SINGAPORE - Blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling on Wednesday (Oct 7) pleaded guilty to co-organising without approval a Hong Lim Park protest rally on Sept 27 last year, and for being a public nuisance.
He was fined a total of $1,900 - $400 for being a public nuisance, $1,500 for organising the rally without approval - by District Judge Liew Thiam Leng.
The 34-year-old, who contested Ang Mo Kio GRC under the Reform Party banner at the recent General Election, is the second of six protesters facing the public nuisance charge to plead guilty.
Ms Chua Siew Leng, 43, who does not hold a regular job, admitted to the charge in March. She was fined $300.
The cases against the other four, who include blogger and rally co-organiser Han Hui Hui, 24, have been fixed for a joint trial next week.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Mr Ngerng skirted the question when asked – at least three times – why he chose a different course from his co-accused.
He would only say, of his decision to plead guilty at this stage: "All of us are doing this to help our country, and I'd like us to focus on that."
When asked if he would continue in opposition politics, he said he was moving on and looking for a job, with a "focus right now on putting food on the table".
The six were accused of disrupting the YMCA Proms @ The Park charity event for children with special needs, which was held in Hong Lim Park at the same time as the Return Our CPF protest rally.
The court heard on Wednesday that the YMCA had applied to the National Parks Board (NParks) for permission to hold the YMCA event sometime in April 2014. This was approved on Sept 9, 2014.
On Sept 22, 2014, Han made an online application to the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation give a "speech" at Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park in relation to the CPF event. Chua, Low and Mr Ngerng also made similar applications.
"At no time did (they) apply to the Commissioner for approval to organise a demonstration at Hong Lim Park or Speakers' Corner," said Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu.
He said they "became more emotive" when Minister of State Teo Ser Luck, the YMCA event's main guest, arrived at about 4.50pm.
The six accused and at least 20 others then marched four times around the general vicinity of the YMCA event, shouting loudly, chanting slogans, waving flags, holding placards, blowing whistles loudly and beating drums.
A 20-year-old full-time national serviceman called the police at 4.51pm that day to complain, saying protesters were "going around the place shouting".
In mitigation, Mr Ngerng's lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said his client is a good-hearted citizen who has made many contributions to society, including teaching autistic children and volunteering with special needs children for three years.
He added that Mr Ngerng had "honestly believed" that there was no need to obtain further specific approval for the conduct of a demonstration.
This, he said, was fuelled by a "genuine belief" that he was speaking on a matter of public interest, as the CPF matters are "close to Mr Ngerng's heart".
The Attorney-General's Chambers, earlier this year, rejected an application to withdraw the public nuisance charge against Chua, Janet Low Wai Choo, 55; Goh Aik Huat, 42; and Ivan Koh Yew Beng, 60; in lieu of a stern warning.
For being a public nuisance, Ngerng could have been fined a maximum of $1,000. The charge of organising a demonstration without approval carries a maximum fine of $5,000.