Joint statement by Function 8 and Community Action Network on the arrest of activist
Function 8 and Community Action Network (CAN) are deeply troubled and saddened by the arrest of artist Seelan Palay outside Parliament House on Sunday, 1 Oct 2017. He has been released on police bail since yesterday and is subjected to severe restrictions including restrictions on travels.
Seelan Palay was merely practising his profession as an artist when he demonstrated how a free mind cannot be constrained by space such as Hong Lim Park. The video at https://www.facebook.com/theonlinecitizen/videos/10155815921176383/ illustrates his free spiritedness when he started his performance in the muddy park of Hong Lim and walked along South Bridge Road to his destinations at City Hall (now National Gallery) and Parliament House where he was arrested.
All along the way, there was no agitated crowd or violence. Artist Seelan Palay’s demeanour throughout his journey was that of a serious art practitioner. He did not indulge in words except to briefly explain his art and answer questions posed to him by police officers.
Article 14 of our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, expression, assembly and association. We do not see any harm or damage that can be caused to Singapore by artist Seelan Palay’s performance. Indeed his artistic performance contributes to the making of Singapore as a city of art and culture. His performance definitely does not warrant his arrest.
Further, bystanders watching artist Seelan Palay’s performance and ultimate arrest were intimidated and harassed by police officers who demanded their personal identity card particulars. This is totally illegal and should cease immediately as Singapore is not at war or under a state of emergency.
We call upon the Singapore police to cease harassment and intimidation of activists and release artist Seelan Palay from all restrictions.