Photo from Alamy

The Singapore government stepped up on its thought-control regimie by demanding for a work permit of a Hongkong-based video conferencing participant who joined a local discussion on democracy.

If the Singapore government get its way, all overseas video conference participants will have to submit an application for work permit before they are allowed conferencing discussions. The Singapore Police however did not state which legislation that the video conference event infringe, and appears to have made the arrest on “suspicion”.

Singapore’s democracy activist Jolovan Wham was hauled for police investigation after Hong Kong democrat Joshua Wong participated in a local public forum via Skype on Nov 26. The hour-long forum was attended by a small group of local community members and even though its discussion was broadcast live on Facebook, the event did not garner significant public interest.

In a media response, Jolovan Wham said that he did not have the permit and was not aware that a video conference require such documentations only for onshore participants:

“My co-organiser Rachel Zeng and I went ahead anyway because it was a harmless and straightforward discussion about social movements.”

Jolovan Wham and his co-organiser face a jail term or fine. Under dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore has been actively prosecuting and arresting government critics, writers, artists and pro-democracy activists. Till date, writer Roy Ngerng was sued for S$150,000 in defamation, artist Leslie Chew was arrested for his “offensive graphics”, two The Real Singapore writers, Ai Takagi and Yang Kai Heng, were jailed 8 and 10 months, Youtube film-maker Amos Yee sought asylum in US last week.