The Singapore Government does not accord special privileges, immunity and hospitality to former Heads of State or Heads of Government, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said on Aug. 1.
Vivian was responding to a parliamentary question filed by Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam on the privileges, immunities and hospitality accorded to former Heads of State or Government who visit and transit through Singapore.
Giam also asked about if there were any public resources used, and whether former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was accorded any privileges, immunities and hospitality in Singapore.
In his written response, Vivian clarified that former Rajapaksa was not accorded “any privileges, immunity or hospitality”.
Singapore reserves the right to deny entry to a foreigner, if that is assessed to be in our national interests
Separately, Minister For Home Affairs (MHA) K Shanmugam said that foreigners who possess a valid travel document and meet entry requirements will be allowed to come into Singapore.
“We also of course reserve the right to deny entry to a foreigner if we assess that to be in our national interests,” he added in his own written reply.
Shanmugam was responding to a question filed by PAP MP Yip Hon Weng, who asked about the policy of allowing foreigners wanted by their own government to transit through Singapore.
If a foreigner coming into Singapore is wanted by his government, and if they had made a request to Singapore, Shanmugam said that Singapore will render assistance in accordance with its laws.
Transiting is not the same as gaining entry into Singapore
As for travellers transiting through Singapore en-route to another destination, they technically have not entered Singapore if they remain within the transit area and do not clear immigration, he said, and clarified that it is under international law.
“Nevertheless, if we are aware of the presence of undesirable persons, we may still check them and take appropriate actions,” he added.
“MHA ensures the general safety and security of residents and foreign visitors in Singapore,” Shanmugam said in his written reply.
“We may accord additional security depending on the current or former status of any person, taking into consideration the safety and security risk that may be posed to the person and the general public,” he added.
Rajapaksa's STVP extended by additional 14 days
Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on July 13 after massive street protests, arriving in Singapore via the Maldives on July 14.
He resigned from his position via email on July 15 while he was in Singapore.
MFA earlier said that the former president had been granted permission to enter on a private visit, and that he had neither asked for nor had been granted asylum.
In an earlier report by The Straits Times, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore confirmed that Rajapaksa had been granted a 14-day short-term visit pass (STVP).
Visitors from Sri Lanka are generally issued 30-day STVPs. Rajapaksa had that STVP extended by an additional 14 days.
Rajapaksa left Sri Lanka after massive street protesters had invaded the presidential residence and offices on July 9, with protesters angered over his government's alleged economic mismanagement, resulting in a massive fuel and food shortage.
Top images via Gotabaya Rajapaksa/Facebook and Vivian Balakrishnan/Facebook