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Jolovan Wham

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Jolovan Wham is a Singaporean social worker and activist.

Wham studied social work at the National University of Singapore but was disillusioned by the programme which he calls "bankrupt." He wanted a more "liberatory social work praxis' and this led to him becoming a founding member of Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) a migrant rights NGO.[1] He resigned from the organisation in 2015.[2]

Activism[edit | edit source]

Jolovan Wham has been involved in campaigns against the death penalty and for the rights of the LGBT community [3][4]. He was issued a "stern warning" by the police for allowing foreigners to participate in a solidarity event with Hong Kong's Umbrella movement and another "stern warning" for the display of national flags at an event in solidarity with Malaysia's Bersih movement.[5]

In 2013, he attempted to register a company called the Community Action Network (CAN) but was denied. The Ministry of Finance said that CAN was against the national interest and might serve as a “vehicle for unwarranted labor agitation, especially among foreign workers." The Finance Ministry also stated that Wham's activism “appears to be divisive and confrontational in nature”, and that his work could “negatively impact the bilateral relations between Singapore and those countries” and “impact on the supply of foreign labor or the inflow of foreign investment.”[6] He was involved in a campaign to free Amos Yee.[7]

Controversy[edit | edit source]

In 2012 he rejected a Promising Social Worker Award given to him by the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW).He had actually been told that he would be receiving the Outstanding Social Worker Award. But because of an "administrative oversight" by the SASW, he was later informed that he would be given the Promising Social Worker Award instead. He eventually declined the honour for reasons he said he was "not at liberty to disclose".[8]

Criminal Charges[edit | edit source]

On 28 November 2017, Jolovan Wham was summoned to the Central Police Station where he was detained by Singapore Police Force but later released on $8,000 bail. On the same day, the Singapore Police Force released a statement declaring their intention to charge him on 29 November 2017 under the Public Order Act for organising public assemblies without a police permit, the Vandalism Act for one count of vandalism, and the Penal Code for refusing to sign his statements. The statement labelled him as a recalcitrant activist with a blatant disregard for the law. He faces a total of 7 charges.[9]

The events which led to these charges are as follows:

On 13 July 2017, Jolovan Wham, along with a number of other human rights activists, held a candlelit vigil outside Changi Prison Complex in solidarity with the family of Prabagaran Srivijayan, a Malaysian national who was sentenced to death and executed on 14 July 2017. Jolovan Wham was charged for organising the public gathering without a police permit.

On 3 June 2017, Jolovan Wham organised a silent protest to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Operation Spectrum – a security operation that resulted in the arrest of 22 activists in 1987. Nine people participated in the protest, which took place on board a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train, wherein each person stood blindfolded and silent holding up a copy of the book ”1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On”, and then proceeded to sit and read the book together. Jolovan Wham is facing a charge for organising this event without a police permit and another charge under the Vandalism Act for pasting two A4-sheets on the MRT train without permission.

On 26 November 2016, Jolovan Wham, along with fellow activists Kirsten Han and Seelan Palay, organised an indoor gathering to discuss civil disobedience and democracy movements. Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was a remote speaker at the event.

He faces two additional charges for refusing to sign police statements.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The danger of dissent in Singapore". www.eurekastreet.com.au. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  2. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/shes-at-home-with-fighting-inequality
  3. migration (2014-12-04). "Activists protest law don's speech as pro-family groups back petition in her support". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  4. "An innocent man may soon be hanged under mere circumstantial evidence". The Online Citizen. 2016-10-25. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  5. hermesauto (2017-12-06). "Civil rights activist Jolovan Wham issued stern warning for use of national flag at Bersih event". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  6. "HRW Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Singapore". Human Rights Watch. 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  7. Singaporean Voices (2015-07-05), Free Amos Yee - 1 Jolovan Wham, Activist, Community Action Network, retrieved 2018-03-18
  8. "Home is where his heart is". www.asiaone.com. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  9. "News Release". Singapore Police Force. Retrieved 2018-03-18.

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