Yale defends restrictions on protests at Singapore campus


A view of the Marina Bay Sands (L) and financial district highrises (R) in Singapore on June 14, 2012.


Roslan Rahman

Yale University, a leading center of liberal education in the United States, has defended controversial restrictions on protests and political parties at its new Singapore campus.

Yale President Richard Levin said Yale-NUS College, a new liberal arts college in partnership with the National University of Singapore, was put into place with "full awareness" of city-state laws regarding freedom of expression, according to Agence France-Presse.

"We should not expect that our presence in Singapore would instantly transform the nation's policies or culture," he said to AFP after New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned restrictions. "The result will speak for itself."

The Associated Press also reported that members of Yale's arts and science faculty have also criticized the university's acceptance of Singapore law.

Yale-NUS is Singapore's first liberal arts college and is set to start classes in August of next year, according to Today Online. In a statement, the new campus' President Pericles Lewis said "any college or university must obey the laws of the countries where it operates." He also said students at Yale-NUS would have "substantial opportunity for political debate and engagement."

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Political demonstrations in Singapore can only take place at Speakers' Corner, which is situated in a downtown park, stated AFP. Organizers have to seek approval from park administrators before using the designated area and are not allowed to speak about topics "which may cause feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between different racial or religious groups." Non-citizens also need a police permit to speak.