Democracy in Singapore
Sir – This week, the Singaporean opposition party leader Dr Chee Soon Juan and 17 others are standing trial on unlawful assembly charges, which are likely to result in punitive prison sentences. These charges are unconstitutional, given the right to freedom of assembly outlined in Singapore’s constitution.
The legal onslaught on Dr Chee and the Singapore Social Democrats has been severe and unjust.Dr Chee is a doctor of neuropsychology who returned to Singapore in 1992.
The trial comes on top of several defamation lawsuits against him by government representatives, amounting to close to $1 million, forcing him to sell his home and possessions.
Chee Soon Juan has already been imprisoned in Singapore seven times: four times for speaking in public, twice for contempt of court, and once for attempting to leave the country to attend a conference on democracy.
He is barred from leaving Singapore, and faces six more trials over the next four months.
We demand an end to the persecution and condemn the arbitrary use of the law.
We also call on the international community to stand together to defend this courageous man, whose personal sacrifices for the ideals of freedom and democracy have left him a hostage to the whims of a government that has become used to acting with impunity against its own citizens.
Robert Amsterdam, Legal Counsel to Dr Chee Soon Juan, London EC3