Monday, September 18, 2006

Empower Singaporeans March & Rally

The stand-off between Singapore opposition leader Chee Soon Juan and the police at Singapore's "Speakers' Corner" is in its third day. Police have surrounded Chee and other activists who wanted to march towards the Parliament House, then to Suntec City, and ending up at the Istana. Latest report says that the police have allowed them to distribute flyers to the public. From Yahoo News:
Chee told Reuters that he had distributed about 500 pamphlets, and that the group plans to hand out more during the evening rush hour.

"We just wanted to register the point that we have been stopped, but we are not defeated," said Chee.

Chee said many people were afraid to accept the pamphlets as policemen were recording the scene with several video cameras.

"The reason we are here is because we are protesting against the denial of the rights of Singaporeans to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly," read the pamphlet.

Chee reiterated that he and his supporters will remain in the park until Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives his speech at the IMF-World Bank meetings' opening ceremony on Tuesday morning.
Euro Techno Go was one of the many who went to the rally. He has several photos, video and a report on his blog. Euro Techno Go:
Welcome to Hong Lim park which is known as a popular venue for election rallies, political speeches and public performances. There was much hype about this place when it was first announced but soon died down due to strict rules that led to underusage. On this significant day which coincides with SM Lee Birthday, we are going to witness the first protest rally in our life, it maybe the first and hopefully not the last.

I am glad that 2 of my friends elf108 aka js & hongnehx2 are willingly to sacrifice their sleep and "risk" their life to come here. To acknowledge their efforts, i decided to give them a title - junior correspondent, promotion but no future because company will soon close down. When we reached here before 11am, there were only 2 guards on duty, later on we will be surrounded by an overwhelming force of police troops.

Estimated around 50 foreign/local journalism were present, video cameras, digital cameras, microphones, voice recorders and not forgetting my handphone were capturing every moments of the speech. Now i feels like i'm a reporter without any official pass.
Yawning Bread also has several photos and a report. From Yawning Bread:
As you can see, Chee Soon Juan was with a few supporters, wearing "Democracy Now" T-shirts (the back of which said "Freedom Now"), but they were quickly surrounded by policemen and prevented from moving any further.

Chee's sister, Chee Siok Chin, seemed to be separated from the main group, but was also encircled.

Other posts on the internet reported that the police interrogated people present on the field, demanding their identification and asking what they were doing in Hong Lim Green, which is really a public pack.

My friend Kelvin was in the vicinity at about 4 pm on Saturday. He reports:

"There was a huddle of people at the corner of North Canal Road and South Bridge Road, near the little police station. I'd say there were about 30 – 40 people, about half of whom were police, judging from their blue uniforms. Chee Soon Juan and his supporters were in the centre. It was difficult to see what was going on in the centre of the group.

"Across North Canal Road, there were another 20 –30 onlookers, but there were also policemen standing here and there, watching."
And Singapore Election Watch has all the updates.


Anonymous said...

This is police harassment man!
Crowd around them like that n preventing them frm moving around.

Anonymous said...

The police cannot do anything now because the world's eyes are on Singapore during the IMF.

Anonymous said...

freedom of speech and peaceful assembly - not in singapore.


Anonymous said...

seriously, i'm ashamed to be a singaporean when i see our police and government doing things like this.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear that Chee's sister actually told the police to arrest them instead of harassing them in public.

Anonymous said...

Wait till IMF meetings end, and this will all be over. The police will then arrest all of Chee n gang. Now cannot lah. Must show to world press that police is just observing them and not do anything bad to them.

Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech my arse!

Anonymous said...

We are going to become more and more into a police state!

Anonymous said...

I think it is reasonable for the police to be there to just observe that everything will turn out to be peaceful but having a group of police circling Chee's sister is too much.

Anonymous said...

they even follow them to the toilet...wahahaha... our paranoid police.

Anonymous said...

the police are just following orders and the law.

it is the law that needs to be changed.