In a recent statement issued to the press, Maruah, a local non-government would like to express its concern with the amendment to the Public Order Act.
In its statement, MARUAH emphasises the practicality of the new rules, stating that Hong Lim Park is a public place and that it believes that organisers do not have the authority to exclude anyone from the park, even if they wanted to.
Leong Sze Hian, the current president of MARUAH wrote, “Are we arguably, being insincere in having a Speakers Corner – and yet making it practically impossible to fulfill the conditions because there is no way any organizer can prevent foreigners from being observers at Hong Lim Park.
Why change the regulations such that foreigners who could attend in the past as observers, will no longer be allowed to?
Why place such an unreasonable onerous burden (to comply with the law) on the organisers, to arguably, further undermine the rights to freedom of expression and assembly?”
This follows a recent announcement by the organisers of the annual Pink Dot event has just announced that only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents will be allowed to partake in this year’s Pink Dot celebration at the Speakers’ Corner, Hong Lim Park.
The organisers wrote, “It is with profound regret for us, the organisers of Pink Dot 2017, to announce that as per recent changes to the Public Order Act rules on general assembly, only Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are permitted to assemble at the Speakers’ Corner.”
The organisers were reminded by the Singapore Police Force that the current law does not distinguishes between participants and observers, and regards anyone who turns up to the Speakers’ Corner in support of an event to be part of an assembly.
If found guilty, the organisers and the foreign participant who fail to comply with the regulation shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
Therefore in order not to prosecuted under the law, the Pink Dot 2017 organisers wrote that they have no choice but to adhere to this regulation by having its volunteers to ensure that anyone attending for Pink Dot 2017 is the owner of either a pink or blue identity card.