The authorities have told the Sunshine Welfare Action Mission (SWAMI) Home to adhere to its constitution, after a report was lodged with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) about the home renting out its premises to the People’s Action Party (PAP) to hold a press conference there.
The home’s constitution forbids it from engaging in any political activity, and for its funds or premises to be used for any political purpose.
The PAP had rented the premises to hold its introduction of candidates for the Sembawang GRC for the upcoming general election.
Mr Ravi Philemon, a director of an NGO, had also pointed out that such societies and homes usually have a provision in their constitutions which would forbid its members or its premises from being used for such political activities or for political purposes.
“Is this clause also specified in SWAMI Home’s Constitution? If so, did SWAMI Home contravene its own Constitution by allowing its premises to be used for political purposes?” he asked in a blog post on Saturday.
“SWAMI was advised by the Registry of Societies on Aug 17, 2015 to ensure strict adherence to its constitution,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
The home itself doesn’t seem to be aware that there was this clause in its constitution.
According to a TODAY report:
“In a statement, SWAMI Home’s president Low Chang Yee said the home had not checked its constitution when it agreed to rent its premises to the PAP. “The local MPs wanted to rent our premises for their event. We agreed as their rental of our premises on commercial terms was helpful for us,” he said in a statement.
“The organisation has never used its funds to help any political party, and funds raised from the renting of its premises are used to help run the home and other charitable causes, Mr Low explained. “Now, we have been informed and are aware of this provision in our constitution,” he added.”
The PAP team which held the event at the home was led by the PAP chairman, Khaw Boon Wan.
When contacted by the media, the team said it had rented the home “partly to support this VWO and partly because we felt it was an accessible place and had sufficient space to accommodate reporters”.
“We had not checked the VWO’s constitution. However, we have nothing but the highest regard for the work done by this VWO and will continue to support it in any way we can,” they said.
It is unclear if any further action will be taken by the authorities on the matter.
The incident sparked criticisms and questions of why the PAP was involving voluntary welfare organisations in its political events.
The Online Citizen (TOC) had obtained a copy of the home’s constitution and under clause 22.6, it said: