Police in Singapore are investigating a YouTube star from Hong Kong who allegedly organized a gathering to discuss the protests in his home city, a potential violation of tough public assembly laws.
Singapore’s elite are increasingly nervous about the unrest in rival financial hub Hong Kong, observers say, as they fear it could inspire demonstrations in the tightly controlled city-state where protests are rare.
Alex Yeung, a restaurateur known for his anti-protest tirades on YouTube, allegedly held the gathering last month which started in a bar and shifted to a public area, police said.
Footage circulating online showed Yeung at a Singapore bar with what appeared to be about two dozen people, criticizing the protesters and Hong Kong pro-democracy figures.
Organizing a public assembly without a permit in Singapore is punishable by a fine of up to S$5,000 (US$3,700). Repeat offenders can be fined up to Sg$10,000 or jailed for a maximum of six months or both.
“The police will not grant any permit for assemblies that advocate political causes of other countries. Foreigners visiting or living in Singapore should abide by our laws,” they said in a statement Thursday.
Yeung has not been arrested but his passport has been confiscated while he assists in investigations, they said.
Singapore only allows protests without a police permit in the corner of one downtown park.
Yeung said in a video posted on Monday that he came to Singapore to look for business opportunities and accused supporters of the protests of setting him up at the gathering.
“I never thought I would violate any laws in Singapore and I never thought to engage in political activities,” he said. His lawyer said he was co-operating with police.
Hong Kong has been shaken by five months of increasingly violent demonstrations, with protesters calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last month that Singapore would be “finished” if similar protests erupted there.
“It will become impossible to govern Singapore, to make and carry out difficult decisions or to plan for the long-term good of the nation,” he said.
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