Blogger Ng E-Jay of SgPolitics.net had been charged in court for his participation in an illegal assembly outside the Parliament House on 15th March 2008. Amongst them was veteran opposition Chee Soon Juan and his sister, who was also charged for biting an officer. I read into the circumstances they were charged for and found out that they were protesting for the problems of the common man – inflation, GST, education and health care; and I thought to myself, "Was I too rash to condemn them of their acts in some of my earlier posts".

In fact, one of my readers even commented that my feet isn’t even big enough to fit into the socks of Chee Soon Juan’s.

So, here’s my piece. While I do share the problems that were brought up, and I do suffer from the problems of the common man, I however, did not voice out because I either:

  1. have complete faith in the government; or
  2. believe that someone will do something about it; or
  3. I am just being apathetic; or
  4. I might just move out of here soon; or perhaps
  5. I am just too afraid to speak up

Perhaps most of us know almost for a certainty that there’s nothing much that a normal citizen like myself can do. We can probably voice out as much as we want through "proper channels" and we can wait till the cows come home and nothing may be done yet. Perhaps we need mavericks like Chee Soon Juan to do stuffs like he did before "anything can happen". Perhaps we need people who are good in verbal arguments to challenge the people in politics now. Perhaps… I should just do nothing.

Or maybe, I am just a coward who is afraid of spending time in jail for a cause I know will never be fulfilled.

Illegal assembly: Chees among 18 charged

SDP chief’s sister accused of biting an officer; the siblings among five charged with taking part in an illegal march

By Goh Chin Lian

EIGHTEEN people were charged in court yesterday for their involvement in an illegal assembly outside Parliament House on March 15 and for taking part in a subsequent march.

All are claiming trial.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan set July18 as the date for a pre-trial conference. This is when a judge, lawyers and the accused discuss matters before actual court hearings begin.

The 18 charged included Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, his sister Chee Siok Chin, SDP chairman Gandhi Ambalam, blogger Ng E-Jay and film-maker Seelan Palay.

Chee Siok Chin was also charged with using criminal force on a police officer when she was arrested on March 15. The police said she tried to bite a female officer.

She was released on bail of $5,000.

Separately, Chee Siok Chin, Ambalam and three others were also charged yesterday with taking part in another illegal march on Sept 16 last year.

A sixth person allegedly involved in that Sept 16 march, Charles Tan, 28, was not in court yesterday. It is understood he is abroad.

Following yesterday’s court appearance, lawyer Chia Ti Lik – who was among those charged with involvement in the March 15 incident – read a statement on behalf of the group outside the Subordinate Courts building.

Standing with him was a group of about 30 SDP members, supporters and activists, many of whom wore red as a sign of unity.

The statement said the March 15 gathering was to protest against ‘ill-timed price hikes initiated by the Government, directly and indirectly, in areas ranging from the goods and services tax and public transport to education and health care’.

The group charged that further increases since March 15 showed that the Government was ‘unwilling to take active steps to make life less unbearable for all Singaporeans’.

They said their protest was ‘justified’ and that they had a right as citizens to assemble and express themselves freely.

A similar point was made in court by former Workers’ Party member Jufrie Mahmood after charges were read to him. But Judge Shaiffudin told him yesterday’s proceedings were to have the charges read and to record any plea – not to go into the merits of the case.

Separately, Chia told reporters that as he was among those charged, he could not represent the group. As such, the group wanted ‘Singaporean lawyers to come forward to represent us in these proceedings’.

chinlian@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_256990.html

Article extracted on 13th July 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. Jwong | July 15th, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Would you dare speak up if doing so almost certainly means you will end up bankrupt, in jail, both, or worse? Some of these people in power don’t even need the salaries they draw. Heck I’d be happy if I could earn the amount of money they get just from “damages”.

    Perhaps we need people who are good in verbal arguments to challenge the people in politics now.

    From what I hear, we are very good with our words. In fact, what comes out of our mouths usually cause thousands of dollars in damages, can induce riots, break apart a society and threaten our nation’s security. Very powerful if you ask me.

    Perhaps just we need people who can miraculously open their mouths without being charged in court.

  2. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily Sg: 15 Jul 2008 | July 15th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    […] Human Rights – Simply Jean: Blogger charged… But are we also too afraid to speak up? […]

  3. Zhanzhao | July 15th, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Protesting doesn’t help, especially if you do it with the likes of Dr Chee. Better would be to support some other party like the WP….. at least we can see some concrete contributions and benefits they are doing. Whereas SDP has always been all talk :/

  4. Saint Splattergut | July 15th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Zhanzhao, the SDP recently opened a forum for discussion on all pertinent national issues. They are looking for ideas from everyone and hope to incorporate it into their manifesto for the coming election.

    From their site:


    We would like to invite all of you to join in this discussion which is the first of its kind in Singapore. We do this because we believe that you, the people, are our biggest asset and that we can better tap this resource by listening to and talking with our fellow citizens.”

  5. Aaron | July 15th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    The thing here is to actually do something.
    Sure, not everyone advocates civil disobedience, but we can do things that won’t get us charged.

    There’s a need for us to criticize the govt when it looks like they are spinning their stories in the news, so that the common man in the net will see that the world is not such a rosy place as the govt paints it to be.

    The thing is, if we’re not happy with something. Act. Don’t just tolerate and take it until everything is taken away.

  6. Joe | July 15th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    When there are something wrong about the system, then we as citizens of Singapore should highlight the problems. We do not have to be extreme in our measure to voice our concerns.

    By questioning the logic of the policies being meted out, there is no crime here. If the answers are logical, then great, we have a good thing here. If the answers sounded like spinning, then we question more. The government need to know that we are not invisible, and not a digit in the national registry.

  7. ricE | July 17th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    or?… most often its the cumulation of the little things that results in the action (or inaction in this case). there is no one big reason but the cumulation of excuses. the action (or inaction in this case) matters.

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