Flyers are such a common part of Singaporeans' daily lives that I wonder why police officers must waste their time following the distributors around and using video cameras to film them in action. It is a sad reflection on our nation that the following story should even qualify as newsworthy:
Reuters, Monday September 18, 5:02 PMIncidentally, if you are a Singaporean and you don't already have the habit of surfing the Net for non-SPH-produced news about Singapore, I encourage you to do so. It can be quite an educational experience, whatever your own personal views about Singapore may be. Yawning Bread gives an interesting example.
Singapore opposition leader allowed to distribute flyers
SINGAPORE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Singapore opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, whose stand-off with police in a city park near "Speakers' Corner" is in its third day, was allowed to leave the area and distribute pamphlets, police said on Monday.
At midday, Chee and a handful of supporters walked to Raffles Place, close to the Suntec City convention centre where the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank are taking place. He handed out pamphlets that criticised Singapore's curbs on free speech and freedom of assembly.
Chee and his supporters walked to the site separately, as any gathering of more than four people is illegal without a permit.
"(Chee) was advised not to proceed as a group as it might constitute an illegal procession," a police spokeswoman said.
After about an hour, the group returned to the park, where since Saturday police have blocked them from carrying out a planned protest march to the IMF-World Bank venue.
"Police followed the group to observe and ensure that they did not carry out illegal activities as they were still in the general vicinity of Suntec City and Parliament House," the spokeswoman said.
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.
Here's a photo from AFP. The caption they used was "Singapore dissident steals show from world financial summit".
Oh. So scary. What a severe threat to public security. No wonder we need to mobilise 23,000 police NSmen and surround Suntec City with steel barricades and barbed wire. Otherwise buildings may fall down and all the IMF delegates may die.
The following picture has been circulating around the Internet. It shows opposition politican Chee Siok Chin (Chee Soon Juan's sister) literally being surrounded by a bunch of police officers. Apparently this is to stop her from carrying out a protest march to Suntec City.
They know that they have no legal power to arrest her (she isn't committing any crime). So they decide to stop her by surrounding her. If you look closely at the picture, you can actually see the police officers putting their arms around each other to form a circle to confine Siok Chin inside. I wonder if Siok Chin did ever try to squeeze through their legs or something. I mean - what if she needed to go to the Ladies in a hurry?
This is so childish. And shameful. Furthermore, if I remember my first-year law school Law of Torts well enough, these police officers have probably just committed "the tort of false imprisonment". Basically this means that you're illegally confining a person and breaching her right to move about freely. Hey, police officers, she can sue you for that, you know?
I never did like Chee Soon Juan. But the Singapore authorities are certainly doing a great job in making me feel more sympathetic to his cause.
Technorati: Singapore; World Bank; IMF.