SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force (SPF) is currently investigating two events held on 2 February that may have breached the Public Order Act amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and genocide in Gaza.
In their statement on Tuesday (13 Feb), the SPF also emphasized the importance of maintaining respectful and responsible discussions concerning the conflict, highlighting the illegal nature of participating in public protests without the requisite permit.
The first event under investigation saw approximately 70 individuals congregating along Orchard Road, proceeding towards the Istana with umbrellas adorned with watermelon imagery—a recognized symbol of Palestinian resistance.
It is said that members of the public filed police reports on the event.
This march, potentially advocating for the political causes of other countries, has raised concerns over stirring tensions and leading to public disorder, particularly given the security sensitivity of the Istana area, said the police.
A second incident involved a private gathering which was captured and shared online where a subject was seen live streaming publicly and chanting, “From the river to the sea”, and others chanting “, Palestine will be free”, in response.
The participants in the private event called for stopping the purchase of Israeli arms, ending Singaporean partnerships with Israeli institutions, halting all diplomatic relations with Israel, ceasing participation in the US-led attacks in the Red Sea, and stopping police investigations into peaceful expressions of support for Palestine.
SPF states, “The phrase “From the river to the sea” is associated with calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. The use of such phrases can lead to racial tensions in our society, and may be an offence under Section 298A(a) of the Penal Code 1871. We must also not condone calls for violence.”
Reflecting on these incidents, the SPF reiterated its stance from October 2023, alongside the National Parks Board, that applications for public events related to the Israel-Hamas conflict would be systematically rejected due to public safety and security concerns.
The SPF’s statement further stressed the importance of not allowing international events to disrupt Singapore’s internal harmony, pointing out the “real risk” assemblies related to the Gaza situation pose to public order and inter-community relations.
In line with this, the SPF has made it clear that no permits will be granted for gatherings that risk inciting disorder or advocate for foreign political causes.
Additionally, SPF noted that unauthorized posting of materials such as stickers on properties remains a punishable offence under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.
In a supportive stance, Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for the Ministry of Home Affairs, echoed the police’s sentiments in a Facebook post.
She reassured that the advisory is not aimed at stifling expression but rather at ensuring that public discourse does not infringe upon the law or threaten societal cohesion.
Minister Teo also highlighted Singapore’s proactive stance on the conflict, noting the country’s contribution to humanitarian efforts and its call for an immediate ceasefire through international platforms.
The death toll in the Gaza Strip has surpassed 28,000, with more than 67,600 Palestinians wounded since the Israeli offensive on Gaza began on 7 October last year.
On 26 January, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to limit deaths and damage but stopped short of demanding a cease-fire in the Palestinian territory.
South Africa has accused Israel of genocide and requested the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to impose interim measures as the case proceeds. These requested measures include ordering Israel to halt its offensive, allowing Gaza residents access to aid, and taking “reasonable measures” to prevent genocide.
Israel has denied committing genocide and asked the court to dismiss the case, which the panel of 17 judges refused to do.
Casualties in Gaza are expected to increase as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls for a ground invasion of Rafah, where 1.4 million civilians are crammed into the city, trapped between Isreal’s offensive in the north and Egypt’s border where it has been said that it would not allow passage.
Gutzy has checked with the organisers of the events and understands that they have yet to be contacted by the police and that the Prime Minister has yet respond to the letters that were sent on 2 February.
Edit: It was wrongly noted in the previous edition that the President had not replied when the letters were sent to the Prime Minister.
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