SINGAPORE – Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham Kwok Han, 37, was hauled to court on Wednesday (Nov 29) to face seven charges, including one count of vandalism.
Wham, who is the former executive director of migrant worker advocacy group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, was also charged with three counts each of organising a public assembly without permit and refusing to sign police statements.
On Nov 26 last year, he allegedly organised a public assembly without a permit at The Agora on the third storey of Midview City shopping mall in Sin Ming Lane near Upper Thomson Road.
Wham is said to have organised the event to publicise the cause of “civil disobedience and democracy in social change”.
According to court documents, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong Chi-Fung gave a speech remotely at the assembly and this was screened in real-time.
Following this incident, Wham purportedly refused to sign a statement which he made at the Police Cantonment Complex on Dec 20 last year.
Wham is accused of organising another public assembly without a permit on MRT trains along the North-South line on June 3.
He allegedly did so to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Operation Spectrum – an internal security operation that saw 22 activists arrested in 1987 in what the Government called a Marxist plot aimed at overthrowing it.
Wham is said to have committed vandalism while riding on a train that day.
He allegedly stuck onto a panel two sheets of A4-sized paper with messages stating: “Marxist conspiracy? #notodetentionwithouttrial” and “Justice for Operation Spectrum survivors #notodetentionwithouttrial”.
He was in Police Cantonment Complex again 16 days later where he allegedly refused to sign another statement which he had made.
Wham is also said to have organised without permit a third public assembly on July 13.
This time, he allegedly held one at a bus stop outside the Changi Prison Complex to commemorate the judicial execution of drug offender Prabagaran Srivijayan, 29.
The Malaysian was hanged the next day after he was earlier convicted of importing 22.24g of heroin into Singapore.
According to a police statement on Tuesday (Nov 28), 16 other people were investigated for their various roles in organising and participating in this vigil.
They include sociopolitical website editor Terry Xu and freelance journalist Kirsten Han. The police said that investigations into their cases are still ongoing.
Wham purportedly refused to sign a police statement yet again on Sept 13.
He is unrepresented by a lawyer and told the court on Wednesday (Nov29) that he wants to seek legal advice.
He was offered $8,000 bail and the pre-trial conference for his cases will be held on Dec 13.
More than 10 people came to court to observe the proceedings.
They include blogger Han Hui Hui and former political detainee Teo Soh Lung.
In their statement on Tuesday, the police said: “Wham is recalcitrant and has repeatedly shown blatant disregard for the law, especially with regard to organising or participating in illegal public assemblies.
“The Speakers’ Corner… is an established space for Singaporeans to express their views on issues with which they are concerned. Singapore citizens can organise public assemblies at the Speaker’s Corner in accordance with the rules.”
Offenders convicted of vandalism can be fined up to $2,000, or jailed up to three years with between three and eight strokes of the cane.