SPF Asks Charity To Apply For Public Assembly Permit At Last Min, Forcing Event To Be Canceled

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has informed a non-profit organisation, Happy People Helping People (HPHP) that their fundraising event scheduled to be held on December 14, will require a police permit to take place as it “politicizes a social cause”.

This was said to local media on Friday (Dec 13).

HPHP is a non-profit organisation co-founded by Mr Mohammad Nafiz Kamarudin, that focuses on meeting the needs of elderly cardboard collectors through monthly events and outings.

HPHP had planned the event, “A Mile In Their Shoes – “Leaders of Singapore” Fundraiser Special” to be held on Dec 14 and had invited politicians from the various political parties including the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), to participate and collect cardboard across Singapore in areas like Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Chinatown, Jalan Besar and Bedok.

As of Friday, representatives from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Reform Party (RP), Progress Singapore Party (PSP) and People’s Power Party (PPP) had expressed their intentions on attending.

“We feel that this is a sign of desperation among these elderlies (mostly in their 70s, 80s and even 90s) as cardboard collecting is not only a dangerous, backbreaking and unhygenic work, it also earns them very little. $0.04 cents for every kilogram.”

HPHP statement

To raise funds during the event, HPHP was planning to use the free fundraising platform Give.Asia. The money raised was to be distributed equally among 150 elderly cardboard collectors.

Give.Asia had initially declined to host HPHP’s fundraising campaign for the seniors due to political sensitivity but on Dec 13, it gave the green light for HPHP to use the platform.

The police justified their request for a public assembly permit under the Public Order Act by citing that the event is purportedly only open to political party members.

Under the Public Order Act, it is a criminal offence to take part in a public assembly or procession without a police permit.

The police further added that HPHP is not a registered charity and does not have a licence under the House to House and Street Collections Act.

“The event goes beyond simply helping cardboard collectors, and appears to be politicising a social cause,” the police said.

The police said that Mr Nafiz was informed of the requirement for a permit and advised to submit the necessary applications on December 12, barely 48 hours before the event was due to commence. There is a minimum waiting period of two weeks for an application for a public assembly permit to be processed.

As a result of the permit requirement, HPHP has cancelled the event.

HPHP wrote on its Facebook page, “It is unfortunate that we have to cancel this event tomorrow because the police did not want us to do this without a permit. And they told us yesterday night. We wonder why at the very last minute. Nevertheless, we will still be in Toa Payoh helping the old folks collect their cardboard boxes and we welcome anyone who wishes to join us to experience what it’s like to be in their shoes.”

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