Jacob Lau Jian Rong, 24, pleaded guilty to organising the event in support of the Million Mask March on Nov 5 in opposition to new regulations for Internet sites, which the Media Development Authority (MDA) rolled out last May. Under the new framework, some online news sites require individual licences to operate.
The prosecution said Lau proceeded with the offence despite a police advisory which was issued earlier that day.
The police had advised the public that it was illegal to organise or take part in a public assembly without a permit.
The Million Mask March, an online movement which calls for 24-hour protests around the globe to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day, was promoted here though social media platforms, including a Facebook page titled Million Mask March Singapore.
The march was originally scheduled to take place at Hong Lim Park on the morning of Nov 5, but it did not materialise.
Inspired by the discontentment expressed online, Lau initiated another march at 7pm that day and rounded up participants via a post on the event page. The post drew around 143 comments.
At 7.25pm that day, Lau arrived at the entrance of City Hall MRT Station and met nine others, who were dressed mostly in red and black. One of them even donned a Guy Fawkes mask.
The group was arrested before they could move off. A total of 14 Guy Fawkes masks were seized from the group.
The prosecution said Lau had no intention to comply with the advisory and had “acted irresponsibly and blatantly” in organising the activity which was “potentially causing disruptions to public order”.
Lau’s lawyer Amarjeet Singh pleaded for probation as Lau was intending to apply for further studies. Judge Chay Yuen Fatt denied the request.
Lau now works as a bank teller after he lost his previous job as a claims officer. He could have been fined up to S$5,000 for the offence under the Public Order Act.
His attempt to organise the illegal march followed a string of protests against the MDA’s Internet licensing regulations.
On Oct 31 last year, a video, allegedly made by the international hacker collective, Anonymous, threatened to unleash cyberattacks against the Government for restricting Internet freedom.
In the week following the video’s release, at least 19 government websites were either made inaccessible, or had their front pages defaced with mocking messages.