Protester who called for PM Lee’s resignation jailed 3 weeks and fined $20,000

Wan Ting Koh
Yan Jun, who protested outside Raffles Place MRT in July, was jailed and fined for his “blatant disregard for the law”. Photo: Video screenshot.

The man who held a protest in Raffles Place calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month has been jailed three weeks and fined $20,000.

Yan Jun, an unemployed 41-year-old Singaporean, was found guilty on Monday (14 August) on four counts of taking part in a public assembly without a permit and one count of behaving in a disorderly manner by shouting at police officers through a loudhailer after a three-day trial.

On 3 July, Yan demonstrated outside Raffles Place MRT, where he displayed a sign with the words “PM Lee: resign over Terrex conspiracy!” on one side and criticised the judicial system on the other. He was arrested and released later that day. He returned to the area a day later to protest about the same issues.

Yan, who was unrepresented, had also demonstrated outside the United States Embassy and the British High Commission last October and the last December, respectively. The $5,000 fine imposed on Yan for each of the four demonstration charges was the maximum for repeat offenders. If Yan is unable to pay the $20,000 fine, he would have to serve 12 weeks’ jail.

During the trial, the prosecution called a total of 11 witnesses, including the police officers who were present at Raffles Place when Yan was arrested. Yan claimed that the trial was “unfair” when he took the stand last Friday, and insisted on “exercising his right of silence” several times.

In the prosecution’s closing submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Randeep Singh said, “[Yan] claimed trial despite the overwhelming evidence against him. He proffered no defence at trial, and did not even challenge any of the evidence against him.

“He has instead abused the trial process and used the trial as a further soapbox for him to cast baseless and spurious allegations against the judiciary, the prosecution and the police.”

Citing Yan’s “blatant and unrelenting law-breaking”, the prosecution sought a $5,000 fine on each demonstration charge and three weeks’ jail on the disorderly behaviour charge. Yan was previously fined $2,000 in June 2016 for taking part in a public assembly without a permit on two separate occasions at the Istana Park and Parliament House.

The DPP also pointed out that Yan had shown no remorse and stated during the trial that he would continue his protests. Meanwhile Yan, who interrupted the DPP a few times in court, asked for justification and maintained that he had no chance to “argue” with the prosecution.

In sentencing Yan, District Judge Ng Peng Hong pointed out the seriousness of the offence and the lack of mitigating factors. “I agree a deterrent sentence is required. In this case, specific deterrence given the blatant disregard for the law and unrelenting offending,” said DJ Ng.

Yan said in court that he intends to appeal. His sentence will be backdated to 5 July, when he was remanded.

For disorderly behaviour, Yan could have been jailed up to six months and/or fined $2,000 on a first conviction.