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Seelan Palay: Sylvia Lim was right

In Political governance, Public Administration on 08/10/2017 at 1:46 pm

Here I made fun of Seelan Palay’s latest attempt to test the OB markers: he crossed a red line after the police tried very hard not to arrest him, but he persisted, “After several failed attempts by the Police to persuade Seelan to leave the area, he was arrested by the Police at 3.20pm.” (TOC report)

Two years ago I wrote about how one person can be arrested for an illegal assembly

Jogging alone can be illegal?

If wearing the wrong tee-shirt or singlet?

Try walkng or jogging alone* wearing a “Free our CPF” singlet: remember that any public assembly of more than one person** needs police permission.

And jogging in a group of two or more”Free our CPF” singlets will be like jogging in groups in Burundi: illegal.

Running is a national pastime in Burundi, with hundreds of people out jogging on weekend mornings. But in March [2014] the authorities banned jogging in groups – unless permission was sought from the authorities. It affects all group sports in the capital, which can now only be played in designated areas.

Jogging by Lake Tanganyika

The restrictions followed the arrest of some opposition members who were out jogging and chanting political slangs. Police officers tried to stop what they regarded as an illegal march and the situation deteriorated into clashes. More than 40 Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) party members received sentences ranging from five years to life.

Burundi: Where jogging is a crime

Wonder what about wearing a tee shirt with a Oppo party logo, drinking teh tarik as social media celebrities Ravi and Jeannette Chong used to do when they were NSP tua kees.

And what about the crowds assembling to pay their respects to LKY? What about the crowds at the National Museum LKY exhibition?

Seems anything the PAP administration or the SPF doesn’t like can be an illegal assembly.

Related post: PAP uses Lawfare against its opponents?

———‘

*Auntie Sylvia was absolutely right in 2007 and 2009 when she spoke out publicly:

The change in definition of “assembly” and “procession” is more disturbing. As the Explanatory Statement to the Bill says, these words are no longer restricted to gatherings of 5 persons or more. This means even ONE person alone can constitute illegal assembly, thus giving the State complete control over an individual citizen’s freedoms.

‘First, to say that 1 person constitutes an assembly is certainly an abuse of the word. Secondly, is the government making the change because there had been incidents involving less than 5 persons which had disrupted public life? Unless there is compelling evidence to prove to us that expanding the definition of assembly and procession is needed, this expansion does not deserve our support,”  Sylvia Lim in parly in 2009.

Earlier, in 2007, she had said:

“This refers to clauses 29 and 30 of the Bill. By clause 29 of the Bill, we are removing the heading “Offences Against Public Tranquility” and replacing it with “Offences relating to Unlawful Assembly”. By Clause 30, we will be deleting “mischief or trespass or other offence” and replacing it with “to commit any offence”.

S 141 has been amended to bring it in line with a recent Court of Appeal case: PP v Tan Meng Khin [1995] 2 SLR 505. Now, an assembly will be unlawful if people intend to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment of 6 mths or more, even if it is peaceful and does not disturb public tranquillity. Under our law, a person who organizes a procession or assembly after the police rejection of a permit can be punished with max 6 months jail under the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Hence 5 or more people who gather to do so will become members of an unlawful assembly.

As our society continues to evolve, the time is surely ripe for us to allow peaceful outdoor protests as a form of expression. By all means, we can have rules about how, where and when such processions may be held, but wider law reform is needed. S 141 should be restricted to offences which threaten the public peace, and other laws such as the Miscellaneous Offences Act which require permits for peaceful assemblies should be modified.”

**Two men between the ages of 24 and 25 were arrested by police outside the Istana on Saturday afternoon (Apr 4).

Police said the duo had turned up in front of the Istana with placards at about 4pm. Channel NewsAsia understands that the men were holding signs that read “You can’t silence the people” and “Injustice” for about half an hour. They were clad in identical red hoodies and dark blue jeans.

Police also said both of them had refused to stop the activity despite requests from officers. As such, they were arrested for organising a public assembly without a permit, under Section 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, Chapter 257A.

 

 

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