Blogger Han fined for protest actions

Han had rallied her Facebook readers to go to the CPF event to protest.
Han had rallied her Facebook readers to go to the CPF event to protest.

She co-organised Hong Lim Park rally and did so without approval

Activist and blogger Han Hui Hui was yesterday fined a total of $3,100 for co-organising a protest rally to disrupt a charity event at Hong Lim Park, and organising a demonstration without approval.

The 24-year-old was convicted together with Koh Yew Beng, 61, and Low Wai Choo, 56, after a seven-day trial.

Koh and Low were each fined $450 for committing a public nuisance at the YMCA Proms @ the Park event on Sept 27, 2014.

Only Low paid the fine. Han and Koh have not paid their fines, pending the outcome of their appeals.

Last October, blogger Roy Ngerng, 35, was fined a total of $1,900 - $400 for being a public nuisance, and $1,500 for organising a demonstration without approval.

Chua Siew Leng, 43, was fined $300 in March last year while Goh Aik Huat, 43, was given a conditional warning after an apology.

Convicting Han of the unauthorised demonstration offence, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said in his brief grounds of decision that he was satisfied that Han had organised the Return Our CPF protest rally that day to protest against the existing CPF rules.

He said the evidence proved Han knew beforehand that Minister of State Teo Ser Luck would be the guest of honour at the YMCA event. She rallied her Facebook readers to go to the CPF event to protest.

The video evidence showed that during the CPF event at Speakers' Corner, she and others, including Low, made vitriolic speeches to denounce the Government and various government policies.

The judge rejected Han's defence that she was not the organiser of the demonstration or that she had no control over the protesters. He found she did not have the approval of the authorities to organise a demonstration nor applied for one.

Judge Chay said the video evidence clearly showed the demonstrators, led by Han and including the two other accused, marched four times round Hong Lim Park. They chanted loudly and used various implements to generate noise.

The demonstrators intruded and bulldozed their way into the areas occupied by the organisers and participants of the YMCA event, and disrupted the performances, the judge said.

"The height of the disruption occurred during a performance by a group of special needs children who were visibly affected and distraught," he said.

He also rejected the defence argument that their acts did not amount to public nuisance because these were committed within Speakers' Corner. He said the argument was fallacious as they had marched beyond the boundaries of Speakers' Corner.

"This is a case where, ironically and regrettably, the accused persons while ostensibly championing the rights of a class of persons, did so by blithely trampling on the rights of another group of persons," he said.

The maximum fine for committing a public nuisance is $1,000. For breaching the Parks and Trees Regulations, Han could have been fined up to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2016, with the headline 'Blogger Han fined for protest actions'. Print Edition | Subscribe