MARUAH is deeply concerned about the cancellation of approvals granted for the “Return our CPF” protest scheduled at Speakers’ Corner on 25th October 2014.
When Speakers’ Corner was first established in 2000, it was specifically designated as the one protected area in Singapore where speakers could speak freely (with the usual restrictions on race, religion and national security) without having to apply for a permit under the Public Entertainments Act (and its successor the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act). The reforms of 2008 further promoted free speech and civil society development in Singapore and were welcomed by all.
While the events of 27th September remain under investigation, we feel that it is highly inappropriate to cancel the approvals given for the 25th October “Return our CPF” event. Why should an ongoing police investigation about a past event be a reason for prospectively depriving an applicant of the right to hold future events? This move undermines the presumption of innocence which underpins the rule of law, and will have a chilling effect on free speech and democratic development in Singapore.
Any potential disturbances to other park users can surely be dealt with using appropriate scheduling of events. We therefore call on the Police and NParks to reconsider their decision and allow the event to proceed as scheduled.