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

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.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.

Women, business, law: India scores worst among all BRICS, several African nations

By Rajiv Shah
A new World Bank report ranks India 125th in its Women, Business and the Law (WBL) index among 187 economies it seeks to analyse across the globe. The report's main aim claims to be to "gain new insight into how women’s employment and entrepreneurship choices are affected by legal gender discrimination. On a scale of 100, India's score is 71.25, worse than the global average of 74.71.