Jolovan Wham at the public forum which featured Joshua Wong as one of the speakers, through skype

Veteran Singapore social worker charged with public order offenses

Statement issued by Community Action Network

Veteran Singapore human rights defender, Jolovan Wham, was today detained by the Singapore police.

The prominent social worker, educated at Singapore’s National University, was the founding Executive Director of HOME, a Singaporean NGO dealing with low-waged migrant labour issues.

Wham attended at Central Police Station this morning and was detained then. He was released on bail and is to be charged at State Court No 23, 1 Havelock Squaretomorrow9.00am. It is an open hearing.

According to the police statement reported in local media, Wham is to be charged with organising public assemblies without a license, refusing to sign police statements, and organising a silent protest on the city state’s train system, including posting two signs in a train carriage.

The latter is deemed to be vandalism which carries stiff penalties in Singapore. The other offenses carry fines of up to S$10,000 and/or jail terms.

Wham, who has wide networks across the globe, has been a tireless campaigner for human rights for more than a decade. He has won various awards including one by the Singapore Social Workers Association.

The Singapore government has long used a range of public order offenses to manage public opinion. As a mature, advanced nation which exhibits the key forms of parliamentary democracy, the stifling of free speech has been widely condemned for its chilling effect on human rights.

The Singapore police should not proceed with charges against Wham. The government must reconsider its position on free speech and freedom of assembly. It is time for Singapore to recognise that peaceful protest is not a crime.

For further details of the police charges, please refer to the Police News Release attached. For further information, please contact Community Action Network (CAN) at [email protected].police news release jolovan