Local human-right NGO voice out against denial of permit to protest during Trump-Kim Summit

Below is the statement issued by a local non-government human rights group, Community Action Network over the denial of their application to hold a one-person public assembly during the summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un this coming week,  on the 12th June.

“The Community Action Network has been denied a permit to conduct a one person public assembly because it did not make an application 14 working days in advance. Under the Public Order Act, all cause related and political assemblies, even if it involves just one person, requires a permit if they are done outside of Hong Lim Park, the only state sanctioned area for public protests. Failure to do so may result in fines or jail sentences.

As historic peace talks get underway on Sentosa island, we wanted to draw attention to the fact that Sentosa was where former political prisoner Dr Chia Thye Poh was held under house arrest after being “released” from a 23-year detention without trial.

The Public Order Act’s imposition of such onerous conditions runs counter to what is acceptable under international laws and standards. Its purpose is to severely restrict rather than to facilitate the peaceful exercise of our rights to freedom of assembly and expression. Requiring 14 working days prior notification prevents citizens from responding to important social and political issues in a timely way.

The current law should be replaced with one where prior notice with the sole purpose of facilitating a peaceful assembly is required. Permits or notices should not be condition for assemblies involving a small number of people and where major inconveniences to the public are not expected.

The Internal Security Act under which Dr Chia was jailed, continues to be in force today. It is a repressive tool that has been used to quell dissent and take down opponents of the ruling party. CAN believes it has no place in a civilised society.

Singapore cannot claim to be a promoter of peace if the government continues to use the law to oppress its own citizens.”

End of statement

The police have said, in relation to the upcoming event, that public assemblies and processions in Singapore are regulated under the Public Order Act.

It stressed that those who wish to organise or take part in a public assembly or procession must apply for and get a Police permit*. Any person who contravenes the law could face a fine of up to $5,000. Repeat offenders are liable to be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for up to 6 months or both.

As it is practically impossible to get the police to approve the permits, Singapore should just say that it wants to make protest illegal, don’t pretend to be democratic by allowing application but never intending to approve them. In this case of the summit, it hides behind the limited time one can file the application as a reason.