Singaporeans from all walks of life have expressed solidarity with Jolovan Wham, after the local activist was summoned for police investigations for holding a piece of cardboard featuring a smiley face in front of a police station.
On 28 March, Mr Wham decided to take a picture of himself holding a smiley face at Toa Payoh Central after hearing that two youths who had taken photos of themselves posing with placards demanding climate change at the same spot had been called up for investigations.
Last week, Mr Wham shared on social media that he had been ordered to report to Tanglin police for taking the picture. He wrote on Twitter: “About 2 months ago, I held up a placard at Toa Payoh Central, took this picture and left immediately after. I’ve now received a letter that I’ve violated the Public Order Act and will have to be at Tanglin police division this Sunday at 2pm.
The social worker added in another tweet: “I did it in response to someone in sg who got investigated by the police for participating in a climate strike.”
Ever since Mr Wham was summoned over the issue, fellow Singaporeans have been posting photos of themselves holding up smiley faces.
Sharing photos of those who expressed support for him on Facebook, Mr Wham wrote: “It should never be an offence to express ourselves and gather peacefully for causes we care about. If you believe Singapore should have greater freedom of expression and assembly, send me a photo for this album.”
Mr Wham calls this album “Smile for Solidarity”. Several Singaporeans have joined the activist in posing with a smiley face. Among those who participated are local poet Teng Qian Xi, journalists Kirsten Han, and filmmaker Lynn Lee. Younger citizens have also joined the movement.
Holding public demonstrations without a police permit is illegal in Singapore, even if the demonstration involves just one person. Mr Wham faces a S$3,000 fine if he is charged and convicted in court.
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