Police playing the dangerous game of politics, Singapore Democrats, 22 Nov 2007

The police released a statement saying that “in contrast to [Chee Soon Juan’s] acts of civil disobedience, Singaporeans and Myanmar nationals in Singapore have organised themselves to express their sentiments and concern for the Myanmar situation in a lawful manner”.

It was a stupendous spin.

In August this year a group of Burmese nationals marched down the length of Orchard Road. The protesters were warned not once but twice. The group defied the warnings and continued their peaceful march.

A month later, our Burmese friends congregated outside the Burmese embassy for a vigil. Again despite repeated warnings from the police, the protesters stayed put and even returned on subsequent evenings.

Two nights ago, a group of 40 to 50 Burmese again congregated at Orchard Road in a protest. This is despite countless warnings from the police.

Defying unjust laws that suppress human rights is civil disobedience.

The fact that the police has chosen not to take punitive action against these protesters does not make it any different from the non-violent action that the SDP and its supporters have been doing.

Which brings us to the next point. The police are selective in who it chooses to prosecute. To charge in court Burmese nationals standing in solidarity with their counterparts at home who are being beaten and killed, is political stupidity at its gravest. The PAP Government knows this.

So rather than arrest the Burmese protesters, the police work furiously behind-the-scenes to intimidate these people.

Our men-in-blue regularly visit Peninsula Plaza where Burmese nationals hangout, bear down on university officials and monks in temples, and conduct investigations on individual Burmese all in an effort to stop them from organising activities.

Being in a foreign land, these people have little choice but to comply. It doesn’t mean that they agree with the law that prohibits public protest – the same law, by the way, that exists in their homeland.

The Singapore Democrats and our supporters, on the other hand, are citizens of Singapore. The rights of our people have been robbed by the Government and we demand their return.

The Burmese, being foreigners, may back down. We do not.

For police to make the statement that they did further demonstrates their indulgence in partisan politics when they, as civil servants, ought to be strictly neutral.

This continued use of the police by the PAP to suppress dissent, and thus perpetuate its own power, is a dangerous game. Unlike in the past, the actions of our police force is widely and quickly disseminated through the Internet. {Pseudonymity: Videos – Riot police vs 4 silent protesters; Petition-signing at Burmese embassy in Singapore; Police video-taping protesters at Burma embassy; SDP members arrested outside the Istana; Singapore police abduction Part 1 and Part 2}

When the public sees it as being used to protect the PAP leaders, confidence in the police to enforce law and order impartially and without fear or favour will be eroded.

When state institutions are seen to no longer serve the interests of the public but rather the ruling clique, problems come very quickly. If it is trouble that the PAP is looking for, it will find it sooner rather than later.

The Government is caught in a delicate position. Crackdown on dissent and be condemned by the ever-growing democratic world. On the other hand it knows that if it allows Singaporeans to protest in public, then its days as an authoritarian regime are clearly numbered.

Singaporeans can see through this charade that the PAP and its police force are playing, and they want it stopped.