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Activist filmmaker under investigation for organising event

(SEAPA/IFEX) - Martyn See, a filmmaker and executive secretary of Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD), is being investigated by the police under the Public Order Act for organizing a public assembly, involving foreign speakers, without a permit.

The 24 September 2011 forum, entitled "LKY: Liberal democracy will do us in. Will it?", was originally supposed to be held at the Singaporean Human Resources Institute. However, the venue cancelled the SFD's prepaid booking, reportedly because the owner did not want to host a political discussion.

The venue was then changed to the Public House Bar, where about 30 participants attended the forum, featuring Members of Parliament Tian Chua of Malaysia and Mu Sochua of Cambodia, as well as blogger Alex Wu and a former detainee under the Internal Security Act (ISA), Vincent Cheng.

On 5 October, See received a notification to appear at the Central Police Division, where he was questioned for about an hour and a half.

"The crux of the questioning surrounded whether inviting participants via a Facebook events page and email was a private or public activity," SFD Executive Director James Gomez said in a statement.

According to an article on Channel News Asia's website, the police stated: "A complaint was received regarding a forum held on 24 September 2011, where foreign speakers were in attendance to speak on and discuss domestic political issues which they have no stake in. . . The organisers of the forum are being investigated for possibly organizing a public assembly without a permit, which is an offense under Section 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act 2009. Indoor public assemblies are only exempted from requiring a permit if the exemption criteria are met. These criteria include a requirement that the organisers and speakers are all Singapore citizens."

In his statement Gomez said, "The SFD insists that the forum was a private event and urges the police to stop the investigation."

This is not the first time See has encountered problems with planning an event. In 2009, he attempted to hold a public forum on the ISA but had to postpone it when the original venue was visited by police officers after See advertised the event on his blog.

Many of See's films are currently banned in Singapore. Following the banning of his film "Singapore Rebel" in 2005, See became the subject of a 15-month police probe and was threatened with prosecution under the Films Act.

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