Singapore Democratic Party Appeals for Help Amidst Government Crack-Down in Run-Up to May 6 Elections

Democracy Alert

[April 27, 2006]

Singapore Democratic Party Appeals for Help Amidst Government Crack-Down in Run-Up to May 6 Elections

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The Singapore Government has been increasingly harassing the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and its supporters in advance of the May 6 parliamentary elections. The SDP and all of the individual members of the Party’s Central Executive Committee are being sued by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister, and his son, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister of the country. The SDP is one of several opposition parties in Singapore. The suit centers on an article published in the Party’s Newspaper, The New Democrat.

Due to government intimidation and harassment, the newspaper publisher now fears to print the next issue of the paper, as well as any election materials, posters, and flyers. In addition, Party members are being harassed when they try to distribute The New Democrat to voters or to meet with them. At least three of Party members have been charged with “providing entertainment without a valid license” (that is, speaking in public without a permit).
The ruling People's Action Party has also arbitrarily, and at the last minute, changed the rules to prevent members of the SDP from making speeches during election rallies. For instance, Dr. Chee Soon Juan, the Party's leader and a participant in the World Movement for Democracy, is not allowed to speak during rallies because of his recent bankruptcy resulting from a previous anti-defamation lawsuit that two former prime ministers, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Mr. Goh Chok Tong, initiated against him. Dr. Chee’s passport has also been seized preventing him from traveling outside of Singapore. Dr. Chee was stopped by the Singapore authorities at the airport while waiting to board a plane to Istanbul, where he was to participate in the World Movement's Fourth Assembly earlier this month (see statement below).
The government has also banned podcasting (a method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers) and video blogging (web blog that uses video as the primary content), knowing well that the SDP was depending on electronic media to reach out to voters, especially those who cannot read.
The SDP sees the government’s actions as an intentional attempt to cripple the SDP’s election campaign and to ensure the destruction of the Party. The SDP thus appeals for help and solidarity from the international community.
Dr. Chee's Statement to the World Movements Fourth Assembly follows.
April 2, 2006