Socio-political activist Gilbert Goh thanked a police inspector for remaining respectful and kind and genially apologised for ranting at the officer, during a police enquiry last week into the presence of a foreigner at an event he had organised opposing the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
The event, which saw a crowd of about 300-400 gathering at Hong Lim Park’s Speakers’ Corner on 3 Nov, was organised in the wake of severe backlash to a viral incident in which an India-born condo resident berated an elderly security officer who was doing his job.
On Friday (6 Dec), Mr Goh revealed that he was called up to assist in an investigation into the anti-CECA event. He added:
“You can silence me, you can destroy my voice but not my heart which will always be speaking up for my country, my people! This is the price we will pay as a activist advocating for a better Singapore but we all willingly do it even though we may go to jail for doing so.”
Mr Goh later revealed that he was questioned by the police over an alleged breach of the Public Order Act since a foreigner attended and participated at his anti-CECA event. A tourist from Israel was among the audience at the event and had asked a question when the panel of speakers took questions from the audience at the end of the rally.
An amendment made to the Public Order Act in 2017 states that organisers of public gatherings “must ensure that only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession.” Those who fail to do so can be fined up to S$10,000.
In a Facebook post published a day after he assisted in the police investigation, Mr Goh revealed that he acknowledged his fault as a organiser in not providing the proper checks to ensure that foreigners did not observe the anti-CECA event.
He said that he may be charged by the Attorney-General and will “decide whether to pay the fine if charged or go to jail in default when the time arrives.”
The activist added that he will put up barricades to ensure that only Singaporeans and permanent residents can attend future public gatherings and said that he verbally assured the police that he would do this, during the investigation.
Mr Goh also did not sign a police statement at the end of the investigation “in protest against the lack of civil legal rights for common citizens”. Revealing that his refusal to sign the police statement is a chargeable offence, he explained:
“I felt vulnerable in giving my statement which can implicate me in future – I told the inspector that I feel like a sitting duck providing a statement which I don’t know whether legally it will backfire on me.
“We need to be read our basic legal rights before providing sworn police’s statement so that it is a fair system for everybody involved in the case.
“Right now, the system weighs heavily in favour of the police and by the time we can have access to a lawyer the case has already passed through the AGC and we have to defend ourselves in court.”
Revealing that he will share his concerns to the European Union Representative in Singapore and possibly to the UN Human Rights Commission, Mr Goh added:
“As an activist, we have to be prepared to pay the ultimate price so that anyone who wants to take up the cross of freedom fighting has to ask themselves how far are they willing to go fighting the system as it’s not a easy-going path especially in our regimental system of tight control.”
Thanking Singaporeans for expressing concern for him after he was called up to assist in the police enquiry, Mr Goh said:
“Once again, I want to thank everyone for supporting my cause for a better Singapore – I saw many comments all over the social media and feel I am not alone and that in itself is already a blessing.
“I also want to thank Inspector James Beh who is (sic) very respectful and patient with me during yesterday’s investigation and I apologize if sometimes I rant too much at you.”
Thanks to the many concerned Singaporeans who checked on my welfare after yesterday's police investigation into the…