SINGAPORE: Singaporean activist Gilbert Goh was seen holding up a sign at Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park, demonstrating his solidarity with victims of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
A photo published on Mr Goh’s Instagram on Monday (6 Nov) shows him holding a sign with the words: “CEASE FIRE NOW!”
The sign also displayed disturbing statistics: “Total deaths – 9800, Children – 4000, Women – 2400, Missing – 2200.”
In the description accompanying his post, Mr Goh wrote: “In solidarity with 2 million Palestinians at Gaza. In solidarity with those hostages still held by Hamas. ”
He concluded with a quote from Gandhi: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
This is the second time Mr Goh has shared a post displaying his signage at Speakers’ Corner.
On 21 October, The Singapore Police Force (SPF) disclosed that investigations are underway concerning an incident involving Mr Goh.
This investigation follows a recent declaration by the authorities, including the National Parks Board, prohibiting events and public assemblies related to the volatile Israel-Hamas conflict, citing substantial public safety and security concerns amidst escalating international tensions.
Defying these restrictions, Goh reportedly shared a monochromatic image on Instagram on 19 October, capturing himself at Speakers’ Corner, displaying a placard with a message that read, “Peace not war. Israel stop the killing at Gaza! Hamas release all the hostages!”
The post garnered positive feedback, with netizens commending Goh’s courage and echoing his sentiments for peace.
The same image, albeit in colour, was published by others via other social media platforms subsequently.
In a statement released, the SPF acknowledged awareness of “a social media post showing a man holding onto a sign related to the Israel-Hamas conflict outside the Speakers’ Corner” and affirmed that inquiries are ongoing. Though the statement did not explicitly name Goh.
Following the first incident, Gutzy understands the police have yet to approach Goh for either of the two posts.
The SPF sternly reiterated its stance on the matter, emphasizing that organizing or partaking in public assemblies without requisite permissions, especially concerning sensitive issues like the Middle East conflict, is an actionable offence under Singapore law.
This local incident unfolds against the harrowing backdrop of continued violence in the Middle East.
The conflict, now intensified following Hamas’ Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and subsequent Israeli military responses, shows no sign of abating, taking a heavy toll on civilian lives and infrastructure on both sides.
Israel officials have said more than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed in the attack by Hamas on 7 October.
The death toll in Gaza has tragically reached a sombre milestone, surpassing 10,000 casualties, among them 4,104 children and 2,641 women, as reported by the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza since October 7.
Goh, known for his advocacy in human rights, helms Transitioning.org, providing support for the unemployed, and Love Aid Singapore, focusing on the local homeless and underprivileged populace.
His activism extends internationally, with humanitarian efforts in conflict-ridden zones in the Middle East.
Singapore authorities declined five requests to use Speakers’ Corner for events related to Israel-Hamas Conflict
The Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park stands as the sole location in Singapore where citizens can conduct outdoor gatherings and marches without a police permit. Applicants seeking to utilize the area are required to submit applications to NParks for consideration.
In a Parliamentary session on Monday, Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim confirmed that the Singapore government has rejected five applications to use the Speakers’ Corner for events related to the Israel-Hamas war in October.
“There are real public safety and security concerns. There have been numerous incidents of violence related to the conflict in other countries,” he told the Parliament.
“Tensions are high, and public demonstrations may inevitably advocate, or show more sympathy, for one side of the conflict or the other. They can spark off incidents on the ground.”
“They also have the potential to divide us as Singaporeans. Once we allow one event, we will have to allow others.”
He emphasized that the government’s stance remains consistent with previous instances involving events held outside the Speakers’ Corner, like those concerning the Russia-Ukraine war. During such cases, the police similarly evaluated the potential safety and security risks.
“We would have adopted the same approach if the event was held at Speakers’ Corner,” he said.
Associate Professor Faishal highlighted alternative ways to express support, citing “other practical and impactful avenues,” including contributing to authorized fundraisers for humanitarian relief efforts.
Additionally, the government issued a warning on Monday, urging people not to display foreign national emblems related to the Israel-Hamas conflict and to remain vigilant regarding donations to authorized fundraising endeavors.
He said Hamas has issued statements “calling on all Muslims to fight”, and that supporters of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, including in Southeast Asia, have celebrated Hamas’ attacks.
“They have called on followers to join in a wider jihad. Singaporeans are not immune to such sentiments.”
Security agencies in Singapore are closely monitoring the situation and implementing supplementary measures, including heightened security patrols at specific events and locations, according to his statement.
Emphasizing the effectiveness of “collective vigilance” as Singapore’s primary defense against security threats, he encouraged individuals to report any suspicious behavior or individuals they suspect may have been radicalized.
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