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No go for HLP event – police cites “significant risk of public disorder”

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The Singapore Police Force has rejected an application by Gilbert Goh to hold an event at Speakers’ Corner on Saturday, 14 February.

Mr Goh’s event is titled “In Solidarity with Singaporean Indians – Thaipusam  to be Made a Public Holiday”.

“We have four races here and though Deepavali is celebrated as a public holiday, Thaipusam which is an important Hindu day in the Tamil community calender is not officially gazetted as a public holiday yet,” the event’s Facebook page said.

“This event hopes to unite all Singaporeans to support our smallest minority race to petition for Thaipusam to be made a public holiday - as only 9% of the population is make up of Indians,” it added.

The police in a statement on 12 February, however, have rejected the Hong Lim Park event application because “the planned event runs a significant risk of public disorder and could incite feelings of hostility between different racial and religious groups in Singapore.”

In his response, Mr Goh said, "There won't be any back-up contingency event to replace it as advised by the police."

"We have all along co-operate fully with the police and NParks authorities to ensure that all our events are lawful and properly carried out so that participants can enjoy a trouble-free environment," Mr Goh added.

He also urged supporters of the event to help inform others of the cancellation.

Here is the police statement in full:

In response to media queries, the Police confirm that we had engaged Mr Gilbert Goh on 10 February 2015 regarding his planned event to be held at the Speakers' Corner on 14 February 2015. Mr Goh was told by our officer that the event was not exempted from a Police permit under the Public Order Act.

Mr Goh submitted an application for a permit on 11 February 2015. After careful consideration, Police have rejected Mr Goh’s application as the event seeks to delve into matters of race and religion. Police have assessed that the planned event runs a significant risk of public disorder and could incite feelings of hostility between different racial and religious groups in Singapore.

The Speakers’ Corner is a public space where Singaporeans can speak outdoors in public on any issue, except for matters related to religion, or which may cause feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between different racial or religious groups in Singapore. Police would like to remind members of the public that organising or participating in events on matters of race or religion without a Police permit constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act.