The National Parks Board (NParks) has responded (29 Sep) to criticism that it should not have allowed 2 events to take place simultaneously at Hong Lim Park on Saturday (27 Sep).
NParks said there have been multiple events – even those with clashing agendas – at Hong Lim Park previously with “no adverse or disorderly incidents”.
“For example, on June 29 2013, the Pink Dot 2013, anti-haze speech and protest against the LTA Cross Island MRT Line took place. Other examples include May 1 2013 – ‘Stand up for the Rest’, and ‘Say No to 6.9m population’ and others – and Nov 29 2008 – Mini-bond and General Election, and Dance India, Taste India,” an NParks spokesperson said.
NParks said that in general, where there are more than one application, its approach has been to allow the participants to share the space in the Speakers’ Corner.
“Until the incident on Saturday, no adverse or disorderly incidents have ever ensued in these previous events because the groups showed consideration and respect for each other, despite their different views and agendas,” the spokesperson added.
The spokesperson reiterated that Ms Han and YMCA had been allocated different parts of the lawn for their activities, which were “clearly demarcated”.
“Unfortunately, members from the Return Our CPF rally refused to conduct their activities in their designated area in the Speakers’ Corner and encroached into the separate area where the YMCA charity event was held. They noisily disrupted the charity event by chanting and waving Singapore flags and marching around the site.
“Their conduct caused alarm and anxiety to a group of special needs children who was about to perform a dance item on stage and left some of these children as well as elderly members of the audience shocked and traumatised,” NParks said.
However, NParks failed to mention that in the case of previous events with clashing agendas held on the same date, no PAP ministers were there to grace the event.
In the case of the YMCA charity event, Minister of State Teo Ser Luck was guest of honour. It was only to be expected that protestors would approach him asking for their CPF money back since Mr Teo is a member of the government.
Indeed, Mr Teo admitted as much on his Facebook page:
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.
So, Mr Teo has admitted that his presence at Hong Lim Park had caused inconvenience to YMCA and the children.
This is something NParks apparently did not foresee.