BY NUR ASYIQIN MOHAMAD SALLEH, Straits Times
PARENTS of a special needs group whose performance at Hong Lim Park was disrupted by protesters from an adjacent event are declining to meet the protesters’ co-leader Roy Ngerng, who wants to apologise to them and their children.
Mr Ngerng, 33, part of a group of protesters who marched last Saturday through a charity carnival and scared special needs children and adults performing on stage, had e-mailed the event’s organiser asking if he could get in touch with the children and their parents in order to apologise.
Mr Lo Chee Wen, general secretary of the YMCA, which organised the carnival, confirmed that Mr Ngerng’s e-mail had been received. He did not disclose its contents, but said the YMCA would consult the parents on whether they were agreeable to a meeting.
But last night, Madam Regina Aun, manager of Y Stars, the group whose performance was disrupted, told The Straits Times they would decline to meet Mr Ngerng.
“I’ve consulted the parents, and all of them are not in favour. I’ve read his interpretation of the sequence of events on his blog, and I don’t agree with some of his explanations,” said Madam Aun, 55.
The protesters, for one thing, did not move away upon realising the performers were on stage, she said. The performance had to be re-started when the children, shocked by the rowdy crowd, faltered before the protesters left.
In a blogpost on Sunday afternoon, Mr Ngerng said he planned to ask YMCA if he could meet the affected children and apologise to them and their parents.
“What we did could have caused the children stress… This would allow us to mend bridges with YMCA. On my side, there are no hard feelings,” he said. “YMCA might have been retooled for a political purpose at the protest, but there are good people at the YMCA.”
Mr Ngerng, who is facing a defamation suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also posted a YouTube video defending the march and hitting out at politicians who had criticised the protesters.
He and blogger Han Hui Hui, 22, spoke at a rally on Central Provident Fund issues at Hong Lim Park last Saturday, the same day as the YMCA’s annual Proms @ the Park event.
The events were allocated different spaces at the park.
But several hundred people from the rally marched through the carnival, disrupting it and frightening the performers. Some also confronted Minister of State (Trade and Industry) Teo Ser Luck, the guest of honour.
In Facebook posts yesterday, Mr Teo called on Mr Ngerng to make good on his offer to apologise to the children.
“Since Roy Ngerng offered the apology, it’s a step forward. I think he should, especially for the children,” he said in one post.
In an earlier post, he had dismissed Mr Ngerng’s contention that he “didn’t know what was going on on the stage”.
Mr Teo said: “Does it matter? What you have done frightened these children! You spoilt the day for these children with special needs who were looking forward to an enjoyable outing! For sure you have to apologise and more!”
That post garnered over 1,000 likes and 300 comments.
Mr Teo also apologised on Facebook to the YMCA: “The protesters were going after me but it affected the children and the event. For this I feel sorry and would apologise to YMCA and the children for this inconvenience caused because of my presence.”