SINGAPORE—According to Falun Gong practitioners in Singapore, close economic and political ties to the Chinese communist regime have prompted the government to deny practitioners their lawful rights of peaceful protest and freedom of speech. Several practitioners have been charged with trumped-up violations, with court hearings set for May 13, 14, and 31.
Singapore’s Central Police Divisional Headquarters have recently pressed a number of charges against Falun Gong practitioners who have been distributing informational materials about China’s persecution of Falun Gong at tourist sites. Practitioners said the charges of “damaging public property” are groundless, as they have not damaged any property. These actions by the government are discriminatory against Falun Gong practitioners and show the government's renewed round of cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party in persecuting Falun Gong, they said.
Ms. Ng Chye Huay is one of the practitioners who has gone to public places to display posters depicting the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong in China. On the morning of May 6, following a police officer’s instruction, she went to the Central Police Divisional Headquarters to apply for a permit for an event. Once she arrived, however, the police investigator Franis Lim ordered his staff to handcuff her.
Ms. Ng was originally told she faces seven charges, but the officer on the case, Ang Wee Kiat, would not allow her to see the indictment document. Four charges against her were announced when she was taken to the Subordinate Court, and she was ordered to appear in court on May 13. Her husband came to bail her out, but her passport was confiscated before she was released.
Continued Cases of Discrimination
On Oct. 5, 2009, Singapore police arrested five Falun Gong practitioners who were practicing the Falun Gong meditation and exercises and displaying posters about the persecution at Merlion Park. The practitioners were taken to the Central Police Divisional Headquarters, where their passports were confiscated.
In the afternoon of May 6, they were summoned by Lim at the police station and ordered to appear in court the following day on charges of “damaging public property.” They were also pressured to sign an admission of these charges, but they refused.
On the morning of May 7, the five practitioners appeared before a judge, and a hearing was set for May 14. They requested more time so they could hire lawyers, but their request was denied. The police also warned them not to go back to Merlion Park for the next 12 months, or otherwise new charges would be pressed against them.
According to an insider source, since Singapore invested US$5.5 billion to build a casino nearby, police officers started to be very critical of Falun Gong practitioners at Merlion Park, especially those who set up display boards at the site.
“The authorities want to stop Falun Gong practitioners from going there. They want to attract more people to come to the casino, and they do not want Chinese officials to see any Falun Gong information,” he said.
It’s a Political Issue
Mr. Chua Eng Chwee, a Falun Gong practitioner in his early seventies, said he has been doing the exercises at Merlion Park for many years. On May 6, he received a phone call from a police officer at the Central Police Divisional Headquarters, who informed him that the police chief wanted to “meet” him. When Chua went to the police station the next day, he was handcuffed.
According to Chua, an officer told him that he would be indicted, and that there was nothing he could do. When he responded that this was purely a political issue, the officer became speechless.
He was taken to the Subordinate Court, where the authorities announced that a hearing would be held at 3:30 p.m. on May 31. The police charged Chua with five crimes, including “damaging public property.”
He was released only after his daughter went to the police station to bail him out. The police indicated that Chua’s daughter would be fined if he does not appear in court.
Between 2001 and 2006, the Singapore government has indicted Falun Gong practitioners six times, including for “possessing VCDs” and “slandering the Chinese embassy.”
It is a shame that Singapore authorities are actively cooperating with the Chinese regime in pursuit of economic benefits, while ignoring the brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China and the support Falun Gong has received from the international community, said practitioners. The injustice toward Falun Gong practitioners by the government has damaged the image of Singapore, they said.