Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has rejected an appeal by historian Thum Ping Tjin against a decision in April by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra), which turned down his application to register a proposed company.
Acra had rejected the application by Dr Thum and freelance journalist Kirsten Han to register OSEA Pte Ltd, on the grounds that it would be contrary to Singapore's national interests.
In a statement yesterday, the Finance Ministry said it received an appeal letter from Dr Thum on May 9. After carefully considering representations from the Registrar of Companies and Dr Thum, the minister "notes that the proposed company, if allowed to be registered, could provide an avenue for foreigners or foreign entities to influence or interfere with Singapore domestic politics".
"Such foreign influence or interference can arise from conditions imposed by foreign entities through their direct or indirect funding of the proposed company's political activities impacting Singapore," it added.
As such, the minster held that it was "proper and correct" for the registrar to conclude, based on the evidence, that the application must be refused as it is contrary to the national interest for the company to be registered.
The statement said that under the Companies Act, the minister's decision is final.
In April, when the application was rejected, Acra noted that the purposes of OSEA were "clearly political in nature".
OSEA was to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the British-registered Observatory South-east Asia (OSEA UK). Acra had said OSEA UK received a grant of US$75,000 (S$102,000) from a Swiss charitable body, Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI).
FOSI, in turn, is closely associated with Open Society Foundations - founded and led by American billionaire investor George Soros and set up to pursue a political agenda all over the world.
Yesterday, the ministry statement said that in his appeal, Dr Thum argued that the decision to reject the application was misguided because, among other things, foreign funding is not "in and of itself" against the national interest. He also said OSEA Pte Ltd would be "controlled" by Singaporeans, and its activities would be "similar" to other programmes here.
The ministry noted that the registrar's representations stated that the intended purposes of OSEA Pte Ltd were clearly political in nature, and that the company would be funded by foreign entities and foreigners. It then set out the various points the Finance Minister had noted, in deciding to reject Dr Thum's appeal.