Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Written for The Diplomat

Singapore’s intolerance of dissent was put into the spotlight this month when authorities briefly detained a prominent activist for organizing “illegal assemblies.”

According to the police, activist Jolovan Wham committed seven offenses for participating in a candle lighting vigil outside a prison complex, organizing a silent protest inside a train, and conducting a forum whose speakers included Hong Kong pro-democracy leader, Joshua Wong, speaking via Skype.

Meanwhile, Wham’s case is being closely monitored by many because a conviction could inspire the police to pursue other “recalcitrant” activists, especially those who have been consistently demanding political reforms in the PAP-led government. But the overwhelming support received by Wham from various groups and institutions inside and outside of Singapore should also make the government rethink its policies and recent decisions that directly and indirectly suppress contrary voices.

If not, then authorities are only provoking more citizens to perform acts of “recalcitrance,” which could broaden into a movement capable of weakening or even dislodging the PAP in the next election.

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