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    Apr 23, 2014

    No permit for Philippine event yet

    FOLLOWING heated debate over an upcoming Philippine Independence Day celebration at Ngee Ann City, it is now not known if the June 8 event will go ahead.

    The organisers have not yet applied for a permit, said police yesterday.

    They have also not shared their plans for the event with the authorities. Applications for permits are to be submitted at least four working days before the event.

    Calls and messages to the Pilipino Independence Day Council Singapore (PIDCS), which is behind the 116th Philippine Independence Day party, went unanswered. When contacted, Ngee Ann City also declined to comment.

    Earlier this month, the PIDCS was forced to take down a Facebook post on the event after it was met with a torrent of protest. The criticism included holding the event in Orchard Road and for using the Marina Bay skyline in a logo for the event.

    The 20-member organising committee was also harassed over the phone by people demanding the cancellation of the celebration, to a point where they were afraid to pick up calls from unknown numbers.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin weighed in last weekend, denouncing the seemingly xenophobic criticisms.

    Mr Tan branded these actions as "not acceptable, repulsive even" and urged Singaporeans to "make a stand to say no to such bigotry".

    PM Lee said Singaporeans have to be "generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here".

    "Otherwise we will lower our standing in the eyes of the world, and have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves," he added.

    In their statement yesterday, the police emphasised that all organisers of public events require a permit for any public assembly - regardless of the number of participants - if the purpose is to:

    Demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person, group of persons or any government;

    Publicise a cause or campaign or;

    Mark or commemorate any event.

    The police also said they will assess each application and assess potential public order and safety risks.

    The uncertainty of the event has left some Singaporeans, like designer Zheng Shi Hui, disappointed. "We call ourselves a developed and educated nation but we can be so xenophobic, to the point of forcing the cancellation of an event by foreigners," said the 25-year-old.