SINGAPORE: In light of new rules that could curb foreign funding and involvement in events held at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park, organisers of Pink Dot said they hope more Singaporeans and local companies will step forward to support them in 2017.
Pink Dot, an annual non-profit event, organised in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, also said in a statement on Friday (Oct 21) that while it respects and understands the Ministry of Home Affairs’ position, it is “disappointed” by the latest clarifications from the ministry.
“Pink Dot has always been a local movement dedicated to bringing LGBT Singaporeans closer to their friends and families and closer to Singapore society as a whole – a universal aspiration that we do not consider to be controversial or political,” said spokesman Paerin Choa.
“We remain committed to organising and holding Pink Dot as we have done for the past eight years and we want to work closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs and other Government agencies to ensure that we remain within legal boundaries and keep the event safe for all participants, as we begin planning for next year’s Pink Dot event,” said Mr Choa.
“As our society continues to evolve, we hope that this will be the start of an ongoing dialogue and we look forward to continue engaging with the various Government agencies to better foster understanding between the Government and the LGBT community in the long term.”
The 2016 edition of Pink Dot had 18 corporate sponsors, including Facebook, Google, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP, Bloomberg, and Twitter.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated that foreign entities will have to apply for a permit to organise or assist in the organising of events held at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park. This covers sponsoring, publicly promoting, or organising members or employees to participate in the event.
Meanwhile, Singapore entities, such as local companies and non-governmental organisations, can organise or assist in the organising of an event, without the need for a permit. This is meant to “reinforce the key principle” that the Speakers’ Corner was set up primarily for Singaporeans, MHA stated.
MHA also clarified that Singapore entities refer to those which are incorporated or registered in Singapore and controlled by a majority of Singapore citizens. This means many of Pink Dot’s foreign sponsors, which are registered and incorporated in Singapore, would not qualify as a Singapore entity, and would need to apply for a permit.
GOOGLE BACKS PINK DOT
At least one sponsor has committed to taking the extra step of applying for a permit in order to continue supporting Pink Dot.
When contacted by Channel NewsAsia, a Google spokesman said: “We've been proud supporters of Pink Dot since 2011 and we will continue to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion. So we will apply for a permit to support Pink Dot in 2017 if required by this new regulation. We hope that these new rules will not limit public discussion on important issues."
Another past sponsor, JP Morgan said via a spokesman that the company is “committed to promoting equality in our workplace and encourage a supportive and inclusive culture”. Channel NewsAsia has reached out to six other past sponsors of Pink, including BP, which said it had no comment.
Other entities which have organised events at Hong Lim Park include the YMCA, but its head of corporate affairs Samuel Ng told Channel NewsAsia that he believes the YMCA “won’t be affected” by the new rules, as its past Proms @ the Park events were held at the main lawn of Hong Lim Park, not at the Speaker's Corner.
“The administration and all is quite different,” said Mr Ng, referring to whether an entity applies to hold an event at the Speaker’s Corner or at the park. “(Our events) would be under the community shelter that manages the park.”