Saturday, December 09, 2017

Singaporean Jolovan Wham - 52 Malaysian Groups Speak out & Urgent Appeal by the Observatory



SGP 001 / 1217 / OBS 117
Judicial harassment
December 8, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Singapore.

Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham, social worker, human rights advocate, and former Executive Director of the NGO Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)[1], and eight other activists for the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly.

According to the information received, on November 28, 2017, Mr. Jolovan Whan was detained at the Central Police Station in Singapore, and released on bail later that day.

On November 29, 2017, the State Court charged Mr. Jolovan Wham with: 1) "organising public assemblies without a permit", under the Public Order Act (three charges); 2) "vandalism", under the Vandalism Act (one charge); and 3) "refusing to sign statements", under Article 180 of the Criminal Code (three charges). The seven charges are related to three peaceful gatherings held by various activists, including Mr. Jolovan Wham, in Singapore between November 2016 and July 2017 without obtaining prior permission from the police.

Under Article 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, organising a public assembly without obtaining police permit is an offense that is punishable with fines of up to SGD 5,000 (approx. 3,140 Euros). Repeat offenders can be fined up to SGD 10,000 (approx. 6,280 Euros) or imprisoned for up to six months, or both. Under Article 3 of the Vandalism Act, the offence of vandalism is punishable with a fine not exceeding SGD 2,000 (approx. 1256 Euros) or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

The three peaceful gatherings from which the charges under the Public Order Act stem were: 1) a forum to discuss civil disobedience and social movement (held on November 26, 2016); 2) a silent protest on a Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) train to mark the 30th anniversary of the detention without trial of 22 people under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) as part of Operation Spectrum in May-June 1987 (held on June 3, 2017); and (3) a candlelight vigil outside Changi Prison to support the family of Prabagaran Srivijayan, a Malaysian national, awaiting execution for drug trafficking (held on July 13, 2017)[2].

Moreover, on December 5, 2017, eight other activists who took part in the three above-referenced peaceful assemblies reported themselves voluntarily to the police and were given warnings that may be facing charges should they participate in other gatherings.

The Observatory denounces the judicial harassment of Mr. Jolovan Wham and the other above-mentioned activists, which only aims at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Singaporean authorities to urge them to:

i.     Drop all charges against Mr. Jolovan Wham;

ii.   Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Jolovan Wham, the above-mentioned demonstrators and all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iii. Ensure full respect for the right to peaceful assembly in accordance with relevant international human rights standards;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.


·     Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, Fax: +65 63328983/68356621, Email:; Twitter: @leehsienloong
·     Mr. Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister of Law, Fax: +65 62546250/ 633 28842, Email:;
·     Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fax: +65 64747885, Email:;
·     Mr. Lucien Wong, Attorney General, Fax: +65 6538 9000
·     H.E. Mr Foo Kok Jwee, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Singapore in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41-22-796 8078, E-mail:;
·     H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Ambassador, Embassy of Singapore in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 660 8685; Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Singapore in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, December 8, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·   E-mail:
·   Tel and fax OMCT +41 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
·   Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

Joint Statement: Malaysians in solidarity with Jolovan Wham

We are a group of concerned Malaysian citizens who are alarmed and disappointed by Singapore’s prosecution of the renowned social worker and activist Jolovan Wham.

Jolovan was charged with 7 offences under the Public Order Act, Vandalism Act, and the Penal Code for his peaceful and non-violent acts. He was alleged to have organized three unlawful assemblies, which involves holding a vigil outside Changi Prison for Malaysian death row inmate Prabagaran Srivijayan who was to be executed at dawn, organising an assembly without permit in a train and a forum involving Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong through skype.

In the alleged silent protest on an MRT train, Jolovan and eight others hold the book 1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On to commemorate “Operation Spectrum”, a security operation initiated by Singapore government in 1987. Jolovan faces a vandalism charge for sticking two A4 size papers on the train during the event. He also faces three counts of refusal to sign his recorded statement under the Penal Code.

Jolovan is a renowned social worker and activist. He bravely speaks up for the voiceless, the weak and the oppressed - no matter what race, class or gender. Jolovan was recognized for his excellent social work, for he received “Promising Social Worker Award” in 2011, and the award was conferred by the President of Singapore. When he was serving as the executive director of HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics), he fought for the rights of migrant workers in Singapore who suffered abuse and ill-treatment by employers. At the same time, he has been a staunch advocate of free speech and a human rights champion who speaks against death penalty and detention without trial.

Jolovan also initiated solidarity activities in Singapore to support social movements in other parts of Asia, such as Hong Kong and Malaysia. For example, after the 13th Malaysian general election, he organized cross-border solidarity activities to support fair and clean elections in Malaysia, not to mention his support for Malaysia’s largest rally in recent years, Bersih. He also shows untiring supports for Malaysian death row inmates in Singapore such as Prabagaran Srivijayan.

We believe that Jolovan is the conscience of Singapore who bravely speaks up for the voiceless, who opposes unjust treatment and policies towards the marginalized. What is even more admirable of Jolovan is that, while fighting for minority rights in Singapore, he always goes beyond national borders and boundaries. His solidarity activities show that Singapore’s civic movement not only fights for Singaporeans, but also speaks for worldwide democracies and marginalized foreigners in Singapore. He demonstrates how Singaporeans and Singapore civil society can join forces and unite with democratic movements around the world.

The prosecution of Jolovan is a scare tactic to silence dissidents in Singapore. Non-violent and peaceful assembly is meant to raise awareness among the public to achieve a democratic society, and thus it is not reasonable for Singapore government to charge him with these criminal laws.

