Maximum jail, fine for serial protester who held illegal demonstration at US Embassy in S'pore

Yan Jun had previously protested in Raffles Place in 2018. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BRIAN LEONAL

SINGAPORE - For the ninth time in six years, a serial protester was dealt with in court for holding illegal demonstrations in public areas - 18 days after he was released from jail for similar offences.

Singaporean Yan Jun, 46, was on Thursday jailed for 12 months and an additional 53 days as he had committed the offences during his remission order.

He was also fined $5,000 but will serve an additional six months in jail as he is unable to pay the sum.

Yan displayed placards in front of the United States Embassy in Napier Road on June 12, denouncing the governments of the US, Singapore and Canada, after notifying various authorities and media outlets about his plans to do so, the prosecution said.

Yan, whose occupation was not mentioned, repeatedly shouted at the top of his voice despite being asked by police officers to calm down.

He was later arrested, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh added.

His protests mostly targeted political figures and the Singapore judiciary and dates back to at least 2016, when he was convicted of holding demonstrations outside the Istana and the US Embassy, according to court documents.

He staged several protests in 2017 and used a loudhailer to yell at police officers from a distance for a prolonged time.

He was also convicted of shouting in an officer's face.

Yan has been jailed between three weeks and roughly a year and fined around $5,000 each time for his previous convictions.

He spent additional time in jail as most of the fines were unpaid.

DPP Teh, who sought a maximum penalty for Yan's offences, said: "It is striking that this is the ninth occasion the accused is being convicted for similar offences within a short span of less than five years."

He added: "The total sentences imposed (for) his previous convictions have had no deterrent effect on the accused."

He noted that the High Court had warned Yan in an earlier conviction that he would face a maximum punishment if he were to reoffend.

The prosecutor said that Yan suffered from a delusional disorder that contributed to his offending, adding that Yan was not suitable for community rehabilitation due to his refusal to comply with treatment and lack of insight into his condition.

A lengthy jail term gives Yan the best chance to break out of his cycle of offending and to receive structured treatment in prison, DPP Teh told the judge.

DPP Teh said that Yan provided no defence to his charges during trial, instead making claims about the Government's involvement in scandals.

On Thursday, Yan insisted the trial was unfair and said he would remain silent.

When asked by District Judge Shawn Ho if he had a mitigation plea, he stayed silent, rocking side to side on his seat in the dock.

After several prompts to hear his plea, Judge Ho took the prosecution's position on sentencing.

For disorderly behaviour in a public place, a repeat offender can be jailed up to 12 months and fined a maximum of $5,000.

Those who organise a public assembly without a valid permit can be fined up to $5,000.

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