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Netizens criticize MHA for being “tone deaf” after publishing meme on public assembly

Members of the online community were shocked and remarked on how permits were almost impossible to obtain

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Many people online did not react favourably after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) published a meme on the Public Order Act.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Feb 16), the MHA published a meme where actor Johnny Depp was seen asking a little boy (Freddie Highmore): “How much angbao did you collect this CNY?”

The boy then replied: “Zero. I used the money to pay fine for protesting without permit”.

To this, Depp responded: “Next time get permit first”.

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According to Section 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act: Each person who organises a public assembly or public procession in respect of which no permit has been granted…be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$5,000.

A meme is generally an image, video, piece of text, typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by internet users, often with slight variations.

The MHA meme came after activist Jolovan Wham Kwok Han was convicted on Monday (Feb 15) of organising a public assembly without a permit, for vandalism and refusing to sign his statement to the police.

Wham was sentenced to a global fine of S$8,000, or 32 days’ imprisonment in default. Two other offences of organising a public assembly without a permit and refusing to sign his statement to the police were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Wham also said that he would serve a prison sentence instead of paying the fines in relation to the public assembly and vandalism offences.

Netizens who commented on the MHA post were shocked by the meme and wondered if permits were ever given out.


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