SDP members and supporters won't know whether to laugh or cry over this acquittal.
Obviously, SDP should be euphoric that the acquittal vindicates what they have done in Sep 07. They could also rejoice that the judge has been amicable enough to interpret the law in their favour.
But I would like to remind SDP that it was let off on what seems like a technicality - the lack of a clear legal definition of "progression". Hence the judge has had to rely on a “natural and ordinary” meaning of the word.
SDP should note that this oversight (ie. lack of definition) can be easily corrected by parliament in future, although personally I think we should let it be, besides the fact it would make the government seem retributive to make the amendment at this stage.
On the other hand, SDP has reasons to be sad because the acquittal DEBUNKS their long-held and oft-repeated insinuation that the judiciary is at the beck-and-call of the ruling party. Here was a case whereby the judge has given SDP the benefit of doubt with regards to the law.
Based on its mindset, whenever judgments were proffered that were not favourable to the SDP, it would make accusations of judges being biased and beholden to the government. This mindset is embodied recent accusations made by its supporters of the type as follows:
- Shame on those lap dogs - the judges, ministers, technocrats, etc who are so educated yet have to suck up to one old
peesai miserable man.
- the ruling party has used the whole civil system like the police, army, media and justice to perpetrate the manipulation and suppression on the people
- Everyone knows kangaroos run our courts!
Now that a judge has shown clear and balanced legal mind to acquit these SDP members, the party and its supporter can no longer lay claims to persistent legal suppression. SDP can no longer deliberately breach laws and then attribute their incarceration to miscarriage of justice.
A principled judiciary is not helpful to SDP's cause since it has essentially lost one of its raison d'être to overhaul the Singapore system.
I know a sparrow does not summer make, but overall it's a sad autumn day for SDP.