SINGAPORE: Philip Chan Man Ping, a Singaporean businessman has received notice from authorities indicating their intent to designate him as a “politically significant person” under the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA), a law aimed at countering foreign interference.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced on Friday (2 February) that the Registrar of Foreign and Political Disclosures, under Section 48(1) of FICA, plans to categorize the 59-year-old naturalized Singapore citizen as a PSP, making him the first person under FICA provisions since its enforcement in December of the previous year.
FICA seek to prevent, detect, and disrupt hostile information campaigns and local proxies employed by foreign entities attempting to interfere in domestic politics.
The designation of “politically significant persons” (PSPs) extends to various entities, including political parties, political office holders, Members of Parliament, and election candidates with their election agents.
In Mr Chan’s case, the designation is based on activities directed toward a political end, deemed to be in the public interest for authorities to apply countermeasures under FICA.
The Registrar officially served the notice to Mr Chan on Friday, allowing him a 14-day window to submit representations.
The MHA revealed that the decision was influenced by the Registrar’s assessment, indicating Mr Chan’s susceptibility to foreign influence and a demonstrated willingness to advance foreign interests, without disclosing the specific foreign actors involved.
The registrar also found that Mr Chan’s activities are “directed towards a political end in Singapore”, and that it is in the public interest for countermeasures under FICA to be applied to him.
Additionally, the Registrar concluded that Mr Chan’s activities align with political objectives in Singapore, justifying the application of countermeasures under FICA in the public interest.
If officially designated a PSP, Mr Chan would be obligated to annually disclose political donations of S$10,000 (US$7,500) or more, along with revealing his foreign affiliations and migration benefits to the Registrar.
The MHA emphasized that these transparency requirements aim to detect and prevent foreign interference in Singapore’s political affairs.
In the event of a PSP designation, Mr Chan retains the option to appeal the decision to the Minister for Home Affairs.
Decade-long grassroots and fundraising initiatives in Singapore
A review of the official website of the charity group SPD reveals that Mr Philip Chan is a member of the group’s Resource Mobilisation and Partnerships Committee.
According to the introduction, Mr Chan boasts over 20 years of experience in the property-related industry.
He holds the position of Managing Director at Wen Way Investments Pte Ltd (“Wen Way”), C&H Properties Pte Ltd (“C&H”), Mutual Benefits Realty Pte Ltd (“MBR”), and China Link Pte Ltd (China Link).
Mr Chan co-founded property investment company, Wen Way, together with Amer International, a Fortune 500 Company in 2012. and assumed the role of C&H Group’s CEO after Wen Way acquired 80% shares of the Group in 2013.
Wen Way Investments specializes in real estate ventures across Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Immigrating from Hong Kong in 1990, Mr Chan is actively involved in various leadership roles.
He leads the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and has held the presidency of the Kowloon Club since 2011.
The Singapore-based association, primarily supporting immigrants from Hong Kong, has garnered substantial coverage in the Chinese daily, Lianhe Zaobao.
Numerous articles in the publication highlight the association’s charitable fundraising efforts, often featuring Mr Chan.
A perusal of Lianhe Zaobao’s archives reveals that from 2016 to 2019, Mr Chan contributed 25 pieces to the Chinese-language news platform.
While most were letters, spanning topics from the taxi industry and unruly drivers to reunion dinners, others included commentary and diverse articles.
Some letters delved into global politics and China’s position in the world, exemplified by a 2018 piece titled “Wronged,” addressing China’s historical grievances.
Delegate at the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party
In a March 2023 article on the Chinese news website 52hrtt (华人头条), Mr Chan was identified as an overseas representative at the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
During an interview with the website, Mr Chan said, “It is our duty as overseas Chinese to tell China’s story well, and to both spread and pass on the marvellous traditional Chinese culture while we are abroad.
“As a member of the Chinese Singaporean community, I have had my articles published in Lianhe Zaobao, a mainstream Chinese media in Singapore. However, my influence is limited. Since we can only do little alone, we therefore need to be more united.”
Mr. Chan has expressed his aspiration for overseas representatives of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to unite and organize an annual event, facilitated by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Offices.
This envisioned gathering aims to promote exchanges and sharing among overseas Chinese, allowing them to actively contribute to effectively narrating China’s story.
PA: Mr Chan resigned from all grassroots appointments
For over a decade, Mr Chan has been actively engaged in grassroots and fundraising initiatives in Singapore, establishing connections with local politicians through various activities.
His roles as a patron of the Kampong Chai Chee Citizens’ Consultative Committee and the Bukit Timah Community Club Management Committee have involved him deeply in community affairs.
However, following the MHA’s announcement, the People’s Association (PA) revealed on Friday that Mr Chan has resigned from all grassroots appointments, as per reported by CNA.
While the PA did not respond to queries regarding Mr Chan’s influence on grassroots activities during his appointments, it was noted that he had held these positions since 2014, as indicated on the SPD charity’s website.
SPD acknowledged the Kowloon Club, under Mr Chan’s leadership, as a “long-time supporter,” actively raising funds for the charity since 2011.
The Kowloon Club notably contributed S$18,888 for the upgrading of Zhenghua Community Club in March of the previous year.
It is noteworthy that two organizations, Think Centre and Maruah, have been designated as politically significant persons (PSPs) alongside Mr Chan.
Think Centre, an NGO advocating for democracy and human rights, and Maruah, a human rights NGO, are among the entities falling under this designation.
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