On the afternoon of May 3, 2005, two Falun Dafa practitioners, Ms. Cheng Lujin and Ms. Ng Chye Huay were released after seven days in detention. They were on a hunger strike seven days and four days respectively while in detention, to protest their unfair sentencing by the Singapore Court. On the afternoon of May 4, 2005, the two practitioners held a press conference together with the Singapore Falun Dafa Association and explained their reasons behind the hunger strike, discussed personal accounts of their time in jail, how they were released and their future plans. They called on the local media to treat Falun Gong fairly and said they will continue to appeal their case.
Families Paid Fines, Against Their Will
Ms. Cheng said that on the afternoon of May 3, the police suddenly told her that she could go home. She learned later that her family had paid fines for her. Both these women expressed the view that paying the fines was wrong, because they had not pleaded guilty and should not have to pay any fines. They expressed their belief that the government of Singapore should reimburse their families for the money paid on their behalf.
The report in the May 1st edition of the Strait Times said, according to prison rules, hunger strikes are illegal and can lead to warnings or lockdown in solitary confinement. This statement made their families very worried as to the impact on the health of Ms. Cheng and Ms. Ng. Consequently, under pressure, the families decided to pay the fines.
Hunger Strikes Protested Unfair Sentencing
On April 27, 2005, the court found these two women guilty of illegal assembly and distributing unauthorised materials and forced them to pay huge fines. The two women refused the verdict and decided to appeal. The judge then refused their lawyer's requests for bail and ordered the defendants to pay the fines immediately or be sent to jail, as they expressed no "remorse" for their "crimes." Soon thereafter, both women were sent to the Zhangyi Women's Prison. Such severe punishments are seldom seen in Singapore. Normally the judge would allow defendants to be released on bail during their appeal.
Ms. Cheng said that the purpose of the law is safeguarding justice. Any people of conscience could not ignore the cruel persecution of Falun Gong in China. "Every one of us is responsible to help Falun Dafa practitioners in China stop the persecution. This is a test for all of us. We must all be vigilant and not turn a blind eye. The silence of good people is encouragement to the evildoers to continue doing harm. Therefore, I feel that I must call on people to learn the truth, call on the Chinese government to stop this persecution of cultivators who have faith. I think this is a noble act, not a crime. The judge only cares whether there is a permit, a vary narrow-mined view, and unfair."
In order to protest such unfair sentencing, she started a hunger strike as soon as she entered the jail. Ms. Ng decided to join her after three days.
Not Moved by Any Temptation
At the press conference, one journalist asked, "If you say the judge's sentencing is unfair, you can be sued for slander. What are you going to do if you are prosecuted again because of that?"
Ms. Cheng answered, "I have my principles of conduct. I will never be moved by enticement of benefit or threat."
Another journalist asked, "Are you worried that this case will undermine your permanent residency status in Singapore?"
Ms. Cheng replied, "I still trust in the Singapore government and believe there are lots of people with conscience and justice in their hearts. I believe my permanent residency will not be cancelled due to this case."
Local Media Called Upon to Pay Attention to the Persecution in China
At the press conference, the two practitioners called on the local media to pay attention to the persecution happening in China, to treat Falun Gong fairly, and to allow the general public to hear the voice of Falun Dafa practitioners. Over a long period of time, media in Singapore have largely quoted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reports, which slander Falun Gong, almost never reporting alternative views of support from Falun Gong practitioners and others. The one-sided media portrayal of Falun Gong has been very misleading to the local public. Hence, although Falun Dafa is legal in Singapore, many people were not aware of its lawful status.
Both women hope that the local media can report on their case with conscience and justice and pay attention to the persecution that is still ongoing in China.
Kind-Hearted Singapore People
Inside the jail, Ms. Cheng refused to be treated as a prisoner, even when the prison guards treated her rudely. She told everyone she met about the events happening in China, why she was found guilty, and why she went on a hunger strike.
Ms. Cheng said, "I feel that the Singapore people are very kind. After they learned the truth, the prison doctor and guards were very sympathetic to our account and could understand our actions. One prison doctor told me, 'I admire what you did and your belief, but you need to watch your health...'"
"Such kind-hearted people have the right to know the truth. Therefore, we will continue to use our citizen's rights that the constitution has bestowed on us, and we will continue to let more people hear the truth about Falun Dafa, to let more people have the opportunity to learn the truth."
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