Four SDP members take illegal assembly case to Court of Appeal

Four opposition politicians convicted of being part of an illegal assembly in 2008 are now seeking to have their cases heard in Singapore's highest court, the Court of Appeal (CoA).

They are Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, his sister Siok Chin, assistant secretary-general John Tan, and member Seelan Palay.

The four were convicted of being part of an illegal assembly on National Day 2008 and fined between $900 and $1,000 by the Courts in 2010.

According to a report in the Today newspaper, the group had distributed flyers and sold t-shirts and other merchandise along Toa Payoh Lorong 6 to publicise the "Tak Boleh Tahan" campaign without a valid permit.

When contacted by Yahoo! Singapore, Chee said he is appealing their conviction as "the Government cannot issue a blanket ban on outdoor political activities", something he claimed "runs contrary to Article 14 of the Singapore constitution".

Chee added that the government cannot discriminate against political activities by banning them in public areas, while allowing commercial ones to take place.

“My colleagues and I were prosecuted for distributing flyers without a permit but the police said during the trial that a similar group distributing flyers for, say, a tuition centre does not require a permit,” Chee explained. 

"This is not provided for under the law."

“Obviously, the police made up this policy which is against Article 12 of the Constitution,” Chee insisted.

"Singapore remains one of the very few countries in the world that bans public assembly. In a democratic society, peaceful protests are protected under the law and the authorities have a duty to respect and safeguard these rights of the people," he let on.

The four have appointed lawyers M Ravi and Louis Joseph to act for them, reported Channel NewsAsia. Joseph has asked the High Court for an extension as the lawyers had just been briefed on the case.

The case has been adjourned for six weeks.