On 15th Dec, Nee Soon South CCC announced a star studded line-up for a heartland New Year Countdown that was to be held at the open field across Khatib MRT Station. The event to be held on 31st Dec into 1st January 2009 was to be graced by PM Lee Hsien Loong.
According to the offical blog site for Nee Soon South Countdown 2009.
"NSS Countdown09 is a large scale, one-night only concert held at the open field opposite Khatib MRT station on New Years' Eve. With today's economical outlook, NSS Countdown09 is an affordable entertainment for Singaporeans to build emotional resilience as they build bonds during the celebrations. The concert is also held in conjunction with the division's 20th Anniversary celebration, an excellent testament of successful government-grassroots collaboration for the division over the past 20 years."
However, it has to be noted that participation is by paid entry of $2 for NSS residents and $5 for the general public. As this note is being written, final preparations of security measures are being deployed. It is fully understandable that security is of utmost concern especially when super VIPs, Star Studded line-up and an expected house turn-up of 8000 Singaporeans are involved.
However, when having coffee at the coffeeshop adjacent to the celebration ground, it dawned on me that the 2.5 meters high all round canvass barricade was as not so much to ensure security threats are deterred than to ensure that non-paying residents and the general public hoping to catch sight of the performance at a distance will not get 'a free meal' for the soul.
Despite having the countdown celebrations at the heartlands, the event is to be exclusive. If you're willing to pay the ticket price, you'll be part of an exclusive party and accorded the bragging rights for having ushered in the new year in a countdown with the Prime Minister of Singapore. However, if you're amongst those that are restricted by shallow pockets, you may come nearby to enjoy the heart thumping music but will have to be contented with a visual imagination of the artistes and performances. Effective engineering has allowed for canvass barriers to prevent even the tallest person from stealing a peek.
It seems, even community bonding activities has turned into an enterprise for money making and a tool to recreate exclusivity. Although I can afford to pay, I cannot imagine standing in a crowded floor for hours with my kids. On top of that, my dad and sister who are staying a few streets away will have to pay public price as their home is outside the boundary of Nee Soon South. In fact, the field is at the corner of the NSS neighbourhood. Anyone from across the street will have to pay public price although staying within visual distance from the field.
I wonder why weren't the common waist high metal barricades used? It would have served the necessary security needs to ensure anyone who wish to enter the grounds would have to go through the main entrance where the metal detectors and security bag checks would be. These participants would qualify for the goodie bags for the hassle that they have to go through and would get to enjoy the performances front stage.
It may be argued that the waist high barrier would allow someone with ill intent to breach the barrier. However, I do not see how a canvass barricade could not be breached as easily. Perhaps, the main reason is that waist-level barricades is effective only to block out physical entry into the grounds but insufficient to prevent non-paying residents from catching sight of the stage from outside the grounds. From the way I read it, the Canvass barricade serves to do send out the message, "Pay Per View or Keep Off!"
So much for community bonding.
Note: One wonders why residents are made to pay for the tickets when the NSS website says that the event is “supported by corporate sponsors Tiger Beer, Sheng Siong Supermarket, Breadtalk, PH Sales and Marketing, and Nestle Milo.”