Sunday, 28 September 2014

CPF protesters heckle special needs children at Hong Lim Park charity carnival

Chaos at Hong Lim Park charity carnival
CPF rally protesters disrupt event at same park, frighten special needs kids on stage
By Walter Sim, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Several hundred protesters yesterday disrupted a charity carnival organised by YMCA at Hong Lim Park by marching through it, frightening special needs children performing on stage and confronting the junior minister present.

Police will be investigating the incident, they said in a joint statement last night with the National Parks Board (NParks).

The rally's organiser, blogger Han Hui Hui, 22, had led the group - gathered to hear her speak about the CPF issue - to march around the park, together with blogger Roy Ngerng, 33, who is facing a defamation suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The march began after Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck arrived at the event for YMCA beneficiaries, attended by 900 people.

The marchers, several of whom waved Singapore flags, paused in front of the stage and chanted "Vote them out, PAP" and "Return our CPF" just as a group of special needs children was about to perform a dance item.



The visibly shocked performers from the group Y Stars stopped briefly. Videos of the encounter uploaded on social media drew swift criticism from netizens.

Several protesters also went up to Mr Teo, with one shouting: "Teo Ser Luck, return our CPF."



Mr Teo later told The Sunday Times via SMS that he "had to console one of the handicapped children who was frightened by all the heckling".

Referring to the protesters, Mr Teo told reporters at the venue: "They have their views, which they want to share, and which they voiced out in a different way...

"We must have a listening ear for everybody. Of course, we hope that things could be done in a more friendly manner."

In their statement, NParks and the police said YMCA had applied first to use the park and received approval on Sept 9. Ms Han's application was received last Monday and approved on the same day.

NParks demarcated and allocated space for both events.

"There are two lawns at Hong Lim Park, and each event was allocated a lawn," the statement said.

"NParks and SPF (Singapore Police Force) approached Ms Han to request her cooperation to speak at the allocated space.

"We regret to note that Ms Han did not heed our advice and continued to hold her event at the same lawn as YMCA.

"Ms Han's group encroached into the YMCA event area, holding placards and shouting slogans, disrupted performances and frightened participants, including special needs children who were performing at the charity event."

Ms Han told reporters: "We actually planned not to do anything physical to them. We just wanted to spread our message across."

Madam Regina Aun, 55, manager of Y Stars, said: "While they have the right of expression, it was an event for people with special needs. They could have shown a little more compassion."

Workers' Party activist Bernard Chen said on Facebook yesterday the heckling was "uncalled for" and "the waving of the Singapore flag was shameful and self-righteous".

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin posted on Facebook last night: "I am appalled. We now heckle special needs children? Vile. Total and absolute disgrace."
















Protesters disrupt performances at YMCA carnival
Police said they are investigating an incident in which protesters encroached on an area of a YMCA event at Hong Lim Park, and "disrupted performances and frightened participants".
By Faris Mokhtar, Channel NewsAsia27 Sep 2014

Hong Lim Park saw two events held at the same time today, resulting in some unsavoury scenes.

A group protesting against the CPF scheme were seen marching round a YMCA carnival at the Park. They held placards and shouted slogans, frightening those at the carnival and disrupting performances, including those by special needs children.

The YMCA said it had received approval for its event in April. A joint statement from the National Parks Board (NParks) and the police said the application to use the Park was first received from YMCA and approval was given to YMCA on Sep 9. Meanwhile the application from the anti-CPF protest organiser Han Hui Hui, who is also a blogger, was received on Sep 22. It was approved on the same day.

The YMCA event was attended by the elderly and disabled, with performances by children. The general secretary of YMCA Singapore, Mr Lo Chee Wen, said the YMCA Proms @ the Park is an annual event held at public parks in Singapore. Last year, it was held at the Botanic Gardens. The event aims to promote corporate social responsibility by matching organisations with voluntary welfare organisations.

Participants of the protest rally ended up marching around the YMCA event at least four times. The protesters also got close to Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, who attended the YMCA event. Mr Teo gamely greeted them and shook hands with some, despite having vulgarities hurled at him by the CPF protesters.

In a joint statement, the police and National Parks Board said:

"Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park is designated by the Government as an area for public speaking and gatherings. Application to use the park was first received from YMCA and approval to use the park was given to YMCA on Sep 9. Ms Han’s application was received on Sep 22 and approval was granted to Ms Han on the same day.

