Singapore activist Jolovan Wham will go to jail for 10 days starting tomorrow for organizing an event four years ago that featured remote speech by Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong.
Wham said today that he was not surprised the high court dismissed the final appeal of his 2019 conviction under the Public Order Act, saying he would to go to jail in lieu of paying a S$2,000 (US$1,500) fine.
“It was an expected outcome. Our courts don’t respect fundamental human rights,” Wham told Coconuts Singapore today. “How can a peaceful, indoor event which didn’t cause any harm be an offence?”
Wham held the indoor event, Civil Disobedience and Social Movements, without a police permit in November 2016 at The Agora on Sin Ming Lane. It also featured speeches by activist-journalist Kirsten Han and activist-artist Seelan Palay, who in 2018 was jailed two weeks for walking from Hong Lim Park to the Parliament House as part of a performance.
Earlier, he had thanked his supporters while announcing his decision.
“My appeal against the conviction for organising an indoor event where @joshuawongcf spoke has been dismissed. I will be serving a 10 day prison sentence starting tomorrow instead of paying the 2k fine. Thanks everyone for your support,” he wrote on Twitter.
My appeal against the conviction for organising an indoor event where @joshuawongcf spoke has been dismissed. I will be serving a 10 day prison sentence starting tomorrow instead of paying the 2k fine. Thanks everyone for your support 🙂
— Jolovan Wham (@jolovanwham) August 20, 2020
His defense lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam, urged the court in October to acquit his client, arguing that the event was just a discussion and did not promote a cause. The prosecutor hit back saying that the format was not important but rather the fact it promoted “the role of civil disobedience and democracy in social change.”
Hong Kong activist Wong told Coconuts Singapore today he “strongly condemn(s) the political suppression” of Wham, adding that the latest sentence is “just the way of the regime to generate a chilling effect in civil society.”
It is illegal to hold public demonstrations or assemblies without a permit in Singapore, even silent protests by one person. And the only public place Singaporeans can be granted permits to do so is the Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park.
Wham said online Tuesday that he’s still facing four other charges related to separate incidents that include a vigil he helped organize for a death row inmate outside Changi Prison in July 2017. He was also involved in a protest on an MRT train in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Operation Spectrum, which saw 22 activists arrested in 1987 as part of what the government called a Marxist plot to overthrow it.