Sin­ga­pore ar­rests duo over protest out­side of­fices of PM and pres­i­dent

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Two Sin­ga­porean men have been ar­rested for stag­ing a week­end protest out­side the gov­ern­ment com­plex that houses the of­fices of the pres­i­dent and prime min­is­ter, po­lice said Mon­day.

The men, aged 24 and 25, “turned up at the front gate of the Is­tana with plac­ards” on Satur­day af­ter­noon, a Sin­ga­pore Po­lice Force spokesman told AFP.

“The duo re­fused to stop their ac­tiv­ity de­spite of­fi­cers re­quest­ing them to do so,” the po­lice spokesman said.

“The duo were sub­se­quently ar­rested for or­ga­niz­ing a public as­sem­bly with­out a per­mit un­der ... the Public Or­der Act,” he added.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions “are on­go­ing,” the spokesman said, with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails.

It was the sec­ond act of protest in the city-state since found­ing Prime Min­is­ter Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23.

Last Tues­day, a 16- year- old Sin­ga­porean stu­dent was charged with jail­able of­fences for an­tiChris­tian­ity slurs in a YouTube video crit­i­ciz­ing Lee, who ruled the coun­try with an iron hand as prime min­is­ter from 1959 to 1990 be­fore be­com­ing an in­flu­en­tial ad­viser in the cabi­net.

Sin­ga­pore has been hailed in­ter­na­tion­ally for its eco­nomic achieve­ments but the long-rul­ing Peo­ple’s Ac­tion Party, co-founded by Lee, has been crit­i­cized for clamp­ing down on civil lib­er­ties, in­clud­ing the free­dom of speech and as­sem­bly.

Out­door protests out­side Sin­ga­pore’s sole free-speech park are rare. Such events re­quire po­lice per­mits, which are rarely granted.

Pho­tos cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia showed the two pro­tes­tors, clad in red hood­ies and jeans, each car­ry­ing a large white plac­ard while stand­ing out­side the main gate of the Is­tana.

One read “You can’t si­lence the peo­ple,” while the other read “Injustice.”

The heav­ily guarded 106-acre (42.9 hectares) Is­tana com­plex, built by Bri­tish colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tors, is cur­rently the of­fi­cial work­place of the se­nior Lee’s son, Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong, and Pres­i­dent Tony Tan.

It was also Lee Kuan Yew’s work­place un­til his death at age 91 af­ter a long ill­ness.

His fam­ily held a two-day pri­vate wake at the Is­tana — which means ‘palace’ in Malay — be­fore his re­mains were trans­ferred to par­lia­ment to lie in state. He was cre­mated on March 29 af­ter a grand state fu­neral.

Un­der Sin­ga­pore’s Public Or­der Act, par­tic­i­pants in il­le­gal protests can be fined up to SG$5,000 (US$3,700).

Or­ga­niz­ers of such protests face a fine of up to SG$10,000, a jail term of up to six months, or both.

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