19 Sep 2006

Singapore democracy campaigner ends standoff

Singapore - A Singapore pro-democracy activist on Tuesday ended a three-day standoff with police who stopped him from marching to the venue of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings.

Chee Soon Juan, 44, vowed to accelerate his fight for more freedom in the city-state and evoked memories of US civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr and India's Mahatma Gandhi.

"The world now knows the extent of the repression in Singapore and hopefully this will translate into pressure on the Singapore government to reform the system," said Chee, secretary-general of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.

"Over the next few months, we will step up our efforts to raise awareness of the need for democracy in Singapore," he said.

As a large contingent of international journalists watched, police blocked Chee and a handful of supporters on Saturday when they tried to leave a city park that serves as a government-designated free speech area.

About 30 plainclothes and uniformed police were still watching Chee's group Tuesday as a military helicopter conducted surveillance above them before he ended his protest at the edge of the park.

Under Singapore law, any public protest of at least five people without a permit is deemed illegal. Chee's applications for a permit were denied.

He made a final attempt just after midday Tuesday to proceed with his march but was stopped by the same plainclothes policeman who had been Chee's shadow since Saturday.

"I can't let you do that... because that assembly, you do not have a permit for that assembly," said the officer, who gave his name as Hassan.

Chee then made a speech to mark the end of his standoff.

"It may have come to a close but I assure you that our movement, our campaign for democracy, will grow and gain momentum and strength," Chee said as his supporters clapped.

"We will step up our efforts to recruit activists and train them and we will step up our efforts to organise more activities and more public protests in a peaceful manner," he said.

Chee said he will train fellow activists on the "theory and practice of non-violent action" as preached by civil rights campaigners Martin Luther King Jr in the United States, and India's Mahatma Gandhi.

Chee is one of the rare few in Singapore who have spoken out against the People's Action Party which has ruled since 1959.

He was protesting poverty and restrictions on freedom of speech in the city-state, which is one of Asia's wealthiest.

Despite appeals by the World Bank, Singapore refused to waive its long-standing protest restrictions during the meetings.

Police have defended their strict security measures, saying Singapore is a high-profile "terrorist" target.

Chee has served three jail terms -- a total of about two months -- for speaking publicly without a permit.

He and his sister were found by the Supreme Court last week to have defamed the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father and first prime minister.

The Lees sued Chee for implying that the prime minister was perpetuating a corrupt political system.

Chee was also declared a bankrupt in February for failing to pay 500,000 Singapore dollars (316,455 US dollars) in libel damages to the elder Lee and another former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, in a separate defamation suit.

Political stability has been the bedrock of the economic success of Singapore. The elder Lee said at a forum on governance Friday that the city-state cannot take the same approach as Western countries. He cited New Zealand and Denmark as examples because these nations have a "different physical, economic and geographical strategic base".

Agence France Presse

8 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

The quest should be that of FREEDOM. The more freedom, the better.

Democracy does not necessarily bring more freedom. In fact, if you look at human history is has brought more TYRANNY.

For those who are keen and enthusiastic about their hopes, dreams and lives, they might be better off studying the Principles and Practice of Freedom, rather than the "theory and practice of non-violent action".

Minding your own business, and leaving other people ALONE, is the ULTIMATE non-violent action.

Personal responsibility leads to individual freedom.


I shit you not!

**BTW Both Ghandi and King were assassinated. Ever wonder why??

Anonymous said...

Ghani and King were killed by haters of freedom and democracy. It sounds strange but truth is stranger than fiction.

Anonymous said...

they were assassinated because the killers had freedom

andrew said...

Photos of the March. More to come.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/80426038@N00/

Anonymous said...

**BTW Both Ghandi and King were assassinated. Ever wonder why?

Cant' wait for you to regale us and dazzle us.

Admiringly,

Grasshopper

Joe90 said...

Both Gandhi and MLK were killed because they both fought for freedom for everyone, not democracy.

Anonymous said...

please don't mention him in the same breath as gandhi and martin luther king.

he is no martyr for freedom or democracy...in fact, he doesn't even represents the people! he should spend the hours instead, thinking about why he doesn't have the support

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 05:41

> he should spend the hours instead, thinking about why he doesn't have the support

Damn. It's the consumer-demand-driven free market at work again :-)

Man, ain't that a bitch...

Freedom is an individual thing. Persons wishing to be free have the power of personal choice to do so.

Those who wish to "fight for anyone else" expose themselves to the likelihood of being murdered or incarcerated for their political "affirmative action".

Fuck that. I'm a Freedom Loving Free Marketeer Sovereign Consumer-Infidel! Let some other poor bastards die for their political ideologies!

You have to ask yourself why the wonderfully productive "middle class" doesn't give a hoot about "democracy". IMO, they are having too much of a good time — in spite of state interference.

In other words, they manage to live their lives without democracy and its mantra-chanting ideologue. So why bother? This is rational IGNORance at its finest.

"The People Get The Government They DESERVE"

Many from the "human rights" camp complain that "Singaporeans are too materialistic".

My response is leave the individuals in society ALONE to choose what the fuck they want for their lives — rightly or wrongly. This idea is called Personal Responsibility without which there can be NO FREEDOM.

They are the ones who work hard for their MONEY, and they are the ones who CHOOSE — rightly or wrongly.

In other words, if you are productive, you earn the right to have "more choice" — increase your freedom. Freedom is never and can never be FREE.

And "human rights" without rock-solid Individual and Private Property Rights amounts to "human wrongs.