The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announcement yesterday that it will “take steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence such events held at the Speakers’ Corner,” has caused confusion among some corporate sponsors of the gay-pride celebrations, Pink Dot.
To clear the confusion, MHA clarified on Wednesday (8 Jun) that “no action will be taken against the foreign corporate sponsors, and the event organisers, in relation to the foreign corporate sponsorships this year”.
Without providing any specifics about what it considers foreign entities, as well as what laws and regulations such a foreign entity would contravene by continuing to fund and support events like Pink Dot, MHA said it “will take further steps, including reviewing the exemption conditions for Speakers’ Corner to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, sponsor, support or influence such events held at the Speakers’ Corner.”
The Ministry also did not clarify what it meant by “controversial social issues that foreigners and/or foreign entities should not attempt to influence”. The organisers of Pink Dot however said in their Facebook, “our Corporate Sponsors that have supported us over the years are all registered and incorporated in Singapore.”
Meanwhile Donald Low, Associate Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said in his Facebook that the MHA’s announcement is arbitrary and heavy-handed.
He said, “MHA may argue that this move doesn’t undermine the government’s openness to foreign companies; it restricts their ability to engage in local politics and social issues that are politically sensitive, but it does not discourage them from engaging in their legitimate businesses.”
But even that line is hard to draw Mr Low argues saying, “for many companies, sponsoring Pink Dot makes good business sense – the LGBT customer segment has more spending power than most other segments.”
“Plus the employees of these companies want to be part of organisations seen to be supporting progressive social causes,” he added. The can of worms any new regulation or better clarification of existing rules cannot be good for Singapore’s pro-business image.
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