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Singapore invokes foreign interference law against citizen

A view of the Parliament House next to the central business district in Singapore August 25, 2015.
FILE PHOTO: A view of the Parliament House next to the central business district in Singapore 25 August 25. (Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

By Olivia Poh

(Bloomberg) — Singapore invoked its foreign interference law against a naturalised citizen, marking the first such move since passing the contentious legislation in 2021.

Authorities have served notice to 59-year-old Chan Man Ping Philip that they intend to designate him as a politically significant person under the local law, according to a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday.

Chan has been assessed to have shown susceptibility to be influenced by foreign actors, and willingness to advance their interests, the ministry said. As a designated politically significant person, Chan must disclose annually political donations of S$10,000 ($7,489) or more that he has received and accepts, and declare his foreign affiliations and any migration benefits, it added.

The ministry didn’t name any country in its statement.

Hong Kong-born Chan is the managing director of several real estate investment firms, according to the Straits Times.

Chan didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Singapore’s parliament passed the law in October 2021, seeking to prevent foreign entities or individuals from influencing politics in the country.

The government had previously said it wouldn’t apply the law against foreign individuals and publications commenting and reporting on Singaporean politics, though critics have said it gave the government sweeping powers to target dissent and promote self-censorship.

Singapore has long defended the need for such laws, saying the city-state is vulnerable to fake news and hostile information campaigns given that it is a financial hub with a multiethnic, international population that enjoys widespread internet access.

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