Duo's actions at Yellow Ribbon run under probe

Couple being investigated after they tried to advocate against death penalty at event

Police are investigating a Singaporean duo for offences under the Public Order Act, after the pair attempted to advocate against the death penalty at the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run on Sunday by using running bibs and T-shirts at the event.

The two are believed to be Mr Nafiz Kamarudin, 38, a first aid trainer, and his wife, 30.

Mr Nafiz had first posted about the incident on his Facebook page last Thursday. He said the run's organisers had contacted him to change his bib as "the message... is not in line with their cause".

His bib had read "'2nd chances' means not killing them", referring to the death penalty.

On the race day, he used a bib that had just his name, but wore a yellow T-shirt that reproduced the same text from the previous bib.

He said in another Facebook post that the organisers did not let him take part in the race, and he would be "running parallel" to them.

Mr Nafiz, a co-founder of non-profit organisation Happy People Helping People Foundation, told socio-political news site The Online Citizen that he was called in for questioning at the Bedok police station two days after the race.

Yesterday, the police confirmed they are investigating a Singaporean man, 38, and a woman, 30, under the Public Order Act, after a police report was made.

 

The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) issued a statement, saying the run's organising committee became aware that Mr Nafiz had printed the anti-death penalty phrase on his runner's bib more than a week before the event.

The organisers contacted him twice on Sept 6 to explain why his bib was inappropriate, as the run should not be used "as a platform to advocate other causes, or to campaign against existing laws".

He was offered another bib, printed with his name, but he refused. On Sept 13, the organisers contacted him for the third time, and both parties met in person. He then exchanged his bib for one bearing his name, said SPS.

However, on the day of the race, Mr Nafiz and his wife turned up wearing identical T-shirts with the same message from his previous runner's bib on the front of the shirt, and on the back, the phrase #ANTIDEATHPENALTY.

The organisers told him he would not be allowed to run in the T-shirt, as it was "no different from his original intention to wear the running bib with the message printed on it".

He was offered an event T-shirt to wear instead, but he rejected the offer, ripped off his bib, threw it to the ground, then ran by himself on the public road alongside the event running route, the statement said. His wife left the event venue.

When he reached the Changi Prison Complex entrance at around 8.15am, he was told he would not be let in. He stood outside until around 10am, SPS said.

SPS added that the run has helped to rally support for ex-offenders, and the couple's actions are a "disservice" to offenders, ex-offenders and their families.

It is an offence under the Public Order Act to take part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit. Anyone convicted may be fined up to $3,000. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2019, with the headline 'Duo's actions at Yellow Ribbon run under probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe