By Andrew Loh and Terry Xu
The controversy over the Philippines Independence Day celebratory event planned for 8 June this year at Ngee Ann City was given a publicity boost by the remarks of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on last week.
Mr Lee slammed those who had made threatening phone calls to the organisers, describing these as “a disgrace to Singaporeans”.
However, Mr Lee’s remarks, coming as they did from the leader of the nation, have also drawn flak from Singaporeans. Many question the appropriateness of him using such a phrase to describe his fellow men.
Nonetheless, what about the Filipino people themselves, what do they think of the whole controversy?
The Online Citizen (TOC) paid a visit to the Lucky Plaza area in Orchard Road to find out. The Plaza is a popular haunt for Filipinos, and especially so on a weekend. It is also just across the road from where the Independence Day event is planned to take place.
The intention was not to do an extensive poll of opinions but to speak to random Filipinos to have a rough idea of what they felt.
Admittedly, the 12 to 15 people we spoke to is a small sample. Nonetheless, we noted that virtually every one of them initially said they felt there was nothing wrong with the event being held in a public area, and that they should have the right to celebrate their independence day.
However some had different opinions when it came to the venue of where the celebration is to be held after we explained to them how some Singaporeans have taken offence to the event being held at the Civic Plaza in front of Ngee Ann City. Some said the venue might not be appropriate due to the crowd that the event would attract and it may not be right to do so, The organisers have said they hope to attract “more than 10,000” people to the event.
The Filipinos we spoke to agreed that as guests of Singapore, respect should be given to the host country, and that if the event involved the raising of the Filipino national flag it would not be appropriate.
They also felt that it would be better if the event was held indoors or at another venue, such as Hong Lim Park.
Others did not feel there were any issues with the proposed venue, and felt that they should still be allowed to hold the event at the Civic Plaza.
They said that as long as the authorites gave approval, they should be allowed to hold the event there and these individuals added that they would follow the decisions of the event organizer.
There seems to be certain misunderstanding arising from the protest as the people we spoke to had the belief that the protest movement was to disallow them to have their Independence Day celebrations, and they seemed pretty upset over it.
However, when we clarified that the protest was about the venue, most whom we spoke to were more understanding and gave serious thoughts about the concerns raised by Singaporeans.
Our general view is that our Filipino friends do understand the concerns that Singaporeans may have, and they are willing to accommodate accordingly.