Defiant opposition leader denies
South China Morning Post Jan 23, 1999
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Singapore
OPPOSITION leader Chee Soon Juan, campaigning for free speech in the city state, pleaded not guilty yesterday to holding an illegal political rally, a charge which could result in his disqualification from running for parliament.
Chee, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), will go on trial next month on two charges of violating the island's Public Entertainment Act, which requires police permits for political gatherings.
He defied police warnings to hold two rallies in Singapore's financial district on December 29 and January 5.
After pleading not guilty yesterday to charges resulting from the second rally, Chee, a 36-year-old neuropsychologist, said he had no plans to attempt another unauthorised rally until after his trial.
His trial for the first offence starts on February 1, followed a week later by the trial for the second incident.
"They're going to continue to charge us for things that we've done that, as I mentioned before, are all constitutionally guaranteed," Chee said at the courts complex.
"It's going to be a long-term fight. I've said many times before, the struggle for freedom and democracy is always long-term.
"We're slowly going to work towards it. The next step is the trial and we'll let that happen and see what comes after that."
Chee's deputy, Wong Hong Toy, was included in the second charge and also pleaded innocent yesterday.
Wong, 60, accused the ruling People's Action Party of behaving like ancient Chinese emperors, who he said had wiped out their opponents and their families.
Chee's court appearance came one day after he was barred from speaking at the National University of Singapore.
Published in the South China Morning Post. Jan 23, 1999