Singapore Police Force (SPF) issued a media statement on Sunday evening in protest to an article which was published on Saturday (11 March) by Reuters on a protest against the recently announced water price hike, stating that the media had attempted to stoke fears about the use of the Speakers’ Corner and sow distrust of the Police.
Pointing to one of the lines in the article, “The organisers of Saturday’s protest said more people would have turned up if they had not feared a police crackdown.”, the Police said that this presents a false and misleading picture of the use of the Speakers’ Corner in Singapore.
It stated that the Speakers’ Corner was established in 2000 as a designated site for Singaporeans to speak on any issue, without the need for a police permit, as long as the event does not cause racial or religious enmity or pose any law and order risks.
“Many large-scale events involving thousands of participants have since been held at the Speakers’ Corner,” the Police added.
Just last Saturday, a group of citizens held a protest event at Hong Lim Park, Speakers’ Corner to voice their concerns over the hike in water prices as announced in the Budget 2017. About 200 over members of public turned up at the event, listening to the speeches made by 10 speakers.
In the last sentence of the Reuters’ article on the event, it also mentioned the charging of six people for creating a public nuisance while protesting against a compulsory tax savings scheme in 2014.
The Police stressed that in the mentioned case, those who were charged and convicted of public nuisance had “deliberately marched through and disrupted an event by special needs children who were performing on stage”.
The Police spokesperson stated that it is regrettable that Reuters had decided to carry unsubstantiated allegations from the organisers and cited an unrelated case from 2014 in its reporting on the Speakers’ Corner.
“This was clearly an attempt to stoke fears about the use of the Speakers’ Corner and sow distrust of the police,” the Police said.
“A more objective reporting would have shown that the Speakers’ Corner has been and remains an avenue for Singaporeans to participate freely and responsibly in public speeches and demonstrations,” it added.
In response to the Police’s protest, Reuters added a new line to the article. “The police said that the six people involved in that incident were charged after disrupting another event being held on an adjacent lawn.”