Chee Siok Chin and John Tan released, SDP, 20 Nov 2007

Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr John Tan were released after police held them without providing a reason when the two appeared outside the Shangri-la Hotel this afternoon.

They arrived at about 5.00 pm at Orchard Towers when they were told that a group of Burmese were gathering there to stage a protest march. Ms Chee and Mr Tan were there to lend support to the protesters.

By 5.45pm, both SDP leaders decided to take a walk towards Shangrila Hotel as there were no protesters in sight.

As they approached Orchard Hotel, plainclothes police were seen scurrying to set up their video cameras and getting on their cell phones. As the two turned into Orange Grove Road, a group of police officers approached them and warned the duo that they were in a protected area and that they should turn back.

There were at least three other members of the public who walked past them towards the Shangri-la Hotel and they were not stopped or given any warning by the police.

Mr Tan and Ms Chee thanked the police for the warnings and walked on. About 100 m from the hotel, female police officers surrounded Ms Chee and prevented her from walking on.

At this point a senior police officer was summoned to the scene. He asked Ms Chee what her intention was walking towards the hotel. Ms Chee told the police that she was intending to have a meal there. Despite this, the police prevented the both of them from proceeding.

An unmarked police van then pulled up and Ms Chee was forced into the van. Mr John Tan was subsequently dragged into the same van. When asked if they had committed any offence, the woman officer by the name of Thean Siew Khin said no. When asked if they were under arrest, another officer Ng Chee Wei also said no.

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So why were they being forced into this unmarked police van? None of the five police officers in the van could answer them.

When asked where the two were being taken, they said “your headquarters”. Ms Chee told them that her car was parked at Orchard Hotel and asked to be let off. She realised that the police were taking them to the former SDP headquarters along Serangoon Road.

After spending some 40 minutes in the van, the police finally realised that the SDP had moved out of the office in Serangoon Road. The driver was then given instructions to send Ms Chee and Mr Tan back to Orchard Hotel.

What right did the police have in stopping Ms Chee and Mr Tan from heading to the Shangri-la Hotel when other people were allowed to?

What right did the police have in man-handling the both and forcing them into a vehicle which was not even a police van (PA 2448J)?

Was it legal for the police to take them to a place against their will when they had not committed any offence?

Was this not a form of illegal detention?

Citizens of Singapore are supposed to be protected by the police. Instead Ms Chee and Mr Tan were harassed, discriminated against, and held without any reason.

(Video will be posted soon)