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Activist to be charged for vandalism and organising illegal public assemblies

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Noted Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham will be charged in court tomorrow (29 Nov) for vandalism, organising public assemblies without police permits, and for refusing to sign his statements under the Penal Code, according to a media statement by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) that was released today.

The authorities have taken issue with a demonstration Wham organised on 3 June this year, where 8 individuals stood silently on board an MRT train, each blindfolded and holding up a book titled, ‘1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On‘. The individuals who were protesting the Internal Security Act detentions of 1987 subsequently sat in empty seats in the train car and proceeded to read the book together.

Calling the demonstration a “silent protest,” the SPF revealed that Wham will be charged for vandalism since he temporarily posted two A4 sheets of paper on the train window during the demonstration.

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Wham will also be charged over a vigil event he organised outside Changi Prison Complex (CPC), a month later on 13 July. The police asserted that Wham had not sought a police permit and held the event regardless.

Seventeen people, including Wham, attended the candlelight vigil that was held for 29-year-old Malaysian Prabagaran Srivijayan who was executed the next day, despite widespread condemnation from international quarters and speculation that Prabagaran could have been innocent.

The SPF media release also flagged an indoor public assembly Wham had organised a year ago, on 26 Nov 2016, featuring a foreign speaker. The SPF claimed that the authorities had advised Wham that he would need to secure a police permit to hold the event, but that the activist proceeded to hold the event without a permit.

The SPF asserted:

“Wham is recalcitrant and has repeatedly shown blatant disregard for the law, especially with regard to organising or participating in illegal public assemblies.”

Wham made news in 2014 when he received a police warning for a candlelight vigil he organised at Hong Lim Park in support of student protesters in Hong Kong.

The police insisted that there were foreigner present at the vigil and verbally warned Wham before tying to get him to sign a Notice of Warning. Wham refused to do so and wanted his lawyer to scrutinise the document first.

Two months later, he received a letter that the warning had been served and that the matter was closed even though he did not sign the Notice.

Worried that the warning may be filed on record, Wham took the case to court and fought for the warning to be quashed.

The court, however, dismissed the case on 22 Dec 2015 and clarified that police warnings are merely expressions of opinion that the recipients had committed an offence, but do not otherwise have any legal effects on its recipients.

On 1 Feb 2016, the High Court ordered Wham to pay $6,063 in costs to the Attorney-General for his “failed” court application.

https://theindependent.sg.sg/s6063-the-price-of-justice-for-jolovan-wham/

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