SINGAPORE: One of the deported Myanmar nationals who used a community club in Singapore to mobilise support for an armed group had “misrepresented” himself when booking the facility, authorities said on Thursday (Jul 18).
“For this event, our investigations showed that the individual had misrepresented himself, stating that the booking was for his company’s health talk,” the People’s Association (PA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a joint statement, without identifying the community club.
“It is clearly stated in our application forms that the facilities should not be used for any religious, political or unlawful purposes.”
READ: Singapore to deport Myanmar nationals linked to insurgent group Arakan Army
On Jul 10, MHA announced that several Myanmar nationals are to be deported from Singapore after mobilising support for “armed violence against the Myanmar government”.
MHA revealed that they recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Arakan Army (AA) and its political wing, the United League of Arakan. AA has been designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government.
At the celebration, participants depicted the AA’s armed offensive against the Myanmar Armed Forces’ actions in Rakhine state, and actors were dressed in military uniforms with replica firearms.
MHA added that a video of the AA leader was streamed live, urging the Rakhine people to unite and fight for Rakhine independence through the AA’s armed conflict against the authorities.
This prompted two individuals to express concerns in separate letters published in The Straits Times, with one of them asking if community club staff conduct checks when “foreign nationals” use community club halls for activities.
“A community club is basically a place for citizen-oriented activities and the fact that Myanmar nationals used it for their political causes in this instance is an abuse of trust,” Gabriel Cheng wrote in his letter published on Jul 16.
READ: Myanmar nationals protest outside Singapore embassy in Washington
In their joint statement, PA and MHA reiterated that community facilities are open to members of the public for “social and recreational activities”, adding that those booking the facility must “truthfully declare” the purpose of their booking.
“We reserve the right to cancel any bookings that violate our terms and conditions, and forfeit the booking fees,” they stated.
“Members of the public who spot anything unusual in the community club premises can alert our staff on duty.”
The agencies also reminded event organisers to apply for the necessary permits and licences required for their event, noting that public assemblies in Singapore are regulated under the Public Order Act (POA).
“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 POA, unless they meet exemption conditions,” they said.
“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.”