It has been reported that activist, Jolovan Wham’s (Wham), bail has been increased from $8000 to $15,000. Apparently, the Judge in question had upped the bail amount at the request of the prosecution.
Usually, bail amounts are set taking into consideration the person’s said criminal transgression and/or if he or she is a flight risk. Given that Wham is neither a violent criminal, a dangerous man or a flight risk, why was there a need to increase the bail amount?
At the end of the day, it is imperative that the integrity of our justice system remain beyond reproach. Yet, increasing Wham’s bail figure (or arguably, charging him in the first place), will create the impression that Wham may have been dealt with more heavily by the police and the system as a whole because he is a known Government critic.
Let’s contrast a few cases for the sake of argument.
The most recent one is that of Liew Mun Leong (Liew) and Parti Liyani (Parti). While Liew had potentially fabricated evidence against Parti causing her to lose 4 years of her life, unable to work – not to mention wasting public resources in the pursuit of a personal vendetta, he has hitherto not been charged. He was not even sacked of any of his lucrative and high profile positions. He resigned. The public did not even get to scrutinise these public interest issues with a committee of inquiry (COI). Instead, all we got were the piecemeal revelations of behind closed doors and unverifiable internal investigation.
However, we have in Wham, a person whose only “crime” (if you can even call it that) is to hold signs as a form of non-violent protests against social ills, prosecuted publicly.
What message are the authorities sending out?
That it is ok to potentially flagrantly abuse the system if you are well connected like Liew but not okay to protest against social ills to make society a better place if you are criticising the system (however justified)?
What about the police reports that have been filed against Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat for making racist comments and Ong Ye Kung for breaking General Elections (GE) rules that have all been dismissed while the Workers’ Party’s (WP), Raeesah Khan got a stern warning? It is noteworthy that staunch supporter of the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP), Xiaxue received no warning either for her online behaviour.
Let’s also not forget the persecution of the New Narratif and historian PJ Thum for apparently breaching election rules over the period of the GE in July 2020. The NN had apparently run five paid advertisements that constituted “election activity” without the requisite agreement of either an election candidate or an election agent. Yet, even as authorities investigate NN and Thum, it has been revealed (based on the Ad Library by Facebook – which offers a searchable collection of all ads running across Facebook apps and services, including Instagram) that AsiaOne had published a total of 240 paid advertisements related to social issues, elections and politics on Facebook between 30 June to 11 July. Of those, 148 ads were related to the elections in Singapore.
Curiously, there have been no reports on AsiaOne being investigated. For those unaware, it is noteworthy that AsiaOne is owned by mm2 Asia and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).
Where is the consistency or fairness here? Or perhaps, it isn’t about fairness, just about striking fear in the hearts of its people.