SINGAPORE: A report by news agency Reuters on a protest against the recently announced water price hike presented a "false and misleading picture on the use of the Speakers' Corner in Singapore", police said on Sunday (Mar 12).
In a clarification sent to the media, police said that the Reuters article stated that "the organisers of Saturday's protest said more people would have turned up if they had not feared a police crackdown".
"The Speakers' Corner was established in 2000 as a designated site for Singaporeans to speak on any issue, without the need for a police permit, as long as the event does not cause racial or religious enmity or pose any law and order risks," said a police spokesperson, noting that many large-scale events involving thousands of participants have since been held at the Speakers' Corner.
Police added that the Reuters article also mentioned that "in 2014, six people were charged with creating a public nuisance while protesting against a compulsory tax savings scheme".
The police spokesperson clarified that the 2014 incident involved six people who were charged with creating a public nuisance when they disrupted another event held at an adjacent lawn. "They had deliberately marched through and disrupted an event by special needs children who were performing on stage," said the spokesperson, adding that the six people were charged and convicted in October 2014 for being a public nuisance.
"It is regrettable that Reuters had decided to carry unsubstantiated allegations from the organisers, and cited an unrelated case from 2014 in its reporting on the Speakers’ Corner," said the spokesperson.
"This was clearly an attempt to stoke fears about the use of the Speakers' Corner and sow distrust of the police.
"A more objective reporting would have shown that the Speakers' Corner has been and remains an avenue for Singaporeans to participate freely and responsibly in public speeches and demonstrations."