Draw the line between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans participating in events that can rile up opinions: K Shanmugam

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has said that authorities will "try to be more accomodating" unless it involves something that has the potential to rile up opinions.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has said that authorities will "try to be more accomodating" unless it involves something that has the potential to rile up opinions. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Foreigners wanting to participate in the Purple Parade will be more likely to get the green light. The Pink Dot, less so.

The difference between the two: their potential to rile up opinions.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that authorities will probably be more "accommodating" about having foreigners get involved in issues such as helping the disabled - the Purple Parade's cause.

"I think we will probably generally try and be accommodating, unless it is really something that has the potential to rile up opinion on both sides," he said on Friday (Oct 21) evening. "If you take, say people with disabilities, all of us are in support of helping them and I think that is a cause that the Government is unlikely to say no to anyone taking part and supporting it."

But, he added: "You can well imagine that there can be other kinds of causes where Singaporeans will sharply divide in their opinions - and that I think should be left for Singaporeans."

 

Pink Dot, an annual event to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, is likely to fall under this category.

When asked about the issue of unwed mothers, he replied: "I think we really have to look at it issue by issue."

The minister's comments came after his ministry announced Friday afternoon that foreign entities will need a permit if they were to sponsor, promote or get employees and members to participate in events held at the Speakers' Corner. Foreign entities looking to speak remotely at such events through teleconferencing or pre-recorded messages will also need a permit.

At the same time, the ministry is relaxing rules on Singapore entities, which can soon organise events at Speakers' Corner without a permit - same as Singaporean citizens.

The revised rules come into play next month (Nov 1).

Mr Shanmugam explained that the move came about because foreign participation in controversial issues relating to Singapore was increasing.

He did not elaborate.

But in June, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that it was reviewing rules on the Speakers' Corner. This followed the eighth Pink Dot event here - an annual rally for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights - which saw 18 sponsors, including multinationals such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Goldman Sachs and Barclays among others.

Mr Shanmugam said on Friday: "My ministry issued a statement after the Pink Dot event, directly saying that we are going to review because of the foreign sponsorship of Pink Dot events and, at the same time, we said that we will not prohibit Singaporeans from supporting it, organising it and in fact, the fact that we've reviewed the rules and making it clear that Singaporeans entities can support the event sets out our stand."

The minister stressed: "We're neutral in terms of what people can discuss, or which side people take, or which side of the argument people are supporting or against - we are neutral on that. What we are saying is, where we are drawing the line is Singaporeans (and) non Singaporeans."