Serial protester jailed, fined for Raffles Place demonstration against PM Lee

Serial protester jailed, fined for Raffles Place demonstration against PM Lee

MRT man
Yan Jun (centre) held solo protests against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the “corrupt judiciary” outside Raffles Place MRT.

SINGAPORE: Two months after his release from jail for staging a protest against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 42-year-old Yan Jun returned to Raffles Place and - bearing a placard alleging Mr Lee’s involvement in a “Terrex conspiracy” - staged yet another public assembly without a permit.

When he was directed him to move on by the police, Yan refused to leave, shouting and mocking the officers. He also challenged the officers to arrest him and charge him for contempt, said Deputy Public Prosecutor G Kannan, as he described the “sheer venom and hatred in his tone of voice and demeanour”.

Yan's actions left the police little choice but to arrest him, said Mr Kannan. “The vehemence and rage directed at the police officers can only be truly appreciated from the footage captured of the incident”, he added.

Yan, who was originally from China but now a Singapore citizen, was convicted last week of three charges stemming from the protest on Feb 22, 2018.

He was sentenced to six-and-a-half months’ jail and ordered to pay a fine of S$5,000 on Wednesday (Apr 11).

This is Yan's eighth conviction in two years for staging a public assembly without a permit, said Mr Kannan, and called the man a “serial recidivist”.

Yan has staged multiple protests against what he has alleged is a “corrupt” judiciary, as well as accused Mr Lee and retired High Court Judge Chao Hick Tin of being involved in a purported conspiracy involving Singapore Armed Forces Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles seized by Hong Kong in 2016.

In 2016, Yan staged protests outside the Istana and near the Supreme Court. In 2017, he protested outside the US embassy and the British High Commission, as well as at Raffles Place, the heart of the CBD, at lunch hour. He did not obtain a permit for the protests.

“When the accused’s pattern and rate of offending from 2016 to 2018 is considered, the only apt way to describe him is that he is a one-man crime wave”, Mr Kannan said.

At his most recent trial, Yan’s defence was that he was entitled to disregard the law requiring him to apply for a permit before staging a protest “because the police were ‘corrupt’, did not act in accordance with the law, and would not have issued him with a permit even if he had applied”, Mr Kannan said.

Mr Kannan urged the court to mete out the maximum fine of S$5,000 to Yan for staging a protest without a permit.

Yan's conduct “must be viewed as coming within a band of unlawful public assemblies of the worst kind”, said Mr Kannan, because it targeted the prime minister as well as a well-respected judge.

In order to deal with repeat offenders such as Yan, Mr Kannan suggested that a sentencing framework for offences under section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act be developed.

Currently, there are no guidelines to explain when a fine or imprisonment is appropriate, rationalise the length of jail terms or the quantum of fines imposed, Mr Kannan said.

Mr Kannan also suggested a sentencing framework be developed for section 37 of the Public Order Act, which gives police officers the power to give “move on” directions. Yan is the first person to be convicted under that Act since it entered into force in October 2009.

Pointing to an Institute of Mental Health report, Mr Kannan said that Yan is “highly likely” to continue to stage unlawful protests and “react belligerently” to anyone who tries to stop him.

The prosecutor also pointed to Yan’s “utterly contemptuous” conduct in court. Yan had turned his back to Judge Luke Tan at the start of proceedings and did not turn around for almost the entire duration of the two-day trial.

Yan also ignored Judge Tan’s questions, but demanded answers when he had questions for the court. Yan had also asked to “quit” the hearing because it was “unfair”.

“The accused has persisted in making a mockery of our laws, and it is our laws that must stand up to him”, Mr Kannan said.

Source: CNA/vc(aj)