Falun Gong pair to face trial for illegal Singapore assembly

Singapore City, Singapore - Nine followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement will be tried in a Singapore court next month for taking part in an illegal assembly, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Some of the accused allegedly held an illegal gathering at an underpass last October 22. The others are accused of assembling the next day without a permit on Orchard Road, Singapore's main shopping and tourist strip, the Straits Times said.

It identified two of the accused as Ng Chye Huay, 41, and Cheng Lujin, 38.

Cheng, a Chinese national, and Singaporean Ng were detained in April last year after refusing to pay court-imposed fines for handing out VCDs in public that promoted their religion. They did not have a permit to distribute the VCDs.

China outlawed Falun Gong in 1999. It is not illegal in Singapore, the newspaper reported, but any public protest of at least five people without a police permit is deemed against the law.

In keeping with that law, Singapore police said on Friday that outdoor protests would not be allowed when thousands of delegates gather in Singapore for the annual World Bank and IMF meetings in September.

Experts say the government fears the increased exposure that will come with these events.

District Judge May Mesenas fixed the Falun Gong members' trial date for August 14-17, The Straits Times reported.

They face a fine of up to S$1,000 dollars if convicted.