Singapore

Foreign companies’ application to support Pink Dot rejected

Foreign companies’ application to support Pink Dot rejected
TODAY file photo
Published: 4:00 AM, June 16, 2017
Updated: 12:36 PM, June 16, 2017

SINGAPORE — A group of foreign companies, including Facebook, Google and Uber, had written to the Singapore police asking for permission to support this year’s Pink Dot event.

However, their application was rejected by the authorities.

In a letter dated June 9 and addressed to the police’s licensing division, the 10 companies also listed three conditions under which they would participate in the event: They would not be individually listed or recognised as official sponsors; their names and logos would not be on official event collaterals; and there would be no foreign representatives from the companies speaking at the event.

In a reply to TODAY’s queries, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesperson reiterated the Government’s position, noting that “foreign entities should not fund, support, or influence events that relate to domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones”.

“The Government has also made clear that it does not seek to proscribe such events,” the spokesperson added.

Following amendments to the Public Order Act, which came into effect on Nov 1 last year, event organisers must ensure that “only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession”, among other things.

The changes also mean that from this year, foreign companies cannot sponsor the event, held annually in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. This year’s edition will be held on July 1 at Hong Lim Park.

Noting that “(these) are political, social or moral choices for Singaporeans to decide”, the MHA spokesperson said: “This restriction applies, for example, to both events which are organised to support the LGBT cause, as well as to events which are organised to oppose that cause.”

In its letter, the group of companies acknowledged the Government’s stance on the issue.

“We have always maintained that, notwithstanding that some of us have sponsored Pink Dot in previous years, Pink Dot is a locally organised event,” it read.

The companies also said that support for Pink Dot is “consistent” with their global policies on diversity and freedom.

In stating its conditions for supporting the event, either financially or in kind, the companies said: “We believe that ... (these conditions) would help dispel the perception, if any, that the event is a product of foreign intervention.”

The MHA spokesperson said: “Foreign entities which fund, support, or influence the Pink Dot 2017 event constitutes a circumvention of the rules. Companies operating in Singapore should abide by our laws.”

TODAY understands that while Pink Dot organisers were aware of their past foreign sponsors’ intentions to appeal against the ban on foreign participation in the event, they did not know of the exact nature of the appeal, nor were they aware that the companies were going to draft this letter.