Singapore—A man and woman who tried to join the Yellow Ribbon Run on September 15, Sunday, but were turned away for wearing anti-death penalty t-shirts are now being investigated by the police.
While they have not been publicly named, due to the man’s postings on social media, his identity is known as 38-year old first aid trainer Nafiz Kamarudin, who is also the co-founder of the charity, Happy People Helping People Foundation.
The Yellow Ribbon Project, founded in 2004, was established to “raise awareness of the need to give second chances to ex-offenders and their families, generate acceptance of ex-offenders and their families in the community, and inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders back into society.”
On September 12, Mr Nafiz, who had registered to join the race with a race bib printed with “2ND CHANCES MEANS NOT KILLING THEM” instead of his name, posted on his Facebook account that he had gotten a call from Yellow Ribbon Project Singapore telling him that the message on his race bib “is not in line with their cause”.
The organization’s tagline is “I believe in YR (your) second chances.”
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He wrote, “Does that sound stupid to you? They’re promoting giving ex-offenders a “2nd Chance” but they do not agree that in order for 2nd chances to be given, you have to first not hang them to death. When I asked them, if “2nd chances” are only for certain ex-offenders, the representative told me, she “can’t answer that question”.
This incensed Mr Nafiz, who added, “If they were to tell me, that I need to have my name on my bib, I would gladly exchange my bib with a new one. But telling me that my anti-death penalty message is not in line with their ‘I Believe In YR 2nd Chances’ message is not only ironic, it’s moronic.”
Mr Nafiz, along with his wife, age 30, showed up to the race in a t-shirt that read “2ND CHANCES MEANS NOT KILLING THEM” and announced on another Facebook post that he had not been allowed to run the race, even if the organizers had said on their website that “runners can use any other tops other than their official t-shirt.”
He posted a photo of himself in the shirt and the official race bib with his name on it, and said that he would be running parallel to the race.
“First they told me I need to change my bib. Now they want to police me on what to wear. Screw Yellow Ribbon Project. This will not stop me from achieving my goal on my birthday. I will be running parallel to them. Screw the medal.”
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On Tuesday, September 17, Mr Nafiz was questioned at the Bedok Police Station, with his wife going in for questioning on Wednesday, September 18.
They are being investigated under the Public Order Act. A police report against their actions was filed after the Yellow Ribbon Run.
According to a statement from the Singapore Prisons Service (SPS), the organizers had reached out twice to Mr Nafiz by September 6, explaining why they found his race bib to be inappropriate. “The YRPR should not be used by him as a platform to advocate other causes, or to campaign against existing laws.”
According to the statement, ”He was offered the opportunity to exchange his inappropriate bib with one printed with his name. On both occasions, he rejected the organising committee’s offer despite being informed that he would be deregistered from the event and his registration fee refunded if he refused to change the bib.”
And when Mr Nafiz and his wife turned up to the run wearing their t-shirts with the anti-death penalty slogans (along with the #ANTIDEATHPENALTY hashtag on the back), the run’s organizers offered Mr Nafiz another shirt to wear to the run.
The SPS statement said, “However, he rejected the offer, ripped off his bib and threw it on the ground, and ran separately by himself on the public road that ran alongside the event running route.
The duo’s actions at this year’s YRPR are a disservice to offenders, ex-offenders and their families whom the Yellow Ribbon Project seeks to help.”
Taking part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act. Those found guilty may receive a fine of as much as S$ 3,000./ TISG