Singapore activist faces fine over one-man smiley face sign protest


  • World
  • Friday, 20 Nov 2020

FILE PHOTO: Jolovan Wham wears a mask and holds a cardboard with a drawing of a smiley face in Singapore, March 28, 2020. Jolovan Wham/Handout via REUTERS

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is set to charge an activist with staging a one-man protest without a permit over an incident in which he held up a sign bearing a crudely drawn smiley face outside a police station.

Police told Jolovan Wham, 40, who has had several run-ins with authorities in the city-state, which tightly controls public assembly, the media and free speech, on Thursday that he would be formally charged in court Monday.

The charge relates to a March incident in which Wham demonstrated his support for a young climate activist who said he had been questioned by police over a similar protest days previous. Wham posted a picture of himself holding the sign on his social media accounts.

The civil rights campaigner, who has already served two brief stints in jail this year, will be charged under the Public Order Act, which regulates assemblies and processions in public places, according to the charge sheet Wham posted on Twitter.

He faces a fine of up to S$5,000 ($3,719).

Singapore police confirmed Wham had been notified of charges but did not immediately have further comment.

"These charges against me only show how absurd the situation has become," Wham said in a text message, adding he planned to plead not guilty.

"Calling what I did an assembly is an abuse of the English language. How can one man standing in public for a few seconds for a photo op be a threat to public order?" Wham said.

Amnesty International Southeast Asia researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said the incident was "yet another example of targeted action" to clamp down on Wham's "peaceful activism".

(Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In World

Italian prosecutor seeks life sentences for US students accused of killing
Russian, Chinese hackers targeted Europe drug regulator -newspaper
Loud bang heard in south Beirut as object explodes at waste site
Bezos gets fraction of legal fees from girlfriend’s brother
Hong Kong electoral reforms prevent "dictatorship of the majority", says pro-Beijing lawmaker
EU seeks access to U.S. produced AstraZeneca vaccines: FT report
Fire, smoke, gunshots in Paraguay capital as pandemic response ignites protests
Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott
Hundreds gather in Sydney in solidarity with Myanmar protesters
U.S. Senate adopts Republican jobless benefit for COVID-19 relief bill

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers