The Singapore High Court has upheld the ban against musical instruments during the Hindu-religious procession of Thaipusam citing “public order” even when it is constitutional.
In the Singapore’s constitutions, the playing of musical instruments in a religious practice is protected and allowed. Judge Tay Yong Kwang however claimed that this is restricted by the 42-year-old Public Order act:
“In my judgment, the police has shown legitimate public order concerns and their measures were directed at preserving public order,” he said in judgment grounds released last week. “The risk of a disruption of public order was not unreal. The connection between the music restriction and the preservation of public order was neither illogical nor unreasonable.”
Judge Tay also claimed that the playing of the musical instruments is essential in the procession but “not universal”. The three applicants who appealed against the ban will take their case to the Apex Court while the government’s Attorney-General is appealing to disqualify them for making an appeal against the ban based on requisite standing.
In March 15 this year, an Irish procession in celebration for St Patrick’s Day is allowed in Singapore. Several Hindu Singaporeans sought the organiser’s approval to play the banned Hindu musical instruments during the event and proceeded ahead. The Singapore Police did not stop the Indian Singaporeans on St Patricks Day and the High Court did not comment on this event. There were no concerns for public disorder as allayed by Judge Tay.