Riot police break up demonstration of four people in Singapore

SINGAPORE, (AFP) – Riot police broke up a rare demonstration by four people demanding greater transparency and accountability in Singapore’s state-managed pension fund and other government-linked agencies.

A dozen anti-riot police wearing helmets and knee-high protective gear and carrying shields and batons formed a phalanx outside the offices of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as a commanding officer approached the demonstrators.

“You are committing an offence of public nuisance. If you don’t disperse you will be arrested,” the officer told the protesters as business people and employees watched in the central business district.

The four protesters, among them an office administrator and the sister of an opposition leader, Chee Soon Juan, voluntarily dispersed. They denied being part of any political group.

Police later asked them to hand over their protest materials — T-shirts and placards — as part of an investigation to determine whether they had violated any laws.

The two men and two women assembled at lunchtime outside the CPF building in the business district. They said they did not need a permit and staged their protest for about an hour.

Under the law, any public protest of at least five people without a police permit is deemed illegal. The protest took place as Singapore was in the midst of official celebrations of its 40th anniversary of independence.

The protesters hoisted placards calling for greater openness in how the government handles public funds used for retirement pensions, overseas investments and the building of subsidized high-rise apartments.

A police officer said they had received a telephone call from a “member of the public” about the protest, prompting them to send in the riot police.

Monica Kumar, 45, one of the protesters, said they had been insipired by public outrage that followed revelations last month that the chief executive of Singapore’s biggest charity, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), was being paid 350,000 US dollars annually.

The scandal sparked an online petition signed by more than 40,000 people and forced the NKF chief executive, T.T. Durai, and the entire board to resign.

“In reality, the NKF is reflective of the entire system in Singapore where public matters are run in a non-transparent and non-accountable manner,” the protesters said in a statement.

The statement called on the Housing Development Board and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) to open their books for public scrutiny.

GIC manages more than 100 billion US dollars in funds and invests globally.

“We call on the government to make Singapore more transparent and accountable, starting with the state organisations mentioned above,” the protesters said.

Here I am thinking that the chances of me witnessing a demonstration would increase a hundred times fold if I was in Tawian. But somehow four people seem to fall short of the mega 500 000 demontration slated to happen in Taipei at the end of August by the DPP concerning the arms procurement among other thorny issues between the parties. But WOW riot police! Must have been some demonstration.

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3 Responses to Riot police break up demonstration of four people in Singapore

  1. yong ping says:

    do you know that 3 of the CPF building protesters have filed a motion against Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng and the Commissioner of Police Khoo Boon Hui for allegedly acting unconstitutionally when they gave the order to disperse the demonstration? under our law it is perfectly legal for 4 or less people to hold a peaceful demonstration. it’s going to be a landmark case…i’m itching to see how they’re gonna squirm out of THIS one…

  2. Libertas says:

    I read about it in Di Mr Wang Say So (commentarysingapore.blogspot.com). Interesting. Though I guess while they did not break the law for having only four instead of five, they would have flouted some other obscure or vague legistion like sedition or something. In the end, the court would definitely find them guilty of something.

  3. sour_bodhi says:

    hoho! the government does not even dare to meet the protesters head on in court. the attorney-general has applied for the case to be struck out or dismissed. basically his justification is that the case is not worth hearing. so the concerns of the citizens are not worth addressing? they have yet again demonstrated their penchant to sidestep the law…

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