Skip to main content

Singapore activist termed anti-national for protesting sans permission: "Suggestive" of what's happening in India

June 3, 2017 protest in metro train
By Our Representative
Suggestive of what has now begun happening in India, especially Gujarat, the Singaporean authorities on Tuesday charged Jovolan Wham, the country’s human rights activist, under the Vandalism Act, allegedly meant to justify all manner of authoritarian action by simply defining its opposition as ‘anti-national’, and hence a threat to the ‘nation’ and the ‘people’.
The authorities also charged Wham under the country’s Public Order Act, under which one requires a police permit for any ‘cause-related’ assembly that is held in a public place, or to which the public is invited, and organizing or participating in a protest without a permit is a criminal offense.
Wham, 37, was charged for three peaceful gatherings: The first, at an indoor venue on November 26, 2016, at a forum to discuss civil disobedience and social movements. Because Joshua Wong, who is not a citizen of Singapore, called into the forum from Hong Kong via Skype, Wham faced charges for violating the Public Order Act’s requirement to apply for and receive a police permit for an event featuring a foreign speaker.
He faced the charge under the Vandalism Act for organizing a “silent protest” on June 3, 2017, without obtaining a police permit, held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the arrest and detention of 22 social activists and volunteers under the Internal Security Act in 1987.
At the protest, nine youths stood silently on board a Mass Rapid Transit train, each blindfolded and holding up a book, “1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On.” They then sat in empty seats in the train car and proceeded to read the book together.
The third charge is for a candlelight vigil outside Changi Prison on July 13 to support the family of a Malaysian national, S Prabagaran, who was slated to be executed for drug trafficking. Singapore authorities refused numerous entreaties from the family, lawyers, NGOs, diplomatic missions, and the United Nations to stop the execution and commute the sentence to life in prison.
A Hardik Patel rally in Gujarat, which invited  cops to
register FIR for not taking police permission
Meanwhile, an analysis on the goings on around Wham, by Thum Ping Tjin, points to how the Punishment for Vandalism Act of 1966 (amended in 1970) was written “deliberately to punish political dissidents, by demarcating certain expressions of political opinion as criminal and anti-national. This not only suppressed free speech, but consolidated the power of the state to decide what constitutes the ‘nation’.”
Recalls Tjin, the Vandalism Act passed sought to “characterise legitimate political protest as illegitimate public disorder”, characterise people who practice political protest as “anti-national” and thus not only subversive but also enemies of the people, and “smear” those who questioning government motives as “outright falsehoods” against “the normal rules of law and civilization.”
Thus, says Tjin, the introducer of the Vandalism Act, Minister of State for Defence Wee Toon Boon, described vandalism as being done by ‘anti-social and anti-national elements in the name of democracy’, and even as frequently repeating the term ‘anti-national’, he emphasised that such ‘anti-national elements were ‘damaging or destroying public property which is provided for the benefit of the people.’
Even “Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew described vandalism as ‘a particularly vicious social misdemeanour, like taking a pot of paint and going to every bus stand and chalking up anti-American or anti-British or pro-Vietcong slogans’,” says Tjin.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.

Story of a foot soldier of Gujarat riots coming from a vulnerable community, Chharas

By Rajiv Shah
He is one of the more prominent "foot soldiers" of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Suresh Jadeja, alias Langdo, alias Richard, is indeed a well-known name in the Naroda Patiya massacre case, in which 97 persons were killed on February 28, 2002, the first day of the riots that shook the nation. Ordinarily, such a person should have been subjected to sociological scrutiny. What have here is a keen journalistic account, with clear political-ideological overtone.