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Monday, April 27, 2009

Discretion in public order

Mr Shamugam stressed that the Public Order Act "applies only to cause-based activities". Moreover, it does not ban such activities per se; "it only requires the getting of permits".

AseanAffairs: The Voice of Southeast Asia:

"The wealthy Southeast Asian country's draconian rules against public demonstrations currently require a police permit for the staging of public protests anywhere in the city-state. As these are almost never granted and any assembly or procession of five or more people without a police permit is regarded as illegal, this has effectively banned public protests."

Another point of contention: The powers granted to the police to stop the filming of ongoing security operations and to seize such materials.

Citing the Mumbai terrorist incident, Mr Shanmugam reiterated that such powers were necessary in the face of new media technologies. Otherwise, intelligence or counter-terrorism operations could be compromised.

Video reveals G20 police assault on man who died: Exclusive footage obtained by the Guardian shows Ian Tomlinson, who died during G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind by baton–wielding police officer

"The Guardian has handed a dossier of evidence to the police complaints watchdog...

The submission to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) includes a collection of testimonies from witnesses, along with the video footage...

The man who shot the footage, a fund manager from New York who was in London on business, said: "The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not getting any answers."

The Guardian's dossier also includes a sequence of photographs, taken by three different people, showing the aftermath of the attack...

The witness accounts contradict the official version of events given by police."

Giving his assurance that police would not exercise such powers during routine activities, Mr Shanmugam stressed that Mr Siew's assumption was based on a "fundamental disagreement that our officers are honest and upright".

EurLIFE - Trust in the police

"Percentage of people aged 15 and over who tend to trust in the police. United Kingdom: 72% in 2005"

Mr Shanmugam argued, it boils down to how much Singaporeans trust the Government – bearing in mind the limitations and geo-political challenge that a small country faces.

"The Executive needs to be given power and discretion and the voters will judge, at the end, how the powers have been exercised. It means striking a balance in such a way that quick, effective, efficient action is possible to take our country forward," he said.

George W. Bush on the Protect America Act, which authorised wiretapping of "massive, wide-ranging information gathering with no oversight":

"Every day that Congress puts off these reforms increases the danger to our Nation. Our intelligence community warns that under the current statute, we are missing a significant amount of foreign intelligence that we should be collecting to protect our country. Congress needs to act immediately to pass this bill, so that our national security professionals can close intelligence gaps and provide critical warning time for our country."

In setting out his case for the Bill, Mr Shanmugam posed another balance to be struck: Between enough space for political expression and society's need for stability. And, he made it clear, "stability has to be given greater weight".


"As a politician, Brezhnev was very conservative, he was very much afraid of big changes and deep reforms. Having enounced Khruschov's ill-considered reform, he primarily put an end to all Khruschov's undertakings...

The idea of stability was introduced instead, which met the interests of the administration...

The 1970s - are known as the period of stagnation in the history of the [USSR]. In that period the economical and social development of the country constantly slowed down."
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