SINGAPORE: The police confirmed on Wednesday (Jun 24) that an application for a “one-man public procession” from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) to be held from Friday to Sunday was rejected.
“SDP’s event is cause-based, and therefore requires a permit,” the police said in response to queries from CNA.
SDP’s secretary-general Chee Soon Juan said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the police had rejected the party’s application for the event called “Walk The Talk”, during which Dr Chee would “traverse the island on foot” to raise funds for his party.
He added that he had conducted a similar fundraiser in 2015, and provided the reasons given to him by the police.
“Given the prevailing health situation and safe distancing measures in Phase 2 of post-circuit breaker, the police has not granted, and will not be granting, permits for any public assemblies or processions, regardless of the cause, whether political or non-political in nature, and regardless of the size of the participating group,” a Singapore Police Force spokesperson said.
He added that “cause-based activities, even if carried out by one individual, might cause crowds to gather, and put the public and participants at higher risk of COVID-19 infection”.
The police spokesperson said that SDP had previously applied for a permit to conduct such an event from Apr 3 to 5 this year, and that the police had issued the permit to SDP on Mar 24. The prevailing COVID-19 safe distancing guideline at the time was that only events and gatherings with 250 or more participants in attendance at any one time had to be suspended.
“On Apr 1, 2020, SDP informed the Police that they had decided to postpone the event,” he said.
In his post, Dr Chee questioned the difference between the event and him conducting a walkabout.
“If the authorities are afraid of activities that might cause crowds to gather during the COVID pandemic, why call for elections now?” he asked.
“The rejection of our application further curtails our effort to raise funds for our General Election campaign,” he said, urging Singaporeans to contribute to the SDP campaign.
The police said that political parties and their members can continue with their usual meet-and-greet sessions, “which had been going on even before the COVID-19 crisis, so long as they adhere to the prevailing safe distancing measures”.
The spokesperson added that as announced by the Elections Department earlier in June, for the upcoming General Election, political parties and candidates may conduct walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning as long as safety measures are observed.
“This balances health concerns and ensuring that voters have access to the campaigning messages of political parties and candidates, so that they can make an informed choice,” he said.