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

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Cops' 'inability' to deliver justice? Model Gujarat ranks 12th among 18 major states

By Rajiv Shah
A Tata Trusts study, released in Delhi on Thursday, has ranked “model” Gujarat 12th out of 18 major states it has analysed across India to “assess” the police's capacity to deliver justice. Several of the advanced states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as some of the so-called Bimaru states such as Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are found to have ranked better than Gujarat.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

People's pressure? GPCB mining cancellation 'notice' to top cement unit in Gujarat

By Sagar Rabari*
Environmental Clearance (EC) was given to Ultratech Cement Co Ltd for limestone mining in villages Talli and Bambhor of Talaja taluka in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat on January 5, 2017. EC was issued ignoring, overriding and undermining opposition from local farmers to mining activity in the area. The mining in these two villages covers an area of 193.3268 hectares (ha), while the entire project is spread over an area of 1,715.1311 ha.

Bullet train acquisition: Land holding worth Rs 1.5 crore, Gujarat govt 'offer' Rs 8 lakh

By RK Misra*
Foundation stones laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi litter India’s cities, towns and villages, but there are few projects which he has pursued with such perseverance and tenacity as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train one. However, the overwhelming state power notwithstanding, the farmers, whose lands are being acquired for the Modi government’s dream project, have no plans to give up the fight.

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”