Burning effigies? Handle with care

If you plan on setting something ablaze at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park, get the green light from the authorities first.

Activities involving the use of fire at the 6,000 sq m area require approval from the Commissioner of Parks, police have said.

It may also be an offence under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which covers a wide range of offences, including burning materials near public roads.

The authorities told organisers of a protest on Jan 25 that burning an effigy of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew was illegal. Protesters doused the figure with water instead.

Forums and political websites later asked if there was a law against burning effigies at the Speakers' Corner.

During a press conference in August 2008 - a week before rules were relaxed to allow outdoor protests at the Speakers' Corner - a question was raised about the burning of effigies. Then NParks chief operating officer Leong Chee Chiew was quoted as saying: "We are not pre-judging anything. Just please, in burn-ing the effigies, don't burn down our trees and shrubs."

Mr Gilbert Goh, the organiser of last month's protest, said: "Now in 2014... we are told we can't burn. We are wondering why."

NParks' terms and conditions for Speakers' Corner states that "certain activities, including setting up of structures and use of fire, require the commissioner's approval".

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