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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Two Indon activists denied entry: Don't import foreign politics into S'pore

SINGAPORE - Singapore has denied entry to two Indonesian activists who were planning to enter the country to conduct political activities, including raising election campaign funds.

“Singapore has always taken a strong stand against the importation of foreign politics into Singapore,” said a statement by the Singapore Embassy in Indonesia, adding that the two activists from Teman Ahok were not detained while in Singapore, as was claimed in some Indonesian media reports.

“We will not allow foreigners to use Singapore as a platform to conduct any political activities. Any contravention of this by any individual will be dealt with in accordance with our laws,” the embassy added.

Teman Ahok, or Friends of Ahok, is a volunteer-run group campaigning for Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s bid to run as an independent candidate in the 2017 gubernatorial election.

Basuki was previously vice-governor of the Indonesian capital when Joko Widodo was governor, and assumed his current post in 2014 when Widodo was elected as President. Basuki and Teman Ahok leaders have separately said that they are not collaborating and that they have met in person only three times.

The two Teman Ahok acitivists, whom Indonesian media named as Amalia Ayuningtyas and Richard Handris Saerang, arrived at Changi Airport yesterday afternoon.

When interviewed by officers of Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, the pair admitted that they were in Singapore to conduct political activities including raising campaign funds.

“They were therefore denied entry into Singapore and arrangements were made for them to return to Indonesia,” said the Singapore embassy statement. “They were aware that they were not allowed to conduct any political activities in Singapore but nevertheless still decided to travel to Singapore.”

The statement added the pair left Singapore today morning and that the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore was kept informed of the matter and allowed consular access to the two activists.

In a separate statement, the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore said it had been in touch with Singapore authorities yesterday to facilitate the activists’ return to Jakarta.

“However, because of technical difficulties in the field, the two activists could not return on the last Garuda flight departing Singapore and would depart on the first Garuda flight out of Singapore on June 5, 2016 instead,” the embassy said, adding that the pair were “not detained” in Singapore.

“Singapore immigration authorities had provided accommodation and sufficient services to the two activists.”

In its statement, the Indonesian embassy also reminded Indonesians that it is illegal to conduct political activities in Singapore.

“Singapore law forbids political activities from being conducted in Singapore, and this law should be respected,” it said.

Yesterday night, Metrotvnews and Tempo had quoted a Teman Ahok founder Singgih Widiyastono as saying that his two colleagues were detained in Singapore. The group also posted an image on Instagram with the words #Save Amalia Richard. — TODAY

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