In anticipation of the crowd this afternoon, NParks demarcated and allocated space for both events. There are two lawns at Hong Lim Park, and each event was allocated a lawn. NParks and SPF approached Ms Han to request her cooperation to speak at the allocated space.

We regret to note that Ms Han did not heed our advice and continued to hold her event at the same lawn as YMCA. Ms Han’s group encroached into the YMCA event area, holding placards and shouting slogans, disrupted performances and frightened participants, including special needs children who were performing at the charity event. The Police will be conducting investigations into this incident."

In response to media queries, the Ministry of National Development said: "Multiple events have been held on the same date at Hong Lim Park previously. For example, Pink Dot 2013, anti-haze speech and protest against LTA cross island MRT Line events happened on Jun 29 2013."





Protesters' heckling of special needs children 'vile', 'unbecoming': MPs
MPs, including Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin and Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing say they are "appalled" and "dismayed" that participants at a protest rally at Hong Lim Park heckled and frightened special needs children performing at a YMCA charity event.
Channel NewsAsia, 28 Sep 2014

Several Members of Parliament have expressed shock and disgust that protesters, rallying against the CPF scheme, heckled special needs children at a YMCA event at Hong Lim Park on Saturday (Sep 27).

The children had been trying to perform at the YMCA Proms @ the Park event, where volunteers and beneficiaries such as the elderly, people with special needs and underprivileged children, got together for a concert and a picnic.

The protesters, led by bloggers Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngerng, had encroached upon a lawn demarcated for the YCMA event. The group, some bearing placards and "shouting slogans, disrupted performances and frightened participants, including special needs children who were performing at the charity event" according to a joint statement by the National Parks Board and the Singapore Police Force.

The police said they would be investigating the incident. The protesters had received a permit to hold their event at the Speakers' Corner, but at a different lawn.

Many MPs posted their responses to the heckling incident on Facebook, and some of these are reproduced below.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin:

"I am appalled. We now heckle special needs children? Vile. Total and absolute disgrace.

"We can disagree. We can be critical. We can debate. How we do so defines us and our society. The space is wide. But there are some lines we should not cross. This is one line I never expected to see violated in this manner."

Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing:

"Read with dismay what happened at Hong Lim Park today. One may hold different viewpoints and try to seek attention to one's cause. But to do so with no regard or respect to the elderly and special needs children present is most unbecoming.

"To cause alarm and distress to special needs children, and disrupting their routine cannot be right no matter how righteous you think your own cause may be. This cannot be the type of behaviour that represents Singaporeans."

Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min:

"Utter disgrace and a serious lack of compassion on the organisers of the protest. Absolutely disgusted by their uncouth behaviour!"

MP Janil Puthucheary:

"What sort of public discourse do we want? No excuse for bad behaviour, but especially not directed at kids."

MP Zaqy Mohamad:

"A pity that special needs children were heckled by protesters at event by YMCA at Hong Lim Park. One thing to want to make a statement, and another to cross the line in this manner."

MP Ang Wei Neng:

"It was a sad day. There was no good reason for the bloggers to heckle children with special needs and hurl vulgarities." 

MP Denise Phua:

"I heard while the kids were not physically harmed, many were alarmed, confused and disturbed by the unexpected unruly turn of events. The teachers too were affected. How do such unkind and unruly behaviours help in resolving issues of concern to the protesters? I pray this will not happen again. Courage to speak up for one's rights ought to be balanced with consideration for the needs and interests of others."

MP Tin Pei Ling:

“This is unacceptable behaviour if the police investigations confirm it. Heckling is wrong. Heckling at special needs children is doubly wrong. What have these special needs children done to deserve being heckled down?”





YMCA denies plan to clash with protest
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

THE YMCA, the organisation behind a charity carnival at Hong Lim Park today, has responded to accusations that it changed the timing of its event in order to deliberately clash with a protest rally being held there around the same time.

The two events are the eighth annual YMCA Proms @ The Park, held by the voluntary welfare organisation from 2pm to 8pm, and the fourth Return Our CPF protest rally from 4pm to 6pm.

YMCA of Singapore general secretary Lo Chee Wen said yesterday: "We have not made changes to any plan."

Some 900 people, including individuals with special needs, the elderly, and underprivileged children, are expected at the carnival. Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck is attending as guest of honour.

Rally organiser Han Hui Hui wrote on her Facebook page on Thursday that she was urged by "four grassroots leaders" to cancel the event. She said that this had never happened before.

