Activist summoned over Singapore vigil for Prabagaran

Kirsten Han
Kirsten Han

PETALING JAYA: An activist and freelance journalist has been summoned over her participation in a candlelight vigil in Singapore for Malaysian S Prabagaran, who was hanged in the city state about two months ago.

Kirsten Han had attended the vigil outside Changi Prison on July 13, the night before Prabagaran was hanged.

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In a Facebook post yesterday, she said the small group had put up photos of the 29-year-old and lit tea lights. About 15 minutes later, however, police officers arrived on the scene and told them they were not allowed to light candles or put up photos, and that the objects would have to be confiscated.

“We complied – we blew out the candles and handed them over (after a little while, because they were hot).

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“We were then told that we could stay outside the prison as long as we didn’t light candles or set up any more photos,” she said.

On Sept 3, however, two police officers showed up at her house and handed her a letter saying that they were investigating an offence of “taking part in a public assembly without a permit”.

The letter also summoned Han to present herself for questioning as she “may be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case”.

Han said she was not able to make the time scheduled in the letter but was told by the officers that it would be possible to reschedule.

“I understand that it is the police’s duty to protect law and order and to uphold the laws of our country.

“But when a simple, non-violent, quiet vigil for a man about to be hanged by the state is deemed an illegal assembly worthy of a police investigation, perhaps it is time to think about whether we are striking the right balance between public order, freedom of assembly and compassion,” she said.

Prabagaran was convicted for drug trafficking in Singapore and hanged after the country’s Court of Appeal dismissed his application to stay his execution.

He was convicted in 2012 after 22.24g of diamorphine, a pure form of heroin, was found in his car at the Singaporean immigration checkpoint as he tried to enter the country.

However, he maintained his innocence, claiming that he did not own the car he drove and was not aware of the drugs being in it.

Earlier this year, he turned to the Malaysian courts to compel the government to start legal proceedings against Singapore before an international tribunal for denying him a fair trial.

On March 24, Prabagaran failed to obtain leave at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to compel the Malaysian government to start proceedings against Singapore.

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