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Singapore Politician Defies Police

December 29, 1998

SINGAPORE (AP) _ A Singapore opposition leader, in a rarely seen public gesture of defiance, stood up before a crowd gathered in a park and railed against government restrictions on expression.

Ignoring warnings by police against speaking without a permit, Chee Soo Juan addressed a crowd of 250 people for an hour on the lawn at Raffles Place in Singapore’s business district.

Chee, the head of the small Singapore Democratic Party, made statements rarely heard in the island state.

He read descriptions of alleged torture of political prisoners, criticized Singapore’s leader Lee Kuan Yew for investing public money in China, and criticized government suppression of speech.

``The reason why the government doesn’t permit politicians to talk to you like this is because there’s a lot of information they don’t want you to know,″ Chee told the crowd.

Chee, who said his party has about 200 members, has unsuccessfully run twice for Parliament. The 84-member legislature has been controlled for 38 years by the ruling People’s Action Party.

After the speech, police tried to serve Chee with a summons to appear for questioning. Chee refused to take it.

Police Superintendent Low Hui Hui said he had warned Chee that his address would violate laws baning speeches without a permit, and would make him subject to a fine of around $3,000.

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