Singapore police probe 'climate protesters'

Singapore has now ordered the closure of all businesses deemed non-essential (AFP Photo/Roslan RAHMAN)

Singapore (AFP) - Singapore police are investigating two people who allegedly staged solo climate demonstrations without first getting official permission, in contravention of the city-state's tough laws against protests.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's "Fridays for Future" strikes have seen students worldwide abandon classrooms, as they call on adults to commit to saving the environment.

As the coronavirus crisis escalated, she has called on climate campaigners to avoid mass protests, and instead post photos of themselves striking with a sign and use the #fridaysforfuture and #schoolstrike4climate hashtags.

But in tightly-controlled Singapore, where it is illegal for even a single person to demonstrate without getting police permission, two people are now under investigation after photos circulated of them waving signs.

Police received a report about photos posted on Facebook last month of an 18-year-old woman holding placards that read "PLANET OVER PROFIT", "SCHOOL STRIKE 4 CLIMATE" and "ExxonMobil KILLS KITTENS&PUPPIES".

In a separate incident, photos were circulated on social media of a 20-year-old man holding a placard that read "SG IS BETTER THAN OIL @fridays4futuresg".

"Both of them did not apply for the necessary police permit before carrying out their activities," police said in a statement late Thursday, adding they had seized laptops and mobile phones as part of their probe.

Students in Singapore have not held mass school strikes, although a group organised an online strike in March last year, and over 1,700 people joined a sanctioned climate rally in September.

Organising a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is punishable by a fine of up to Sg$5,000 (US$3,500). Repeat offenders can be fined up to Sg$10,000 or jailed for a maximum of six months, or both.

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