SINGAPORE — Already accused of organising public assemblies without permits, civil activist Jolovan Wham was hauled to court again on Monday (23 November) and handed two fresh charges under the Public Order Act.
Wham, a 40-year-old Singaporean, is said to have demonstrated his support for two others who were in the State Courts for their cases on 13 December 2018. He allegedly did so by holding up a piece of paper which stated “Drop the charges against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa” while standing on the steps to the main entrance of the former State Courts building at 1 Havelock Square. He allegedly had a photograph of himself taken. Xu and De Costa – who are currently facing charges of criminal defamation – were charged in the building that day.
Wham’s second charge states that on 28 March this year, he was photographed in the vicinity of Toa Payoh Central Community Club and Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre holding up a piece of cardboard with a smiley faced drawn on it. This was allegedly to demonstrate his support of the actions of a person known as Nguyen Nhat Minh, who had a similar photograph taken at the same location six days earlier.
Nguyen was allegedly depicted to be holding up a cardboard with the words “SG IS BETTER THAN OIL @Fridays4futuresg”. Wham allegedly did not have a permit for his supposed demonstration, which occured at about 1pm.
Other charges against Wham
Wham is already facing pending charges of a similar nature. These include holding a vigil outside Changi Prison Complex on 13 July 2017 to commemorate the judicial execution of Prabagaran Srivijayan, and for organising another public assembly on the MRT trains to commemorate the 30th anniversary of “Operation Spectrum” on 3 June the same year.
A trial has been fixed for these charges on 15 February next year.
Wham was previously fined $3,200 in February last year after being found guilty of two other offences.
One of them involved an event Wham organised on 26 November 2016. He had organised a talk on “Civil Disobedience and Social Movements” to discuss issues relating to civil disobedience and democracy in social change. Wham had publicised the event held at The AGORA, Sin Ming Lane, on Facebook and it was open to the public.
Among the speakers was prominent Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi-Fung, who addressed the audience through a live Skype call.
However, the event required a police permit due to Wong’s involvement as he was a foreigner. On 23 November 2016, a police officer advised Wham to apply for a permit under the Public Order Act. But he did not so so.
After Wham recorded a police statement on 20 December 2016 at the Police Cantonment Complex, he refused to sign it, despite affirming that the statement was true and correct.
During the trial, Wham testified that he had asked for a copy of the statement if he were to sign it but his request was rejected.
Following his conviction, Wham appealed to the High Court but his case was dismissed by Justice Chua Lee Ming on 25 October last year.
When he was sentenced, Wham said he would rather go to jail instead of paying the fine. He spent 10 days in prison in August.
Wham will return to court on 27 November. If convicted of taking part in a public assembly illegally, he can be fined a maximum of $5,000 per charge.
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