CNA: Foreigners will not be allowed to interfere in Singapore's domestic affairs (Sept 18)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

SINGAPORE : Foreigners will not be allowed to interfere in Singapore's domestic political scene and this includes support for or against the gay cause.

The Home Affairs Ministry reiterated this in Parliament on Tuesday, when it explained why it revoked an approved licence for gay activist Professor Douglas Sanders to speak at a public lecture in Singapore on 7 August.

Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong had voiced concerns that the Police may not have fully deliberated the circumstances before they granted the licence the first time around.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee explained that even after granting licences for public entertainment, the Police would continue to monitor developments.

And if circumstances warrant it, they would cancel the public entertainment licence if necessary, for public safety or public interest reasons.

It was in this context that the approval given for Professor Sanders was subsequently revoked, when information obtained later made it clear that the talk was part of gay activists' efforts to use a foreigner to promote their political agenda.

Associate Professor Ho said, "The context is important. It's not that foreigners cannot make their comments or views known on Singapore policies. No, in fact they all do! But it's quite different if local activists, in the context of a situation in Singapore where we know that there's an ongoing debate for some time already on a topic which is divisive, a topic which has caused two sides in particular to expound different points of views, whether we want to invite a foreigner to come here to speak to a Singapore audience.

"And from what we know, Professor Sanders is a known activist for the human rights of gays and lesbians. We can his hear views or read it online. But it's quite different to invite him here to speak to a Singapore audience at this time."

The Senior Minister of State also confirmed there has not been a similar cancellation of a licence granted for talks by foreign speakers in the past five years. - CNA/ms