A government out of order

The Public Order Act, which was just passed in Parliament on Monday, got me wondering just how far the PAP will go to thumb its nose at the Constitution to serve its narrow political interests.

Among some “highlights” of the law are:

  • A demonstration by a lone person is called an “assembly”.
  • Two persons walking together form for a common cause is a  “procession”.
  • Assemblies and processions both need permits from the Commissioner of Police.
  • Cause-related activities (i.e., political activities) require permits regardless of the number of persons involved. (I guess that means that zero-person activities can also be banned.)
  • An entry-level policeman has the power to order people to “move on” away from an area, even if they are not committing an offence. Those people have to comply, even if that policeman is in the wrong.
  • The police have the power to ban ordinary citizens from filming them as they work.

Continue reading “A government out of order”

1 person constitutes an assembly? It’s an abuse of the word: WP chairman

This is the speech made in Parliament yesterday by Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim — a former police officer herself — in opposing the Public Order Bill.


Speaker Sir,

The Workers’ Party opposes the Bill.

The policing of public order has been the subject of contentious debate in democratic countries. How far should State power be used to restrict citizens from free movement and expressing their beliefs or grievances, to the point of using lethal force?

In Singapore, an individual’s right to freedom of expression and assembly is enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution, under Part IV entitled Fundamental Liberties. However that Article also allows Parliament to place some restrictions on these for the sake of security and public order. Nevertheless, the primary assumption is that such freedoms are fundamental rights of citizens. Has this Bill crossed the line, asking Singaporeans to give up too much vis-à-vis the State? Continue reading “1 person constitutes an assembly? It’s an abuse of the word: WP chairman”