National Solidarity Party appeals against permit refusal for party paper

SINGAPORE - The National Solidarity Party (NSP) has appealed to the President against the Ministry of Communications and Information's refusal to renew the permit of its party paper until it gives the salary details of its central executive committee members - a requirement it had previously complied with.

The NSP said on Monday that some of its members have chosen not to disclose the information for "privacy and personal confidentiality reasons".

The Registrar of Newspapers told The Straits Times it was the first time NSP had failed to do so in the renewal form.

"The form is also used by other political parties when applying for a permit for their party newsletters. They have also, like the previous CEC of the NSP, not had problems complying with this requirement."

The NSP had applied to the Media Development Authority (MDA), which MCI oversees, to renew the permit for North Star News on June 13 this year.

On Monday night, it posted on its website the eight-page letter of appeal to the President, plus e-mail correspondence between the party and MDA.

In an Oct 3 e-mail, the MDA said the salary details were necessary to confirm the applicants are "financially capable of taking responsibility for what is published in the newsletter".

But, NSP secretary-general Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss wrote in the appeal: "Prima facie, this is a discrimination against individuals who are office-bearers of a political association. The Registrar of Newspapers is singling out and subjecting such individuals to greater burdens."

She also said, among other things, that there is no clear justification in the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act for requiring all the CEC members' salary information.

This being so, she wrote, the Registrar of Newspapers is acting out of line by insisting on the information as a pre-condition for getting the permit. The fact that past CEC members gave the information cannot bind current CEC members to do the same now or in the future, she added.

asyiqins@sph.com.sg