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Singapore police investigate lawmaker over sign supporting hawkers: media

Singapore Member of Parliament Louis Ng holds a placard calling for support for local food businesses during a visit to Yishun Park Hawker Centre in Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Police in Singapore are investigating whether a parliamentarian broke a strict public order law after he held up a placard that called for support for local food businesses, local media reported on Wednesday.

Lawmaker Louis Ng posted four pictures on Facebook last June of himself with hawkers at a Singapore food centre, holding a piece of paper that read “support them” followed by a smiley face.

Organising or taking part in a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is illegal, even if a demonstration is by only one person. Breaking the law can lead to a fine of up to S$5,000 ($3,760).

“The police have been looking into a possible offence of public assembly without permit by Member of Parliament Mr Louis Ng,” police said in a statement. “We have already interviewed Mr. Ng. Police investigations are ongoing.”

The police did not give further details. However, Ng, a member of the ruling People’s Action Party, referred to the incident in a Facebook post on Wednesday and said he had provided a statement to police.

“I wanted to urge our residents to support our hawkers and held a sign indicating this and took photos together with the hawkers,” he said on Facebook.

Last year, Singapore charged activist Jolovan Wham for staging a one-man protest without a permit over an incident in which he held up a sign bearing a crudely drawn smiley face outside a police station.

($1 = 1.3298 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Chen Lin; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Davies)

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