Quash the Wrongful Conviction of Artist-activist Seelan Palay

Seelan Palay

Singapore Unbound condemns the conviction of artist-activist Seelan Palay on October 3, 2018, for holding a piece of art outside Parliament in 2017. After reasonably refusing to pay the fine of SGD2000 (USD1800), Palay was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment. Singapore Unbound considers the conviction a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and calls for the conviction and the sentence to be quashed.

The violation of citizenship rights is particularly egregious in Palay’s case as he was acting peaceably and on his own. One person does not constitute a ‘procession’ or an ‘assembly’, as the current law unreasonably has it. Any public order law should also take into consideration any actual or possible public disorder caused, as was not the case in this instance. Palay had not caused any public disorder. Like any Singaporean citizen, he has the constitutional right to speak and assemble freely. Although the Constitution of Singapore allows for the government of the day to restrict such a right in the interest of public order, the restriction of permissible public spaces for protest to just the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park and the definition of just one person as an “assembly” are clearly politically repressive and go against international standards for such rights.

Such political repression has created a climate of fear in Singapore. Activists and artists are, with reason, afraid to speak out for fear of legal prosecution and of the withdrawal of official funding and recognition. This fear is inimical to the organic growth of civil society and the arts. According to the 2015 Ipsos and SSI survey, 42% of Singaporeans wish to migrate out of Singapore if given a chance. If Singapore is seen only as a place to prosper economically, then Singaporeans will move out when the economic winds turn against the country. We need to give everyone a genuine stake in Singapore and it must begin with the citizenry knowing that they can influence, impact, even shape, their own society.

Besides quashing Seelan Palay’s conviction and sentence, Singapore Unbound also calls for the repeal or amendment of all laws and legal provisions that unjustifiably restrict the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including provisions in the Public Order Act, Section 142 of the Penal Code, and Section 290 of the Public Nuisance Act, to bring them into line with international human rights law.

Singaporeans deserve to be treated in the same way as the citizens of mature democracies. After fifty years of political independence, Singaporeans are more than ready to assume the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

For background to Seelan Palay’s case:
Amnesty International’s Public Statement
The Independent’s news article
Jee Leong Koh
Founder and Organizer, Singapore Unbound
A concerned citizen of the Republic of Singapore
Singapore Unbound is an independent, NYC-based literary non-profit dedicated to the advancement of freedom of expression and equal rights for all. We seek to build meaningful cultural exchange between Singapore and the USA.



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7 Responses to “Quash the Wrongful Conviction of Artist-activist Seelan Palay”

  • PAP peanuts calms panic:

    Mahathir win set off a series of supposedly votes ensuring purchase presumably the Biws think it will calm the rising unpularity of PAP neoptic self gratifying and glorifying regime. The $20 millions spent to self glorifying the greed, aggression n thieving advocating political leader in the wake of pending increasing of GST n other tax and citizens’ awareness of the escalating cost of living coupled with rampant retrenchment of Signaporeans from their jobs aggravated by the threat of the 4th PaP cesspool of recruits that PAP has no problem to import to foreigners which they have continued to do so and render increasing retrenchment to create jobs for them have soured the ground which the regime felt confident throwing a few peanuts will sweeten it. Singaporeans have not forgotten the post election increase of most taxes and fees to recoup the peanuts with gold beads. Maybe this time around Singaporeans have realized from Malaysians and the current Brazilians realizing that they elected the government not to suppress or fleece them while they get to join the wealthy class Najib accoomplishment in just one term of office heightens Singaporeans alarm of what could be happening in SIN 50 years of PAP operation in complete opacity and any attempt of trying to know what are they hiding that they are so afraid that the citizens would know are treated not as their obligation and citizens constitution rights but criminal acts. LHY/LWL claim of compliancy with solid document evidence further support the alarm and alertness to be necessary. It is VTO, explored what were lurking in the dark at least to verify the self claim of squeaks and utterly nonsensible claim of self checks and balances from supposedly great political brains which essentially are just expert in conning the daft. Isn’t it a self confession and open arrogance which become so self fulfilling that led to the release of long suppressed caution of political taboo to belittle the citizenry. The arrogance peaked when the leader cannot control his despise of the stupid acceptance of the shits they have strewed.
    Yes Malaysians boleh, Brazilians can also what about LKY daft Singaporeans willing to be insulted or getting back dignity and throw them into the cesspool where they belong as their 4th gen of hungry, greedy n aggressive thieving recruits as advocated by the imbercile.

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  • Bapak:

    Uniquely Singapore – one man can be charged for illegal assembly. Coming soon, by thinking alone at home, no need to be present can be charged for illegal assembly.

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    Fren how do you QUASH something that IDIOTS carry out as a LEEgal Law implemented by a Bastard now dead i.e. take a case to add in some sugar and water squeeze a wedge of lemon and call it Lemon Squash and declare the verdict GUILTY as prepared and no QUASHing allowed this is SingaporeINC

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  • LIONS:

    convicting an INNOCENT SOCIAL ACTIVIST in a nation where people are mostly nonchalant is not just a SIN,it is STOOOOPID AND HINDERS GENUINE PROGRESS!!!

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  • N.Jungne:

    Vote Them Out is the only way to make them pay

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  • HarderTruths:

    The Ballsless 70% will NEVER go against their lords and masters….

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  • oxygen:

    THE JUDGMENT DECISION IS WRONG in equity law. Statutory law on “procession” and “assembly” is so MASSIVELY EXPRESSIVE, EXPANSIVE, DIFFUSED AND UNINTELLIGIBLE OF REALITY COMPREHENSION that it could also, metaphorically speaking, convict the ants marching next to Seelan Palay’s foot on that fateful day.

    It is exactly like the s377a hypocrisy of black is white and white is black of legality and factual accounting.

    This is why the nation is strangled of progress. Is PAPpys law going to be that careless of its footing on liability accounting (all the risks to be borne by poor walking peasants???) when driver-less car runs over a pack of pedestrians at traffic road red-light crossing next?

    I have compelling apprehension that the public mind will think that we need statutory laws that are truth-of-telling and clear-cut of doctrinal guidelines useful to future case law decisions, not a confusing fog of culpability speculation.

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