Six in Hong Lim Park fracas face public nuisance charges

Six protesters, including activist Han Hui Hui and blogger Roy Ngerng, who took part in a Hong Lim Park march that disrupted a charity event last month, will be in court on Monday to face charges of public nuisance.

The police also said yesterday that Ms Han, 22, and Mr Ngerng, 34, each face a second charge of organising a demonstration without approval.

They said the investigations into the "Return Our CPF" protest at Hong Lim Park on Sept 27 covered a total of 14 people.

Of these, six have been asked to appear at the State Courts in Havelock Square on Monday.

A group of five who "participated actively at the event" have been given conditional warnings, the police said, adding that the case against them has concluded.

A conditional warning means they must not commit any offence for a specified period, usually for 12 or 24 months. Should they do so, they will be charged with new as well as the existing offences.

The police said the outcome of investigations for the remaining three individuals "will be made known to them in due course".

They said the actions were taken after careful consideration and in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers.

The investigations stemmed from the Sept 27 incident when Ms Han and Mr Ngerng led several hundred people in a march around Hong Lim Park, encroaching into a nearby YMCA charity carnival and scaring special needs children who were performing on stage. Ms Han had organised several "Return Our CPF" protests at the park since June.

Anyone convicted of a charge of public nuisance can be fined up to a maximum of $1,000. As for the charge of organising a demonstration without approval, the penalty is a fine of up to a maximum of $5,000.

The second offence falls under a regulation which says that no one can carry out public speaking activities, organise or participate in a performance or exhibition, or organise any demonstration without the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation's approval.

Lawyer M. Ravi, who is representing the six appearing in court, said the public nuisance charge "is a vague and uncertain provision, and might be misplaced". As for the second charge, which Ms Han and Mr Ngerng face, he said: "The Public Order Act exempts the Speakers' Corner from requiring any permit. So the Commissioner may be exceeding his jurisdiction in this matter."

Ms Han made two trips to the Police Cantonment Complex yesterday. The first was in the morning with Mr Ngerng and financial blogger Leong Sze Hian in a bid to collect her summons to appear in court. She said she was told to return in the afternoon.

After receiving the summons, she emerged with Mr Ivan Koh, who received a similar notice. Mr Ngerng received his separately.

Last night, Mr Leong posted a request on Facebook for six people to put up bail for each of those who are due to appear in court on Monday.

This article was first published on October 25, 2014.
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The decision not to approve any application to use the Speakers' Corner by the people investigated for the Sept 27 protest will stand if they have been charged or will face charges, a National Parks Board (NParks) spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday.

This was in line with its previous statements made earlier this week. But those given conditional warnings will be allowed to apply, she added.

The police said yesterday that of the 14 people investigated, five were given conditional warnings. Six will face charges on Monday, while three will be told of the police decision in due course.

NParks also said in its statement that it has received applications to use the Speakers' Corner today. But it would not confirm if any was from those interviewed by the police as "it is not appropriate for us" to reveal the identity of applicants, said its spokesman.

On Tuesday, NParks revoked an earlier approval it gave to activist Han Hui Hui for an event today.

Ms Han, 22, and blogger Roy Ngerng, 34, had led a march on Sept 27 that disrupted a charity carnival.

Yesterday, the spokesman cautioned those without approval to speak or organise demonstrations at Speakers' Corner against doing so. She also reminded park users not to "endanger or cause discomfort or inconvenience" to the public.

She said NParks did not cancel the approval given to Ms Han's "Return Our CPF" event on Sept 27. One of the charges Ms Han and Mr Ngerng are expected to face on Monday is of organising a demonstration without approval.

This article was first published on October 25, 2014.
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