SINGAPORE — Events and public assemblies in relation to the Israel-Hamas conflict will not be permitted due to public safety and security concerns.
Applications to hold such events will be turned down, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Oct 18).
The police said that they are aware of events and public assemblies being organised in relation to the conflict and that NParks has also received applications to use the Speakers’ Corner for related events.
“The police have assessed that there are public safety and security concerns associated with such events, given the heightened tensions. NParks shares the same concerns.”
Those intending to use Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park must first submit an application to NParks.
According to the NParks website, foreigners and non-Singapore entities must apply for a police permit to organise or assist in the organising of an event at the Speakers’ Corner. Non-Singapore citizens must also apply for a police permit to engage in public speaking at the Speakers’ Corner.
There have been numerous incidents of violence reported in many countries amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, said the authorities in a joint news release.
“For instance, an Israeli staff from the Israeli Embassy in Beijing was stabbed in front of a supermarket, and a teacher was fatally stabbed by a Chechen individual in France. The peace and harmony between different races and religions in Singapore should not be taken for granted, and we must not let events happening externally affect the internal situation within Singapore.
“Given the sensitivity of the topic and the volatility of the situation overseas, there is a real risk that such events could give rise to public disorder. As such, applications to hold such events will be turned down,” they added.
Ms Zaris Azira, 30, who manages a non-profit organisation that promotes Singapore literature, told TODAY that she had planned to hold a “peace rally” for Palestine at Hong Lim Park on Sunday and that she had applied for a permit from NParks last Saturday.
She said that her application had been pending approval of her supporting documents, but on Wednesday she received an email notifying her of the rejection.
Ms Zaris added that she had assumed her permit would be granted since there was a previous rally held for Palestine by the independent group From Singapore to Palestine in 2014.
That year, hundreds of people gathered at Hong Lim Park in solidarity with the people of Gaza after hostilities arose there due to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas militants.
The conflict, which lasted seven weeks, resulted in more than 2,000 deaths — the majority of them Palestinians.
“While we are all deeply disappointed by the cancellation of the rally, we do understand where the Government is coming from with regard to safety and security,” said Ms Zaris.
The police reiterated that public assemblies in Singapore are regulated under the Public Order Act 2009, and that organising or participating in one without a police permit constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act 2009.
SPF said it will not grant any permit for assemblies that advocate political causes of other countries or foreign entities, or may have the potential to stir emotions and lead to public order incidents.
“The police would also like to remind members of the public to engage in responsible and respectful discussions on this topic, online or otherwise, and avoid making insensitive or offensive remarks about race or religion, which may threaten Singapore’s racial and religious harmony.”
SPF said it takes a serious view of acts that could potentially harm the racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
“Any person who makes remarks or acts in a manner which potentially causes ill-will and hostility between different races or religious groups in Singapore will be dealt with swiftly and in accordance with the law.” WITH CNA