Activist Jolovan Wham charged over 2 illegal protests

With the two additional charges yesterday, activist Jolovan Wham Kwok Han is facing seven charges in all.
With the two additional charges yesterday, activist Jolovan Wham Kwok Han is facing seven charges in all.

Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham Kwok Han was charged in a district court yesterday with two offences under the Public Order Act.

The 40-year-old Singaporean, who is the former executive director of migrant worker advocacy group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, had allegedly taken part in an assembly at the steps to the main entrance of the former State Courts building in Havelock Square around 9am on Dec 13, 2018.

He is said to have demonstrated support for the action of Xu Yuanchen, better known as Terry Xu, 38, the editor of sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC), and TOC contributor Daniel De Costa Augustin, 37, by holding up a piece of paper with the words - "Drop the charges against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa".

According to court documents, Wham had a photograph taken of himself demonstrating around the same time the pair were to be charged in court that day.

Xu and De Costa were both charged on Dec 13, 2018, with criminal defamation for allegedly defaming members of the Singapore Cabinet in a letter published on the TOC website. Their cases are still pending.

In the other charge, Wham is accused of taking part in a public assembly without a permit in the vicinity of Toa Payoh Central Community Club and Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre.

Around 1pm on March 28 this year, he is said to have held up a piece of cardboard with a smiley face drawn on it.

Court documents state it was to demonstrate his support for Nguyen Nhat Minh, who is said to have a similar snapshot captured at the same location on March 22.

In the photo, Minh allegedly held up a piece of cardboard with the words - "SG is better than oil@Fridays4futuresg".

There was no mention of Minh's case in court documents seen by The Straits Times.

With the two cases, Wham is facing seven charges in all.

Among others, he was charged in 2017 with organising a public assembly without a permit on MRT trains along the North-South Line on June 3 that year.

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's bail was set at $15,000 yesterday and his pre-trial conference will be held on Friday.

For taking part in a public assembly without a permit, an offender can be fined up to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2020, with the headline 'Activist Jolovan Wham charged over 2 illegal protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe