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SDP applies for license to hold talks


Singapore
July 11, 1999

AN opposition party has applied to the Public Entertainments Licensing Unit to hold two talks next month at Raffles Place and Bedok North Town Centre.

In a media release, July 9, which the Singapore Democratic Party says was not published by the Straits Times, the party said it applied to hold two talks but noted the police have said that they will not approve applications for political talks in public areas.

The statement said during the recent court trials of Chee Soon Juan and Wong Hong Toy for speaking in public without a licence, the prosecution maintained that Chee did not make an application to conduct the talks.

"This contradiction notwithstanding, there is also the question of the licensing scheme by the PELU discriminating against opposition parties," the statement said.

Governemnt MPs and grassroots officials have routinely given political talks in open public places whereas applications for similar talks by the opposition have been repeatedly turned down.

"To clear up the contradiction once and for all and to show up the government's claim that the Public Entertainments Act is only 'procedural' in nature and not 'discriminatory', the SDP will now apply to the PELU for permits to hold such public talks. The applications have been made on July 8, at least five weeks in advance so that the unit will not give a decision only at the last minute as it always has in the past. This will enable the party to initiate the appeal process," the statement signed by the party's secretary general, Chee Soon Juan said.

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