SINGAPORE – Feedback over the years about large amounts of rubbish left behind after Deepavali celebrations prompted the Mountbatten Residents’ Network (RN) to put up a banner asking residents to clean up after themselves.
In response to queries, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, the MP for Mountbatten, 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 Deepavali celebrations,” he said, adding that the parties were at Meyer Park and the Tanjong Rhu field.
A second banner – with an image of Mr Lim and a message wishing Mountbatten residents a happy Deepavali – was put up by the People’s Association above the RN banner. This will not be removed.
Mr 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.”
Photographs of the aftermath of Deepavali celebrations in the area, seen by The Straits Times, showed sparklers and plastic wrappers strewn over the grass fields. There were also patches of burnt grass in parts of the field.
Mr 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.
Mr Lim said RN members had previously seen messages about responsible joss paper burning and felt that a reminder not to litter was reasonable.
For instance, two posters put up by Ang Mo Kio Town Council and OneService asked residents to be mindful when burning joss paper, he said.
He added that the NEA supported the message not to litter.
Mr Lim said: “The RN assured me that there was no intent to suggest that Indians litter. The banner was a public service message to remind all not to litter.”
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.
Ms Shanmugam 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.”
She also asked in her post if such a message was issued during Chinese New Year or the Hungry Ghost Festival.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, she said she had been informed that the authorities were looking into the issue, and that she was “heartened that action has been taken, and the banner will be removed”.
She said she was hopeful that more thought will be put into the phrasing of messages that can potentially be deemed insensitive.
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