A journalist was called in for questioning by the Police on Sunday (31 January) after a report was filed against him for sedition for questioning a People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) over the politician’s act of posing with placard at a hawker centre.
Shawn Lim, a multimedia reporter at The Drum, took to Twitter yesterday to reveal that someone had reported him after not liking how he asked if a PAP MP need to apply for a permit to hold any signage given that a number of LGBTQ+ activists were apprehended for not doing so.
“As a journalist, my job is to ask the questions, but someone reported me to the police for “sedition” as they did not like how I questioned if a ruling party MP needed to apply for a permit to hold a sign because some LGBTQ+ activists were arrested for not doing so,” he said.
He added, “Some people (especially those on the right) like to moan about cancel culture and rail against “tHe iMpOrT oF wEsTeRn VaLuEs To SiNgApOrE”, but they just tried to cancel me because they disagreed with what I said. How ironic.”
Last week (26 January), three individuals were arrested outside of the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) building at Buona Vista for holding and participating in a public assembly without a permit.
The placards held by the individuals, some of which read “#FIX SCHOOLS NOT STUDENTS” and “trans students will not be erased”, are made in connection to the recent saga involving the MOE, in which a transgender student alleged that the Ministry had interfered with her hormone replacement therapy.
However, in June last year, PAP MP Louis Ng took to Facebook to share a picture of him holding a placard saying “Support Them” at Yishun Park Hawker Centre.
The Nee Soon GRC MP did so to show his support towards hawkers, as well as to announce that patrons can dine in at the said hawker centre after the Government announced Phase 2 of its re-opening.
No reports were made against the MP for holding a signage.
In Mr Lim’s string of tweets, he also said that a “healthy society should have more than just one voice”, and added that he is sorry to disappoint the person who reported him as he is back on Twitter after recording his statement with the Police.
“This only increases my determination to continue to speak up and push for diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said.
Speaking of his experience during the questioning, Mr Lim said that it was “rather pleasant and short”, however noted that he had to remove the tweet in order to cooperate with the investigation.
“I urge people not to turn to the police every time you disagree with someone because it’s an abuse of our country’s legal process and resources. Have some critical thinking and get out of your echo chambers,” he concluded.
As a journalist, my job is to ask the questions, but someone reported me to the police for “sedition” as they did not like how I questioned if a ruling party MP needed to apply for a permit to hold a sign because some LGBTQ+ activists were arrested for not doing so.
— Shawn Lim (@mediumshawn) January 31, 2021
In May last year, civil rights activist Jolovan Wham was called in by the Police after he held a placard depicting a smiley at Toa Payoh Central about two months earlier. The social worker said that police had informed him that the act was in violation of the Public Order Act.
Mr Wham noted that he “left immediately after” holding the placard and having his photo taken with it.
Mr Wham indicated that the gesture of holding up the smiley face placard was made in solidarity with a climate justice activist who was questioned by police and had his electronic devices seized in the process.
The activist was seen, in a photograph on the @fridays4futuresg Instagram page, wearing a face mask and holding up a cardboard placard that read “SG IS BETTER THAN OIL @fridays4futuresg” in front of Toa Payoh Central Community Club and Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre.
The 20-year-old man, said the police, “did not apply for the necessary police permit” before carrying out such an activity.
In Singapore, holding or taking part in a public assembly in the absence of a permit is classified as an offence under the Public Order Act.
The only venue in the country where citizens are allowed to hold public assemblies often of a political nature without applying for a police permit beforehand is the Hong Lim Park or Speakers’ Corner.
However, this venue is currently closed due to safety measures taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.