CARE’s Activist-in-Residence Jolovan Wham has surrendered himself to serve a 1 week jail sentence today, March 31 2020, for criticising Singapore’s judiciary.
In his statement posted on Facebook, Jolovan voiced:
“I’m doing this in lieu of a 5k fine because I do not recognise the legitimacy of the judgment and the law, both of which are unjust.
It should never be an offence to speak your truth. Decades of oppression and persecution have resulted in the normalisation of fear. It is so normalised that we have become indifferent to injustice, especially political injustice and threats to our civil rights. We have shrugged it off so much that over time, we’ve become numb to it, instead of feeling outraged.
If we can’t speak up, assemble freely, and campaign without looking over our shoulders, the reforms we want can only be done on the terms of those in power. We will have to wait for when they are ready. All this could take years, decades, or never at all. Or we can only pick issues which are considered ‘low hanging fruit.
All the levers of change are controlled and those who don’t follow the script are persecuted. We are so muted, we can only plead, but never make our demands as equals.
Acts of non-violent resistance and disobedience has to be one of the tools we use to open up our already shrinking civil and political space and to empower ourselves. It often starts with one person, or a small group of people, but over time, with persistence and repetition of action, the space will enlarge and we will progress, one step at a time.
We need to speak our truths, and to do so, we should refuse to fear. I refuse to be complicit in the diminishment of my spirit: resistance is no longer a choice in a system determined to de-humanise you.
There should be a role for those who not only negotiate the boundaries but transgress them. Not everyone can take this position and I understand those who can’t because the costs may be high; my privilege, on the other hand, allows me to take greater risks, and for that I am grateful.”
Sharing below an interview conducted by Professor Mohan Dutta with Jolovan on the topic of authoritarian repression and strategies for social change. Also sharing Jolovan’s public talk as activist-in-residence at CARE. CARE stands with you in solidarity, because as you say so eloquently, “Those of us who can risk it, should. Those who can’t, should show their support, because solidarity is the first step to change.”