SINGAPORE: The website New Naratif "clearly has a political agenda", and its political activities in Singapore "would appear to be funded by a number of foreigners", said the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in a media release on Thursday (Apr 12).
It was responding to an earlier statement by New Naratif which said that ACRA's allegations of foreign influence in the website are "unfounded".
The website is linked to OSEA, a company that historian Thum Ping Tjin and freelance journalist Kirsten Han had sought to register in Singapore. The application to register the company was rejected by ACRA on the grounds that it was contrary to Singapore's national interests.
In its media release on Thursday, ACRA noted that New Naratif's statement confirmed that it received a grant from Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) or Open Society Foundation (OSF), which was founded by George Soros.
ACRA also noted New Naratif's mention in the statement that it received funding from "over 420 members in 17 different countries”.
"In other words, its political activities in Singapore would appear to be funded by a number of foreigners – not only foreign entities like OSF but also citizens of foreign countries," said ACRA.
It added that New Naratif, apart from its online activities, is known to have organised discussion fora, workshops and other events in Singapore, such as “democracy classroom” sessions.
"Indeed, the application to register OSEA specifically mentioned the organisation of fora, workshops and other events as its aim, aside from providing editorial services to New Naratif," ACRA said.
"New Naratif clearly has a political agenda, and is not simply 'a platform for journalism, research, art or community building'," it added.
ACRA also said the fact that New Naratif's foreign donors may not be involved in the day-to-day running of the website or its other activities in Singapore "does not detract from the fact that the registration of OSEA would amount to allowing a foreign entity or foreigners to fund and influence political activities in Singapore".
“This is contrary to Singapore’s national interests,” the authority reiterated.
The applicants who had sought to register OSEA have 30 days to appeal against ACRA’s rejection.