Activist Jolovan Wham facing 2 more charges under the Public Order Act

Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham arriving at State Courts on Nov 23, 2020.
Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham arriving at State Courts on Nov 23, 2020.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham Kwok Han was charged in a district court on Monday (Nov 23) 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 (Home), had allegedly taken part in an assembly at the steps of the main entrance of the former State Courts building in Havelock Square at around 9am on Dec 13, 2018.

He is said to have demonstrated support for the action of the editor of sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC) Xu Yuanchen, better known as Terry Xu, 38, and its 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 at 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.

At 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 the action of one Nguyen Nhat Minh, who is said to have been captured in a similar snapshot 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.

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 was also said to have committed vandalism while riding on a train that day.

He allegedly pasted two sheets of A4-sized paper on a panel.

The papers were said to have had these messages written on them - "Marxist conspiracy? #notodetentionwithouttrial" and "Justice for Operation Spectrum survivors #notodetentionwithouttrial".

He was at the Police Cantonment Complex 16 days later, where he allegedly refused to sign a statement that he had made.

Wham was also said to have organised another public assembly without a permit on July 13, 2017.

He allegedly did this at a bus stop outside Changi Prison Complex ahead of the judicial execution of drug offender Prabagaran Srivijayan, 29.

The Malaysian, earlier convicted of importing 22.24g of heroin into Singapore, was hanged the next day.

Wham's bail was set at $15,000 on Monday and his pre-trial conference will be held on Nov 27.

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