LIEgime now busily trying to find any flimsy excuse to ban HLP protests, digging up obscure 'rules', probably to also ban foreign reporters from reporting on this spectacular mass movement
Earlier on 18 Apr, NParks contacted Gilbert Goh of transitioning.org, the organiser for the May Day Protest, asking him to apply for a police permit if foreigners are “participating” at the event (‘NParks: Police permit needed for May Day Protest if foreigners participating‘).
In a statement to the media yesterday (23 Apr), NParks director Chia Seng Jiang clarified that “as Mr Goh’s intention was to involve foreigners to participate in the protest event on the Population White Paper, he was required to apply for a police permit”.
“This is because the exemption from the need to do so applies only if the event in Speakers’ Corner is organised by Singaporeans and is attended by Singaporeans or PRs,” said Mr Chia. “As such, we raised this to Mr Goh’s attention and reminded him to apply for a police permit.”
This is the second time transitioning.org is organising a protest against the 6.9 million Population White Paper, which is a sequel to the first one held on 16 Feb. The first protest garnered about 4,000 participants despite raining that day and this sequel is expected to atract more than 10,000.
Apparently, in an earlier Facebook posting as well as on transitioning.org, Gilbert did say foreigners are welcome to attend.
Gilbert told TR Emeritus (TRE) that at the time, he didn’t know much about the intricacies of NParks’ rules. He posted the message to welcome foreigners because he was accused of being xenophobic for organising the event, especially the first one. He wanted to send the message that the event is a protest against the government’s over-liberal immigration policy and not against the foreigners themselves. Little did he expect that this simple gesture would backfire on the event.
He said he will now dissuade foreigners from attending the event in order to prevent any problems with the authorities. He has also removed the “problematic” statement of welcoming foreigners from the event’s Facebook page and transitioning.org. It now reads, “We apologise that due to NParks’ regulation, foreigners are dissuaded from attending the event.”
“We will want to err on the side of caution and ask foreigners not to attend the event altogether to prevent any misunderstanding with the law,” said Gilbert.
“However, I want to reemphasize again that the event is not about protesting against the foreigners in Singapore but against the liberal immigration policy of the government. We want to have this platform to allow Singaporeans to especially register their unhappiness against the 6.9 million White Paper which is advocating further influx of foreigners to achieve the population target by 2030.”
Gilbert also told TRE that he finds it strange that NParks is suddenly “concerned” about the “welcome message for foreigners” because this was exactly the same welcome message he posted for the first protest event in February 2013. Why didn’t NParks raise the alarm then? Why the sudden interest now?
In any case, to avoid running foul with the law, Gilbert said that on the day, they will be putting signage around the perimeter of Hong Lim Park warning foreigners (i.e, non-Singaporeans and non-PRs) to stay away from the park, thanks to the strange Govt rulings imposed for the Speakers’ Corner. This is to prevent, say, foreign tourists from streaming into the park out of curiosity or otherwise.
“We’ll put up the signs. We want a peaceful protest,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Nizam Ismail, who was forced to resign as Board member of Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) on Mon (22 Apr) for speaking at Hong Lim Park against the White Paper (‘Nizam forced to resign from AMP for speaking at Hong Lim against White Paper‘) will continue to speak out at Hong Lim on the May Day sequel protest. He resigned from AMP because he didn’t want to put AMP in a difficult position. The Govt was threatening to cut off funding to AMP because of his civil society activities.
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