Published: 18 May 2018
Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs with respect to the over 900 permits for public assemblies issued under the Public Order Act in 2017 (a) what proportion of permits related to events held at Speakers' Corner as opposed to events at other venues; (b) whether there have been any permits issued for outdoor assemblies at venues other than Speakers' Corner and, if so, what has been the nature of these assemblies; and (c) for the permits granted for events at Speakers' Corner, what are the reasons for requiring a permit for those events.
1. Of the over 900 Police permits issued for public assemblies in 2017, only one was for a public assembly at Speakers’ Corner.
2. The rest were for public assemblies held elsewhere. 835 of them were outdoor events. These events were mostly religious celebrations, and constituency events organised by grassroots organisations. Under the Public Order Act, a Police permit is required for a public assembly if the purpose of the gathering is to:
(i) Demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any persons, group of persons or any government;
(ii) To publicise a cause or campaign; or
(iii) To mark or commemorate any event.
3. As for Speakers’ Corner, there were 40 public events held there in 2017. A Police permit is not required if the event meets the conditions set out in the Public Order (Unrestricted Area) Order 2016.
4. The one event in 2017 at Speakers’ Corner where a Police permit was granted was a public assembly to promote awareness on breastfeeding. The event involved the participation of foreigners, which is against one of the exemption conditions. The Police granted a permit after assessing the event in totality, including that it did not promote a cause that was political, controversial, or divisive in nature.