ST July 10, 2006+++++++++
Cops looking into gathering in support of mr brown
By Aaron Low
THE police are looking into a gathering of 30 people who turned up wearing brown to support blogger mr brown at City Hall MRT station yesterday afternoon.
Those interviewed said they had come in response to an SMS message that had circulated over the weekend, after the free newspaper Today had suspended his weekly column.
The text message had asked people to wear brown and head for City Hall MRT station at 2pm yesterday, to protest against the 'Government-imposed blackout'.
At about 2pm, The Straits Times found about 30 people standing in groups of four to five, talking and laughing just outside the station. They were mostly in their 20s and 30s, and most had come alone. Also present was a Canadian family of three, a mother and her two teenage daughters.
There were no posters, banners or placards, but artist Zai Kuning, 44, came in a brown T-shirt which said 'I am fed up with progress' on the back.
That was referring to the headline of mr brown's June 30 article, 'Singaporeans are fed, up with progress', that drew criticism from the Government.
Mr Zai said: 'I don't really read mr brown's online postings or his columns but...I wanted to show my support for him because what happened to him was unfair.'
Mr brown is the moniker of full-time writer and blogger Lee Kin Mun, 36. In a letter published in Today on July 3, the Government criticised his last piece on the high cost of living here.
The newspaper then suspended the column, sparking online postings late last week by bloggers and netizens, mostly critical of the freesheet's move.
Yesterday, Mr Lee said through his friend, Mr Edmund Tan, 37, who runs a studio that produces content for mr brown's website, that he knew about the SMS asking people to go to City Hall MRT station but was not the one who initiated it.
'We are touched by the gesture and we hope that nobody gets into trouble because of us,' said Mr Tan.
Some police officers were on patrol at City Hall MRT yesterday but they did not approach any of the people dressed in brown or tell them to disperse. By 2.20pm, people began wandering off, and by 2.40pm, it was over.
It is illegal to organise an assembly of five or more people to support or protest something without a permit.
The police confirmed that nobody was arrested. A spokesman said: 'The police are aware of the incident and we are looking into it.'
Background Reading: Unlawful Assembly; another of Mr Wang's old posts on the same topic; and (gasp!) a PAP minister saying that sometimes, public demonstrations in Singapore are okay!. Click to find out more.