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Singapore activist Jolovan Wham on trial for organising forum featuring Joshua Wong

Social activist goes on trial for not having a police permit for forum at which prominent Hong Kong activist Wong made a speech

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 10:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 5:50am

A Singaporean social activist went on trial in his country on Monday, accused of illegally organising a forum in which a prominent Hong Kong student activist made a speech without a police permit.

Jolovan Wham, 38, a social worker from Community Action Network, had organised the event entitled “Civil Disobedience and Social Movements” on November 26, 2016 that was attended by about 50 people. Joshua Wong, an icon of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy movement, delivered a speech at the time via video call, using Skype.

Under Singaporean law, public assemblies and street processions require a police permit, but such applications are rejected if the event is directed toward a political end or involve the participation of foreigners. The trial at the State Courts is expected to last for three days.

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Wham sat in the dock during the morning session while the prosecution and defence lawyers cross-examined an investigating police officer.

He faces two charges in this trial, one for organising a public assembly without a police permit, for which he can be fined up to S$5,000 (US$3,650) if convicted, and another for refusing to sign a statement at a police station, which can result in up to three months in jail and a fine of S$2,500.

He has also been charged for activities he conducted on a commuter train during a peaceful protest in June last year and for a vigil outside Changi prison on July 13 during the execution of a convicted drug trafficker.

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A joint statement by the Community Action Network and Demosisto, a group co-founded by Wong, on Monday expressed deep regret that he was being prosecuted for “his involvement in peaceful non-violent protests and related activities”.

Singapore has strict laws that allow demonstrations and protests only to take place at Speakers’ Corner, which was set up in 2000 in an open field near the financial and business district. Foreigners are strictly not allowed to participate in such events.