The People’s Association (PA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have revealed that the foreigner who used the function room of a local community club for an Arakan Army (AA) celebration “misrepresented” himself when he booked the room.
A Myanmar national recently booked the CC function room to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the 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 livestream 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.”
The PA and MHA have since said that the individual who booked the room did not declare that the event was to be a political one. The authorities said:
“For this event, our investigations showed that the individual had misrepresented himself, stating that the booking was for his company’s health talk. It is clearly stated in our application forms that the facilities should not be used for any religious, political or unlawful purposes.”
Asserting that facilities such as CCs are open to the public only for “social and recreational activities” and that those who make room bookings must “truthfully declare” the purpose of their booking, the PA and MHA said:
“We reserve the right to cancel any bookings that violate our terms and conditions, and forfeit the booking fees. Members of the public who spot anything unusual in the community club premises can alert our staff on duty.
“Cause-based events which demonstrate support for, or opposition to views or actions of any person, group of persons, or any government, or which publicise a cause or campaign, or which mark or commemorate any event, will require a police permit under the Public Order Act (POA) unless they meet exemption conditions.
“The police will, however, not grant any permit for assemblies organised by or involving non-Singaporeans that are directed towards a political end, including advocating for or against the political causes of other countries.” -/TISG