Police Warn Against Gathering in Botanic Gardens Organised for the Israel-Hamas War


Advertisements
 

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has doubled down on their stance to not allow any events related to the Israel-Hamas conflict to be held.

This came after rallying calls on social media were made urging people to assemble at the Singapore Botanic Gardens for an event named “Walk-Out Singapore.” The purpose was to express sentiments concerning the ongoing conflict that had persisted for four months.

In response to media enquiries on 15 February 2024, SPF reiterated that a police permit is required for the event. Organising and even attending such events without one is considered an offence under the Public Order Act. 

SPF referred back to their statement made on 13 February, which addressed “particular public safety and security concerns with assemblies and processions” related to the conflict. 

“They could lead to tensions and disharmony in our society, as different communities in Singapore hold different views on the matter,” said the police, “We will therefore not approve applications to hold events related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, regardless of which side the support is for.”

SPF also revealed that they had contacted the organisers of the aforementioned Botanic Gardens event and advised her against moving forward.

They encouraged individuals to engage solely in properly organised and lawful gatherings and conversations as a means to voice concerns regarding the conflict.

Previous Two Events Related to the Israel-Hamas Conflict

On 2 February 2024, SPF also had to investigate two separate events related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

One of them saw a group of 70 people marching in protest from Orchard Road towards the Istana, carrying umbrellas with watermelon images in support of the Palestinian cause.

In doing so, they may have committed an offence for organising a public assembly without a permit, which is further exacerbated considering that the Istana is a highly security-sensitive area.

“Furthermore, their actions advocate the political causes of other countries and have the potential to stir up tensions and lead to public disorder,” said SPF, adding that several police reports were lodged by members of the public.

The second incident was a private gathering that occurred later that day, which drew attention from the police due to a video circulating online.

The video, live-streamed by one of the attendees, captured individuals chanting publicly, “From the river to the sea,” eliciting the response, “Palestine will be free.”

This chant is linked with advocating for the destruction of Israel, which can lead to racial tensions in Singapore and may be an offence.

Warnings Also Made Against Protests During Singapore Airshow

SPF also acknowledged the presence of calls to protest against Israel during the Singapore Airshow, including proposals for sit-ins and the placement of conflict-related stickers.

The Singapore Airshow, scheduled from Feb 20 to Feb 25, showcases exhibits by various international aerospace and defence firms, including that of Israel.


Advertisements
 

Authorities cautioned that arranging or partaking in public gatherings or processions without a permit constitutes a violation of the law.

Placing posters, placards, or other materials like stickers on properties without proper authorization is also considered an offence.

Even Individual Israel-Hamas Protests Across Singapore were Investigated

Even if you’re an individual person hoping to voice your opinions on the tragic conflict on social media, you could be swiftly put under SPF’s radar.

In October last year, activist Gilbert Goh was put under police scrutiny after he uploaded a photo on Instagram that showed him carrying a sign that said, “Peace not war. Israel stop the killing at Gaza! Hamas release all the hostages!”

The photo was taken at Hong Lim Park’s Speakers’ Corner, a single day after a joint statement from both NParks and SPF was released stating that all applications to hold events and public assemblies in Singapore about the Israel-Hamas war will be turned down due to public safety and security concerns. 


Advertisements
 

The Public Order Act 2009

The police clarified that public assemblies in Singapore fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Order Act 2009. It is considered an offence under this act to organise or participate in a public assembly without the necessary police permit.

The SPF maintains a strict policy of not granting permits for assemblies advocating for the political causes of other countries or foreign entities, especially if they have the potential to incite strong emotions and lead to public disorder.

Furthermore, the police urged the public to engage in responsible and respectful discussions on this issue, both online and offline, emphasising that personal social media platforms are not exempt from this responsibility.

They cautioned against making insensitive or offensive remarks about race or religion, which could endanger Singapore’s racial and religious harmony.

SPF reiterated its commitment to preserving harmony in Singapore, emphasising that individuals who make remarks or behave in a manner that could potentially stir ill-will and hostility between different racial or religious groups will be swiftly dealt with in accordance with the law.

In a Facebook post dated 14 February 2024, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo clarified that the police’s advisory “is not intended to hinder anyone from expressing their concerns or strong opinions on this matter.”


Advertisements
 

“However, there are appropriate ways of doing so without violating our laws or causing significant division in our society,” she continued.

“It’s important to remember that we cannot hope to resolve conflicts by initiating more conflicts ourselves. Instead, we can share our perspectives respectfully and contribute to humanitarian relief efforts. Let’s continue to show care for those impacted by the ongoing conflict and thereby uphold our unity.”