A banner asking residents to clean up after a large amount of rubbish left behind following Diwali celebrations in Singapore will be taken down to avoid further misunderstanding, according to a parliamentarian for the area. Singapore-based Indians will be celebrating Diwali on Sunday in the multi-racial prosperous city-state.
Feedback over the years prompted the Mountbatten Residents’ Network (RN) to put up a banner asking residents to clean up after the Diwali celebrations.
Littering is an offence in Singapore, globally known for maintaining a clean environment.
Mountbatten Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan said the anti-littering banner – put up by the RN and supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) – will be taken down to “avoid further misunderstanding”.
“That banner was a ground-up initiative by the RN because they had received feedback over the years about the large amount of litter left behind after Diwali celebrations,” The Straits Times newspaper quoted Lim as saying.
A second banner – with an image of Lim and a message wishing Mountbatten residents a happy Diwali – was put up by the People’s Association above the RN banner. This will not be removed.
Lim said the same banner can be spotted in many locations in his constituency.
“It so happens that at this one location, they were placed one on top of the other, and this has then been misconstrued to be targeted against a particular race – which was never the intent.” Parliamentarians across Singapore have put up banners in their constituencies with best wishes to constituents celebrating Diwali.
Lim said he raised the issue of the banner on Wednesday with the RN chairman, who told him that the RN had received feedback from residents over the years about the litter left behind after Deepavali celebrations.
“The RN members discussed the issue and felt that it would be appropriate to send reminder messages not to litter,” he added.
Lim said RN members had previously seen messages about responsible joss paper burning and felt that a reminder not to litter was reasonable.
On Wednesday, Facebook user Susiilaa Shanmugam put up a post on the social media platform in which she questioned the two banners put up in Mountbatten, with a photo attached. In particular, she took issue with the banner asking residents to clean up after celebrations.
She wrote: “Though the message appears to have a positive intent, it is being used at a very wrong time, given festivals are a time when those who have endured a tumultuous time come together as one to unite with their family and friends.
“I hope to see the same message for the coming Chinese New Year,” The Straits Times quoted Susiilaa as saying.
She also asked in her post if such a message was issued during Chinese New Year or the Hungry Ghost (Chinese) Festival.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, she said she had been informed that the authorities were looking into the issue and that she is “heartened that action has been taken, and the banner will be removed”.
She added that she was hopeful that more thought would be put into the phrasing of messages that could potentially be deemed insensitive.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)