Speakers Corner at Hong Lim Park. was established in 2000 as a space for Singaporeans to express their views on issues that concern them. Over the years, we have seen Singaporeans used it to voice their opinion on the arrest of Amos Yee, Singapore’s population white paper, the poor economy and even stand in solidarity for the conflict in Palestine and the Middle East.
The Singapore government has recently relaxed its rules on the speaker’s corner further. Singaporeans entities will be exempted from the need to apply for a permit to organise an assembly or procession at the Speakers’ corner subject to the conditions on the Order. This means that Singaporean entities, such as local companies and non-governmental organisations can assist / participate in the event, e.g by sponsoring or promoting the event without a need for a permit. Even better, Singaporeans can now also speak via remote means e.g. tele-conferencing or pre-recorded messages.
How about Pink Dot you say?
Thats right. How about Pink Dot?
It is no secret that this event has gotten the ire of the government recently, especially after their list of corporate sponsors which includes Google, Reuters, Goldman Sachs, Bloombergy, Barclays, grew to an unprecedented number this year.
While the government has reiterated that no action will be taken against anyone for the Pink Dot event this year, this latest regulations on the speakers’ corner will definitely affect Pink Dot corporate sponsors.
Local journalist were also quick to point this out, deliberately choosing the picture of Pink Dot instead of Hong Lim Park as the cover picture to break the news.
Google has come out strongly that they will apply for the necessary permits to continue supporting Pink Dot.
A quick scan shows that foreign news coverage on this latest guideline were quite limited. They obviously do not give a flying f*&^ about gay pride in Singapore.
Another issue that bothers me is this – what foreign entities are and what constitutes interference.
When the corporate sponsors starts applying for the permits in the next Pink Dot event, what will be the basis for the Singapore government to turn some of these applicants down.
For a company to be considered Singaporean, it must be incorporated under the Companies Act here, the majority of its directors must be Singaporean, and majority ownership must be held by Singaporeans or one or more Singapore entities.
How about a foreign company but with the majority of shareholders being Singaporean? Are they still a foreign company? Isn’t Google something similar, with a number of Singaporeans owning its shares
The MHA also said that foreign entities should not interfere in domestic issues, especially when they are political or controversial. Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said it will apply to topics that can “rile up opinion”.
BUT these companies are just supporting the right to love and the celebration of humanity. How is this political or even controversial in any way!
I just don’t that the latest guidelines by MHA solves or clarifies anything. On hindsight, it might have made it even more ambiguous which is maybe exactly what the government wants; so that they could still close an eye (or not) if they choose to.
The chatter on Pink Dot is far from over and it will start again come June next year.
The Singapore government has reviewed the rules for the speakers corner with will take in to effect on 1 Nov 2016.