Jolovan Wham Ordered To Pay $6,063 Costs To Attorney-General After Failed Attempt To Quash Police Warning Against Him

Civil activist Jolovan Wham has been ordered to pay S$6,063 in costs to the Attorney-General for his failed bid to quash a police warning that had been issued against him.

The police warning came after Mr Wham breached rules against foreigners participating in events at Hong Lim Park without a permit, several years ago.

The member of non-governmental group Community Action Network and executive director of HOME, a migrant worker help group, had organised a candlelight vigil to show support for protestors in Hong Kong fighting election restrictions in October 2014.

The event was publicised on Facebook, but despite the condition that foreigners and permanent residents could not take part without a permit, some foreigners still showed up, leading to investigations against Mr Wham.

In March last year, under the direction of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), Mr Wham was verbally warned.

However, he refused to sign the Notice of Warning without having a copy to consult his lawyer first. The police declined to give him a copy of the document.

Two months later, the police followed up with a letter saying the warning had been delivered and the matter closed.

Concerned that the warning would stick in his record and be used against him in future, Mr Wham went to court to try to quash the police warning under a judicial review.

In dismissing his suit last December, High Court judge Woo Bih Li said that such warnings are nothing more than an opinion of the relevant authority that the recipient has committed an offence, and have no legal effect on the recipient.

“It does not and cannot amount to a legally binding pronouncement of guilt or finding of fact.

“Only a court of law has the power to make such a pronouncement or finding,” the judge had said.

The court is not entitled to treat such warnings as antecedents or aggravating factors for subsequent convictions, Justice Woo said in dismissing the suit.

The judge also said the police’s handling of the matter had left much to be desired, while noting, among other things, that the Notice of Warning was undated and employed inconsistent wording.

After the court issued its judgment in December last year, a spokesman for the AGC said: “AGC and the Singapore Police Force are reviewing the process by which stern warnings are administered and the use of the notice, in light of the High Court’s comments in the judgment.”



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