LATEST: The 5 SDP members (including Jeffrey George who was taping the whole event on his video camera) were released at 9.28pm on $1,000 bail each. TOC understands that they have been charged under the Prohibition of assemblies and procession – Istana – Section 5 (2) Cap 184.
At about 1.30pm today (Oct 8), police arrested 4 members of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party for protesting against the Singapore government’s involvement with the Burmese junta.
The 4 were Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr John Tan.
Holding aloft placards with the words “No Arms, No Deals, With The Junta” and a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi, the four stood on the opposite side of the Istana. Swiftly, the police came and gave them warning that what they were doing was illegal and advised them to disperse.
The four declined. Shortly after, 2 police vans arrived and the officers proceeded to arrest the four, one by one – starting with Dr Chee Soon Juan.
Burmese ambassador refused to receive signed petition
Earlier in the day, at 11 am, the SDP members were at the Burmese embassy at St Martin’s Drive to deliver a petition to the Burmese ambassador. The petition had been signed by more than 1,200 people in the past 8 days.
In it, the petition called for the Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi, to enter into dialogue with opposition parties and to restore democracy to Burma.
Mr Ambalam spoke to an embassy staff member and told him that they were there to deliver the petition and requested to see the ambassador. The embassy staff replied that the ambassador declines to receive the petition personally and that he would deliver it to him.
The SDP members, after some insistence, relented and agreed. However, when Mr Ambalam started to read the petition out loud, the staff member refused to listen further and turned and walked back into the embassy, without the petition.
The SDP delegation then spoke with the embassy security guard and asked if he would request the ambassador to come to the gates and receive the petition. The guard went into the embassy while everyone waited. After about 7 or 8 minutes, he returned and confirmed that the ambassador would not be coming out. The guard then offered to deliver the petition to the ambassador instead.
The SDP agreed and Dr Chee read out the entire petition. He then put the petition, along with the stack of signatures, into an envelope and handed it to the guard.
After a delay of about an hour because of the heavy downpour, the SDP members proceeded to the Istana gates at about 1pm. There they spoke with an officer of the Istana and requested to see the private secretary of the Prime Minister in order to hand over a letter to him for the PM.
They were told that the private secretary was not available at the moment and would only be so at about 2pm. The SDP delegation said they would wait. They then unveiled the placards which they had brought along with them and stood at the side of the Istana gates.
A police officer told them that they could not do this and requested that they moved elsewhere to wait for the private secretary. The SDP members agreed and walked to the opposite side of the Istana, across the road.
There they again stood in a line and held up their placards.
Swiftly, a plainclothes police officer warned them that what they were doing was unlawful and asked them to disperse. He also told them that they would be arrested if they refused to do so.
2 police vans had by now arrived on the scene.
When the four SDP members continued to stand there with their placards, the police officers proceeded to arrest them one by one, starting with Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee, Mr Gandhi and then Mr John Tan.