Activist arrested for 'unlawful protest' outside Parliament

Activist and artist Seelan Palay was yesterday arrested outside Parliament House, where he was presenting part of a performance art piece in tribute to long-time political detainee Chia Thye Poh.

Police said they received a call for assistance at 2.53 pm regarding "a man who was allegedly holding an unlawful protest outside Parliament House".

"The 32-year-old man was subsequently arrested under the Public Order Act," the police said.

Investigations are ongoing.

Mr Seelan was performing his piece, titled 32 Years: The Interrogation Of A Mirror, to commemorate the 32 years that Dr Chia spent living in detention and under restriction.

Carrying a mirror that he would draw on, he started the performance art piece in Hong Lim Park before making his way to the National Gallery Singapore and then to Parliament House, where he was arrested.

He has previously spoken out on a range of issues, from the death penalty to detention without trial.

Mr Seelan Palay was performing his piece, titled 32 Years: The Interrogation Of A Mirror, to commemorate the 32 years that Dr Chia Thye Poh spent living in detention and under restriction.

Dr Chia, who is 76 this year, was a Barisan Sosialis member who was elected to Parliament in 1963.

He was arrested in October 1966 for organising and leading an illegal street procession to demand that a general election be held and that certain conditions, including the release of all political detainees and the abolishment of laws he deemed undemocratic, be met.

Dr Chia was detained for 23 years. He was released in May 1989, after spending time in prison and halfway houses, and was allowed to live on Sentosa island. He has been allowed to live on mainland Singapore since 1992.

He earned a living doing translation work for the Sentosa Development Corporation.

The restrictions imposed on his travel, public speeches and political activities were fully lifted by the Government in November 1998.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2017, with the headline 'Activist arrested for 'unlawful protest' outside Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe