By Phyllis Lee
Last Sunday evening (3 September), freelance journalist and activist Kirsten Han announced that she was summoned for the investigation of “an offence of Taking Part in a Public Assembly without a Permit” in a Facebook post.
This is because she was present at a vigil held for Malaysian Prabagaran Srivijayan, who was hanged on 14 July. The rest of the attendees also received the same summons.
Last evening (6 September), she made another update – the attendees who received the summons have been slapped with a travel ban without even being informed about it.
Han pointed out that neither the summon letters, nor the police officers who went to their doors to hand them the letters had brought up the travel restriction.
The attendees only found out about it when chief editor of The Online Citizen Terry Xu, who also received the summons, was stopped at the Woodlands Checkpoint when he attempted to leave Singapore yesterday. He gave a full recount of the incident here.
Han also said there was a chance that they would still be barred from leaving the country even after the official questioning.
Although they were not arrested or charged, it seems that the attendees have been subjected to bail conditions.
In her Facebook post, Han concluded:
“I am aware that our restrictive public assembly laws allow the police to classify a peaceful vigil held out of compassion and solidarity as an illegal assembly. But when the laws are so broad – and the police powers so extensive – then I am concerned about a chilling effect that deters Singaporeans from being active, engaged citizens and participating in civil and political life. This, ultimately, will not benefit Singapore as our society grapples with present and future challenges.”