The fracas at Hong Lim Park last Saturday was unfortunate, regrettable and, with hindsight, avoidable.
Hong Lim Park is the only place in Singapore where legitimate peaceful protests are permitted.
The National Parks Board noted that, prior to the turn of events at the site last Saturday, no clashes had been reported at any multiple gatherings, including those with opposing agendas (“No previous incidents with multiple events”; Tuesday).
Indeed, gatherings at Hong Lim Park are generally orderly. However, when people are permitted the space to voice out their dissent, there is no guarantee that emotions will not get out of control.
People who gather at the site should be prepared for an unlikely and unexpected breakdown in social order.
With this is mind, why couldn’t the YMCA have held its charity carnival elsewhere?
If it desired greater public exposure, it could have held the event at more family-oriented places such as a public park, a shopping mall, or the auditorium of a public library.
Although there are no rules that prevent social or family-oriented events from being held at Hong Lim Park, common sense would dictate that such events should be avoided at the site, for the safety of children and elderly participants.
Hong Lim Park should be reserved for activities involving public speaking and demonstrations.
The Public Order Act prohibits such activities outside of that space, and organisers of social and family-oriented events should avoid booking that site for their events.
Chan Yeow Chuan