In Singapore, Holding A Skype Call With An Activist Is Now An “Illegal Assembly”

Activist, citizen journalist, and dissident Jolovan Wham was found guilty on Thursday (Jan 3) of “organizing a public assembly without a permit” and refusing to sign a police statement regarding the event.

Jolovan had organized the event, titled ‘Civil Disobedience and Social Movements’, at The AGORA on Nov 26, 2016. During the event, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong called in via Skype to address the attendees. Speeches by fellow activists Kirsten Han and Seelan Palay were also given. According to the court, Jolovan was told by a police officer that he needed a permit as Mr. Wong was a foreigner. He went ahead with the event anyway.

When an investigating officer took Wham’s statement later that year, he confirmed it to be true but refused to sign the statement, saying he would sign it only if he was given a copy.

Jolovan’s defense lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam had urged the judge to acquit his client of the charges, saying the prosecution had not proven his liability for them beyond a reasonable doubt. He laid the claim that requirement for a permit “violates the constitutional right of freedom of assembly”. He added that the event was merely a “discussion” and didn’t pose any immediate threat to public order or safety.


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