Jolovan Wham sentenced 16 days imprisonment in default of fine, for organising assembly without permit and non-signing of statement

Jolovan Wham, a well-known labour and human-rights activist, appeared in court today and was sentenced a fine of $3,200 or a default imprisonment of 16 days for the illegal assembly where Hong Kong youth activist, appeared in a gathering via Skype and non-signing of his police statement.

Wham was earlier found guilty on 3 Jan.

The judge ruled that Wham is to be sentenced $2,000 fine (or 10 days imprisonment) for illegally organising a public assembly without a police permit and $1,200 (or 6 days imprisonment) for not signing a police statement.

Wham has decided to not pay the fine but opt for the default imprisonment of 16 days. As Wham is appealing his conviction, he applied for bail and was granted at a sum of $8,000.

In arguing for mitigation of Wham’s sentence, representing lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam noted that there had not been any public disorder observed and given that the charge is under the Public Order Act, weight must be given to the fact that there was no public disturbance. He also noted that Wham had merely not signed on the statement and not made any false statement. This has no adverse consequence compared to not signing statement and making a false statement.

District Judge Kessler Soh in delivering his sentence, said that despite being informed by the police that there is a need to apply for a permit and that Wham did not apply for it, is an aggravating factor. The same applies to the police statement which he choose not to sign.

Earlier in Jan, the judge said that the case was proven to be beyond doubt by the prosecution. And that it is not disrupted that the event was published on Facebook to the general public and the foreign speaker speaking at the said event.

In defence of the charge of not signing the police statement, Wham had earlier said that he choose not to sign the statement because he was not given a copy of the statement that he had given to the police.

The Singapore Police Force in an earlier statement, said that Wham had organised an indoor public assembly featuring a foreign speaker, which required a Police permit. It claims that it had engaged Wham prior to the event and advised him that a police permit was required. As Wham proceeded to hold the event without a police permit, the Police notes that Wham committed an offence of organising a public assembly without a police permit under the Public Order Act

The foreign speaker was Joshua Wong, more publicity known as the face of the Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong held in 2014. He, along with two other speakers, activists Kirsten Han and Seelan Palay, held a discussion on civil disobedience and democracy. As a result of the police’s investigation, various equipment from the organisers were confiscated.

Wham faces two other charges of organising public assembly without police permit and another two charges for not signing the police statements.