Earlier today (9 Sep), a High Court judge dismissed Jolovan Wham’s appeal against his sentence for taking a quick photo outside the State Courts in 2018. Jolovan’s lawyers argued that when there is “no risk to public order”, such an act does not fall within the definition of an assembly under the Public Order Act. However, Deputy Attorney-General Tai Wei Shyong, representing AGC, said it was not for Wham to determine whether his activity poses a threat to public order.
AGC’s Tai focused on the fact that Jolovan applied for a permit, saying that this means he regarded what he wanted to do as falling within the permit regime.
“The whole purpose of this is to put the demonstration on social media. This is the modus operandi that was used in this case and in my view can be used in the future. This is essentially what the activists are doing.”Deputy Attorney-General Tai Wei Shyong
AGC says only the police can determine what is a risk
Sharing in a Facebook post, fellow activist Kokila Annamalai expressed frustrations with Tai’s arguments. She felt “terribly insulted” that Tai thinks laypeople in Singapore cannot tell what is a risk to public order. Apparently Tai said in court that only the police can determine what is a risk.
“He insisted that Jo was challenging the “permit regime” and if this was not duly punished, people would get the idea that we can decide for ourselves when an action poses a risk to public order or not, thereby undermining police powers.”Kokila Annamalai
“after the hearing ended, we all giggled about how the DAG made activists sound like devious masterminds out to destabilise public order, one social media photo at a time.”Kokila Annamalai
How is posting on social media a public order risk, especially when so many people frequently posts on social media? And how can the police be the only one to determine what is a public order risk?
“‘Merdeka!’ remains an urgent and relevant call, 57 years after independence, because we continue to be ruled by the PAP as oppressed subjects, not governed as a free people in a democratic society.”Kokila Annamalai
Jolovan has now been taken to prison for a 15 day sentence in default of his $3000 fine.