Socio-political activist Gilbert Goh is being investigated by the police after a foreigner took part in a recent event he organised opposing the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and the Government’s 6.9 million population target.
The event, which saw a crowd of about 300-400 gathering at Hong Lim Park’s Speakers’ Corner on Sunday (Nov 3), was organised in the wake of the viral incident in which an India-born condo resident berated an elderly security officer who was doing his job.
The incident outraged Singaporeans, many of whom expressed dissatisfaction with CECA, which allows for the free movement of professionals between India and Singapore.
A few days after Mr Goh’s anti-CECA event took place at the Speakers’ Corner, heavyweight ruling party minister Chan Chun Sing came out to assert that the Government takes a “very serious view” of online falsehoods being circulated on Singapore’s free trade agreements like the India-Singapore CECA.
He said: “These postings and messages are circulated to stoke the fears of Singaporeans in times of economic uncertainties. And some go even further to play the racial card to divide our society. The government takes a very serious view of these attempts to rattle Singaporeans and divide our society.”
The Minister for Trade and Industry added that while the Government “understands and shares Singaporeans’ concerns with competition and job prospects,” it believes that “the way to help Singaporeans is not to mislead them and create fear and anger.”
In a Facebook post published today (6 Dec), Mr Goh revealed that he has been called up to assist in an investigation into the anti-CECA event, over a month after the anti-CECA event took place.
Sharing that he was scheduled to visit the Police Cantonment Complex at 2pm, the activist wrote: “Will be assisting the police at 2pm in Cantonment on a investigation into the anti-CECA event at Hong Lim Park on 3rd November.”
He added: “You can silence me, you can destroy my voice but not my heart which will always be speaking up for my country, my people! This is the price we will pay as a activist advocating for a better Singapore but we all willingly do it even though we may go to jail for doing so.”
Mr Goh later revealed that he was questioned by the police over an alleged breach of the Public Order Act since a foreigner attended and participated at his anti-CECA event. A tourist from Israel was among the audience at the event and had asked a question when the panel of speakers took questions from the audience at the end of the rally.
An amendment made to the Public Order Act in 2017 states that organisers of public gatherings “must ensure that only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession.” Those who fail to do so can be fined up to S$10,000.
The Public Order Act was amended to prohibit the participation of foreigners at public gatherings to “prevent foreigners from advancing political causes in Singapore,” according to the Law Ministry.
Mr Goh told The Online Citizen that he did not sign the police statement at the end of the questioning at Cantonment Complex. Revealing that he was uncomfortable with the lack of access to a legal representative who could have explained his rights to him before the police questioning, Mr Goh said: “I didn’t sign in protest at the lack of legal rights.”
A career counsellor who runs the transitioning.org support site for unemployed and underemployed Singaporeans, Mr Goh is perhaps most well known for the protests he organises, championing the rights of Singaporean workers.
Mr Goh also has experience working with local opposition parties. He rose to prominence in 2011 when he contested in the Tampines GRC under the National Solidarity Party ticket in that year’s General Election (GE).
In the 2015 GE, Mr Goh ran as part of the Reform Party’s team contesting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s own ward, Ang Mo Kio GRC. Mr Goh and his colleagues lost both elections. -/TISG