Speakers' Corner: Exemption terms to be reviewed

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday that it will be reviewing the exemption conditions for Speakers' Corner "to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, sponsor, support or influence such events" held there, among other "further steps" that will be taken.

However, no action will be taken against the foreign corporate sponsors and event organisers of this year's Pink Dot event in relation to foreign corporate sponsorships, the MHA said yesterday.

The ministry had earlier said it will "take steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence" events held at Speakers' Corner, like the annual Pink Dot event last Saturday. When asked what constituted a foreign entity, it declined to comment.

Now into its eighth year, the annual Pink Dot rally calls for the freedom to love regardless of sexual orientation. This year's event attracted 18 sponsors, twice as many as last year's. They included multinational corporations such as Google, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Facebook, Bloomberg and BP.

The MHA reiterated yesterday that "the Speakers' Corner is meant for Singaporeans to speak and demonstrate without a permit, if certain exemption conditions are met".

"These include no participation by foreigners. As had been stated in our earlier statement, this restriction applies, for example, to both events which are organised to support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) cause, as well as to events which are organised to oppose that cause."

Contacted about the MHA's earlier statement, Goldman Sachs said it is reviewing it.

A Pink Dot spokesman said on Tuesday that the event has seen support from Singaporeans from all walks of life, including "a significant portion of its corporate citizens".

"Our corporate sponsors that have supported us over the years are all registered and incorporated in Singapore," said the spokesman.

In pushing for greater visibility for the LGBT community, "we have done all we can to ensure Pink Dot SG stays within the law", he said.

Attendance at Pink Dot rose from 2,500 in its first year in 2009 to 28,000 last year.

Yuen Sin

Tiffany Fumiko Tay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Speakers' Corner: Exemption terms to be reviewed'. Print Edition | Subscribe