  8. It’ll be utterly humourous if our Ambassador to the UN is taken aside after another Burmese crisis meeting and enquired about the arrest of people who are walking the talk that we are speaking in the plush UN building.

  9. TakBolehTahan said

    What is the difference between them sitting in St. Martin’s Drive and standing in front of the Istana? Why didn’t the police arrest them in front of the Myanmar Embassy. Again, double standards. I guess the Police were weary of arresting any Myanmar citizens at St. Martin’s for fear of any negative repercussions. Sadly this is the state of affairs in Singapore.

  10. […] See my related post 24-hour protest outside Istana cut short by arrests. My thanks to TOC for this video which accompanies their report. […]

  11. Hi TOC, You guys have been doing wonderful work with reporting of such events and more. Please keep up the good work. 😉

  12. Where are they being held? Can we visit them/wait somewhere for them?

  13. Steven said

    They deserved it. With current sensitive situation in Burma, they are playing with fire by inciting the feelings of Myanmarese in Singapore who are mostly law-abiding foreigners against Singaporeans. No wonder sensible Singaporeans will never vote for them.

  14. Hmmmmm said

    What is wrong with 4 Singaporeans standing opposite Istana and carrying boards with words. Which law did they break ?

    I use to stand there and look at Istana too carrying my drawing materials and sketching the beautiful gates of Singapore’s Greatest Home.

  15. laughable said

    and a bunch of Ang moh girls protesting is ok? Funny, one nation, 2 system…

  16. ST / CNA said

    the news report is like there were 5 people – 5 or 4 ??

  17. ST/CNA,

    There were 4 protesters. The other person arrested and charged was also an SDP member who was video-taping the proceedings but did not take part in the protest.

    So, in total, there were 5 people charged but only 4 took part in the demonstration.

  18. James Chia said

    I think PAP has mismanaged this arrest. It will further dent their reputation in the world.

  19. 80 year old granny said

    oi – James Chia,

    what reputation?

  20. Afraid said

    I am afraid to speak up like Dr. Chee Soon Juan. I don’t want to be arrested. I rather sit on the side lines and comment on his arrest from far away where nobody can see me. I have a good job. My pay is good. There is food to eat. I’m happy.

  21. Steven said

    Gary Says:
    October 8th, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Naive singaporeans thinking

  22. ooops... said

    Walau, no wonder I go in the afternoon only saw police.

    For all who say that CSJ and SDP is milking the Burma situation for whatever reasons, I’d say what 80-year-old granny said, “Most Singaporeans boh lampar!” To me, they’ve got balls in their beliefs. They walk the talk unlike those who hurt us after the election… GST increase, Compulsory Annuity, Delayed CPF Retirement Account etc.

    George Bush said, “If you are not with me, you are with the terrorists.” Guess S’pore junta says, “If you are not with me, you must be Stupid!”

    Well, I believe if you are not with them, you’ve got soul, you walk with your head held high and, chances are, you are not a hypocrite and you are less afraid.

    But you may be a little poorer for not carrying testicles 🙂


  23. Huh said

    Chee’s eyes are rolling in all directions and his head is swaying, like as if he kena “gong tao”. Is he going crazy?

  24. kitsura said

    I can see the police is very busy serving the political cause of their masters. Where are they when someone is being assulted and needs help? Most likely sleeping in a patrol car in a multi-storey carpark somewhere…

  25. Singapore Resident said

    Dr Chee kena sabo leh…probably given wrong date for viewing change of guards ceremony
    Fronting the main Istana Gate, the park provides a vantage point for people keen to view the monthly changing of guards ceremony at the Istana.

  26. Singapore Resident said

    # ST / CNA Says:
    the news report is like there were 5 people – 5 or 4 ??

    You want the breakdown for “Singaporean residents” or “foreigners”?
    Strictly speaking, the Singaporean doesn’t exist…

  27. Allan said

    This is just as what I’ve expected . CSJ have never failed to invoke mixed feelings from me – sympathy and callousness .

  28. Bacts said

    To Steven:
    October 8th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    They are doing what the world is doing, so the whole world is not sensible? The galmen may have their reason for whatever they do, but the citizen should have their right to voice out. I personally don’t see what they did wrong under the law. Read this,

  29. Mizra said

    maybe i am stupid… but isnt this exactly the same as wat we are condemning in Burma. Arresting monks, here agreed there is no violence or torture yet.. but is it not in principle the same thing?? burma like singapore does not allow peaceful protest!! so y arent we having a campaign to free the doctor!!!

  30. […] Burmese Protests – Chemical Generation Singapore: Caught in the Crossfire – The Online Citizen: 4 SDP members arrested outside Istana – Pseudonymity: 24-hour Protest Outside Istana Cut Short by Arrests – Singapore Patriot: Sydney […]

  31. totalitar said

    Modern fascist Totalitarian Police State = Singapore.


    WHY? WHY?

