Filipinos forced to cancel Independence Day celebrations in Singapore after campaign of abuse

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 May, 2014, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 May, 2014, 10:26pm

Organisers of a Philippine independence celebration have dropped plans to hold it in a busy Singapore shopping district after an abusive campaign by online commentators opposed to the event's venue.

The Philippines marks its 116th year of independence on June 12 and a group of Filipino residents in the city-state had initially planned a commemoration event on June 8 at a mall along the busy Orchard Road shopping belt.

But in a statement yesterday, police said organisers, the Pilipino Independence Day Council (PIDC), had withdrawn their application to hold the event at the Ngee Ann City shopping complex.

"This follows police's advice that there are public order and safety concerns with the venue proposed by PIDC," police said.

It said the organisers had been advised to hold the event at alternative locations, including a free speech park and a convention centre.

Online commentators, mostly on local websites and Facebook pages, have heaped racial abuse and attacked the choice of venue.

Critics posting on ultra-nationalist blog The Real Singapore have characterised the commemoration of a foreign state's independence day at the centre of town as an example of foreigners overstepping their welcome.

An article on The Real Singapore said the event undermined "the significance of Singapore's own independence as a sovereign state".

Gilbert Goh, an employment counsellor and vocal critic of the government's immigration policies, yesterday cheered PIDC's decision to withdraw plans to hold the event at Orchard Road.

"Well done Singaporeans, power to the people!" he said in a post on Facebook.

Last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong condemned the "thuggish" campaign against PIDC, led by Goh and other online commentators.