She added: "Their event was supposed to be on Saturday (at) 10am... But if I were to insist on holding an event, they will change the timing to 4pm and ferry 5,000 people down."

Ms Han also said that tents erected for the YMCA event would block the route of a planned march within the park grounds by rally organisers. Despite this, she still intends to go ahead with the march today.

Mr Lo said that the YMCA has been holding the event annually since 2007 and that it does not represent any grassroots organisation. He added that it sought permission from the National Parks Board, which manages Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park, in December last year to use the premises for today's event. Approval was granted this April.

"Neither YMCA nor its representatives have had communication with Ms Han," he added.





YMCA: Planning for carnival began 10 months ago
It applied to use Hong Lim Park before organiser of CPF rally and received approval on Sept 9
TODAY, 29 Sep 2014

A day after ugly scenes at Hong Lim Park broke out and triggered a maelstrom of reactions online, the YMCA of Singapore issued a statement yesterday pointing out, among other things, that it had started planning for its carnival, which was disrupted on Saturday by several hundred protesters attending a rally called Return Our CPF, since December last year.

It also said the event, YMCA Proms @ the Park — where Minister of State (Trade and Industry) Teo Ser Luck was guest of honour — has been held annually at various parks across the island since 2007, including in 2010 when it was also held at Hong Lim Park.

The protesters’ behaviour drew sharp criticism, including from Members of Parliament from the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the Workers’ Party, as well as Cabinet ministers.

Some questioned why both events were held at the same venue on the same day. The National Parks Board (NParks) had demarcated and allocated a lawn each for both events. YMCA had applied first to use the park and received approval on Sept 9.

Application for the rally, organised by blogger Han Hui Hui, was received last Monday and approved on the same day, NParks and the police said.

YMCA said that on April 11, NParks acknowledged its intent to hold the event and reserved the venue for its use on Saturday, pending approval from the relevant authorities.

YMCA also reiterated that it is a voluntary welfare organisation and not a grassroots organisation. Ms Han had earlier said she was spoken to by “grassroots leaders”, who tried to dissuade her from holding her rally.

During the rally, Ms Han and Mr Roy Ngerng — a blogger who is facing a defamation lawsuit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong — led the protesters on a march around Hong Lim Park. Video recordings uploaded on YouTube showed the protesters, at one point, stopping at a stage, waving Singapore flags and chanting slogans, as a group of special needs children was about to perform a dance item.

In a lengthy blog post slamming the media coverage on what took place, Mr Ngerng yesterday said the PAP sought to “play politics” with the incident. Nevertheless, he conceded: “There were some things we should have done better, for that I am sorry”.





Hong Lim Park fracas: Rally leaders defend actions
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

MEMBERS of the public and MPs yesterday hit out at protesters who disrupted a charity carnival at Hong Lim Park last Saturday, but the leaders of the rally remained adamant and defended their march through the YMCA-organised event.

In a Facebook post yesterday, rally organiser Han Hui Hui, a 22-year-old blogger, said the group did not heckle the special needs children on stage as many said they did.

Mr Roy Ngerng, 33, who spoke at the rally and is facing a defamation suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for earlier remarks, posted a YouTube video defending the march and hitting out at MPs who criticised the protesters.

"We didn't know what was going on on the stage," he said, adding that the protesters walked off once they realised special needs children were on stage because "it's not appropriate".

The blogger also said he would write to YMCA to try to meet the children "and give my sincere apologies". But he added: "YMCA might have been retooled for a political purpose at the protest."

However, many netizens felt the duo had discredited themselves through the confrontational actions seen in videos posted online.

Analyst Devadas Krishnadas said in a Facebook note: "Their actions to disrupt the YMCA event speak to self-indulgence, social carelessness, immaturity and this is ironical, a disregard for the rights and concerns of other Singaporeans, especially those in genuine need."

On Saturday, Ms Han and Mr Ngerng led several hundred people at a rally on Central Provident Fund issues on a march through the carnival, frightening the teens on stage.

The protesters also confronted Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, YMCA's guest of honour, who on Saturday told The Straits Times that he had to console one of the children "frightened by all the heckling".

People's Action Party and opposition Members of Parliament continued voicing their disquiet at the episode online.

Pathlight School supervisor Denise Phua, an MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC, said several of the school's students were at the event. Though not harmed, they were "alarmed, confused and disturbed".

