Not only has the Government banned Mr Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan from entering Singapore to conduct a training workshop on non-violent action, it has also denied the Sweden-Singapore Initiative for Democracy the permit to hold the workshop which was scheduled to take place on 14-15 May 2005.
However, the letter informing the organisers that the workshop was not allowed was received only on 16 May 2005, although it was dated 12 May 2005.
As usual, the Ministry of Home Affairs refused to give any reason for banning the workshop except to say that it was contrary to public interest.
The workshop was organized to introduce to Singaporeans the philosophy and concept of non-violent action and to provide training on how to conduct non-violent action campaigns. Trainers from Sweden, Canada, and Nonviolence International had come to Singapore to conduct the workshop.
Mr Moser-Puangsuwan, an US national married to a Thai, was stopped by Immigration authorities at the Changi airport when he arrived on 13 May 2005 at 5:00 pm. Immigration officials handed him a Notice of Refusal of Entry which stated that Mr Moser-Puangsuwan was ineligible for the issue of a pass under current immigration rules. He was then detained in a holding room and later forced to take the next immediate flight back to Bangkok where his flight had originated.
The Singapore Democratic Party condemns this latest move by the Government to suppress non-violent training in Singapore. It is a clear indication that the Government is afraid that Singaporeans, straining to find their voice, will have an avenue from where they can be trained in the practice of non-violence, which has been so effectively used by oppressed citizens all over the world to establish freedom and justice in their societies. The most notable non-violent campaigns were the movement started by Mahatma Gandhi in India and the Civil Rights Movement waged by Martin Luther King, Jr in the US.
The Singapore Democrats will continue its efforts to empower Singaporeans and encourage Singaporeans to embark on non-violent action in our society.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
(16 May 2005)