A Protest and Petition in Singapore

Calm and stability is returning to Burma, or that is what we think since there is a news blackout on what transpired on the streets and in the monasteries.

Singaporeans and Burmese in Singapore sympathise with the dire plight of the peaceful freedom marchers in Burma. In Singapore, there are 2 petitions outside the Myanmar Embassy and the police are there to intimidate people from sitting in and protesting outside the embassy although sympathisers were allowed to sign their names with trepidation. The police are losing their moral ground more and more in being there as their very presence, whatever their dubious political or genuine security intentions are, deters people from showing their rightful condemnation of the junta’s actions in Burma recently.

The SDP-organised petitions at the embassy, one on condemning the junta and one on condemning Singapore, is another creative move to challenge the shifting OB markers used to especially contain SDP and not the other alternative parties. In one politically opportunistic sleight of hand, SDP conflated the issue of protest and petition, seizing Singaporeans and Burmese anger at the junta to condemn the junta and the government at the same time. SDP cunningly piggy-backed on the Burmese community in Singapore who are so enraged at what is happening at home that they would go down to the Burmese Embassy regardless of the consequences. Perhaps for the first time ever, this is the most crowded SDP event as the majority might even be Burmese.

SDP, however dodgy or whoever its support base is, deserves credit for its most creative protest since the 4 people CPF one.

Police urge public not to take part in assembly without a permit
By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 30 September 2007 2344 hrs

SINGAPORE: The police have reminded the public not to take part in an assembly without a permit again.

The reiteration came after protest activities organised by opposition politician Chee Soon Juan and his Singapore Democratic Party outside the Myanmar Embassy on Sunday.

Police said Chee’s organisation of a petition letter campaign is not unlawful per se, but he had done so in an unlawful manner by staging an assembly outside the embassy without a permit.

According to a statement released by the police, Chee had asked the public to sign petition letters not only against the Myanmar government, but also against the Singapore government.

Police officers requested the public to leave after they have signed the letters, but Chee and his supporters urged them to stay in defiance of police advice.

Police said petitions can be organised through lawful means and those who wished to express their political views or hold political activities should do so through available avenues.


11 responses

  1. I’m not sure it was a clever move by the SDP. People already tend to see Chee as someone who piggy-backs too much on foreign issues (even if he really does care about human rights in general regardless of location), and all this does is reinforce the PAP’s rhetoric about Chee being a stooge of evil Western influences. I was at the petition and will continue showing up for such events, but I’m doubtful that they help the SDP at all. The Burmese in Singapore can’t vote, after all.

    October 2, 2007 at 1:07 pm

  2. Trina

    Does Chee really care about the situation in Myanmar?

    Or was he just simply making use of the terrible situation for his own personal agenda?

    I’m more inclined towards the latter, and for that, he doesn’t have my respect.

    In fact, it’s downright sickening.

    October 2, 2007 at 2:27 pm

  3. Trina’s comment is exactly the kind of reaction I think most people have.

    For what it’s worth I don’t see what he has left to gain from supporting such events, so I give him the benefit of the doubt. It should be clear by now that his stunts don’t help his party at all.

    October 2, 2007 at 3:15 pm

  4. By the way, Worker’s Party politicians were at the vigil as well (and I have no doubt they also signed the petition). Are they ‘exploiting’ the Burmese too? Or is it only exploitation if you organise a petition rather than just signing it? If it is, does that mean that opposition parties should never organise petitions regarding foreign affairs?

    October 2, 2007 at 3:20 pm

  5. Katrina

    Dear Trina,

    I noticed that you have been everywhere writing the same comments about Dr Chee’s ‘sickening’ motive and ‘personal’ agenda. Why do yo care so much about him and are you so sure of his ‘real’ intention?

    October 2, 2007 at 9:12 pm

  6. chemgen

    Hi Ponder Stibbons – SDP benefits from such stunts at some level – maybe least in terms of votes from locals looking at election results, probably more in terms of its stature as a party focused on human rights and liberal democracy in and out of Singapore e.g. SDP is a member of the World Forum for Democratization in Asia. Why is the benefit of international stature more important than local votes for a local political party? That is open to interpretation.

    October 3, 2007 at 11:11 am

  7. chemgen

    Hi Trina – SDP probably cares about the situation in Burma and is using it for their agenda. It is the same thing more or less in terms of its political slant. For SDP, it is important that they champion such issues and do not stick to Singapore only so that the West can pay attention to SDP. If you notice, SDP and Chee Soon Juan are so effective in wooing the Western media et al that they describe him as the Opposition Leader usually rather than an Opposition Leader.

    October 3, 2007 at 11:17 am

  8. Pingback: Daily SG: 3 Oct 2007 « The Singapore Daily

  9. JTC

    The SDP should be protesting in front of Tamasek, Istana or the Parliament House instead of the Myanmar Embassy.

    They can’t do much with the Burmese military junta, but they can pressure the PAP government to withdraw its investment with the Burmese druglords (Singapore is the 3rd largest investor in Myanmar after China and Thailand) and stop its profitable arm sale to the murderous regime.

    October 3, 2007 at 2:44 pm

  10. Pingback: Chee Soon Juan’s ‘Exploitation’ of the Burma Situation? « theonlinecitizen

  11. Pingback: Burma Protests/13th ASEAN Summit, Singapore « San Oo Aung’s Weblog

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