Foreign companies need permit to sponsor, promote or participate in Speakers' Corner events: MHA

The Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that foreign companies will need a permit to sponsor, promote or participate in Speakers' Corner events.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that foreign companies will need a permit to sponsor, promote or participate in Speakers' Corner events.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Foreign companies will need a permit to sponsor, publicly promote or get its employees to participate in events at the Speakers' Corner, stated the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday afternoon (Oct 21).

For the first time, the ministry made clear what a Singapore entity was: those incorporated or registered in Singapore and controlled by a majority of Singapore citizens.

The entity's directors must be mostly Singaporean, and the majority of its ownership must be held by Singaporeans or one or more Singapore companies.

Meanwhile, the ministry is loosening rules for local entities organising events at the Speakers' Corner. From next month, Singapore companies or non-government organisations no longer need permits to hold events at the Speakers' Corner. Now, only Singapore citizens are exempted.

 

In its news release on the amendments to the rules, the ministry reiterated that the Speakers' Corner was set up in 2000 for Singaporeans to express their views on issues that concern them.

"The Government's position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature," said the MHA. "The amendments reinforce the key principle that the Speakers' Corner was set up primarily for Singaporeans."

MHA is also extending the rules to those who participate at Speakers' Corner events through remote means. So foreign entities will also need a permit if they speak through teleconferecing or pre-recorded messages at the Speakers' Corner.

These changes come on the back of reviews to Speakers' Corner rules which the MHA started in June. The ministry had wanted to "make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence" events held at Speakers' Corner, such as June 4's Pink Dot - the annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rally.

This year's Pink Dot - the eighth such - attracted 18 sponsors including multinational cmpanies such as Google, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Visa and General Electric.