Sunday, December 23, 2007

Letter from Professor Femi Olaleye, Nigeria

I went through your article and it looks fine.

Nigeria is having the same problem about the Public Order Act which requires that any meeting or assembly in any public place should apply for a permit from the Police. The application for permit is expected to be made not later than 48 hours to the planned meeting.

The Courts have pronounced the laws of no effect because they run counter to the Nigerian Constitution.

But I think there is nothing wrong in somebody organizing a meeting or assembly in any public place to apply to the police for a permit if his intentions are peaceful. Freedom of association and assembly are not without their own responsibilities and liabilities. Besides, issues of national security and public peace, I believe, impose their own leverages on individual rights.

I believe that without any law imposing conditions on the use of public space for congregations will make policing difficult and will increase the crime rate particularly in a country without an efficient citizen identification and tracking system in place.

I am hoping to organize an event around this issue soon. What do you think?

Professor Femi Olaleye,\Nigeria.

From Gopalan Nair
Fremont, California
Dec 23, 2007.

Dear Professor Femi Olaleye,

Thank you for your letter. Yes, there is nothing wrong in any government requesting that protesters request permits for protests to ensure law and order. This is the case in governments all over the world. The only problem is that in Singapore the law is applied mala fides. There is an illegal purpose in the Singapore government having this law, because it is intended not to ensure law and order but to deny the opposition the right to hold any peaceful political protests.

For your information, during the last 40 years of this dictatorial government, even though countless protest permits have been applied by the opposition, not a single one has been approved! That itself should speak volumes on the true intent of this law in Singapore.

That is why I have been consistently calling upon the opposition to deliberately break this law. I hope now, Professor, you understand the Singapore situation.

The political situation and laws are not what meets the eye.

Gopalan Nair

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