MHA clarifies its stance on Myanmar work permit rejections

THE message has been made clear: Foreign nationals who want to work or live here
are expected to respect the law and local sensitivities, just as Singaporeans do.
And with eight of their fellow countrymen failing to get their immigration passes renewed by the authorities after taking part in a gathering on Orchard Road during the Asean Summit last November, some Myanmar nationals here have taken the message to heart.

Ms Pan Thinzar, 26, a student who took part in the Orchard Road protest, has sworn
off all protests. “If another violent crackdown happens (in Myanmar), I’ll channel
my emotions through meditation, or through online petitions,” she told Today.
Research fellow Mr Zeyar Aung, 34, who has yet to take part in any demonstration
here, has no plans to do so unless it is legal and approved by the authorities.
But taking a different line, Mr J J Edward Su, an executive committee member of the
Overseas Burmese Patriots (OBP), said the latest developments will not deter its members from demonstrating their political beliefs.

On Friday, the group held its second press conference in a month, asking for the
reasons why the passes of the eight were not renewed. “We will still continue with our social and political activities,” said Mr Su. But when pressed, he declined to say what activities the group had planned.

In response to queries, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the police
and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority have “no objection to members of
the Myanmarese community in Singapore pursuing their political activities so long as
they abide by our laws. Indeed, the Police has approved and facilitated many such activities conducted through lawful means”.

However, it said that, unlike other groups which have conducted their activities in a lawful manner, the “OBP has chosen to do so in open and persistent defiance of our laws. OBP members were investigated by the police for staging a number of illegal protests. The authorities have chosen to issue several of them with a warning for
their offences instead of prosecution, so as to give them a second chance.”

The police had summoned around 40 people who had taken part in a street protest last November to a police station to help with investigations, and later let them off with a warning. “Regrettably, this leniency is not appreciated. Some of the individuals concerned in the OBP continue to maintain a position that suggests they see themselves being above the law which Singaporeans observe. “The OBP members have ignored repeated advice from the Police to act within our laws, and also ignored requests by government officials to meet to discuss the group’s conduct.”

The MHA spokesperson also noted: “The right of a foreign national to work or stay in Singapore is not a matter of entitlement or a right to be secured by political demand and public pressure.” Of the eight Myanmar nationals who did not have their immigration passes renewed, six have left Singapore and are living in countries including Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand. The other two, Ms Ngwe Zin Soe and Mr Wunna Saw Thein, both Permanent Residents, are still waiting for their re-entry permits to be renewed.

Source: Today

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