Activist Gilbert Goh charged over public assembly without permit outside ICA building

·Senior Reporter
·2-min read
Activist Gilbert Goh appearing at the State Courts. (PHOTO: Nick Tan/Yahoo News Singapore)
Activist Gilbert Goh appearing at the State Courts. (PHOTO: Nick Tan/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Activist Gilbert Goh was charged on Wednesday (15 December) with taking part in a public assembly without a permit earlier this year.

Goh, 60, whose official name is Goh Keow Wah, had allegedly held up a placard which read "Please ban all flights from India. We are not racist! Just being cautious" in the vicinity of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority building on 1 May this year. He is said to have publicised a cause, to persuade the government to ban all flights from India.

He was handed one count under the Public Order Act for the alleged act. In the course of investigations, he purportedly refused to sign his statement to the police on 11 May.

Goh told District Judge Lorraine Ho that he intended to claim trial and was in the process of hiring a lawyer.

Ahead of his hearing, Goh posted on his Facebook that he would "rather go to jail than pay the fine".

He will return to court on 7 January for a next mention.  

Goh's public assembly came around a week after all non-Singaporean and non-permanent resident travellers who travelled to India within the last 14 days were barred from entering or transiting through Singapore following a surge of COVID-19 cases in India.

Stern warning issued for separate incident

Goh was also issued a stern warning on Tuesday for failing to comply with the conditions for organisers of assemblies and for refusing to sign a police statement for a separate incident.

This was over an event he had organised at the Speakers' Corner on 3 November 2019, when he allowed a foreigner to participate, in breach of the terms and conditions specified by the National Parks Board.

Police permits are required if foreigners are involved in organising or participating in events at the Speakers’ Corner.

If convicted of taking part in a public assembly without a permit, Goh may be fined up to $3,000. If convicted of refusing to sign a police statement, he may be jailed up to three months, fined up to $2,500, or both.

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