SINGAPORE - Six people, including activist Han Hui Hui and blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, who took part in a Hong Lim Park protest last month which disrupted a charity carnival held in an adjacent lawn, were charged on Monday for public nuisance.
Han, 23, and Ngerng, 33, were additionally charged with allegedly organising a demonstration without approval.
The duo appeared in court dressed in all-white: Ngerng in a white long-sleeved shirt and pants, and Han in an all-white outfit paired with white spectacles and a white hairband.
The four other accused - who each face a charge of public nuisance - are Low Wai Choo, 54; Chua Siew Leng, 42; Goh Aik Huat, 41; and Koh Yew Beng, 59. There was no immediate information available about their occupations.
The six are accused of allegedly disrupting a YMCA charity carnival on Sept 27, held at the same time as their Return Our CPF protest rally, by marching around the general vicinity of the carnival, shouting loudly, chanting slogans, waving flags, holding placards, blowing whistles loudly and beating drums "in furtherance of the common intention ... to disrupt the YMCA event".
The six are represented by lawyer M Ravi, who requested for more information to be shared by the prosecution via a pre-trial Criminal Case Management System. This is where the defence and prosecution meet without a judge present, to discuss their cases frankly and in private.
Public Prosecutor John Lu had no objection to Mr Ravi's request and the case has been adjourned till Nov 24 for a pre-trial conference on Nov 24.
In court on Monday, the six accused appeared composed, and chatted among themselves at times.
A group of about 10 friends and supporters watched proceedings from the public gallery.
Mr Ravi told reporters afterwards that his clients were anxious initially: "But now, they have been briefed on the law, and they are much calmer."
Anyone convicted of a charge of public nuisance can be fined up to a maximum of $1,000. As for the charge of organising a demonstration without approval, the penalty is a fine of up to a maximum of $5,000.
The latter offence falls under a regulation which says that no one can carry out public speaking activities, organise or participate in a performance or exhibition, or organise any demonstration without the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation's approval.
Mr Ravi also said on Monday that he will put up an application to challenge the Parks and Trees Act. He told reporters: "Nowhere in the Act does it give the Minister power to regulate free speech and assembly. Parliament has not conferred that authority on the Minister under the Act."
The police said last Friday that their investigations into the "Return Our CPF" protest at Hong Lim Park on Sept 27 covered a total of 14 people.
A group of five who "participated actively at the event" were given conditional warnings, the police said, adding that the case against them has concluded.
A conditional warning means they must not commit any offence for a specified period, usually for 12 or 24 months. Should they do so, they will be charged with new as well as the existing offences.
Meanwhile, the outcome of investigations for the remaining three individuals "will be made known to them in due course", the police added.