In a written question, Raeesah Khan asked Mr K. Shanmugam about the Public Order Act.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Jan 12), Ms Raeesah wrote: “Due to a few rejections for permits for one-person assemblies, I asked MHA a series of questions on the Public Order Act”.
“The Government’s response to my first question was that they don’t tabulate the reasons why some applications are approved and why others are rejected. I think this is important information for the public to have access to, so that we can better understand how the Act has been enforced over the years”, she added.
Her questions were as follows:
To ask the Minister for Home Affairs
(a) since the Public Order Act was introduced in 2009, how many applications for permits for public assemblies outside Speaker’s Corner have been made;
(b) how many have been rejected and approved;
(c) what are the reasons for rejection and approval;
(d) how many of these rejections and approvals have been for one-person assembly and procession; and
(e) what constitutes threats to public order for one-person assembly and procession.
The MHA answered that applications may be rejected for a number of reasons, “for example, events being cancelled or postponed by the organisers”.
They added that public assemblies or processions in Speakers’ Corner, do not require a Police Permit.
“Outside of Speakers’ Corner, the question is whether any assembly, procession, may potentially breach one of the provisions of Section 7(2) of the Public Order Act. These provisions are capable of being breached by one person, and they are capable of being breached by more than one person. It will depend on the conduct of the person(s) involved. And assemblies which start with the intention of being peaceful, can also turn violent, through the actions of a very small group, which take advantage of such a situation”
The MHA therefore explained that while assemblies are not prevented per se, outside of Speakers’ Corner. But those who wish to hold such assemblies, are required to apply for a Police permit. /TISG