Maruah: We have always been transparent

Maruah: We have always been transparent
Maruah president Braema Mathi (far right) at a panel discussion in February.

The funding pie for civil society groups here is small, say activists.

And sometimes, when groups fight for a bigger slice and more prominence, things can get heated.

That appears to be the case with Maruah, a human rights group here.

In March, Maruah announced it was holding a forum.

Comments on the group's Facebook page ranged from the trivial - "Will hotel food be served like the last time?" - to the sarcastic, said Maruah's president Braema Mathi.

A month after the postings, the Registry of Political Donations (RPD) contacted Maruah in writing.

It wanted to know how Maruah funded a similar event in October, which was held at an Orchard Road hotel.

A spokesman told The New Paper: "It has come to RPD's attention that Maruah may have received donations from impermissible sources. RPD is seeking clarifications from (the group)."

Under the Political Donations Act, political associations can accept only donations that come from Singaporeans or Singapore-controlled companies.

Said the RPD spokesman: "The purpose of the Act is to prevent foreigners from interfering in Singapore's domestic politics through donations and funding."

So an impermissible source would include foreign organisations. The Act came into effect in 2001.

Maruah was gazetted as a political association in 2010.

Ms Mathi said the October event was a regional dialogue that Maruah had co-organised with a foreign NGO. About 60 people attended the event.

"Maruah has always been transparent in handling such matters," she told TNP. "At no time did the money pass through our hands."

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