Police investigate SFD members over death penalty book

Three members of Singaporeans For Democracy (SFD) are being investigated by the police over the sale of 12 copies of the book Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock at a film screening at the Substation on 14 November 2010.

Mr Seelan Palay 27, Mr Jarrod Luo 27 and Miss Rachel Zeng 28 have been summoned to appear at the Major Crime Division of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at 1130am on 27 January 2011.

The police summons were individually delivered from 7am-8am on 19 January 2011 by hand to the trio at their homes by investigating officer ASP Roy Lim from the Special Investigation Section, Major Crime Division, Criminal Investigation Department. Internet research shows that ASP Lim, who has previously investigated murder cases for the Singapore Police Force, has now been tasked to investigate the SFD trio.

According to the summons, the SFD trio is being investigated under section 502 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224 under the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (Act 15 of 2010). The said section relates to the “Sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter, knowing it to contain such matter, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both”.

The said book was the subject of a contempt of court case brought upon by the Government against its author Alan Shadrake. On 3rd November last year, the High Court found the British author guilty of scandalizing the judiciary. Two weeks later, he was sentenced to six weeks jail and S$20,000 (US$15,375) fine, with an additional order to pay the prosecution’s expenses of S$55,000 (US$42,300).

Shadrake is currently awaiting the outcome of the appeal against the sentencing, and is currently compelled to remain in the country. Pending police investigations, an additional charge of criminal defamation also awaits him. Despite the prosecution of Shadrake for contempt of court, presently the book is not banned in Singapore.

On 14 November, two days before Shadrake’s sentencing, SFD held a film festival at the Substation Arts Centre under the charge of its Festival Director, Mr Martyn See. Entitled Freedom Film Fest (FFF), the 4 hour screening had featured Media Development Authority cleared documentaries on Malaysia’s human rights issues.

12 copies of Shadrake’s book at $25 each were put on sale at the door during the event, and were all sold out. After the event an article was written up for the SFD website and photos from the event were uploaded onto the SFD Facebook page and SFD member Jacob George’s blog.

The trio, are not the first to be called up for investigation into this matter. ASP Lim, accompanied by another police officer went to the Substation to meet with its Artistic Director, Mr. Noor Effendy Ibrahim on the week of 13 December 2010.

They presented Mr. Ibrahim with a letter informing him that the police are investigating the sale of “contraband items” at the Substation. The police officers showed him photos of the death penalty book being displayed on sale at the SFD hosted Freedom Film Fest. Mr. Ibrahim, then on the very same day went to the Cantonment Police Complex to record a statement with ASP Roy Lim.

SFD’s Dr James Gomez, Executive Director and Mr Martyn See, Executive Secretary will be accompanying the trio to the Police Cantonment Complex at 391 New Bridge Road on 27 January 2010 and will stay at the complex until the three SFD members are released from their questioning.

The SFD Trio:

Mr Seelan Palay 27, is SFD`s Communications Director & a film maker

Mr Jarrod Luo 27 is an ordinary member of SFD & member of the Young Democrats, SDP

Miss Rachel Zeng 28 is an ordinary member of SFD & a social activist

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