Joshua Wong, the face of the Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, has spoken up about the sentencing passed down yesterday on Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham.
Wham, 39, was found guilty last month for violating public order laws because he failed to apply for a police permit before inviting Wong, a non-Singaporean, to speak to an audience here in Singapore via video chat on Skype. Yesterday, Wham was slapped with a $3,200 fine, but he intends to serve a 16-day prison sentence in lieu of paying the fine.
Speaking to the Hong Kong Free Press, Wong called the outcome “an embarrassment and a terrible injustice”.
“Jolovan generously invited me to share and exchange my experience in Hong Kong’s fight for freedom and justice with the Singaporean community – the irony is not missed here that Jolovan has become a subject of injustice as a result.”
The 22-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee had been a guest (via video conference) in Wham’s forum back in November 2016, where fellow local activists Seelan Palay and Kirsten Han discussed the role of civil disobedience and democracy in building social movements. Singapore authorities took issue with how Wham continued with the event despite being advised by the police to obtain a permit — even if the foreign speaker spoke remotely.
“I’d like to express my respect and admiration for Jolovan’s perseverance of his values, and my wish for the Singaporean people to one day be able to enjoy true freedom and democracy,” Wong told HKFP.
Wong is no stranger to convictions for his pro-democracy activism. The student activist has been jailed twice for offenses related to the mass protests the Umbrella Movement organized in Hong Kong.
On his part, Wham remains firm in his stance against the sentencing.
“I’m not paying the fine because I don’t wish to validate a system which does not respect freedom of expression and where even having a harmless Skype call is considered an offense,” he wrote on Facebook.
“As a country, we can do better than this.”
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