Even as the People’s Association (PA) explained the distribution of tickets to a celebratory barbeque (BBQ) organised by the Australian High Commission, members of the public continue to criticise the PA’s part in the incident.
The High Commission had approached the PA to help it with the event, where 10,000 steaks and lamb chops were to be handed out to participants at 22 BBQs across Singapore last Sunday.
The event was to celebrate the bilateral ties between Singapore and Australia, and also to mark Singapore’s 50th year of independence from Malaysia.
Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, and Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong had also participated in one of the BBQs, held at Bishan Park.
The event was initially publicised as a non-ticketed event, open to the public. However, on the day of the event itself, the High Commission announced that the PA would issue tickets to the event.
This caused an uproar among the public, with some accusing the PA of reserving the tickets for its own members, and that there were no announcements that tickets were required.
The PA responded on Wednesday, saying that it had issued 4,800 tickets to residents, in order to manage the expected crowds.
It, however, did not say if it had issued tickets to its own members.
A letter to the Straits Times forum on Wednesday also expressed dismay at the organisation of the event by the PA.
“Having been a beneficiary of the Australians’ big-hearted hospitality previously, my group of friends and I had looked forward to being part of the festivities,” Mr Marc Lim Swee Keat said in his letter.
“To our dismay, however, we were turned away at Bishan Park, as the organisers’ personnel indicated that a ticket was required to enjoy the food provided.”
Mr Lim said while his group understood the need for crowd management, the means of ticket distribution left much to be desired.
Mr Lim said that even though the People’s Association was engaged as the local community partner for the event, “only a select few community clubs had publicised the ticketing requirement prior to the event.”
“A sizeable majority of the ticket-holders were decked in grassroots attire, though we understood that it was not an exclusive event,” he said.
“Many visitors were left disappointed and confused.”
Mr Lim expressed disappointment that “the poor public communications on the ticket allocation system had marred the true spirit and intent of our gracious Australian counterparts.”
He and his friends, however, decided not to be discouraged by the incident and had picnics along the river in Bishan to enjoy the street performances, while soaking in the atmosphere.
Despite the PA’s explanation on Wednesday, many continue to question online if it had reserved tickets for its own members and deprived others an opportunity to participate in the hospitality of the Australians.