  32. Toe said

    The SDP guys deserve to go to Prison.
    They did so in order to sell their name to the public.
    But after all, Nobody cares…
    I would agree if these Burmanese People with them. but since no burmanese with them.
    they have no stake of any kind at all.
    WHAT kind of Petition they think they are doing….
    I thought they are bit more smarter…

  33. twasher said

    What kind of society breeds people who think that people deserve to go to prison because they attempted to ‘sell their name to the public’?

  34. LifesLikeThat said


    The answer: The kind of society which produces ignorant fools.

  35. jack said

    I asked the police to dig their conscience to see what they are doing is right. They are paid by taxpayers, iso of serving the people, they are more interested in serving their political masters. Do not always say its the law. Its the law for Hitler to exterminate the Jews during WW2 , its the law for Mao
    to persecute his own people whose ideologies were not to his liking and its also the law in Singapore to be in the polling station if you are not the candidate in the constituency.

  36. James Chia said

    Jack, I think sometimes the policemen are just following orders or they could have been badly brainwashed by the people in the establishment. Some others. as what you said, could be only interested in serving their political masters.

  37. Action lah talk talk talk only said

    change the people who set these stupid rules for the game cos the other player like us are being played out. have to wait for 4 more yrs for such opportunity, so now just lan lan and continue to be punching bag for them.

  38. Rachel said

    They have my respect. There is absolutely nothing unlawful with that and I think they have become an eyesore for the government already hence the arrest. The Big PAPpy doesn’t like to lose face you see. It is all about that.

  39. Bacts said

    Check This, two petition submitted, two outcome.

  40. Rachel said

    Double standards, double speak, double headed… welcome to Singapore.

    No surprising though because our government is made up of a bunch of face loving, opposition hating daft elites.

  41. shamil said

    I must agree with Mizra.Here we are talking sooo much about protesting aginst the Junta for not allowing peaceful protest and yet when one of our own goes down for the exact same reason we just keep quiet.And he is fighting for a right that we don’t even have in Singapore.

    If we hold a forum for the Burmese we should hold a forum for these Singaporeans too.they too are being harrased for trying to practice a basic human right.

    Why the double standards TOC?
    hold a forum for these Singaporeans for basic human rights,for the right to be free from fear.

    Ok lets say that it was not Dr Chee who got arrested lets say it was a student who after attending the forum on FREE BURMA in NUS got sooo moved that he went to do what Dr Chee did and got arrested instead.Would anyone hold a campaign to free the student?
    they’re human too.

  42. Afraid2 said

    Let’s all stop talking and protest outside the Istana, like Dr. Chee, for our basic right to Freedom of Speech. Let’s be brave and stand up for what we believe is right. Change can only happen when do something about it. We cannot let others dictate our basic freedom. When we gather peacefully in large numbers, we will change the rules that others set. After all, it is OUR country. Dr. Chee started with a gathering of 4 people. Let’s show him our support by increasing that number to 10 people. Or 100. Or 1000.

    On second thought…nevermind. I’m afraid too. I don’t want to get arrested. I’m contented with my life. I’ve a nice car. A nice HDB flat. It’s not as if I’m hungry with no food to eat. OK, let’s continue hashing it out on the Internet instead, where nobody can see us.

  43. […] Oct 8, a small group of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) activists handed over a memorandum to the […]

  44. sarek_home said

    Hi Bacts,

    Regarding this Check This, two petition submitted, two outcome, SDP members had submitted petition letters to Istana before and there was no arrest. The arrest this time round is not the result of attempting to submit the petition. It was the result of attempting to hold a protest outside Istana.


  45. sarek_home said

    Let’s all stop talking and protest outside the Istana, like …..

    Something for everyone to think about:

    The homosexual group arranged some activities at Botanic Garden and was stopped by the police. As vocal and active in promoting their cause as they are, they chose not to confront the police to get arrested.

    Did they get the publicity they wanted?
    Was it the more sensible tactic to use?

  46. Bacts said

    To sarek_home,
    October 10th, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear in my comment and post. I actually wish to highlight that different approach towards our government gets different respond from them. The political world is a tough one, that’s why, I admire Dr Chee for his passion and bravery, and really respected him for his willingness to sacrifice his life for all these. Thought I agree some of his views for certain thing and share his vision for the future of Singapore, but I really hope he would change his approach and improve his relationship with our government, I believe in that way, it may work better and benefit Singaporean accordingly.

  47. sarek_home said

    Hi Bacts,

    Thanks for the clarification. People who experienced long term unemployment or retired from work know of the feeling of losing their self-worth and identity. Their work identity is a major part of their life. When they stop working, that part of their life die with them.

    You said: “really respected him for his willingness to sacrifice his life for all these.“. It is more appropriate to say that at certain point in time, Dr Chee had redefined his life / identity around a quest of fight against PAP. That quest has become his life and he can only soldier on to keep himself alive.

