Pink Dot, held at Hong Lim Park May 16, 2009 in Singapore

Google, one of the regular sponsor of the annual Pink Dot event at the Speakers’ Corner, has indicated that it will apply for a permit to continue with its support for the event next year.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced on Friday that it will be introducing amendments to the Public Order (Unrestricted Area) Order 2016, which will come into effect on 1 November 2016.

One of the key area of the amendments is that foreign entities will now have to apply for a permit before “sponsoring, publicly promoting … or organising its members or employees to participate” in Speakers’ Corner events.

This come after an earlier statement by MHA on 7 June this year, which stated that the ministry will take steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence such events held at the Speakers’ Corner. In the context of LGBT issues, this will apply both to events that advocate the LGBT cause such as the Pink Dot, as well as events whose purpose is to oppose the LGBT cause.

Google spokesperson said on Friday (21 October), “We’ve been proud supporters of Pink Dot since 2011 and we will continue to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion. So, we will apply for a permit to support Pink Dot in 2017 if required by this new regulation. We hope that these new rules will not limit public discussion on important issues.”

However, other sponsors for the Pink Dot this year – like Bloomberg, Apple, Twitter and BP – have declined to comment on the changes.

On Friday, MHA said that Singapore entities, such as local companies and non-governmental organisations, can organise or assist in the organising of an event, e.g. by sponsoring, publicly promoting the event or organising its members or employees to participate in the event, without the need for a permit. Conversely, non-Singapore entities will need a permit if they want to engage in such activities relating to a Speakers’ Corner event.

Lawyers whom Todayonline spoke to, noted that a foreign company’s senior management is the one that is likely to be held accountable should it run afoul of the law.

A commenter on the Facebook of Todayonline, Jacky Winson Sim 順兴 wrote:

“It is funny seeing how it seems bad that when we talk about foreign entities supporting an LGBT event.

In Singapore, there are many foreign entities with lots of Singaporean staffs working in it. So is it still identify as an external voice of support or more towards a local voice of support?

Such entities are just showing their support and acknowledging their staffs within their company.

So should foreign entities not sponsor or show support for our non LGBT events as well such as NDP, Family Days, Runs and etc? Since we are all talking about foreign entities should not come into our domestic affairs”.

As another commenter, Teo Huai Wei Edmund rightly noted on the new requirement to apply for the permit to support events at Hong Lim Park, “Apply all you wish. Doesn’t mean it will be accepted.”

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