Arakan Army celebration at CC: Renter had falsely declared event as health talk: PA

Booking forms for CC facilities clearly state that they can't be used for religious or political purposes

Pictures of the Singapore event show actors dressed in military uniforms and holding replica firearms on stage.
Pictures of the Singapore event show actors dressed in military uniforms and holding replica firearms on stage.PHOTO: TWITTER/@ARAKANBRAND

The person who booked a community club (CC) hall for the 10th anniversary celebration of the Arakan Army's founding had misrepresented the event as his company's health talk, the People's Association (PA) said yesterday.

The PA, however, did not identify the community club involved. The Straits Times had earlier reported that the celebration on April 7 was held at a com-munity club here.

Pictures of the Singapore event showed actors on stage dressed in military uniforms and holding replica firearms. Arakan Army (AA) chief Tun Myat Naing addressed participants via a video link and called on them to unite and fight for Rakhine independence through armed conflict.

In letters to The Straits Times, readers raised questions about how the Myanmar nationals were able to book the facility for such activities and the kind of checks in place to guard against such incidents.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times and those letters yesterday, the PA and police said application forms for community facilities state clearly that these facilities should not be used for any religious, political or unlawful purposes.

Those booking the facilities must truthfully declare their purpose, said the PA, adding that it reserves the right to cancel any booking that violates its terms. Booking fees will also be forfeited. Members of the public who spot anything unusual on community club premises can alert staff on duty, it added.

The PA and police also reminded event organisers to apply for the necessary permits and licences.

 
 
 
 

Cause-based events will require a police permit under the Public Order Act unless they meet conditions for exemption, said the PA and police.

"The police will, however, not grant any permit for assemblies organised by or involving non-Singaporeans that are directed towards a political end, including advocating for or against the political causes of other countries," they said in a joint statement.

Staff from four community clubs who spoke to The Straits Times on condition of anonymity said that facility bookings are mostly for weddings and birthdays.

Reservations of their theatrettes and multi-purpose halls have to be made in person and the purpose of the event filled out in the application form.

Approvals vary from club to club, however. Not all community club management committees review each and every application, with some staff verbally highlighting only certain cases to them.

One community club does not station employees inside private events, with its staff member saying that "we have no business to be there".

Another conducts spot checks before and during the event. Its staff will tell organisers to stop activities if they break rules such as cooking inside the multi-purpose hall. If organisers refuse, they will be reported to the management committee for further action.

In a third club, staff who are on duty will conduct checks during the event but do not stay throughout.

The community clubs charge from $100 an hour to more than $1,000 for each block booking of several hours, which are then channelled into the management committee fund to help pay for operating costs.

Last week, police arrested and deported a group of Myanmar nationals for using Singapore as a platform to organise and gather support for armed violence against the Myanmar government.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said these Myanmar nationals, who were living in Singapore, organised and mobilised members of the local Myanmar community to support the AA and its political wing, the United League of Arakan. AA has been designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2019, with the headline 'Renter had falsely declared event as health talk: PA'. Subscribe