"How do such unkind and unruly behaviours help in resolving issues of concern to the protesters?" she wrote. "Courage to speak up for one's rights ought to be balanced with consideration for the needs and interests of others."

Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong, who is from the Workers' Party, posted a clip of a previous performance by special needs teenagers on Facebook, saying: "I can't imagine how anyone can jeer at any of them, whatever the cause they may be fighting for."

But Mr Ngerng held his ground, describing the protesters' action as "the most ground-breaking protest in Singapore since 1965" on his blog.

The authorities have not been spared the heat, with some members of the public calling for NParks to reconsider allowing more than one group at Speakers' Corner at any one time. Hong Lim Park has two lawns, and the authorities had allocated them to the two events on Saturday.

Ms Han refused to comply when NParks and police officers asked her on Saturday to move out of the lawn allocated to YMCA. A video of that confrontation was put online.

Police say they will investigate the disruption.




Their actions to disrupt the YMCA event speak to self-indulgence, social carelessness, immaturity and this is ironical, a disregard for the rights and concerns of other Singaporeans, especially those in genuine need... (Their view is that) Singapore and, specifically, its governance is a grand conspiracy.

Everything about the Government and all events are construed as being part of a system of control... anyone who differs from their extreme views is treated as a co-conspirator. It is this mindset that explains how they could perceive an event to raise awareness and support for children with special needs as a power-play to stymie their protest.

- Analyst Devadas Krishnadas



I am going to come right out and say this. If my daughter, Faith, who has autism, or any of my kids, had been on stage performing that day at the YMCA event, and Roy Ngerng, Han Hui Hui and gang came over to disrupt the proceedings, I would have taken their signs and placards and shoved the lot up their collective arses.

- mrbrown





Hong Lim Park fracas: Kids' parents don't want to meet blogger Roy Ngerng
Protest co-leader seeking to apologise to special needs children and parents
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 30 Sep 2014

PARENTS of a special needs group whose performance at Hong Lim Park was disrupted by protesters from an adjacent event are declining to meet the protesters' co-leader Roy Ngerng, who wants to apologise to them and their children.

Mr Ngerng, 33, part of a group of protesters who marched last Saturday through a charity carnival and scared special needs children and adults performing on stage, had e-mailed the event's organiser asking if he could get in touch with the children and their parents in order to apologise.

Mr Lo Chee Wen, general secretary of the YMCA, which organised the carnival, confirmed that Mr Ngerng's e-mail had been received. He did not disclose its contents, but said the YMCA would consult the parents on whether they were agreeable to a meeting.

But last night, Madam Regina Aun, manager of Y Stars, the group whose performance was disrupted, told The Straits Times they would decline to meet Mr Ngerng.

"I've consulted the parents, and all of them are not in favour. I've read his interpretation of the sequence of events on his blog, and I don't agree with some of his explanations," said Madam Aun, 55.

The protesters, for one thing, did not move away upon realising the performers were on stage, she said. The performance had to be re-started when the children, shocked by the rowdy crowd, faltered before the protesters left.

In a blogpost on Sunday afternoon, Mr Ngerng said he planned to ask YMCA if he could meet the affected children and apologise to them and their parents.

"What we did could have caused the children stress... This would allow us to mend bridges with YMCA. On my side, there are no hard feelings," he said. "YMCA might have been retooled for a political purpose at the protest, but there are good people at the YMCA."

Mr Ngerng, who is facing a defamation suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also posted a YouTube video defending the march and hitting out at politicians who had criticised the protesters.

He and blogger Han Hui Hui, 22, spoke at a rally on Central Provident Fund issues at Hong Lim Park last Saturday, the same day as the YMCA's annual Proms @ the Park event.

The events were allocated different spaces at the park.

But several hundred people from the rally marched through the carnival, disrupting it and frightening the performers. Some also confronted Minister of State (Trade and Industry) Teo Ser Luck, the guest of honour.

In Facebook posts yesterday, Mr Teo called on Mr Ngerng to make good on his offer to apologise to the children.

"Since Roy Ngerng offered the apology, it's a step forward. I think he should, especially for the children," he said in one post.



In an earlier post, he had dismissed Mr Ngerng's contention that he "didn't know what was going on on the stage".

Mr Teo said: "Does it matter? What you have done frightened these children! You spoilt the day for these children with special needs who were looking forward to an enjoyable outing! For sure you have to apologise and more!"

That post garnered over 1,000 likes and 300 comments.

