Activist: SPF Disrespected My Rights By Confiscating Phone During Interview

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Dec 10 is International Human Rights Day. Prominent activist Jolovan Wham wrote a post reminding everyone that his rights are not respected in Singapore. He was particularly unhappy with how the police treated him and other activists. They would call them in, confiscate their phones and sometimes ask for passwords to their social media accounts.

“This is a clear violation of our constitutional right as Singapore citizens to free expression.”

Wham gave examples of other activists who have been “mistreated” by the Singapore Police Force. One is Gilbert Goh, who held up signs in public areas without a permit. Another is Kirsten Han, a fellow member of an anti-death penalty group called the Transformative Justice Collective.

Han is one of the most outspoken activists in Singapore. She argued for drug traffickers to be protected rather than punished, as she thinks society is to blame for making them poor and reliant on drugs.

As for Wham himself, he is notorious for organising many protests, most of which call for the government to remove the death penalty. In 2021, he was involved in the MOE protest after a student, who wanted to undergo hormone therapy, faced problems with her school. In the same year, he made a sacrifice by choosing to go to jail even though he was rich enough to pay off the fine.

In his recent post on Dec 10, he wrote:

“Citizens are being targeted simply because they are viewed as ‘troublemakers’… and not because anything we do cause harm or incite violence, or hate.”

Do you agree? Singapore may not be as free as countries like the USA, but there is still a certain level of tolerance for freedom of expression. It is when people violate our laws and cross the line, that the police is inevitably called in. If nothing is done about it, many groups will organise themselves and take to the streets with the excuse that they do not “cause harm or incite violence”. When that involves racial or religious undertones, what is going to happen to our society?

It is ironic that Wham is so concerned about how the police disrespected his rights given that he was the one who voluntarily served jail time instead of getting off with a fine. Just how much of that, and his activism, is for show?

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