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



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