Recently, we find that Singapore government is acting more actively to suppress dissidents. Besides Jolovan, other individuals are facing arrests and investigation include editor of The Online Citizen Terry Xu and journalist Kirsten Han, who were investigated for participating the vigil activity for Prabagaran Srivijayan; activist Rachel Zeng also faces investigation for organizing the skype forum with Joshua Wong; and artist Seelan Palay, who was arrested for his performance outside parliament to commemorate the 32-year detention of Chia Thye Poh.

Singapore ranks No. 1 in the world in many sectors, but its disregard of freedom of speech and assembly and its harsh actions towards dissidents are utterly disappointing. We support Jolovan and other human rights advocates in Singapore, and condemn the use of draconian laws against dissidents. We urge the Attorney General of Singapore to drop the charges against Jolovan and cease all proceedings against him.

We also call for Singapore to review its law to protect freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, to show the world that Singapore government is committed to democracy and the protection of the rights of its citizens.

We refuse to keep silent when confronted with injustice. As issues of human rights and humanitarian ideals transcend national boundaries, we urge citizens of Singapore and Malaysia to stand in solidarity with Jolovan Wham.


我们是一群关心新加坡人权和公民社会状况的大马公民团体。对于新加坡社运工作者范国瀚(Jolovan Wham)被控7项罪,我们感到惊讶与失望。

范国瀚因“无准证举办集会”在公共秩序法令下被控三项罪:他被指在樟宜监狱外为将被绞刑的大马死刑犯普拉巴卡兰(Prabagaran Srivijayan)举行烛光会;在地铁上组织“无声抗议”活动,以及通过skype与香港社运分子黄之锋进行连线对谈时,无准证举行室内集会。

在地铁上的无声抗议活动中,范国瀚与其他八人在车厢里沉默站着,拿起《1987:新加坡的马克思主义阴谋30年后》(1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On)一书阅读,抗议新加坡政府在1987年发动的“光谱行动”。范国瀚也因当时在地铁上贴上两张A4纸而被控破坏公物。他也因数次拒绝签署警方的口供声明,而被控触犯刑事法典。

范国瀚是新加坡知名社工和社运人士,长期无畏无惧为新加坡各种族、阶级和性别弱势发声,甚至获得新加坡总统在2011年颁发“有为社工奖”(Promising Social Worker Award)。他担任移工人道组织“情义之家”(HOME)执行长期间,竭力为被雇主虐待的移工谋取福利,多次与无良雇主和新加坡人力资源部斡旋;同时,他也是反对死刑和无审讯拘留的人权斗士,积极争取司法正义。

范国瀚长期关注亚洲各地如大马和香港的人权状况,并在新加坡发起连带声援活动,例如支持香港2014年的民主运动。而在2013年大马全国大选后,他在新加坡芳林公园演说者角落举办 “新加坡人声援大马”活动,抗议选举不公,跨界支持大马民主进程。他也在新加坡声援净选盟集会,以及如普拉巴卡兰等被判死刑的大马人。



近年来,新加坡政府对异议分子的打压更趋严厉,除了范国瀚以外,不少进步人士也受到调查和对付,例如独立媒体《线上公民》(The Online Citizen)编辑许渊臣(Terry Xu)和独立记者韩俐颖(Kirsten Han),也因参与声援大马死刑犯的烛光会而被调查;社运分子Rachel Zeng因和范国瀚共同举办黄之锋连线活动也被调查;而艺术家 Seelan Palay也因在国会外举着一面镜子纪念被监禁32年的谢太宝,而被逮捕。




联署团体 Endorsed by:
1. Aliran 国民醒觉运动
2. Amateur业余者
3. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
4. Baramkini 当今峇南
5. Buku Jalanan Shah Alam 街头书坊沙亚南分部
6. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) 原住民关怀中心
7. Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) 反贪污与朋党主义中心
8. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) 独立新闻中心
9. Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) 干净公平选举联盟2.0
10. Community Development Centre (CDC) 社区关怀中心
11. Damn the Dams Action Group 反水坝行动小组
12. ENGAGE愿景工程
13. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
14. Imagined Malaysia
15. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT) 受压迫人民阵线
16. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF) 柔南黄色行动小组
17. Kedai Buku Mak Ali
18. KLSCAH Civil Rights Committee 隆雪华堂民权委员会
19. KLSCAH Youth Section隆雪华堂青年团
20. Lawyer for Liberty捍卫自由律师团
21. Let's Art At Sawit Center沙威文创社
22. Malaysia Christian for Justice
23. Malaysia Muda 马来西亚青年
24. Malaysia Youth & Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)马来西亚青年与学生民主运动
25. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS) 大马印裔进步协会
26. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
27. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
28. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)大马反死刑与酷刑组织
29. Meonet 大马选举监督网络
30. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
31. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM) 大马人权协会
32. North South Initiative (NSI)
33. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) 马来西亚社会主义党
34. Perak Civic Forum 霹雳公民论坛
35. Persahabatan Semparuthi 大红花之友
36. Persatuan ALUMNI PBT USM Bahagian Utara 北马理华同学会
37. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatian Selangor dan KL
38. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
39. Persatuan Pendidikan Du Zhong Pulau Pinang 槟城独中教育基金会
40. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
41. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)雪兰莪妇女之友协会
42. Pusat Komas 社区传播中心
43. Pusat Sejarah Rakyat 人民历史中心
44. Sahabat Rakyat 人民之友
45. Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Association Youth Wing雪兰莪暨吉隆坡福建会馆青年团
46. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) 人民之声
47. Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED) 向日葵选举教育运动
48. Tenaganita Womens Force 大马妇女力量
49. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy赵明福民主基金会
50. Thinking Society思辨会社
51. Writers' Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) 维护媒体独立撰稿人联盟
52. Yayasan Usman Awang 乌士曼阿旺基金会

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