Police warn nine persons over Merlion ‘protest’

Police stand guard in Singapore on July 18, 2012. Singapore police on Tuesday arrested a 13-year-old Indian boy for posting a Facebook message in which he allegedly threatened to bomb a luxury casino resort in the city-state

[UPDATE 10 May, 6.40pm: Added latest statement from Singapore Police Force]

The police have issued conditional warnings to nine persons who gathered at the Merlion Park on Wednesday night, according to a statement posted on their Facebook page.

"The Police have issued conditional warnings against nine persons for actively participating in the illegal gathering at Merlion Park," they said, adding that authorities will also inform the participants' employers that their work and visit passes are currently being reviewed.

They also said that, while further investigations are ongoing, foreigners in Singapore should "abide" by the laws in the city-state and refrain from importing "domestic issues" from their respective countries. Conducting such activities can disturb the public order due to possible opposing views here, they noted.

"Those who break the law will be seriously dealt with. This may include termination of their work passes and visas," they said.

On Thursday, five Malaysians were questioned by police over a gathering at Merlion Park on Wednesday night to denounce the results of the recent elections in Malaysia.

A spokesperson from the Singapore Police Force confirmed five Malaysians that participated in the “protest” were “assisting” police in ongoing investigations.

The police said in a post on their Facebook page on Thursday that the five individuals are “believed” to have organised the outdoor protest, which saw Malaysians  dressed in black and carrying placards labeled with such phrases as “We Want Bersih (clean)” and “No Racism. Unity. Peace. Harmony”.

The gathering was meant to coincide with the rally led by Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to protest results of the election.

Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional retained its hold on power after a tight race marred by fraud claims. BN won 133 out of 222 federal seats, its worst showing, and also lost the popular vote.

According to media reports, Singapore police received a call at 9.50pm about an “illegal protest” being staged by around 100 people at the Merlion Park, a popular tourist spot. Upon arrival of the police, the group dispersed peacefully.

Participants reportedly sang the Malaysia’s national anthem and chanted “ubah (change)”, which is a word frequently used by Anwar.

According to participants, it was a spontaneous gathering which was publicised through online social media, but that they had no information on the organisers as they simply decided to join the event after receiving calls or messages from their friends.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, at least 50,000 people took part in the Anwar-led rally that took place at stadium Kelana Jaya. He said he would soon produce evidence that the ruling coalition’s victory at the polls was fraudulent.

According to Malaysian police, the speakers who were at the stadium on Wednesday night might be charged for sedition. In response to this, Anwar said that the police’s announcement was a “politically motivated threat” and that the aim was to silence opposition claims.