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The first FICA designation

The authorities have issued notice of their intention to designate Philip Chan as a "politically significant person". What does this mean?

When it was reported that the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act would come fully into force at the end of last year, many of us expected a list of designated “politically significant persons” to be released on the day itself. But then 29 December rolled ‘round, and only members of political parties and political organisations (i.e. those previously covered by the Political Donations Act that FICA replaced) were automatically designated by the law’s implementation.

Now we have the first announced (intended) designation, and wahey! It’s not a civil society activist, whew.

Philip Chan is a 59-year-old naturalised Singaporean who moved here from Hong Kong in 1990. If designated, Chan will be required to report to the registrar about political donations of $10,000 and above, foreign affiliations and migration benefits from other countries. He has 14 days from 2 February (when he was served notice) to submit representations to the Registrar of Foreign and Political Disclosures about his political insignificance. If he still gets designated, he can appeal to K Shanmugam, the minister for home affairs.

So who’s this guy? Chan runs businesses, including one that serves rich people from China who want to buy or invest in property in Singapore. He’s founder of a consultancy that runs courses to “nurture better understanding and more appreciation towards China from within the ASEAN communities”. He was president of the Hong Kong Singapore Business Association (although he’s resigned since receiving the FICA notice) and president of the Kowloon Club. The club’s website describes its work as assisting “members to integrate into the society by organizing activities with focus on cultural, recreational, educational and charitable natures”. On top of that, he also used to be a patron of the Kampong Chai Chee Citizens’ Consultative Committee and the Bukit Timah Community Club Management Committee; the People’s Association has taken pains to emphasise that he’s already stepped down from all these grassroots appointments.

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