New Naratif responds to ACRA with statement on website

Whose narrative to believe?

By Jonathan Lim | April 12, 2018

On April 11, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) released a statement explaining why it rejected a request from Singapore historian Thum Ping Tjin and local activist Kirsten Han to start a company, OSEA Pte Ltd, here.

Company application by PJ Thum & Kirsten Han rejected by Acra

ACRA: Contrary to national interests

ACRA had said that allowing OSEA Ptd Ltd’s registration is “contrary to national interests”, while stressing that the purposes of their company “are clearly political in nature”.

ACRA took issue with a US$75,000 grant OSEA UK, a UK-registered company which wholly-owns OSEA Pte Ltd, had received from the Foundation Open Societies Institute (FOSI). FOSI is described by ACRA as closely associated with Open Society Foundations (OSF) which is founded by billionaire George Soros.

ACRA’s position was that foreign groups should not be allowed to fund “Singaporean organisations or individuals participating in our domestic politics.”

OSEA Pte Ltd provides editorial services to New Naratif, a website also run by Thum (as Managing Director) and Han (as Editor-in-Chief).

New Naratif: Unfounded notion by ACRA

Following ACRA’s statement, New Naratif released a statement of its own.

Describing itself as a platform for “Southeast Asian journalism, research, art and community-building”, it declared that “any notion that we are, as ACRA alleges, ‘being used by foreigners to pursue a political activity in Singapore’ is unfounded.”

It explained that it was “supported by revenue from its members, who subscribe at levels between US$52 and US$552 per year”.

The site claims to have over 420 members in 17 different countries, and have also received numerous donations from individuals.

The statement also clarified that the grant by FOSI was given to New Naratif on the basis of its “project concept” and no condition was imposed by FOSI.

It also said that FOSI and OSF did not “have any involvement or input in New Naratif‘s editorial decisions or the day-to-day running of our start-up.

Top image screen shot from New Naratif

About Jonathan Lim

Jon is thankful that Singapore is interesting enough to keep a website like up and running.

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