SINGAPORE - Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham is being investigated by the police for protesting outside the State Courts without a valid permit on Dec 13, 2018, said the police on Saturday (March 2).
Wham, 39, had applied to the police in November for a permit to stage a protest outside the State Courts, and in early December, the police informed him that his application was not approved.
The State Courts is gazetted as a Prohibited Area under the Public Order Act, with stricter security protocols.
"He was well aware that a police permit was required for such an event. Still, he went ahead to protest outside the State Courts on Dec 13, 2018," said the police.
On Dec 13, Wham posted a picture of himself outside the State Courts, holding a piece of paper that said: "Drop the charges against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa."
Xu, The Online Citizen's editor, and De Costa, one of its alleged contributors, were both charged in court that day for criminal defamation over an article published on the socio-political website.
De Costa was also accused of an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.
The police added that prior to his latest unlawful protest at the State Courts, Wham had already been investigated and charged for public order related offences.
"These repeated offences reflect a pattern of Wham's wilful disregard for Singapore's laws," said the police.
Despite being aware of the rules as he had been advised on many occasions on how to go about organising his events lawfully, Mr Wham continues to show "a blatant and wilful disregard for the law by repeatedly holding public assemblies without a permit, even after he had been prosecuted in Court for similar offences", said the police.
The police added: "There are avenues for Singaporeans to express their views on issues that concern them. The Speakers' Corner was set up in 2000 to allow Singaporeans to conduct public assemblies without the need for a permit, subject to certain conditions being met."
The police said that during investigations, Wham refused on all occasions to sign his statements to the police, which is required by the law.
Wham was fined $3,200 on Feb 21 for organising a public assembly without permit in 2016 and for refusing to sign a statement he gave to the police on the case.
He chose to serve the default sentence of 16 days' jail instead of paying the fine and is currently out on bail.
He was found guilty of organising an event called "Civil Disobedience and Social Movements" without a permit at the Agora, an indoor event venue, on Nov 26, 2016.
Despite being advised by a police officer to apply for a permit before the event, Wham did not do so.
Wham faces two other sets of charges for organising other public assemblies without permits and refusing to sign police statements, along with one count of vandalism. The charges are still pending.
The other public assemblies that 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 on the North-South Line in June the same year.
In October 2018, Wham was found guilty of contempt of court over a Facebook post he put up alleging that Singapore's courts are not as independent as Malaysia's on cases with political implications. The case has been adjourned for sentencing.