SINGAPORE - Hundreds turned up at Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park on Sunday (April 3), with the venue recently reopened after a two-year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
They were attending a protest against the death penalty in Singapore.
The participants at the two-hour event held placards with signs such as "Execution is not the solution" and "Help not hang", as they called for the Government to abolish the death penalty. The event was also live-streamed online.
Speakers' Corner, which is the only place in Singapore where protests can legally be held, was closed for almost two years from April 2020 when the country imposed a circuit breaker to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Crowd sizes for events at the space are limited to 950 people at a time, according to the National Parks Board's (NParks) website. Applications for events there opened on March 23, after Singapore announced the gradual easing of restrictions towards a new phase of living with Covid-19.
NParks, which manages Speakers' Corner, said on March 25 that it received six applications for events, and its website showed that the space has been booked for several events this month and in June.
Activist Jolovan Wham, who organised the event on Sunday, was among the 12 speakers at the protest. During his speech, he said recent cases in Singapore involving the death penalty have helped to gather both local and international momentum around the cause to do away with the penalty in here.
A 68-year-old Singaporean, Abdul Kahar Othman, was executed last week. He had been sentenced to death for drug trafficking in 2015.
Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, who was convicted of trafficking heroin in 2010, saw his appeal against the death penalty dismissed by the Court of Appeal here last week.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament last month during the Budget debate that the death penalty continues to remain relevant in Singapore.
He said the majority of Singapore residents still support the use of the death penalty and agree that it deters serious crime, citing preliminary findings from a survey conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs last year.
Student Anais Matthew, 23, who was at Sunday's protest at Hong Lim Park, said: "I don't want to be pessimistic but I don't think anything would change because of (today's event). But at least with this, maybe more attention can be brought to the issue and things can happen."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.