SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Home Affairs will enhance events security in response to the growing terrorist threat, and move to prevent foreigners from advancing political causes in Singapore, said Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Monday (Apr 3).
Among the amendments to the Public Order Act is a requirement for event organisers to notify the police - at least 28 days beforehand - if they expect more than 5,000 attendees for public events or 10,000 for private ones.
It will be deemed a legal offence if the event organiser fails to comply. Police can then implement security measures and recover costs from the organiser.
“Event organisers will have to try and make an estimate based on the facts available to them - size of the venue; past events of similar nature, ticket sales and so on,” said Mr Shanmugam. “The organiser makes the best estimate they can, and the crowd size exceeds what they estimated, then of course it’s not an offence.”
He said the ministry arrived at the numbers after taking into consideration factors like the scheduled landscape of local events and seating capacity of major event venues like the Singapore Indoor Stadium (up to 8,000) and The Star Performing Arts Centre (up to 5,000).
Police will also be allowed to declare events expecting large crowds - or assessed to be higher-risk - as Special Events.
Security measures at Special Events include barricades, security officers and clear signage. Events assessed to be at higher-risk may require add-ons such as armed auxiliary police officers, full body scans, bag checks, and measures against vehicle-borne threats.
Special Events that are of national and international significance such as the National Day Parade may also be declared by the Minister for Home Affairs as Enhanced Security Special Events.
“If for some events, the venue cannot be secured, police may require the venue to be changed,” said Mr Shanmugam. “The event may also be canceled or postponed if it is unsafe to continue. This could be due to an imminent threat or severely inadequate security or crowd management arrangements.”
“Police may also require organisers to inform the public on some aspects of how the event will be conducted - for example, to go earlier for security screenings.”
He said that based on past precedent, the changes would likely apply to about 200 public events, including large-scale sporting events such as the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, music concerts, celebrations like the Chinese New Year countdown, or high-profile events like the National Day Rally.
“We want to encourage people to organise events. We don’t want to stifle vibrancy or discourage people, but at the same time we have to recognise the worldwide impact of terrorism is imposing costs on everyone.”
Further amendments to the Act include allowing the Commissioner of Police to refuse a permit for public assembly or procession - if it is directed towards a political end and organised by or involving non-Singapore entities or citizens.
“It has been the Government’s long-standing position that foreigners and foreign entities should not import foreign politics into Singapore; nor should they interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature,” Mr Shanmugam said.