The Workers' Party is turning 50 this Nov and the committee had wanted to organise a cycling event for our party members on 9th September 2007 which is this coming weekend.
The committee chairman, Mr. Eric Tan then wrote in to ask for a permit for this event about a month ago. However, the reply that he got from the police was a flat 'NO', permit not granted, we cannot cycle at East Coast Park. No reason for declination was given at that point of time, be it verbally or in writing.
During parliamentary hearing yesterday, WP Chairman, Miss Sylvia Lim questioned Mr. Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State For Law & Home Affairs, on why the party could not get a permit for the cycling event.
Guess what was the reply?
"Because political parties are banned from organising outdoor activities", replied Mr. Ho
The reason was because such outdoor activites may lead to public disorder and mischief. And the rule applies to all political parties.
As if that's not ridiculous enough, Mr. Ho even suggested to Mr. Low Thia Khiang to cycle in the stadium. And was rebutted by Mr. Low that if he considered cycling in the stadium a reasonable suggestion?
Oh god! So this is where our tax-payers' money goes to.... Minister who gives silly suggestions? Mr. Ho, a Minister, a Professor, gave such suggestion...did he keep his brains at home? Or he did it intentionally? Well, if he did, then its a childish behaviour.
Apart from that, political parties cannot engage in outdoor activites. What about PA and grassroots activities that were held by the ruling party. The lightning logo can be seen when such activites are carried out? Is a political message being sent out? Should there not be any display of such logo so as to not politicise the event? Because Professor Ho said that political parties are banned from outdoor events.
Extracted from 'Straits Times', August 28, 2007. Below is part of an extraction from Peh Shing Huei's article which I totally agree with:
"The arguement was unconvincing. One can think of multitude of causes which could have detractors who disagree with their aims and platforms.
For example, does that mean grassroots organisations shuld not have outdoor events, for fear that those who object to their close association with the Government might want to debate with them and caused trouble?
Or groups like Mendaki or the Chinese Development Assistance Council should stay indoors, for fear of those who disagree with the concept of racially demarcated self-help?
What kind of vibrant society is this if Singaporeans are so fearful of a disagreement that they have to avoid the sun?
Let's argue, engage and debate - in the House and beyond it too."
Peh Shing Huei is a political correspondent with The Straits Times. He graduated from the National University of Singapore and was awarded the Department of Political Science's book prize in 1999. After obtaining an MA (Political Science) from Columbia University, Shing Huei joined sports desk of The Straits Times. In 2004, he received Singapore Press Holdings' Young Journalist of the Year award.