Apr 17, 2006, 2:27 GMT
Singapore - An opposition party leader was being investigated by police for speaking without a licence ahead of Singapore's upcoming general election, officials said Monday.
Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and his aide, Yap Keng Ho, set up tables, displayed party banners and took turns addressing residents through a microphone during the weekend.
Disqualified in 2002 from taking part in the election when he was fined 3,000 Singapore dollars (1,851 US dollars), Chee was talking to residents Sunday about other party members who are likely candidates.
Anyone fined 2,000 Singapore dollars (1,234 US) or jailed for one year is barred from running in an election for five years.
The SDP and other opposition parties are aiming to increase their number of seats in parliament from the current two out of 84, while the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is aiming for a clean sweep.
The PAP, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965, has never lost more than four seats.
Plainclothes police officers advised Chee and Yap to stop their activities because they did not have a licence to speak in public.
The two continued speaking while several uniformed officers turned up. About 30 minutes later, Chee told the listeners he had to leave.
Police said they were investigating the incident for a possible breach under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act. Chee was also warned Saturday and on four other occasions since November, police said.
The penalty for speaking in public without a licence carries a maximum fine of 10,000 Singapore dollars (6,172 US dollars).
Every election since 1991 has been a walkover on nomination day for the PAP, with the cash-strapped and fragmented opposition fielding too few candidates. This time, the opposition is serious about going for more seats.
The opposition claims they have been additionally muzzled by the government's ban on political podcasts of videocasts containing content such as election rallies or views on the polls during the campaign period.
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has been given the job of campaigning on behalf of the PAP candidates in the two opposition- held wards.
Chiam See Tong, the 71-year-old head of the Singapore Democratic Alliance, has been in parliament since 1984 and Low Thia Khiang for more than 15 years.
The election is likely to take place in the first two weeks of May, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong seeking a huge mandate for his own rule.
Lee, the 54-year-old son of founding father Lee Kuan Yew, became premier when Goh stepped down in August 2004.
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur