For immediate use
3 December 2017
MARUAH condemns the arrest and prosecution of Jolovan Wham.
Civil society activist Jolovan Wham was arrested and charged with organizing public assemblies without a permit, vandalism and refusal to sign statements made to the police. The protests that Mr Wham is charged with leading are well-documented in mainstream and social media, and it is readily apparent that none of them posed a credible threat to public order. Mr Wham’s actions are merely public criticisms of the government’s stance on detention without trial, capital punishment and free speech. It is revealing that in the police press release announcing the arrest of Mr Wham, the police make a great deal of Mr Wham’s “recalcitrance” as if he were a child defying parental authority.
Singapore’s Constitution guarantees citizens of Singapore the right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to assemble peaceably. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” while Article 20 (1) provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
MARUAH urges the government to drop the charges against Mr Wham and to remove all unnecessary and unreasonable restrictions on the right to free speech, expression, and assembly in Singapore.
Ngiam Shih Tung