Police informs non-profit organisation last minute about requirement to apply for public assembly permit, forcing event to be cancelled

The Singapore Police Force has informed non-profit organisation, Happy People Helping People (HPHP) that their fundraising event scheduled to be held tomorrow, will require a police permit to take place as it politicises a social cause.

This was said to local media on Friday (13 Dec).

HPHP is a non-profit organisation co-founded by Mr Mohammad Nafiz Kamarudin, that have been helping needy seniors who are cardboard collectors and organising monthly events and outings for them with the help of donors.

The non-profit had planned the event, “A Mile In Their Shoes – “Leaders of Singapore” Fundraiser Special” to be held on 14 Dec and had invited politicians from the various political parties including the ruling People’s Action Party, to participate and collect cardboard across Singapore in areas like Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Chinatown, Jalan Besar and Bedok.

As of Friday, representatives from the Singapore Democratic Party, Reform Party, Progress Singapore Party and People’s Power Party had indicated that they would be attending.

In their invitation to the politicians, HPHP said: “We feel that this is a sign of desperation among these elderlies (mostly in their 70s, 80s and even 90s) as cardboard collecting is not only a dangerous, backbreaking and unhygenic work, it also earns them very little. $0.04 cents for every kilogram.”

To raise funds during the event, HPHP was planning to use the free fundraising platform Give.Asia. The money raised will then be distributed equally to some 150 elderly cardboard collectors.

Give.Asia had initially declined to host HPHP’s fundraising campaign for the seniors due to political sensitivity but on Friday, it gave the green light for HPHP to use the fund raising platform.

Police further said to local media that the event is purportedly only open to political party members.

“The organisers had also intended to open online donation accounts for each political party, so that donors can donate to the party of their choice, before the donations are distributed to cardboard collectors,” it said.

The police added that Happy People Helping People is not a registered charity and does not have a licence under the House to House and Street Collections Act.

“The event goes beyond simply helping cardboard collectors, and appears to be politicising a social cause,” the police said.

The police went on to state that the event would constitute a public assembly, and would therefore require a police permit under the Public Order Act.

The police said that Mr Nafiz was informed of the requirement for a permit and advised to submit the necessary applications on Thursday.

“Police have yet to receive any application for a permit to hold this event,” they said.

It is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act to take part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit.

As a result of the need of permit, HPHP has cancelled the event.

HPHP wrote on its Facebook page, “It is unfortunate that we have to cancel this event tomorrow because the police did not want us to do this without a permit. And they told us yesterday night. We wonder why at the very last minute. Nevertheless, we will still be in Toa Payoh helping the old folks collect their cardboard boxes and we welcome anyone who wishes to join us to experience what it’s like to be in their shoes.”

There is a minimum period of 14 days for the application of a public assembly permit.

Also it has not been publicly known if the Police has ever issued a public assembly permit.

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