Consider allowing peaceful protests: Sylvia Lim

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In Parliament on Monday, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament, Sylvia Lim, asked Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Teo Chee Hean, if he would consider allowing peaceful protests “in certain designated roads so that the police can … on a regular basis test their policing capabilities in terms of policing cause-based crowds.”

Here are the transcripts of the exchange between Ms Lim and Mr Teo.

Sylvia Lim: I would like to ask DPM whether he agrees that no amount of training can really be substituted for actual practice in policing such incidents, and in this light, will (he) consider for example that the police should allow more peaceful protests in Singapore in certain designated roads so that the police can … on a regular basis test their policing capabilities in terms of policing cause-based crowds?

Teo Chee Hean: Whether we want to deliberately allow protests and demonstrations in order to give the police and the Special Operations Command (SOC) practice, perhaps Ms Lim might want to go one step further and say allow the protests to get out of hand so that they get a little bit more practice? Why not? Since we want to give them practice?

Sylvia Lim: … we don’t want damage to property or loss of life, but peaceful protests are arguably a freedom to civil liberty (that) we want to protect.

Teo Chee Hean: We can see the logic or the lack of it in purposely allowing protests and demonstrations just in order for the SOC to practise. But I should say that one of the reasons why I want to increase the size of the SOC is because we have a lot of events in Singapore … large-scale events, and you don’t really need to deliberately allow protests to take place in order to give the SOC practice. I don’t think many Singaporeans would want to see more chaos, demonstrations on the street disrupting their daily lives and also taking up resources which can be used for other purposes.