Jolovan Wham trial adjourned with defence failing to call witnesses

Jolovan Wham is contesting charges of allegedly organising a public assembly involving a foreign speaker without a permit, and refusing to sign a statement he made at a police station.
Jolovan Wham is contesting charges of allegedly organising a public assembly involving a foreign speaker without a permit, and refusing to sign a statement he made at a police station.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The trial involving civil rights activist Jolovan Wham was adjourned on Tuesday (Oct 2) after the defence closed its case without calling any witnesses to the stand.

Wham is contesting charges of allegedly organising a public assembly involving a foreign speaker without a permit, and refusing to sign a statement he made at a police station.

The hearing began on Monday and had been expected to last three days.

The defence and prosecution are expected to make their submissions on Nov 30 for a verdict to be reached.

On Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kumaresan Gohulabalan called two more witnesses to the stand, one of whom was Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Joan Liu, an investigation officer who had transcribed a video of event. A segment of the video showed Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaking via video call.

During cross examination, defence lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam focused on the fact that ASP Liu had called the event a “meeting” in her transcript. 

He then proceeded to highlight points in the transcript of Mr Wong’s speech, and asked ASP Liu if these were part of a “discussion” which took place during a “meeting”, to which she agreed. 

During Monday’s sitting, Mr Thuraisingam had also repeatedly asked the three prosecution witnesses if they knew of any disturbance to public order or had concerns for the safety of individuals in relation to the event. 

All three said they had no knowledge of such a disturbance or safety concerns.

Wham is said to have organised the public event at The Agora, an indoor event space at Midview City in Sin Ming Lane, on Nov 26, 2016.

It featured speeches by freelance journalist Kirsten Han and activist Seelan Palay, as well as  Mr Wong, who spoke remotely via a video call that lasted 119 minutes. 

It was publicised on Facebook and its page showed that there were 7,600 people invited and 366 had indicated interest to attend, the court heard on Monday.

 
 
 

Also taking the stand on Tuesday was Mr Chu Wee Hong, a representative from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s citizenship unit. 

Mr Chu told the court that he was told to confirm if Mr Wong was a Singapore citizen, and checks on the database showed that he was not. 

After the prosecution closed its case on Tuesday, Wham, through his lawyer, indicated that he would not be testifying and would not be calling on any defence witnesses.

Wham, the former executive director of migrant worker advocacy group the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, was charged in court last November for the above charges. He is currently a social worker with the Community Action Network.

In addition to the contested charges, Wham faces two sets of charges for organising other public assemblies without permits and refusing to sign police statements, along with one count of vandalism. However, they will be stood down for the time being.

The other public assemblies Wham allegedly organised include a vigil outside Changi Prison Complex in July 2017, ahead of the execution of a drug offender, and a silent protest on MRT trains along the North-South Line in June last year.