Mr Teo also apologised on Facebook to the YMCA: "The protesters were going after me but it affected the children and the event. For this I feel sorry and would apologise to YMCA and the children for this inconvenience caused because of my presence."





NParks: No previous incidents with multiple events
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 30 Sep 2014

BEFORE the turn of events at Hong Lim Park last Saturday, multiple gatherings - even those with clashing agendas - had been held on the same date with "no adverse or disorderly incidents", the National Parks Board (NParks) said last night.

These included the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community's Pink Dot picnic, an anti-haze speech and a protest against the Cross-Island MRT Line on June 29 last year. A picnic to promote community bonding and a protest against the Population White Paper were also held on May 1 last year.

Citing such examples, an NParks spokesman said there were no untoward incidents as groups "showed consideration and respect... despite their different views and agendas".

When more than one application is received, NPark's approach has been to allow participants to share the space, the spokesman added.

Any Singaporean can apply to hold an event as long as the activities "are not unlawful or incite feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between different racial or religious groups".

Last Saturday's events - the Return Our CPF rally and a YMCA charity event - were allocated separate lawns which were clearly demarcated.

Said the spokesman: "Unfortunately, members from the Return Our CPF rally refused to conduct their activities in their designated area... They noisily disrupted the charity event by chanting and waving Singapore flags and marching around the site. Their conduct caused alarm and anxiety to a group of special needs children who were about to perform a dance item on stage and left some of these children as well as elderly members of the audience shocked and traumatised."





Find better ways to share views

THE recent chaos at Hong Lim Park was disconcerting ("Chaos at Hong Lim Park charity carnival"; Sunday).

By hijacking a charity event and heckling its participants, the "Return our CPF" protesters showed a complete lack of consideration.

The justifications they provided - including the appearance of a junior minister - were void of logic.

Just because the protesters did not receive the crowd they were hoping for does not give them the right to disrupt another event to publicise their cause.

In future, I hope permit-holders will engage in more respectful behaviour, freely using Hong Lim Park to conduct their public speeches, demonstrations and events without encroaching on the right of others to bolster their causes.

More importantly, the actions of these protesters must not detract from the ongoing discussion on making the Central Provident Fund model work better for all Singaporeans.

I hope the protesters can find a more constructive manner to share their views and contribute their suggestions on alternative models that could enhance the CPF scheme for us all.

Thara Rubini Gopalan (Miss)
ST Forum, 2 Oct 2014





Plans to ensure no repeat of Hong Lim Park fracas
Authorities may meet organisers in advance if they need to share space
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 4 Oct 2014

THE police and National Parks Board (NParks) will consider measures to ensure that last Saturday's incident in Hong Lim Park, when two groups staged events there, will not recur.

There was no immediate information on what these might be, but a statement to The Straits Times, in response to questions on how applications for multiple events on the same day are handled, said: "To mitigate potential public order incidents, the Singapore Police Force and NParks may put in place appropriate measures or engage organisers prior to the event to explain the rules and regulations, remind them to act responsibly, observe NParks' regulations and abide by the laws."

It added that applications for multiple events on the same day are dealt with on a first come, first served basis.

"We have not needed to allocate the space previously and there had been no adverse or disorderly incidents. This is because the groups showed consideration and respect for each other, despite their different views and agendas," the statement said.

Last Saturday was the first time a disorderly incident had occurred at the 6,000 sq m Hong Lim Park since the Speakers' Corner was set up there in 2000.

A group which attended a Return Our CPF rally organised by activist Han Hui Hui, 22, proceeded to march around the park, and encroached on the space of a charity carnival staged by the YMCA in an adjacent part of the park.

In the statement, NParks and the police said that in anticipation of the crowds last Saturday, they decided that instead of leaving the organisers to share the space, "it would be prudent to allocate them separate lawns instead".

"YMCA was allocated one lawn to hold their charity event. The adjacent lawn was allocated for Ms Han Hui Hui who had applied to speak. The two separate spaces were clearly demarcated. Unfortunately, Ms Han's group did not heed our advice and continued to hold her event at the same lawn as YMCA's."

NParks said previously that there were occasions when more than one event was held without incident. These included the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community's Pink Dot picnic, an anti-haze speech and a protest against the Cross-Island MRT Line on June 29 last year.

Last Saturday's incident is being investigated by the police.

Data released yesterday showed the number of applications for using Speakers' Corner for speeches, demonstrations, public performances and exhibitions. There were 89 applications from January to July this year, 169 last year, 98 in 2012, 85 in 2011, 103 in 2010 and 129 in 2009.





