Jolovan Wham – Saint or Sinner?

Jolowan Wham (and Kristen Han) has been in the news recently. Whether it is good or bad, will depend on which side of the fence you sit on.

To some, he is the face of democracy. To others, he is a pain in the ass attention-seeker a la Amos Yee. To help us decide, let’s break-down Jolovan’s actions to decide if he is Saint or Sinner by looking at what Jolovan believe in.

An online look back at Jolovan’s life reveals that he believes in a lot of things. Jolovan champions migrant workers’ rights. In fact, he was the former executive director of HOME, a migrant worker advocacy group.

Jolovan champions free speech in Hong Kong (don’t ask me what this has to do with Singapore). He organised a protest at The Agora for Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi Fung to speak. Jolovan champions against UMNO (again don’t ask me why) and staged a protest a Hong Lim Park. Jolovan champions the abolishing of Singapore’s Internal Security Act (ISA) and staged a protest on an MRT train. Jolovan also champions the abolishing of the death penalty in Singapore and organised a candle light vigil at Changi Prison. The list goes on and on. In short, Jolovan champions many things.

To me, Jolovan is not an activist as he stands for nothing. True activists have one cause and they champion that. To me, Jolovan is a simple a serial protester (masquerading as an activist) and will essentially do anything for his 15 mins of fame. With that as the context, let us look at the actions that the Police have taken.

Number 1. The Police have charged him for against his actions (breaking the law) and not his words or what he so-called protested against. This is an important distinction as Jolovan could easily have carried out his protest at Hong Lim Park without incident. But we guess, this would not bring him his 15 mins of fame.

Number 2. The Police have no choice but to enforce the law. If Jolovan is allowed to get a free pass, then the country will be in anarchy. Interesting, not acting against Jolovan is not an option for the police as such inaction can construed as accession by the Police and embolden further lawbreaking. In fact, police inaction would set a precedent which would be cited by other law-breakers to justify further inaction.

Number 3. The Courts are independent of the Government. In fact, Jolovan has even cited the Court’s ruling on the legal implications of the “stern warning” (and “conditional warning”) which he received from the police. As such, if Jolovan believes that the Courts are independent, why continue to break the law. He can always take the judicial approach to champion his cause (once he really decides what that is) So, in answer to the question of whether Jolovan Wham is Saint or Sinner, we believe he is the latter.

Jolovan is not an activist in the true sense of the word as he does not champion a specific cause. In my opinion, Jolovan is an attention-seeker that deliberately breaks the law to seek attention. I will not be surprised if he follows in the footsteps of Amos Yee and crowd-funds money for his self-inflicted legal battles.


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