In the last two weeks, the Worker’s Party, the National Solidarity Party and even Han Hui Hui have submitted that the Government was acting ultra vires (out of their boundaries of power).
The Worker’s Party controlled Aljunied Housing Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) was charged in court by the NEA for organising a trade show without a permit. One of their defences is that the NEA had acted out of their powers in requiring Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) approval as a condition of the permit.
The NSP was not given a permit to continue with their publication because they did not want to reveal their sources of income. In this case, the incomes of the office bearers because it is funded privately. They suggest this act is incompatible with their constitutional rights of freedom of speech.
Han Hui Hui has had her permit for speech and demonstration revoked by the police. She claims that the revocation is a breach of her rights of freedom of speech.
However, I disagree that in any of these situations the authorities had acted ultra vires. The whole point in the issuing of a permit is so that an authority is able to regulate the many activities that could lend to social disorder. It is a shame that these parties have accused good authority of being political conspiracy.
In the past, trade shows have seen bitter disputes between permanent shop and temporary stall owners. Both accuse the other of unfair competition and price wars. Petty arguments ensued. The CCC is the government’s authority on the ground to mediate dispute, nothing more than that.
Publications, both printed and online, are required by the MDA to declare sources of income. This is so authorities know if there is foreign money interfering with domestic politics. Many a dissenting publication had been allowed for print in Singapore. Chee Soon Juan publishes regularly and his books can be bought off bookstores and universities. As long as you fulfil their regulative conditions, you get to say whatever you want – provided you do not cross the boundaries preserving the State’s peace.
That is probably the same reason why Han Hui Hui was refused her permit. The woman encroached on the rights of YMCA in enjoying a peaceful outing at Hong Lim Park. Han has her rights to freedom of demonstration, but so do the participants of the YMCA.
Article 12 of our Constitution assures us that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
If there is dispute amongst the shopkeepers, if there is foreign influence in domestic politics, if the children of YMCA had been emotionally scared because of the acts of others, they too have their own protection by the authority of our constitution.
PAP politicians have also been charged and indicted by the same courts. Drink driving, defamation, misbehaviour… and if they do attempt to pull the same stunts that the parties above have been doing, I expect the PAP man be accorded the same punishment also, if not more severe.