Learning to share public space
Editorial, The Straits Times, 4 Oct 2014

IN THE wake of the disturbance caused by Central Provident Fund rally protesters at Hong Lim Park, outraged citizens have urged the authorities to bar multiple gatherings and all "social or family-oriented" events from being held there when there is risk of a clash. Whether or not special needs children were heckled, the protesters' overall conduct was so egregiously bad that few would think the public censure that followed was overdone. However, the corrective measures that have been suggested warrant deeper reflection as they invoke larger considerations.

An argument for "Speakers' Corner" to be reserved for just speakers and protesters would ironically make a public space with a long history less public by progressively limiting its uses by fiat. Bequeathed to all by a philanthropist, it is a space that all should be free to use, in the spirit of greater inclusion, access and participation. This would create room, too, for the expression of alternative ideas and the projection of non-mainstream movements.

Yet when taken to its natural conclusion, any public space so conceived could become an arena of conflict when all choose to act as they see fit, with scant regard for others. The incident at Hong Lim Park last weekend, as an instance of a descent to the lowest common denominator, highlights the need for agreement on how and who should set certain limits to and resolve the dilemmas of the shared use of a public space.

Public order and safety, of course, are always overriding concerns whether a park is made available for gatherings or a street is pedestrianised. There is no question that some rules will have to be drawn up for these purposes and enforced fairly so one person's or group's use is not to the detriment of others.

Beyond these rules are social norms of sharing public spaces that should be made more explicit and not be taken lightly. Mutual respect and reciprocity are paramount if citizens are to avoid the brutish interactions that can follow when social callousness goes unchecked in such spaces. It is not asking too much to expect unvarying civility whether airing strong views or promoting a deeply-held cause. In sum, there are roles the law, the community and the individual must all play to safeguard the appealing characteristics of a shared commons.

A parallel dilemma in cyberspace has proven to be stubbornly vexing given the difficulties of effectively curbing hacking, flaming, trolling, rumour-mongering, harassing and bullying via the Internet. In both cases, those using these shared public commons must learn that they have a duty to protect the space for all, if everyone is to continue to enjoy access to it.





Hong Lim protest leader questioned by police
Blogger interviewed for seven hours over protest that disrupted YMCA charity carnival
By Danson Cheong, The Sunday Times, 12 Oct 2014

Local blogger Han Hui Hui was questioned by police for seven hours on Friday over a protest she led at Hong Lim Park that disrupted a charity carnival last month, the police confirmed yesterday.

But they countered online reports that officers turned up at her home at midnight the night before, or that she was not allowed to eat during her interview.

In a statement last night, a police spokesman said Ms Han is among "several persons" involved in the incident who are currently assisting them in investigations. The probe has been ongoing since a police report was lodged on Sept 27, the day the protest was held.

Ms Han, a 22-year-old blogger and activist, had led several hundred people into another part of Hong Lim Park where a YMCA charity carnival was being held, frightening some special needs children who were performing on stage.

The police spokesman said officers visited Ms Han's home on Thursday at about 9.30pm to inform her of the interview "after she did not answer... telephone calls".

Since Ms Han was not home, the notice of her interview appointment at the Central Police Division was handed to a family member, the spokesman added.

Ms Han called the division at 11pm the same night to reschedule her appointment to 8pm on Friday. But at 1.45pm on Friday, she called to say she would show up soon.

"She subsequently turned up at about 2.30pm and arrangements were made to accommodate her schedule," the spokesman said. The interview ended at about 9.30pm.

"During the interview, Ms Han was provided with refreshments. She took several breaks but she declined an offer to take a break for dinner," the spokesman added.

The police were responding to media queries after online reports surfaced that Ms Han had been visited at her home by police officers at midnight on Thursday.

The reports also claimed Ms Han had arrived at the police station at 2pm and was made to wait for half an hour before being questioned until 10pm. They added that she was not given any food and was prevented from leaving for dinner.

In addition, Ms Han was quoted as saying a notebook she was using to take notes was taken away, and that she was not allowed to call her lawyer M. Ravi.

In the statement yesterday, the police spokesman reiterated that no one has been arrested in connection with the Sept 27 protest.

It is understood that police have not been able to contact the protesters' co-leader Roy Ngerng as he was out of the country.

