For the first time yesterday, the Speakers' Corner saw barricades set up around the park with security officers checking bags and the residency status of attendees.
The annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rally Pink Dot was held at Hong Lim Park with seven entry and exit points. The checks were to ensure the safety of attendees, given global terror attacks at public events.
Law Minister K. Shanmugam wrote on his Facebook on Tuesday: "Pink Dot event will attract a large crowd and it would be irresponsible not to take security measures seriously at such events. The security requirements will also be imposed at other events, even outside Speakers' Corner, depending on the estimated crowd size, amongst other factors."
The barricades and security checkpoints were also needed to comply with new rules prohibiting foreigners from attending the event. After the Public Order Act was amended last October, organisers of Speakers' Corner events from November 2016 had to ensure that only Singapore citizens or permanent residents participate.
The heightened security saw queues snaking around Hong Lim Park yesterday.
Retiree Loh Kwek Leong, 63, spent about 10 minutes in the queue with his wife, daughter and her boyfriend. They had their identity cards and bags checked at the entrance. At 6.40pm, organisers announced that the park was full and people could only enter if other attendees leave the park.
Mr Leslie, 30, who works in the service industry and asked to be identified by just his first name, arrived at 7pm and was still in the queue 40 minutes later. He said: "After the ban on foreigners attending, it is up to Singaporeans and permanent residents to do their part, so I'm here to stand up and be counted."
Kok Xing Hui