S’pore laws grant police “arbitrary powers” to deny issuing public assembly permits: Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham

Singapore law grants upon the police force “arbitrary powers” to “deny a permit without explanation”, said civil rights activist Jolovan Wham on Thu (7 Nov).

Commenting on the Singapore Police Force (SPF)’s announcement regarding denying the issuance of permits for public assemblies espousing the political causes of foreign countries, Wham said that such a view is contrary to what is stipulated in the Public Order Act.

“I have organised 2 Bersih events at Hong Lim Park and in 2007, MARUAH held a free Aung San Su Kyi event there too. Would such events be illegal now?” He added.

Wham’s comments surfaced in light of police investigations involving Hong Kong businessman Alex Yeung, who was accused of organising a gathering on 11 Oct for people of Chinese ethnicity living in Singapore to share their views on the current protests in Hong Kong.

“Welcome those living in Singapore to express their views on the violent incidents in Hong Kong. Special mention to Mr Chen, a Hongkonger staying in Singapore,” read Yeung’s Facebook post, which has since been removed from his page.

SPF noted that while the event was initially held at Kimoto Gastro Bar, located at The Sail @ Marina Bay, it was shifted “after some time” to the public space in the vicinity of The Promontory at Marina Boulevard.

Police added that Yeung is “neither arrested nor in Police custody”. However, his passport has been impounded in the meantime.

“The Police would like to remind the public that organising or participating in a public assembly without a Police permit in Singapore is illegal and constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.

“The Police will not grant any permit for assemblies that advocate political causes of other countries. Foreigners visiting or living in Singapore should abide by our laws,” SPF warned.

 

Commenting on the gathering, Yeung said that he attended “out of courtesy” and to “be polite to the people who wanted to take pictures with me”.

He claimed to have communicated to the group that he was not going to comment on political matters, and that his “fans” were unfortunately the same people who reported about him to the authorities.

“While in Singapore, I have never thought of arranging with people to meet or organise gatherings. But because I was not careful, a group of people from Hong Kong who are in Singapore have complained about me.

“We should respect the laws of every country… I have no intention to break laws here,” Yeung said.

In a separate video, Yeung revealed that he is ready to go behind bars, and acknowledged that operations of his restaurant chain may be affected.

He also asked his supporters not be sad and encouraged them to speak up on the allegedly “violent student protesters” in Hong Kong.

A staunch supporter of the Hong Kong police and the establishment, and allegedly pro-Beijing, Yeung accused young students in Hong Kong of being paid to attend anti-government protests.

The owner of a YouTube channel called Wah Kee Positive Energy, with currently around 150,000 subscribers, also expressed his respect for the city’s police force in making Hong Kong what used to be one of the safest areas in the world for many years prior to the protests.

Citing security concerns as a result of the unrest in Hong Kong, Yeung raised the prospect of buying a “second home” in Singapore.

Speaking in Cantonese about his visit to Singapore in a video published on Mon (4 Nov), Yeung said: “Doing business in Hong Kong is tough, so I came to Singapore to see if I may set up a restaurant here and arranged to meet some people… make some investment here to set up a company.”

“Business is bad and every month, my company is losing money. I have never thought of breaking any law here or getting involved in politics.

“I am not a politician, I am just a businessman. I am here to look for business opportunities. It is that simple. This has to be very clear,” he reiterated.