On 12 Nov, both Straits Times and Today reported that human rights advocacy group MARUAH had been gazetted as a Political Association. Below is an excerpt from Alex Au’s blog Yawning Bread on the Government’s latest move.
Out of the blue, the government gazetted Maruah as a “political association” under the Political Donations Act. Maruah is a civil society group for human rights.
With this move, it is now illegal for the grouping to accept from foreign sources donations, sponsorship or any other kind of material support. It also becomes illegal for Maruah to accept anonymous donations beyond a total of S$5,000 per year.
As reported by the Straits Times and Today, Maruah joins three other associations under this restriction: Singaporeans For Democracy, Think Centre and Open Singapore Centre.
The government gave a facile explanation for its decision:
Explaining the Government’s decision, the Registry of Political Donations, which is part of the Elections Department, said that ‘given Maruah’s objectives and activities, there is a need to ensure that Maruah does not become used by foreigners to interfere in our internal affairs’.
‘As such, the Prime Minister has decided to gazette Maruah as a political association under the Political Donations Act to prohibit Maruah from receiving funding from foreign sources,’ it said in an e-mailed reply.
Maruah can continue to receive financial support from Singaporeans and Singapore-controlled companies, it added.
– Straits Times, 12 Nov 2010, Human rights group Maruah gazetted as political body
There is a crying need to unpack what is meant by “used by foreigners to interfere in our internal affairs”. If we fail to do that, uncritically accepting this dictum, we fall into the trap that is meant to serve the dominant party without actually being in the best interest of Singaporeans, despite its face-value claim.
(You can read the rest of the article here)