Community worker Jolovan Wham was spotted among members of the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) Young Democrats youth wing, in a photo released by the party’s secretary-general Dr Chee Soon Juan.
Dr Chee tagged Mr Wham in the photo that he published online yesterday (23 July) and revealed that the picture was taken as part of a photo shoot that was conducted over the weekend for the party’s magazine-cum-manifesto.
Mr Wham, who became prominent in the civil society sphere for his work with The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), is now a noted civil rights activist in Singapore. He has spoken up against Government policies and actions in the past and has been at the receiving end of legal proceedings for his outspoken remarks.
The High Court recently issued a S$5,000 fine to Mr Wham after finding him guilty of scandalising the judiciary, over a comment on social media about the independence of Singapore’s judges compared to Malaysia’s.
On 27 April 2018, Mr Wham published a comment on social media about the independence of Singapore’s judges compared to Malaysia’s as he linked an article entitled “Malaysiakini mounts constitutional challenge against Anti-Fake News Act.”
Days later, on 6 May, SDP vice-chairman John Tan commented on Facebook that “by charging Jolovan for scandalising the judiciary, the AGC (Attorney-General’s Chambers) only confirms what he said was true.”
The authorities initiated action against both Mr Wham and Mr Tan and the High Court fined both men. This sentence means that Mr Tan will not be able to contest in the next General Election.
Mr Wham, who will be jailed for a week if he refuses to pay the fine, was also ordered to pay an additional S$5,000 in costs and nearly S$3,000 in disbursements to the AGC. The activist, who said that he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to apologise for, later revealed that he is appealing the sentence and that he is required to fork out S$20,000 as a security deposit for his appeal.
On 21 May, the activist revealed that Mr Lee Hsien Yang has paid for the deposit, which may not be fully recoverable if Mr Wham loses the case. Mr Wham tweeted that Mr Lee “reached out to me and offered to put up the security for costs on my behalf. I’m grateful to him for his generosity.”
Mr Wham has since said that he was not surprised by Mr Lee’s contribution. In an interview with the national broadsheet, the community worker said that Mr Lee did not give any reasons for the contribution as he asserted that the contribution “did not come as a surprise to me.”
He added that Mr Lee said he doesn’t need to be repaid for contribution towards court appeal.
Mr Lee – the youngest son of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew – has been embroiled in a bitter feud with his elder brother, current PM Lee Hsien Loong, over their late father’s will since 2017.
It is believed that Mr Lee could have contributed to Mr Wham since his own son, Li Shengwu, is also fighting a contempt of court lawsuit brought on by the AGC over a private Facebook post, in court. The AGC has also filed a complaint against Mr Lee’s wife, in connection to Lee Kuan Yew’s will.