It was reported in an article by the Channel News Asia (CNA) that police are investigating activist and founder of Transitioning.org (a support site for the unemployed) following a report that a foreigner participated in an anti-CECA rally that he organised last month.
It appears that Mr Goh allegedly breached the Public Order Act (POA) as the rally he conducted saw the attendance and participation of a foreigner.
Following the recent amendments to the POA in 2017, the law prohibits any foreigner taking part or observing any gathering of sort in Singapore.
More precisely, the new rule of the POA states that “[organisers] must ensure that only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession”.
According to the Ministry of Law, the POA was amended in 2017 to “prevent foreigners from advancing political causes in Singapore”. The Commissioner of Police can refuse to grant a permit for public assembly organised by or involving non-Singaporean citizens.
Speaking in Parliament when the bill was passed, Minister K Shamugam said: “It has been the Government’s long-standing position that foreigners and foreign entities should not import foreign politics into Singapore; nor should they interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature.”
On 3 November, Mr Goh organised a gathering at Hong Lim Park as a platform for Singaporeans to voice their thoughts on issues regarding Singapore’s Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and 6.9 million population plan.
This came in light of the Ramesh Erramalli incident – a foreign talent employee at J.P. Morgan who was caught on video berating security officers – which created a massive public uproar back then.
At the end of the rally, Mr Goh held a Q&A session with a panel of speakers to address any burning issues from the floor. Interestingly, the first question came from an Israeli man visiting Singapore as a tourist.
Noting that he is “very interested in politics”, he asked: “What is your first value as a nation, as a society? What is your motivation?”
However, this information was omitted by CNA in their report. The article did not state that the foreigner was just a tourist who raised the question because he was interested in politics.
Writing in the comment section of CNA’s Facebook page, netizens also questioned the news site for failing to mention this bit of detail in their article. Terence Charles Darby said, “But thanks to CNA, this report serves to produce the Streisand Effect”.
Others penned their support for Mr Goh and slammed the Government for such a rule as it’s impossible for anyone, including Mr Goh, to “stop tourist or curious people from walking into the park” and listening to the talk.
Prabu Ramachandran asked, “Is the government suggesting building a wall at Hong Lim Park speakers corner to keep foreigners out?”
Some said that Mr Goh should only be investigated if he intentionally invited non-citizens to be part of the rally.
Mohammad Ammar Azhar pointed out that it’s illogical for the organiser to invite foreigners to join an anti-CECA rally. He explained, “Singaporeans all against the gov allowing all foreigners like the CECA, to sideline Singaporeans for our PMET jobs. This is an act of suppression from the gov”.
Meanwhile, a bunch of netizens also asked if the police expect people to show their identification card before entering into a rally?