Mr Ravi told The Sunday Times he intended to write to the police to ask why Ms Han's notebook was taken.





Police 'have the right to hold notebook'
By Tham Yuen-C, The Straits Times, 17 Oct 2014

POLICE yesterday returned to blogger Han Hui Hui her notebook and said they were acting within their powers in retaining it as part of an investigation.

The notebook was taken from Ms Han, 22, last Friday when she was questioned over a Sept 27 protest in Hong Lim Park that disrupted a YMCA charity carnival.

Both events were held at the same venue but in different areas of the park.

Responding to a query from The Straits Times, a police spokesman said that under Section 35(1)(c) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the police had a right to seize any item "suspected to constitute evidence of an offence".

But the notebook was given back to Ms Han, as the police no longer needed it for investigations, the spokesman added.

Earlier, Ms Han's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, had said in a statement e-mailed to the media that the police had overstepped their powers. He had sent a letter of demand to the police on Tuesday, saying the notebook was private property and should not have been seized.

It contains notes Ms Han took when she was being questioned by the police, which Mr Ravi said were considered "privileged legal communication".

But this was refuted by the police in a letter to Mr Ravi, who released it to the media.

The police wrote: "Your client's notebook is not a document covered by legal professional privilege. Notwithstanding this, the police (are) of the view that it will not be necessary to retain the notebook any further for investigation."

Ms Han, and several others, have been questioned over their involvement in the fracas at Hong Lim Park.

She was the organiser of the protest, and had led a few hundred people in a march around the park, encroaching on the lawn where the charity carnival was held and frightening some children with special needs who were performing on stage.

It is understood that the police tried to contact the protest's co-leader, Mr Roy Ngerng, last week but he was not in Singapore.

On Wednesday this week, he said in a Facebook post that he was in Malaysia attending a conference.





Six in Hong Lim Park fracas face public nuisance charges
By Rachel Au-yong And Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 25 Oct 2014

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.





No Speakers' Corner permits for those facing charges
By Rachel Au-yong, The Straits Times, 25 Oct 2014

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.





Hong Lim protest: Six charged with being public nuisance
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 28 Oct 2014

SIX people, including activist Han Hui Hui and blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, were yesterday charged with committing a public nuisance act at Hong Lim Park last month which disrupted a charity carnival.

Han, 23, and Ngerng, 33, were also charged with organising a demonstration without approval.

The duo appeared in court dressed in white: Ngerng in a white long-sleeved shirt and pants, and Han in an all-white outfit paired with white spectacles and a white hairband.

The other four, each facing one charge of being a public nuisance, are Janet Low Wai Choo, 54; Chua Siew Leng, 42; Goh Aik Huat, 41; and Ivan Koh Yew Beng, 59.

Koh owns an apparel manufacturing company, according to official company records. There was no immediate information on the occupations of the rest.

All six are accused of disrupting the YMCA Proms @ The Park event, which was held at Hong Lim Park at the same time on Sept 27 as the Return Our CPF rally co-organised by Han and Ngerng.

The group allegedly marched around the general vicinity of the carnival, shouted, chanted slogans, waved flags, held placards, blew whistles and beat drums.

These were done "in furtherance of the common intention... to disrupt the YMCA event", thereby causing annoyance to the public, said the charge sheet.

The six are represented by lawyer M. Ravi, who asked for more information to be shared via the pre-trial Criminal Case Management System. This is where the defence and prosecution meet, without a judge present, to discuss a case frankly and in private.

Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu agreed to Mr Ravi's request. The case is adjourned until Nov 24 for a pre-trial conference.

Mr Ravi told reporters that his clients were anxious initially. "But now, they have been briefed on the law and are much calmer."

Eight others were investigated by the police over the Sept 27 protest. Five were given conditional warnings and the outcome of the probe on the remaining three is pending.

A person guilty of being a public nuisance can be fined up to $1,000. Organising a demonstration without approval carries a maximum fine of $5,000.

The law requires anyone wanting to organise a demonstration to get approval from the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.





* Blogger fined for organising rally, being a public nuisance
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 8 Oct 2015

Blogger Roy Ngerng Yi Ling yesterday pleaded guilty to co-organising a protest rally at Hong Lim Park without approval on Sept 27 last year, and for disrupting a charity carnival being held at the park then.

He was fined a total of $1,900 - $400 for being a public nuisance, and $1,500 for organising a demonstration without approval - by District Judge Liew Thiam Leng.

