Laws against freedom of expression (case study: Singapore)

Date: Monday, March 5, 2018
Time: 02:30 - 03:30 PM
Room: Flyover Back
Skill Level: Advanced
Language: English
Duration: 1 hour(s)
Format: On the Frontlines
Presenter: Han Hui Hui
Other Presenters: Han Hui Hui, Leong Sze Hian
Sharing of human rights situation in the world with Singapore as a case study to spark comparison and discussion. In April 2013, a statutory board under Singapore’s ministry of education threatened to sue me for defamation, I was 21 years old when I received the letter of demand that wanted to silence my freedom of speech. After which, the Singapore government amended the Sedition Act (CHAPTER 290) on 31 August 2013 and Defamation Act (CHAPTER 75) on 28 February 2014. In 2014, my supporters and I were harassed by Singapore’s police with very late night visits to our homes and long interviews without any meal in the police station. I underwent a total of 8 hours at the police station from 2pm till 8pm for interrogation by the police, was denied of legal assistance and had my paper notebook that was used to take down notes being seized from me. After which, the Singapore government implemented the Protection from Harassment Act (CHAPTER 256A) on 31 May 2015. In 2015, 5 other Singaporeans and I were charged for public nuisance and illegal assembly for organising an event with regards to Singapore’s pension fund. I was 23 years old when the Singapore government used 4 deputy public prosecutors to charge us - we had no legal representation. After which, the Singapore government amended the Public Order Act (CHAPTER 257A) on 8 May 2016 and implemented the Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill on 11 July 2016. In 2016, I was disqualified from Singapore’s general election as Singapore’s judge Chay Yuen Fatt fined me - a total of SGD$3,100 over the #ReturnOurCPF #还我们公积金 event held on 27 Sep 2014 which attracted more than 6,000 Singaporeans. As of 2017, the Singapore government is planning to pass a bill in parliament and make it an offence for event organisers if they fail to notify the police when their event has a crowd size of above 5,000 people.
Target Audience:
Front-line activists to learn from each other regarding the new laws being implemented. Tech people to share how we can overcome surveillance and obstacles.
Desired Outcome:
Freedom of speech is greatly limited in Singapore. I was threatened with defamation suit in 2013 when questioning the government’s education system. In 2014, bloggers were either being sued for defamation by Singapore’s prime minister or charged for contempt of court. I hope to be able to learn about the situation in other countries and how people campaign for free speech. Freedom of assembly is restricted to only the speakers’ corner in Singapore. I was being charged for public nuisance and illegal assembly in 2014 when I was organising event with regards to Singapore’s pension fund. Prior to that, my team and I have been holding event on Singapore’s public transport, Singapore’s public housing, Singapore’s public healthcare and the crowd size was increasing. I hope to be able to learn about how activists in other countries educate the public on their rights to the freedom of assembly. Rights to parliamentary election is limited to the wealthy in Singapore due to a high election deposit cost. I was the first female who took part in Singapore’s election as an independent candidate and managed to break the single-digit percentage that was secured in the past. Being the youngest person who took part in Singapore’s latest general election, I hope to be able to learn about the campaigns in other countries as well as how to get the youth and females more involved in policy making.