Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham has been found guilty of organising an illegal assembly involving Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, who participated via Skype.

The Singapore Court also convicted Wham for refusing to sign a police statement. He will be sentenced on January 23 afternoon.

Jolovan Wham. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

The event involving Wham and Wong was held in November 2016. The Singaporean police said it had engaged Wham prior to the event and advised him that a police permit was required permitting Wong to speak. But Wham proceeded to hold the event without a police permit.

Wong spoke at the conference on civil disobedience and social movements via a Skype video call. Other speakers included journalist Kirsten Han and activist Seelan Palay.

The organiser of the event, Community Action Network, is a non-governmental group concerned with freedom of expression in the city-state. Wham, who is a member of the group, was later questioned by the police for 45 minutes. Wham was then charged in November 2017.

Joshua Wong. Photo: HKFP.

In response, Joshua Wong told HKFP: “It is absurd for one to be prosecuted for holding a video exchange – it has proved how conservative the Singaporean court is, and how afraid it is for activists of different countries to exchange ideas.”

Anyone convicted of organising a public assembly without a police permit is liable to a fine of up to S$5,000 (around HK$29,000) under section 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, while repeated offenders are liable to a fine of S$10,000 (HK$58,000) and imprisonment of up to six months.

Wham could also be jailed jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$2,500 (around HK$14,500), or both.

In October last year, Wham was found guilty of contempt of court for a Facebook post he published. He alleged that Malaysia’s judges are more independent than Singapore’s for cases with political implications.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.