5 S’pore citizens declared memberships in overseas political entities under foreign interference law

SINGAPORE – Five Singapore citizens have declared their memberships in foreign legislatures or political organisations as of March 1, as required by the Republic’s foreign interference law.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam disclosed this in a written reply on April 2 to a parliamentary question by Progress Singapore Party Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai.

Anyone applying to be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident (PR) is required to declare their membership in professional societies, clubs, associations and other organisations, Mr Shanmugam added. He did not provide more details about the five persons nor which foreign organisations they are part of.

The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (Fica), a law that empowers authorities here to deal with foreign interference in domestic politics, was passed in Parliament in October 2021. Its provisions came into full force on Dec 29, 2023.

The law requires that Singapore citizens involved in foreign political bodies before Feb 1, 2024, declare their involvement by March 1. Those who become members after Feb 1 have to declare their involvement within one month of joining.

On Feb 26, businessman Philip Chan Man Ping, 59, became the first person here to be officially designated a politically significant person.

Mr Chan was assessed to have shown susceptibility to being influenced by foreign actors, and willingness to advance their interests, MHA said on Feb 2 when it announced its intention to designate him under Fica.

In March 2023, Mr Chan had attended the annual session of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), as an “overseas Chinese representative”.

On April 2, Mr Shanmugam replied to another parliamentary question that Singapore citizens and PRs are not prohibited from becoming members of such foreign entities.

Workers’ Party MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) had asked whether Singapore citizens and PRs are permitted to be members of entities such as the CPPCC if they register with the authorities here and their activities are not directed towards a political end in Singapore.

The requirement for citizens to declare their memberships is for the Government to have oversight of those who are members of foreign legislatures or foreign political organisations, said Mr Shanmugam.

“(Singapore citizens) who join such bodies or are thinking of joining such bodies will need to be discerning as to whether their participation could potentially go against Singapore’s interests,” he added.

The Government is particularly mindful about foreign affiliations of individuals who are politically significant persons under Fica, said the minister.

The law classifies political parties, political office holders and MPs as defined politically significant persons. A person or group can become designated as politically significant if the authorities assess that their activities are directed towards a political end, and that it is in the public interest that countermeasures against foreign interference be applied.

“Fica allows the Registrar of Foreign and Political Disclosures to issue a directive to any politically significant person to end an arrangement with any foreign principal, including membership of any foreign entity,” said Mr Shanmugam.

“The registrar can do so if he is satisfied that the politically significant person is undertaking, has undertaken or is likely to undertake an activity on behalf of a foreign principal, and that it is in the public interest that such a directive be given.”

Source link