Permit required for foreign entities to fund, support Speakers' Corner events

Permit required for foreign entities to fund, support Speakers' Corner events

"The Government’s position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature,” the Ministry of Home Affairs says.

The crowd at Hong Lim Park for a Pink Dot event. (Photo: Monica Kotwani)

SINGAPORE: Foreign entities will need a permit before they can fund or support events like Pink Dot held at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park.

In a press release issued on Friday (Oct 21), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that such entities will have to apply for a permit to organise or assist in the organising of events held there, such as by sponsoring, publicly promoting, or organising its members or employees to participate in the event.

The existing exemptions for Singapore citizens in applying for permits will now be extended to Singapore entities such as local companies and non-governmental organisations, subject to the conditions in the Public Order (Unrestricted Area) Order 2016.

A Singapore entity is defined as an entity which is incorporated or registered here, and controlled by a majority of Singapore citizens. In the case of a company, it must be incorporated under the Companies Act, the majority of its directors must be Singaporeans and the majority of its ownership must be held by Singaporeans or one or more Singapore entities.

MHA said the amendments it will make to the Order, which will come info effect on Nov 1, “reinforce the key principle” that the Speakers’ Corner was set up primarily for Singaporeans.

“The Government’s position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature,” it said.

PINK DOT’S CORPORATE SPONSORS

The announcement comes after the ministry said in June that it would take steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund or support events held at Speakers’ Corner, including the annual Pink Dot event in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

The event had 18 corporate sponsors this year. Majority were foreign, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP and Twitter.

MHA said then that no action would be taken against the foreign companies that sponsored the event this year. It also said that its stance on foreign entities applies not only to events like Pink Dot that advocate the LGBT cause, but also those that oppose the LGBT cause.

CONDITIONS EXTENDED TO REMOTE SPEAKING

On Friday, MHA also said the conditions for public speaking at the Speakers’ Corner will be extended to include speaking through remote means such as tele-conferencing or pre-recorded messages.

Currently, only Singaporeans can engage in public speaking at such events. They will continue to be exempted from the need to apply for a permit for speaking through remote means. Foreigners who want to do so will have to apply for a permit from the police.

The rules for exempted indoor assemblies under the Public Order (Exempted Assemblies and Processions) Order 2009 will also be amended to be consistent with the revised rules for exempt events at the Speakers’ Corner, the ministry said.

Source: CNA/cy

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