    Yes, different approach towards our government gets different respond from them as I pointed out in comment entry 45. But I am afraid such approach is too plain for the liking of Dr Chee, his group, and his supporters. So their course is fixed, they can’t and they are not willing to change their approach.

    Do you really think Dr Chee wants to improve his relationship with the government?


  48. Bacts said

    You are right. It is veyr enlightening, thanks. 🙂

  49. Mizra said

    i dont understand.. y r we talking ab Dr Chee’s methods of engaging the govt??? its a matter of right and wrong!!! did anyone question if the burmese monks used the best tactics to engage the junta!!! this is not about approach or tactics or strategy!!! this is about the same freedom that we r so strongly fighting for the burmese but ignoring for our own citizens!!!! Like wat shamil, said y the double standards!!!!!!

  50. sarek_home said

    i dont understand.. y r we talking ab Dr Chee’s methods of engaging the govt???

    Because we have no disagreement regarding this its a matter of right and wrong!!! part, so we move on to the next step – the approach.

  51. Mizra said


    If there is a consensus that the govt is wrong – the next step in not what approach should be taken. The next step should be to tell them it is wrong!!! and since u highlighted that there can be no disagreement, its not a grey area where there may be a need for discussion!!!! its so clear cut!!! to re-iterate the next step must be to condemn these actions, the only way that relationships can be improved is if the parties accept their mistakes or at least stop committing more!!so please free the doctor….

  52. sarek_home said


    Are you suggesting the Burmese monks did not discuss what approach to do before they started their protest?
    Are you suggesting that Dr Chee did not discuss what approach to do with his team before they started their long quest against PAP?
    Are you aware of the on-going discussion of what approach to take in UN regarding the Junta?

    Please read what I said in comment 45. If you want to function in the real world, you should observe the reality.


  53. blacktshirt said

    Even if SDP’s intentions were to provide the Burmese with an outlet. do they have to resort to sensationalism?


    The photos were actually from Insurgency in Southern Thailand Pattani. See the originals here

    Sheer sensationalism

  54. familyman said

    It is true that the police are just carrying out their duties enshrined in the singapore laws. Thus what needs to be done is to try and repeal the laws that prevent us from holding a meaningful peaceful protest, like the ones done by the Monks in Burma, Thais in Bangkok to prevent the Tharksin corruption, Philipinoes that brought down Marcos and how the Indonesians peacefully removed Suharto. (we are embarrassing by this yardstick)
    The Burmese have said it is an internal issue and kind of poo-pooed the UN security council statements. This is so typically Singapore Govt style where we say that only Singaporeans can comment on our internal policies. THIS IS SCARY -wonder who they learn that from…

  55. My CPF said

    Watch this frightful documentary. I recall what LKY said about how he would shoot to maintain order in Tiananmen – now we know why the junta must always be there – like the PAP.

    I hope that PAP realises the limits they can play with our CPF, and pray for a change internally, within the 80 PAP members. If and when that happens, then I agree with LKY that a regime change is not necessary, but for that to happen, PAP has to change within. For one, I would like to see a repeal of the recently endorsed law – that OUR CPF monies be released to us at 55 years od as was told to us 40 years ago – not 62, not 65 nor 67. It is not for Ho Ching to plunder in the latest sexy stocks.

  56. noone said

  57. If not me, who?
    If not now, when?

    As much as the Chee siblings and SDP has been portrayed as stupid irresponsible trouble-makers to Singapore, they have done their part in creating more active citizens. Their action at the Burma Embassy and the Istana speaks volume of their courage in going against the grain of the rulers: “Either you are with me, or you must be stupid!”

    Though there are rumours going around that CSJ may have been planted by PAP to do a good-cop-bad-cop charade, I’d like to think that CSJ is above that. To go in and out of jail with family, wife and kids missing you is too much a price to pay.

    I think freedom is another word for having nothing left to lose. He may have reached the stage of freedom from fear. To be pushed into a corner, to be called a cheat, a liar and to be continuously run down is not a comfortable place to be. With the responses to his actions, I’m not surprised that the fear factor has migrated to the other side. In fact, CSJ is awakening more people to the sophisticated ways that the ruling party has been controlling our lives – CPIB, NS, CPF, HDB and what-have-you!

    His latest arrest is another milestone in showing the double standard that is prevalent in Singapore. Fortunately, with the help of blogsphere, active Singaporeans, in their own little way, can and will “build a democratic society based on justice and equality.”

    To “My CPF”, I’d say, “Yes, they shifted the goalposts too many times, and I wish I had all my savings at 55 too! Now I’m writing in protest of the Compulsory Annuity and further delay of retirement payout. I resent the way they consume my childrens’ CPF through Compulsory Annuity.


  58. noone said

    Bush expresses thanks to Singapore.

    See Singapore is right.


  59. […] 2. 4 SDP members arrested outside Istana, The Online Citizen, 8 October 2007 […]

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