Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act

Last updated on December 17, 2018

Public assemblies and public processions are activities regulated by the Public Order Act, a law enforced in Singapore by the Singapore Police Force. Generally, police permits are required before these activities may be held.

 

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With the rallies going on in Kuala Lumpur, some might be thinking – is it illegal to be part of a demonstration/protest in Singapore? 🤔 The answer is yes ✔, unless certain conditions are complied with. – Demonstrations and protests would count as “public assemblies” in Singapore. The term refers to an assembly held in a public place, or which members of the public are invited, induced or permitted to attend. An assembly is further defined to have certain purposes: demonstrating support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person, group of persons or any government, to publicise a cause or campaign, or to mark or commemorate any event! 🤧 Examples of other public assemblies include public talks 📣 and religious assemblies. – Here’s the catch: hosting a public assembly cannot be done without a police permit.👮‍♂️ If the organiser does so, they risk being fined up to $5,000! Attendees are not spared either – anyone who attends a public assembly organised without a permit risks being fined up to $3,000. 😰 – Though such protests/demonstrations aren’t commonplace in Singapore, and that these laws may not necessarily apply overseas, it’s knowledge that’s good to know! Should you have any doubts in the event of wanting to attend a “public assembly”, it’s best to contact the event’s organiser to ask if they’ve already obtained their permit. 👀👌 #SingaporeLegalAdvice

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What are Public Assemblies?

A “public assembly” refers to an assembly held or to be held in a public place or to which members of the public in general are invited, induced or permitted to attend.

An assembly is defined as a gathering or meeting of persons the purpose (or one of the purposes) of which is to:

  • Demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person, group of persons or any government;
  • Publicise a cause or campaign; or
  • Mark or commemorate any event,

and includes a demonstration by a person alone for any of the three mentioned purposes.

What are Public Processions?

A “public procession” refers to a procession in, to or from a public place.

A procession is defined as a march, parade or other procession (whether or not involving the use of vehicles or other conveyances):

  • Comprising 2 or more persons gathered at a place of assembly to move from that place substantially as a body of persons in succession proceeding by a common route or routes; and
  • The purpose (or one of the purposes) of which is to:
    • Demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person, group of persons or any government;
    • Publicise a cause or campaign; or
    • Mark or commemorate any event,

and includes any assembly held in conjunction with such procession, and a march by a person alone for any such mentioned purpose.

What are Public Places?

A “public place” means:

  • Any place to which members of the public have access as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission, whether or not on payment of a fee, whether or not access to the place may be restricted at particular times or for particular purposes, and whether or not it is an “approved place” within the meaning of the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act; or
  • A part of a place that the occupier of the place allows members of the public to enter, but only while the place is ordinarily open to members of the public.

Common Activities that are Public Assemblies and Processions

The following is a list of commonly held activities that require a permit:

  • Religious assembly;
  • Festival procession (e.g., lantern festival foot procession);
  • Religious procession (e.g., chariot procession, foot procession, foot and vehicular procession or vehicular procession);
  • Public talks; and
  • Drinking in a public place within special zone (parts of Little India are defined to be special zones as of September 2014) that is not exempted by a Class permit or under the Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Act 2014.

Exempted Assemblies and Processions

For a list of exempted activities which do not require a police permit, click here. These activities may require permits from other authorities. Some of the exempted activities are:

  • Weddings;
  • Funerals;
  • Sporting competitions;
  • Seventh Month Festival auctions;
  • Charity events; and
  • Press conferences.

How to Apply For a Police Permit

As an organiser, you can apply for a police permit here. You can apply for a permit online via the SPF website using your SingPass.

Permit applications with sufficient information shall be submitted at least 4 working days before the date of the event.

If the proposed event requires a partial or full closure of any road, your application form together with the necessary supporting documents, including a map showing the roads affected, must be submitted at least 21 working days before the date of the event.

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