Activist Gilbert Goh charged after allegedly staging protest near ICA building

The police said local activist Gilbert Goh did not have a permit to carry out the public assembly. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Local activist Goh Keow Wah, better known as Gilbert Goh, was charged in a district court on Wednesday (Dec 15) with an offence under the Public Order Act after he allegedly staged an unlawful protest near the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority building in Kallang Road on May 1.

The Singaporean is said to have held up a placard stating: "Please ban all flights from India we are not racist! Just being cautious."

Police said in a statement on Tuesday that he did not have a permit to carry out the public assembly.

Goh, now 60, had posted a picture of himself with the placard on Facebook on May 1, a week after Singapore barred all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who had travelled to India in the past 14 days from entering or transiting through the country. The move was announced by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, following a surge in cases in India.

He was also charged on Wednesday with refusing to sign his statement to the police at the Bedok Police Division Headquarters at around 4pm on May 11.

Details about the statement were not disclosed in court documents.

Separately, police said in their statement that he had allowed a foreigner to participate in an event that he organised at the Speakers' Corner on Nov 3, 2019.

This was in breach of the terms and conditions specified by the National Parks Board in its approval for the use of the Speakers' Corner by Goh for the event, police said.

"A police permit is required if foreigners are involved in organising or participating in an event at the Speakers' Corner," they added.

Goh had organised the event in opposition to the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between Singapore and India, and the Government's population target of 6.9 million people.

Earlier this week, he was issued a stern warning for his refusal to sign a police statement and for not complying with the conditions for organisers of assemblies.

It was not disclosed in the police statement to the media if the developments earlier this week were over the 2019 incident or the one in May this year.

Police said they would like to remind the public that organising or taking part in a public assembly without a permit in Singapore is illegal and constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.

On Wednesday, the court heard that Goh intends to engage a lawyer and will be claiming trial.

His bail was set at $5,000 and the case has been adjourned to Jan 7.

For taking part in a public assembly without a permit, an offender can be fined up to $3,000.

For refusing to sign a police statement, an offender can be jailed for up to three months and fined up to $2,500.

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