Singapore – Social worker and human rights activist, Jolovan Wham, is once more being investigated by Singaporean police. This time, for allegedly protesting outside the State Courts without a valid permit.
On December 13 last year, Wham posted a picture in his Instagram account of him standing outside the State Courts while holding a piece paper which said: “Drop the charges against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa.”
Last year October, the Info-communications and Media Development Authority (IMDA) filed a police report against The Online Citizen for publishing a defamatory article that made allegations of corruption against higher officials in the Government. Editor of the local socio-political website, Terry Xu and writers Daniel Augustin De Costa and Willy Sum were the parties charged with criminal defamation.
Read more on the investigation below:
Wham protested in front of the State Courts the same day that the Singapore Police Force charged TOC.
On March 2 (Saturday), the police revealed that they are investigating Wham for his actions. The police, in response to a query by Channel NewsAsia, informed the public that Wham had written to them in November applying for a permit to stage a protest outside the State Courts but was denied his application.
According to the police, “The State Courts is gazetted as a Prohibited Area under the Public Order Act, with stricter security protocols.”
“He was well aware that a police permit was required for such an event. Still, he went ahead to protest outside the State Courts on Dec 13, 2018.
There are avenues for Singaporeans to express their views on issues that concern them. The Speakers’ Corner was set up in 2000 to allow Singaporeans to conduct public assemblies without the need for a permit, subject to certain conditions being met,” they added.
It was only on February 21 when Wham was sentenced for organising a public assembly without a permit and was charged with a fine of S$3,200 but chose to serve 16 days in jail by default.
He was also found guilty in November 2016 for holding an event without a permit called “Civil Disobedience and Social Movements” and featured a live Skype video conference with Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong Chi-Fung.
A year after, Wham held a “silent protest” by pasting two A4-sized sheets on the window of an MRT train. In July of the same year, he also asked the public via Facebook to participate in a vigil outside Changi Prison Complex, once again succeeded without applying for the proper permits.
Wham has also been refusing to sign statements to the police, which a requirement by law. His justification for refusing to sign was based on principle as he was not given a copy.
After citing Wham’s previous public order related offences, the police described the activist’s actions to be “a pattern of Wham’s wilful disregard of Singapore’s laws.”
In response to his latest police investigation, Wham posted the following in his Facebook profile: “Apparently taking a photo at the foot of the steps outside the state courts with a piece of paper showing solidarity is an offence under the public order act. The alleged ‘assembly’ I’m accused of participating in was over in a matter of seconds. In the past I have taken pictures of myself at various places and publicised them via social media in support of LGBT rights, worker’s rights and when Roy Yi Ling Ngerng was sued. This is the first time I’m being investigated for something like this. Thanks Soh Lung Teo, Tan Tee Seng Kirsten Han. Suan Chng Martyn See and Jason Soo for waiting for me at the police station. This picture was taken after a long day and a late lunch.”