The police and NParks said they will now consider “appropriate measures” to ensure that the incident on 27 Sep at Hong Lim Park, where 2 events clashed together, will not occur again.

In a media statement, the authorities said, “To mitigate potential public order incidents, the Singapore Police Force and NParks may put in place appropriate measures or engage organisers prior to the event to explain the rules and regulations, remind them to act responsibly, observe NParks’ regulations and abide by the laws.”

It added that applications for multiple events on the same day are dealt with on a first come, first served basis.

“We have not needed to allocate the space previously and there had been no adverse or disorderly incidents. This is because the groups showed consideration and respect for each other, despite their different views and agendas,” the statement said.

In the statement, NParks and the police also said that in anticipation of the crowds on 27 Sep, they allocated the 2 groups separate lawns:

“YMCA was allocated one lawn to hold their charity event. The adjacent lawn was allocated for Ms Han Hui Hui who had applied to speak. The two separate spaces were clearly demarcated. Unfortunately, Ms Han’s group did not heed our advice and continued to hold her event at the same lawn as YMCA’s.”

The statement, however, failed to reveal that Ms Han’s group was only informed verbally at the 11th hour about the demarcation, just couple of hours before #ReturnOurCPF event was slated to start. There was no official word from the authorities in writings.

Indeed, before the #ReturnOurCPF event, Mr Chia Seng Jiang, Director of Parks 1 of the Parks Division in NParks, led a team of police officers in approaching Ms Han (see video). Mr Chia, showing his namecard to Ms Han, wanted Ms Han to move the #ReturnOurCPF event to the allocated lawn.

Police said they are investigating the clash at Hong Lim Park on 27 Sep (‘Police to investigate alleged Hong Lim Park incident‘).

In the ST Editorial on Saturday (4 Oct), it also agreed that new rules need to be drawn up to ensure that “one group’s use is not to the detriment of others”:

The incident at Hong Lim Park last weekend, as an instance of a descent to the lowest common denominator, highlights the need for agreement on how and who should set certain limits to and resolve the dilemmas of the shared use of a public space.

Public order and safety, of course, are always overriding concerns whether a park is made available for gatherings or a street is pedestrianised. There is no question that some rules will have to be drawn up for these purposes and enforced fairly so one person’s or group’s use is not to the detriment of others.

The ST Editorial also took the opportunity to take a swipe at netizens who “heckle” others on the Internet:

A parallel dilemma in cyberspace has proven to be stubbornly vexing given the difficulties of effectively curbing hacking, flaming, trolling, rumour-mongering, harassing and bullying via the Internet. In both cases, those using these shared public commons must learn that they have a duty to protect the space for all, if everyone is to continue to enjoy access to it.

Perhaps the best way to avoid being accused as a “heckler” altogether, whether online or offline, is for critics to stop criticising the establishment and start agreeing with everything the establishment is doing for Singapore?

What do you think?

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