Organisers take the fall for online criticism against Ms Sim Ann’s disruption to live performance at Esplanade

Organisers take the fall for online criticism against Ms Sim Ann’s disruption to live performance at Esplanade

Organisers of the WWF Earth Hour Festival at Esplanade event on 25 March have taken the fall for online criticism against Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development Sim Ann by leading her to the front row during a music performance and disrupting a live performance.

Ms Sim was introduced to and greeted other attendees in the reserved seats at the front row while singer-songwriter Bernice Lee whose stage name is Benny’s was performing metres away on the stage.

Photos of the incident were shared on social media, with some saying that Ms Sim’s actions were disrespectful to the performing artist.

An Instagram story by Singapore jazz musician Daniel Alex Chua wrote:

Context: ministers came late for show, stood up to shake hands, take photos,
chatter, distract audiences who actually wanted to watch and do watever Cetf formalities, not showing respect to our sg artist @bleuebyrd performance at all
Pls give every artist, local or not, the respect and love they deserve, at a time
where local music’s potential is at its highest to grow and be appreciated, it is


The post was meant to be a disappearing message on Instagram but was screenshot by a netizen and shared on Twitter.

The Twitter user who shared the post, went further to criticise that the minister represents traditional values, which include respect, “you can argue maybe its a small thing but to me, to many of us, it isn’t.

The Twitter user suggested that the minister should have sat behind so as not to obstruct the view. Alternatively, they could have met somewhere else where it wouldn’t disrupt the art.

“I’m sure I’m missing some context but I cannot not see this as a disrespect to the artist.”

The tweet further noted that Singaporean Ministers already have a bad reputation when it comes to the music scene, ever since incidents with Watain concert incident and Blu Jazz Cafe saga.

And what the minister failed to gain people’s trust, “In fact, it’s doing the opposite. It just seems like they don’t know how to be sensitive to us.”

“ok la the watain and blu jazz they got explain ah but this one how to explain? I really cannot wrap my head around this? basic human decency?”

Even Singapore’s veteran blogger Lee Kin Mun, better known as mrbrown, had expressed his view on the alleged incident:

The event last Saturday was co-organised by WWF-Singapore and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, and involved a Switch Off when the Singapore skyline went dark for an hour in support of Earth Hour at 8.30 pm.

Mr Ian Lee, the founder of local music collective Panik Records, which showcased artistes at the Soul Jam event that preceded the performance, told the Straits Times that Benny’s who was performing when Ms Sim arrived, had been very affected by the incident but is coming to terms with what happened.

In response to queries from ST, WWF-Singapore and Esplanade issued a joint statement saying Ms Sim had been invited for the Switch Off ceremony at 8.15 pm and had arrived early.

They also said that there was no intention of disrespecting the artistes, performers or audience, and they regretted any disruption that they may have inadvertently caused.

Ms Sim said she had followed the cue of the organisers on when to enter the event space and was greeting guests who were being introduced to her.

She said she was glad that WWF-Singapore and Esplanade had provided an explanation for the incident and had reached out to the artists involved to clarify the matter directly.

Ms Sim apologised and said she had learned something valuable from the incident.

Benny’s has said she is looking to move on from the incident and wishes to express that the most important thing we should be looking forward to is cherishing and respecting all forms of art and expression.

Netizens gave mixed reaction on the clarification by Ms Sim and the organisers.

Some applaud Ms Sim for apologising to the performers and for the clarification by the parties involved, while some questioned Ms Sim’s common sense of following the instructions of the organisers even when it was not appropriate to do so.

Some also suggest that the blame seems to have been pushed on the organisers for the untimely entry.

Former Nominated Member of Parliament, Calvin Cheng, in his usual tone, said it was an overreaction.

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