A Myanmar national recently booked the function room of a local Community Club (CC) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan.
The AA has been labelled a terrorist group by the Myanmar government. The participants of the event in Singapore wore military uniforms and carried replica weapons as they depicted the AA’s armed offensive against the Myanmar army in Rakhine state.
The event saw a live stream video of the AA leader giving a speech asking the Rakhine people to fight together for independence through the AA’s armed conflict against the government.
On 10 July, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced that several Myanmar nationals will be deported for mobilising support for “armed violence against the Myanmar government.”
Pointing to this, one Singaporean has asked how CC function rooms can be allowed to be booked by foreigners for political events.
In a forum letter published by the Straits Times this week, Gabriel Cheng Kian Tiong asked: “What checks do community club staff do when foreign nationals want to use the club hall for their activities? Are there measures to ensure that users state clearly the activities to be carried out at the event? Are any penalties imposed if what is stated is different from what is carried out?”
Asserting that community clubs should be used for “citizen-oriented activities” and that foreigners could rent private venues to propagate their political views, Mr Cheng wrote that “the fact that Myanmar nationals used it for their political causes in this instance is an abuse of trust.”
He added: “Government agencies should work closely with stakeholders such as building owners to ensure their facilities are rented out for legitimate purposes. If not, some may unwittingly be accomplices to causes that are damaging to their public image.”
Read his letter in full here.