SPP member asks Registry of Societies to investigate Swami Home for hosting PAP event; Swami,Sembawang GRC, MHA reply

Members of PAP's Sembawang GRC team handing goodie bags to the residents of Swami Home.
Members of PAP's Sembawang GRC team handing goodie bags to the residents of Swami Home. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - Singapore's People Party member Ravi Philemon has reported the Swami (Sunshine Welfare Action Mission) Home in Sembawang to the Registry of Societies for allowing the People's Action Party (PAP) to introduce its candidates there last week.

Mr Philemon, who works for a voluntary welfare organisation, noted that Swami's constitution states that it should not " indulge in any political activity or allow its funds and / or premises to be used for political purposes".

The PAP had unveiled its candidates for Sembawang GRC at the home on Aug 14.


"I ask that the Registrar investigate if the Society had breached its own constitution by allowing a political activity to take place on its premise," said Mr Philemon in an e-mail to Registrar, Mr Marvin Sim, which was also sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. He posted a screenshot of the e-mail on Facebook.

PAP's Mr Khaw Boon Wan, who is National Development Minister and anchor minister for the Sembawang GRC team, had said at the Aug 14 event that the Swami Home was chosen because the rent was affordable, and fit Singapore's culture of not spending excessively on election campaigns.

Mr Low Chang Yee - president of Swami Home - said: "The local MPs wanted to rent our premises for their event. We agreed as their rental of our premises on commercial terms was helpful for us.

"We have never used any of our funds to help any political party. The funds we raised from rental of our premises are used to help us run the Swami Nursing Home and our other charitable causes. We did not check our constitution at the time we rented our premises but now we have been informed and are aware of this provision in our Constitution.”

The Sembawang GRC Team responded, saying:  “We understand that a report has been made against a local VWO (voluntary welfare organisation). We had rented the premises on purely commercial terms, partly to support this VWO and partly because we felt it was an accessible place and had sufficient space to accommodate reporters.

"We had not checked the VWO's constitution. However, we have nothing but the highest regard for the work done by this VWO and will continue to support it in any way we can.”

A Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman replied: “The Sunshine Welfare Action Mission (Swami) is a registered society.  It is governed by its constitution on what activities are permissible and what are not. It is obliged to adhere to its constitution.

"Swami was advised by the Registry of Societies on 17 August 2015 to ensure strict adherence to its constitution.”