Learning & Development Asia 2024
Ministry of Home Affairs intends to designate NTUC as a 'Politically Significant Person' under FICA: NTUC responds

Ministry of Home Affairs intends to designate NTUC as a 'Politically Significant Person' under FICA: NTUC responds

"We will review MHA's requirements for the designation process and would like to assure our members, partners, and stakeholders that NTUC's core work to better workers' lives and livelihoods will continue unabated", NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs intends to designate the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) as a Politically Significant Person under the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA) 2021, as announced on Thursday (11 July 2024).

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said on Thursday (11 July 2024).

In a statement shared with the media, responding to the announcement, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said on Thursday: "NTUC is committed to championing our members' and workers' interests. We do so with accountability and transparency. We are aligned with national safeguards to prevent foreign interference, and we will continue to ensure that our operations remain free from foreign influence.

"We will review MHA's requirements for the designation process and would like to assure our members, partners, and stakeholders that NTUC's core work to better workers' lives and livelihoods will continue unabated."

The FICA was passed by Singapore's Parliament on 4 October 2021 and assented to by the President on 29 October 2021. Provisions related to countering foreign interference by hostile information campaigns came into force on 7 July 2022, while provisions related to politically significant persons came into force on 29 December 2023.

As stated by MHA, the legislation introduces countermeasures to prevent, detect and disrupt foreign interference in our domestic politics conducted through (i) hostile information campaigns and (ii) local proxies (PSPs).

The Act defines the following organisations and individuals, who are directly involved in Singapore’s political processes, as PSPs, and subjects them to countermeasures to mitigate the risk of foreign interference:

  • Political parties
  • Political office holders (POHs)
  • Members of Parliament (MPs), including Non-Constituency MPs and Nominated MPs
  • Central Executive Committee (CEC) members of political parties
  • Election candidates and their election agents

Additionally, FICA employers a competent authority appointed by the Minister for Home Affairs to designate other individuals and organisations as PSPs if their activities are directed towards a political end in Singapore, and the competent authority assesses that it is in the public interest that countermeasures be applied.

The countermeasures on defined and designated PSPs cover the following vectors of foreign interference, according to MHA:

  • donations,
  • volunteers,
  • leadership,
  • membership, and
  • affiliations.

If there are increased risks of foreign interference, the competent authority can issue stepped-up countermeasures to the defined or designated PSPs.

The above aside, FICA also requires/involves the following:

  • Requires individual PSPs, both defined and designated, to disclose whether they have been granted migration benefits (e.g., honorary citizenship, permanent residency) by foreign governments;
  • Requires major political donors* to submit donation reports;
  • Requires Singapore Citizens who are members of foreign political or legislative bodies to declare their involvement in such bodies; and
  • Allows the competent authority to issue a Transparency Directive to any newspaper authorised under section 21 of the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, any media outlet licensed under the Broadcasting Act, or any defined or designated PSP that publishes matters on political issues relating to Singapore, to disclose the particulars of any foreign author and foreign principal for whom or at whose direction the article or programme is published.

* As defined by MHA, major political donors are donors who are not themselves PSPs, who have made political donations of S$10,000 or more (whether a single donation, or in aggregate across multiple donations) within a calendar year, to a political party or a designated PSP given a prohibited donor directive or major donor directive.

Full details on the FICA can be found here

As of 26 February 2024, the following individuals and organisations have been designated as PSPs:

  • Think Centre
  • MARUAH ((Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)
  • Chan Man Ping Philip

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