On Tue (16 Jul), a member of the public, Gabriel Cheng Kian Tiong, wrote to ST Forum asking People’s Association (PA) on why a facility of community club was used by foreigners to further their political causes.
In Singapore, all community clubs come under the purview of PA, a government statutory board chaired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his deputy Chan Chun Sing.
“A community club is basically a place for citizen-oriented activities and the fact that Myanmar nationals used it for their political causes in this instance is an abuse of trust,” Mr Cheng wrote. “What is more, they also held a gathering at a community club hall here to celebrate an event that led to the promotion of violent acts against a foreign government.”
Mr Cheng was referring to the recent arrest and deportation of several Myanmar nationals for using Singapore to mobilize support of their Arakan Army in Myanmar (‘Group of Myanmar nationals deported, more details surface‘, July 12).
In particular, the foreigners had used the hall of a community club for this purpose. Mr Cheng finds this to be “disturbing”.
Mr Cheng wanted to know what kind of checks does PA staff do especially when foreign nationals want to use the community club hall for their activities and what penalties would be imposed if what is stated is different from what is carried out?
According to the twitter account of an Arakan Army supporter, the event was held in early April this year.
PA: It’s stated in our application forms that facilities shouldn’t be used for political purposes
In a joint statement, PA and the police replied on ST Forum today (19 Jul) saying that PA’s facilities are open to all members of the public for “social and recreational activities”.
“It is clearly stated in our application forms that the facilities should not be used for any religious, political or unlawful purposes,” Nazeera Begam, Assistant Director of PA, clarified.
“Those booking the facility must truthfully declare the purpose of their booking and we have the right to cancel bookings that violate these terms.”
PA and police added that their investigations had shown that the person who booked for the Myanmar event to support the Arakan Army was “not truthful”, stating that it was for his company’s health talk.
“Members of the public who spot anything unusual in the community club premises can alert our staff on duty,” the PA’s Assistant Director reminded. In other words, PA is relying on the public to “check” on unusual activities at their premises despite having CCTVs installed in CCs.
“Cause-based events which demonstrate support for, or opposition to views or actions of any person, group of persons, or any government, or which publicise a cause or campaign, or which marks any event, will require a Police permit under the POA, unless they meet exemption conditions,” Simon Ng, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of SPF, said.
“The Police will, however, not grant any permit for assemblies organised by or involving non-Singaporeans that are directed towards a political end, including advocating for or against the political causes of other countries.