SINGAPORE: Blogger Han Hui Hui, 24, was found guilty and fined S$3,100 on Monday (Jun 27) for disrupting a charity event for special needs children at Hong Lim Park in 2014 by leading a rowdy protest, which she organised without approval from the National Parks Board.
Han, together with six other co-accused, held a Return Our CPF rally at the same time and place as the YMCA Proms @ The Park 2014 charity carnival on Sep 27, 2014.
In court on Monday, Han said she would be appealing against her conviction. "We have our notice of appeal right now,” she said, adding that the case clearly had "a foregone conclusion".
The Return Our CPF protest which disrupted an event for special needs children on Sep 27, 2014. (Photo: Diane Leow)
Two of Han's co-accused, Low Wai Choo, 56, and Koh Yew Beng, 61, were also found guilty on Monday of causing a public nuisance. They were fined S$450 each.
District Judge Chay Yuan Fatt handed down the guilty verdict after an emotional seven-day trial, during which the judge had to intervene multiple times.
Low told Judge Chay the trio's trial was not a fair one. "I don't feel it's a fair trial. I feel we should be discharged,” she said. "We are just like a little bird in your hand now (sic). We are at your mercy,” she added, urging the judge to examine his "conscience".
Han's supporters protested at the YMCA event by shouting loudly, chanting slogans, waving flags, holding placards, blowing whistles and beating drums, prosecutors told the court during Han's trial.
Judge Chay said Han and her co-accused had “intruded and bulldozed” their way into the charity event, leaving the special needs children involved “visibly affected and distraught”. The judge also noted the protesters had confronted the Guest of Honour for the charity event, then-Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, blocking his path.
The organisers, concerned with the safety of the attendees, hastily concluded the event, Judge Chay added.
The mothers of two special needs children, who were performing at the charity event, had testified that the rowdy protest had scared their children and disrupted the event. Loud, shrill noises scare Down's Syndrome sufferers, who are sensitive to loud and sudden noises, the mothers had said.
A YMCA executive, who also testified at the trial, described the protest as "teetering on violence". She said she believed an autistic child had a "breakdown" and had to be brought to a quieter part of the park to calm down.
In sentencing the trio, Judge Chay said: “This is a case where, ironically and regrettably, the accused persons while ostensibly championing the rights of a class of persons, did so by blithely trampling on the rights of another group of persons.”
For disrupting the event and causing a public nuisance, the trio faced a fine of up to S$1,000 each. For organising a protest without prior approval, Han could have faced a fine of up to S$5,000.
Blogger Roy Ngerng, 33, and Chua Siew Leng, 43, who were also charged over the protest, both elected to plead guilty last year. They were ordered to pay fines of S$1,900 and S$300, respectively.
Goh Aik Huat, 42, who claimed trial to the public nuisance charge against him, was later let off with a conditional warning after making a public apology in court.