The government of Singapore has charged opposition party leaders with an illegal procession and assembling without a permit just days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the city-state would ease a ban on outdoor public demonstrations. The Singapore democratic Party said seven of its members were charged although party leaders denied any such illegal action. Demonstrations in Singapore by five or more people must be approved by the police. Democratic Party chairman, Gandhi Ambalam, responded to the accusations by emphasizing, “the charges that we face are in complete violation of our basic rights to freedoms of speech, assembly and expression.” He also noted the alleged offenses were committed about two years ago. “It’s strange that in our unique Singapore it has taken the authorities such a long time to bring us before you,” he told the court.
Singapore’s prime minister said he will allow public demonstrations at a “Speakers Corner” where citizens can say anything they desire as long as they do not discuss, race, language, or religion. All the he has to add is the word “politics” and Singapore can then have the world’s fairest forum for non-discussion of anything.