Judge jails defiant opposition
Singapore. Feb 2, 1999.
RELATED: Judge rejects Chee's constitution argument
Little public backing for someone 'seeking trouble'
Democratic wave of support for Chee's stand
OPPOSITION leader Dr Chee Soon Juan was jailed today for seven days after the Singapore subordinate court found him guilty and fined him S$1400 for speaking in public without a permit on Dec 29 last year. He has been charged for another similar offence that will be heard on February 9. He is being held at Queenstown.
Singapore Window received the following press release from Dr Chee:
Despite the ruling today in court, my belief and conviction remains undiminished. My right to free speech guaranteed in the Singapore Constitution has been violated by unconstitutional and undemocratic law put in place by the ruling regime to deny the opposition from effectively reaching out to the people.
I have said that I will not pay the fine if convicted because I feel that I have done absolutely no wrong by speaking to my fellow Singaporeans in a peaceful, public gathering. As a result, I have to serve time in prison for exercising my constitutional rights. I take encouragement and inspiration from democrats all over the world, particularly in Asia and especially those whom I have written about in my book To Be Free, who have made tremendous sacrifices to bring democracy to their countries.
In the spirit of democracy on which the Republic of Singapore was founded, I call on the PAP not to rule Singapore in such an iron-fisted manner but to encourage greater openness in society. This can only mean a confident nation able to take on the challenges of the next century increasingly dependent on innovation and creativity.
It is also necessary for Singaporeans not to lose sight of the importance of democracy and political rights even as we work to better our economic well-being. No nation has gone far if everything its citizens care about is measured only in dollars and cents. Let us not be accused of being a people who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
February 2, 1999