The 34-year-old blogger, who contested Ang Mo Kio GRC under the Reform Party banner at the recent General Election, is the second of six protesters charged with causing a public nuisance to plead guilty.

Ms Chua Siew Leng, 43, who does not hold a regular job, pleaded guilty in March. She was fined $300.

The cases against the other four accused - two of whom also contested the recent polls - have been fixed for a joint trial next week.

Han Hui Hui, 24, who contested Radin Mas SMC as an independent candidate, faces the same two charges as Mr Ngerng.

Janet Low Wai Choo, 55, who contested Chua Chu Kang GRC with the People's Power Party, faces one charge of being a public nuisance. The other two are Goh Aik Huat, 42, and Ivan Koh Yew Beng, 60.



Asked by reporters after the hearing if he would continue in opposition politics, Mr Ngerng said: "At this point, I am going to focus on putting food on the table."

At the election, his team got 21.36 per cent of the votes in Ang Mo Kio GRC .

The six are accused of disrupting the YMCA Proms @ The Park charity event for children with special needs, which was held at Hong Lim Park at the same time as the Return Our CPF protest rally.

They grew "more emotive" when Minister of State Teo Ser Luck, the YMCA event's main guest, arrived at the park. They marched four times around the general vicinity of the YMCA event, shouting loudly, chanting slogans, waving flags, holding placards, blowing whistles loudly and beating drums.

Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu said yesterday that although approval was granted for them to give a "speech" at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park, they had not applied for approval to organise a demonstration.

In mitigation, Mr Ngerng's lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said his client has contributed to society by, for example, teaching autistic children and volunteering with special needs children for three years.

He added that Mr Ngerng believed there was no need for further approval to demonstrate, and that his actions were fuelled by a "genuine belief" that he was speaking up on a matter of public interest.

Mr Ngerng could have been fined up to $1,000 for being a public nuisance, and up to $5,000 for holding a demonstration without approval.















** Blogger Han Hui Hui fined $3,100 for role in Hong Lim Park rally

She co-organised Hong Lim Park rally and did so without approval
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 28 Jun 2016

Activist and blogger Han Hui Hui was yesterday fined a total of $3,100 for co-organising a protest rally to disrupt a charity event at Hong Lim Park, and organising a demonstration without approval.

The 24-year-old was convicted together with Koh Yew Beng, 61, and Low Wai Choo, 56, after a seven-day trial.

Koh and Low were each fined $450 for committing a public nuisance at the YMCA Proms @ the Park event on Sept 27, 2014.

Only Low paid the fine. Han and Koh have not paid their fines, pending the outcome of their appeals.

Last October, blogger Roy Ngerng, 35, was fined a total of $1,900 - $400 for being a public nuisance, and $1,500 for organising a demonstration without approval.

Chua Siew Leng, 43, was fined $300 in March last year while Goh Aik Huat, 43, was given a conditional warning after an apology.


Convicting Han of the unauthorised demonstration offence, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said in his brief grounds of decision that he was satisfied that Han had organised the Return Our CPF protest rally that day to protest against the existing CPF rules.

He said the evidence proved Han knew beforehand that Minister of State Teo Ser Luck would be the guest of honour at the YMCA event. She rallied her Facebook readers to go to the CPF event to protest.

The video evidence showed that during the CPF event at Speakers' Corner, she and others, including Low, made vitriolic speeches to denounce the Government and various government policies.

The judge rejected Han's defence that she was not the organiser of the demonstration or that she had no control over the protesters. He found she did not have the approval of the authorities to organise a demonstration nor applied for one.

Judge Chay said the video evidence clearly showed the demonstrators, led by Han and including the two other accused, marched four times round Hong Lim Park. They chanted loudly and used various implements to generate noise.

The demonstrators intruded and bulldozed their way into the areas occupied by the organisers and participants of the YMCA event, and disrupted the performances, the judge said.

"The height of the disruption occurred during a performance by a group of special needs children who were visibly affected and distraught," he said.

He also rejected the defence argument that their acts did not amount to public nuisance because these were committed within Speakers' Corner. He said the argument was fallacious as they had marched beyond the boundaries of Speakers' Corner.

"This is a case where, ironically and regrettably, the accused persons while ostensibly championing the rights of a class of persons, did so by blithely trampling on the rights of another group of persons," he said.

The maximum fine for committing a public nuisance is $1,000. For breaching the Parks and Trees Regulations, Han could have been fined up to $5,000.



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