Plans to ensure no repeat of Hong Lim Park fracas

Activists Han Hui Hui (with loudspeaker) and Roy Ngerng (carrying state flag) with supporters at the Return Our CPF rally, marching round Hong Lim Park on Sept 27, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Activists Han Hui Hui (with loudspeaker) and Roy Ngerng (carrying state flag) with supporters at the Return Our CPF rally, marching round Hong Lim Park on Sept 27, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Authorities may meet organisers in advance if they need to share space

The police and National Parks Board (NParks) will consider measures to ensure that last Saturday's incident in Hong Lim Park, when two groups staged events there, will not recur.

There was no immediate information on what these might be, but a statement to The Straits Times, in response to questions on how applications for multiple events on the same day are handled, said: "To mitigate potential public order incidents, the Singapore Police Force and NParks may put in place appropriate measures or engage organisers prior to the event to explain the rules and regulations, remind them to act responsibly, observe NParks' regulations and abide by the laws."

It added that applications for multiple events on the same day are dealt with on a first come, first served basis.

"We have not needed to allocate the space previously and there had been no adverse or disorderly incidents. This is because the groups showed consideration and respect for each other, despite their different views and agendas," the statement said.

Last Saturday was the first time a disorderly incident had occurred at the 6,000 sq m Hong Lim Park since the Speakers' Corner was set up there in 2000.

A group which attended a Return Our CPF rally organised by activist Han Hui Hui, 22, proceeded to march around the park, and encroached on the space of a charity carnival staged by the YMCA in an adjacent part of the park.

In the statement, NParks and the police said that in anticipation of the crowds last Saturday, they decided that instead of leaving the organisers to share the space, "it would be prudent to allocate them separate lawns instead".

"YMCA was allocated one lawn to hold their charity event. The adjacent lawn was allocated for Ms Han Hui Hui who had applied to speak. The two separate spaces were clearly demarcated. Unfortunately, Ms Han's group did not heed our advice and continued to hold her event at the same lawn as YMCA's."

NParks said previously that there were occasions when more than one event was held without incident. These included the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community's Pink Dot picnic, an anti-haze speech and a protest against the Cross-Island MRT Line on June 29 last year.

Last Saturday's incident is being investigated by the police.

Data released yesterday showed the number of applications for using Speakers' Corner for speeches, demonstrations, public performances and exhibitions. There were 89 applications from January to July this year, 169 last year, 98 in 2012, 85 in 2011, 103 in 2010 and 129 in 2009.

waltsim@sph.com.sg

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