[Singapore] SEAPA decries ‘harsh’ penalties against Wham, urges court to drop all charges

“The Singapore government has taken another page from the authoritarian playbook by sentencing activist Jolovan Wham on Thursday, 21 February 2019, to a 16-day prison term for ‘illegal assembly,’” said Tess Bacalla, executive director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).

Wham refused to pay the fine of SGD 3,200 (USD 2,365), opting to serve jail time.

Wham was found guilty of “organising an illegal assembly without a police permit” on 3 January 2019 for a public forum he organized that featured via Skype fellow human rights activist Joshua Wong of Hong Kong as guest speaker via Skype. The discussion was held indoor in November 2016.

“While this decision comes as no surprise, the harsh penalties imposed on Wham for organizing a peaceful assembly to discuss matters of public interest are extremely unacceptable and contrary to the principles of free expression and freedom of peaceful assembly,” Bacalla said.

“SEAPA denounces Wham’s sentencing and urges the court to reverse its decision, and drop any remaining charges against him that arose from the sheer exercise of his fundamental rights.”

“SEAPA remains unwavering in its support of groups and individuals like Wham who continue to push back against repression even at the risk of being dragged to court and sent to prison.”

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