SINGAPORE: Activist and social worker Jolovan Wham Kwok Han was on Friday (Feb 25) fined S$3,000 for taking part in an illegal assembly outside the State Courts in 2018.
He was convicted last month of one charge of taking part in an assembly in a prohibited area under the Public Order Act. The district court heard that he intends to appeal against the conviction and sentence.
Wham, 41, was seen holding up a sign that read "Drop the charges against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa" outside the State Courts on the morning of Dec 13, 2018.
That was the day Terry Xu Yuanchen, chief editor of The Online Citizen, and Daniel De Costa Augustin were charged in the State Courts with criminal defamation over an article written for the now-defunct website.
De Costa was the author of the piece, which alleged "corruption at the highest echelons" of Singapore.
Wham, whose supporters attended the hearing on Friday, was also given a discharge amounting to acquittal for holding up a piece of cardboard with a smiley face in Toa Payoh in another demonstration in March 2020.
"ACTIONS SMACK OF ENTITLEMENT"
Deputy Public Prosecutors Jane Lim and Niranjan Ranjakunalan asked for the maximum fine of S$5,000 for Wham's demonstration outside the State Courts.
They described Wham as "a persistent and entirely unremorseful offender who has shown a blatant disregard for the laws of Singapore".
They highlighted that Wham publicised his actions by having a photograph taken of his demonstration and posting it on his Facebook account, which had about 8,300 followers at the time.
"His actions smack of entitlement, and his actions at trial (of trying to justify his actions on the flimsiest of pretexts) only seek to betray his patent lack of remorse," said the prosecution.
"Our courts must vigilantly guard against such unlawful antics that put the arrogant whims of a few above the need to maintain an orderly system."
Wham's defence lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam asked for a fine of S$1,500. District Judge Eugene Teo noted that the defence was "silent on mitigation" in its submissions, and confirmed this was a "conscious decision" when queried by the court.
Judge Teo said Wham's demonstration went beyond showing solidarity to showing "direct and pointed public opposition against the one charged with the duty of upholding our laws" and urging that "due process be bypassed".
Following the sentence, Mr Thuraisingam told the court that Wham intended to launch an appeal and asked for payment of the fine to be stayed. Bail of S$8,000 was granted.
Wham was in January 2019 fined S$2,000 for organising a public assembly without a permit, in an event titled Civil Disobedience and Social Movements.
In February last year, he was fined S$4,500 for organising a public assembly without a permit on board an MRT train to commemorate Operation Spectrum.
He chose to serve the in-default terms of 10 days' and 18 days' jail respectively, according to the prosecution.