Foreigners at Hong Lim Park vigil questioned by police

Foreigners at Hong Lim Park vigil questioned by police
A man lights candles next to signs during a candlelight vigil in solidarity with protesters of the "Occupy Central" movement in Hong Kong, at the Hong Lim Park Speakers' Corner in Singapore October 1, 2014.

SINGAPORE - Several foreigners have been questioned by the police after they attended a candlelight vigil at Hong Lim Park on Wednesday night in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.

A police spokesman said in response to questions from The Straits Times yesterday that the foreigners were "currently assisting with investigations into offences under the Public Order Act".

There were no details on what they were questioned about or the numbers involved, but the spokesman said no arrests were made.

Under terms and conditions for using Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park, which is under the National Parks Board, only Singaporeans and permanent residents can take part in demonstrations there.

Foreigners and organisers of "assemblies and processions" involving foreigners need to get a police permit. It is understood foreigners can observe events but cannot, for example, chant slogans, wave flags or give speeches.

Said the police spokesman: "Speakers' Corner is a designated site for Singapore citizens to speak freely on issues, as long as they do not touch on racial or religious matters... While foreigners are allowed to work or live here, they have to abide by our laws.

"They should not import their domestic issues from their countries into Singapore and conduct activities which can disturb public order."

Hong Kongers were among the several hundred at the vigil. The crowd sang Under A Vast Sky, a song by Hong Kong rock band Beyond, that has become the protest's unofficial anthem.

They also lit candles and wrote messages supporting the demonstrators.

Mr Jolovan Wham, 34, one of the event's organisers, said he was not in touch with the foreigners questioned by the police and did not know who they were.

He added that he had not been questioned by the police.

Before the event, police officers reminded him to comply with the rules and regulations for using the area. Mr Wham and co-organiser Rachel Zeng, 31, had a link to these rules on the event's Facebook page when it was set up.

They also wrote: "If you don't have a permit, you can come and 'observe'. Observing a protest or a demonstration is legal.

How you choose to 'observe' is entirely up to you. We can't stop you and we shouldn't have to!"


This article was first published on October 3, 2014.
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