The protest, organised by Ms Han Hui Hui, was to call on the Government to return Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to members.
However, the event took place on the same day and time as a YMCA charity carnival, resulting in a clash of activities, including a protest march by the CPF protesters which had ventured into the area where the carnival was being held.
In its letter to the participants to present themselves at the Police Cantonment Complex to assist in the probe, the police said it was investigating “an offence of unlawful assembly” committed on 27 September at Hong Lim Park.
The Online Citizen (TOC) understands that at least 5 of the participants were called up for the investigation on Thursday. Plainclothes officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had visited them at each of their homes to serve them the “notice to appear” at the police station.
Two of them told TOC that they were served the notice at midnight on Thursday, just hours before they were required to appear for questioning.
“They knocked on my door at 12.20am in plainclothes,” one of the participants told TOC. “My parents panicked and thought I had committed a crime. They are still kind of panicky now too.”
“I was very shocked,” said Semangeline Teo. “I did not commit a crime. Why did the police need to come at midnight to serve me the notice? It was kind of intimidating.”
Ms Teo also said she was also puzzled why the police was investigating her for “unlawful assembly”.
The participants were questioned for between one and half to five hours at the police station.
According to them, they were asked questions about whether they were aware of the demarcation or perimeters of what constitute Speakers’ Corner, if they were aware that there were special needs children involved in the YMCA event, whether they were familiar with the permit application process for Speakers’ Corner, what their relationships with Ms Han and Roy Ngerng were, and whether they were aware that the permit for the protest had been revoked.
The participants told TOC that they were unaware if the permit had been revoked.
From the videos posted online of the exchange between the NParks officer and the police and Ms Han and Mr Ngerng at the park, it is unclear if the permit to conduct the protest march or to speak at the park, was revoked then. (See the video here, particularly from the 11th minute onwards.)
Under section 142 of the Penal Code, it says:
“Whoever, being aware of facts which render any assembly an unlawful assembly, intentionally joins that assembly, or continues in it, is said to be a member of an unlawful assembly.”
The participants said they were also puzzled by why the police, who were also present at the park, did not stop the protest march, or why none of them were arrested after the event, if indeed they had committed an offence of unlawful assembly.
In the meantime, TOC understands that Ms Han has been served a notice to appear at the police station on Friday to assist in investigations.
Under section 143 of the Penal Code, for unlawful assembly, anyone convicted of the offence shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine, or with both.