Politics & Protest World

Singapore charges activist for holding public assemblies, including a Skype talk with Joshua Wong

Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham has been charged with “multiple offences of organising a public assembly without a police permit.” One such assembly involved an event in which Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong spoke via Skype.

According to a news release from the Singapore Police Force, Wham “organised an indoor public assembly featuring a foreign speaker, which required a Police permit” in November last year.

Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong. Photo: In-Media.

“The Police had engaged Wham prior to the event and advised him that a police permit was required. However, Wham proceeded to hold the event without a police permit, committing an offence of organising a public assembly without a police permit under the Public Order Act,” the police said.

Wong spoke at the conference on civil disobedience and social movements via Skype video call. The organiser of the event, Community Action Network, is a non-governmental group concerned with freedom of expression in the city-state. Wham, who is a member of the group, was later questioned by the police for 45 minutes.

Following the event, Wong said the incident “highlighted how isolated the authoritarian government of Singapore is, as they fear connections between social movement organisations across East Asia.”

Wham has also been charged in relation to his involvement in a vigil outside Changi prison, a silent protest on a train, as well as for “[refusing] to sign his statement on multiple occasions when required to by the Police.” On the occasion of the silent protest, he was further charged with vandalism for pasting two sheets of paper onto a panel on the train.

Anyone convicted of organising a public assembly without a police permit is liable to a fine of up to SGD$5,000 (around HK$29,000) under section 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, while repeated offenders are liable to a fine of SGD$10,000 (HK$58,000) and imprisonment of up to six months.

Singapore charges activist for holding public assemblies, including a Skype talk with Joshua Wong