Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan Responds to Banner Placement Controversy
Singapore, renowned for its cleanliness, consistently reminds its citizens to maintain public areas in a pristine condition.
This festive period, however, the message to remain litter-free has seemingly backfired.
A banner promoting cleanliness was inadvertently placed beneath another that featured Mr Lim Biow Chuan offering Deepavali greetings to Mountbatten residents.
First Banner (Above): Mr Lim’s Festive Greetings
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Mountbatten had a banner displayed by the People’s Association, which showcased his image and the message of festive well-wishes.
This banner, similar in design to others within his constituency, was intended to spread joy and not cleanliness reminders.
Second Banner (Below): Celebration Cleanliness Reminder
This separate banner was installed by the Residents’ Network (RN), backed by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Given the proximity and similar aesthetics of the two banners, it has been easy for the public to misinterpret the banners’ intentions, leading to out-of-context interpretations.
Social Media Outcry
A member from the Indian community, Ms Susiilaa Shanmugam, discovered the problem with the placement of the banners, and brought attention to it via a Facebook post on 8 Nov.
Her Facebook post has since garnered nearly 350 likes and almost 500 shares.
Numerous comments reflected the Indian community’s distress, perceiving it as a racially targeted message.
Some commenters insinuated the message was aimed specifically at Indians.
Yet, others acknowledged the banners as distinct but expressed that the second banner, nonetheless, evoked resentment within the Indian community.
Ms Shanmugam noted the potential for misunderstanding, conceding that Mr Lim’s wishes seemed positive in nature but were poorly timed.
She pointed out that such a directive is not typically observed during celebrations by the Chinese majority, such as the Chinese New Year or the Hungry Ghost Festival, which amplified feelings of exclusion among Indians.
The backdrop of recent racial tensions, like the Tada Driver incident, may also have contributed to the quick assumption of racism.
Justification for the Litter-Free Banner
Mr Lim, in his Facebook response, clarified that the anti-littering banner was not intended to single out any racial group.
The banner followed numerous complaints to the NEA regarding the litter situation in Jalan Nuri Park post-Deepavali, with issues ranging from discarded sparklers to plastic waste and burnt patches on the grass.
A member of the Indian community stood up to speak about the litter situation at Mountbatten in a comment on Ms Shanmugam’s Facebook post.
Reminders to stay litter-free have always been present throughout all celebrations, for any race.
For instance, during this year’s Chinese New Year, Ms Josephine Teo reminded the community to dispose of their trash responsibly, as reported by CNA.
Additionally, similar messages were evident in other neighbourhoods like Ang Mo Kio, particularly regarding the burning of joss paper.
Banner Removed Despite the Intentions
Nevertheless, acknowledging the context, MP Mr Lim has instructed the contractor to remove the anti-littering banner to “avoid further misunderstanding.”
He explained in his Facebook comment that the lack of communication with the contractor regarding the banners’ placement led to the confusion.
Concluding his response, he extended Deepavali greetings to the Hindu community.
While the litter-free banner has been removed, at least we now know that the intent to encourage cleanliness in Mountbatten has been clearly communicated.