SINGAPORE: The police are investigating a 38-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman for offences under the Public Order Act, after they showed up at the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run on Sunday wearing T-shirts with messages against the death penalty.
The pair, both Singaporeans, wore T-shirts with the words "2nd chances means not killing them" printed on the front, and "#antideathpenalty" printed on the back.
A police report was made against them after the run on Sep 15.
"It is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act to take part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit," said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Tuesday (Sep 17).
"Investigations against the duo are ongoing."
ATTEMPTS MADE TO CONTACT MAN BEFORE EVENT: PRISON SERVICE
The Yellow Ribbon Prison Run is an annual event organised in support of ex-offenders.
The man had said in a Facebook post that he was not allowed to run, "despite (organisers) being clear on their site that runners can use any other tops other than their official T-shirt".
"First they told me I need to change my bib. Now they want to police me on what to wear," he said.
According to the event website, participants can run without wearing the designated jersey, but they have to put on number bibs with information such as names and emergency contact numbers.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said organisers found out more than a week before the event that the man had printed "2nd chances means not killing them" on his running bib instead of his name.
They contacted him about the matter several times before the race.
"The Organising Committee contacted the man twice on Sep 6, 2019 to explain to him why his bib was inappropriate, as the YRPR (Yellow Ribbon Prison Run) should not be used by him as a platform to advocate other causes, or to campaign against existing laws," said SPS.
"On both occasions, he rejected the Organising Committee’s offer despite being informed that he would be deregistered from the event and his registration fee refunded if he refused to change the bib."
On Sep 13, organisers reached out to him again and agreed to his request to meet in person that night, said SPS. The man then exchanged his bib for one bearing his name.
However on the day of the event, the man and the woman showed up wearing identical yellow T-shirts with the anti-death penalty slogans. He was then informed that he would not be allowed to participate in the race, said SPS.
"This was no different from his original intention to wear the running bib with the message printed on it, and as the organising committee had earlier advised him, it was inappropriate and not right for him to exploit the YRPR to advocate and campaign on his causes," SPS added.
The woman left the venue, while the man rejected organisers' offer to provide him with an event T-shirt, said SPS.
"(He) ripped off his bib and threw it on the ground, and ran separately by himself on the public road that ran alongside the event running route," it added.
Upon reaching the end of the race route - at Changi Prison Complex - at about 8.15am, organisers told the man that he would not be allowed in.
He stood outside the prison and left at around 10am, said SPS.
"The duo’s actions at this year’s YRPR are a disservice to offenders, ex-offenders and their families whom the Yellow Ribbon Project seeks to help," said the prison service.
Anyone convicted under the Public Order Act for taking part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit faced a fine of up to S$3,000.
"The police would like to remind members of the public that there are proper avenues for Singaporeans to express their views on issues," SPF said.
"For example, they can use the Speakers’ Corner to carry out public assemblies and speak on these issues, without the need for a permit, subject to certain conditions being met."