By Terry Xu
About 700 people turned up at Hong Lim Park to celebrate National Day’s 48th Birthday in a pretty different way from the official National Day celebrations attended by 30,000 people held not too far away at the Marina Bay floating platform.
What is so different? Plenty of speeches from speakers about how they feel about Singapore instead of songs, dance and marching contingents but there were still free food & water, face painting, national flags provided in a tentage not too far away from the stage.
The event featured speakers such as bloggers Leong Sze Hian, Ravi Philemon, Han Hui Hui and Jeraldine Phneah, and political figures such as Dr Paul Ananth Tambyah, Dr Ang Yong Guan and Tan Jee Say who have said they were coming in personal capacity to the event.
Plenty of national issues were highlighted in the speeches in the event, such as bringing back dialect language to Singapore’s broadcasting media by Jeraldine Phneah, single parents woes in the country by Vivian Pan, founder of the community group, Single Parent Support Group. Speaking in Malay, Osman Suliaman ask people to stay behind in Singapore to change the country instead of choosing to leave the country for places which seems to be greener pastures and that all of Singaporeans are in it together.
Gilbert Goh on his reaction to the turn out to the event, “I think we anticipated 500 people because on the facebook page about 500 people said that they will turn up, about 450 said they might turn up. So we estimated about 500 – 600 people” and said “No one will believe that we are doing a celebration as we are known to organize protest but I think I want to ensure singaporeans that we had vetted through the speeches to ensure the event is celebrative. We also want to honor some people like the last president, Mr Ong Teng Cheong we also like to honor people like M Ravi & Leslie Chew…”
Apart from a minute of silence observed for past president Ong Teng Cheong. Special recognitions were given to two special individuals, M Ravi for his outstanding work in the area of human rights in Singapore and Leslie Chew for his unwavering belief in what he does and the thought provoking cartoons that he draws.
Citi and his two daughters who were at the Hong Lim Park celebrations told TOC that he enjoyed this form of celebration while his two daughters loved the face painting provided. Quite a number of folks who turned up at the event came alone and sat quietly at a corner listening the speeches waving their miniature national flag every now and then whenever the speakers make any point which resonated with their views.
Asking one elderly lady who was near the stage, she said that this is not the first time she is turning up at the event organized by transitition.org and she feels that this is also considered as a celebration event for national day, but it might have been a bit dull with just speeches throughout the whole programme.
One big difference which Gilbert states that this celebration event had compared to the protest events that Transitioning.org has been organizing is the placards which show anti-policies statements except for one big placard carried by one of the attendees. They have did their best to tone down in terms of the speeches and moderate themselves. In addition to what Gilbert have said, Mr Kwan the emcee for the event said that Transitiong.org is not a political association however in a gathering like this celebration event, inevitably the feelings of the citizens come out admist the celebrations and this event provides a platform for the emotions of citizens to be vented out.
The event ended with a birthday song to the 48th national celebrations of Singapore coupled with a 10kg cake adorned with the design of Singapore’s national flag while the national flag flew by above the Hong Lim Park from the Marina Bay floating platform.