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Filipino revelry in S'pore off over abusive remarks

SINGAPORE--Organizers of a Philippine independence celebration have dropped plans to hold it in a busy Singapore shopping district, police said Monday, 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 for compatriots and Singaporeans at a shopping complex along the busy Orchard Road shopping belt.

In a statement sent to AFP Monday, police said organizers, the Pilipino Independence Day Council 2014 (PIDC), had withdrawn their application to hold the event at the Ngee Ann City shopping complex.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 organizers had been advised to hold the event at alternative locations, including a free speech park and a convention center.

Organizers did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment on whether they would go ahead with the event at a different location.

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

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

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

Other anonymous online commentators have called on organizers to hold the event within the Philippine embassy grounds.

Gilbert Goh, an employment counselor regarded as the most vocal critic of the government's immigration policies, on Monday 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 accompanied by a picture of a news article about PIDC's decision.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in April condemned the virulent campaign against PIDC, led by Goh and other online commentators, as “thuggish behavior” and called them a “disgrace to Singapore.”

A large foreign presence in tiny Singapore has increasingly riled locals, who say foreigners compete with them for jobs, housing, medical care as well as space on public transport, even though the unemployment rate stands at just over two percent — one of the lowest figures in the world.

Singaporeans make up just over 60 percent of the country's 5.4 million population, with its low fertility rate forcing the government to rely heavily on guest workers to power its affluent economy.

About 172,700 Filipinos work in Singapore, according to the latest publicly available Philippine government data. Recent arrivals are largely professionals and service-sector workers.

May 30, 2014    episiltechnologies@
To those Singaporeans who think they're above all to Asian people.. You are strongly wrong, don’t you realize it? Without the skills, knowledge and dedication of foreign worker (especially Filipino), you are just an ordinary community on this world. Don't be so racial Singaporean!?!
May 31, 2014    chirongoh@
It has nothing to do with Xenophobia. No country in the world except Philippines would break basic diplomatic protocols to celebrate their own Independence Day or National Day in foreign countries PUBLICLY. Not even the almighty Uncle Sam would do that. Most of the time, diplomatic missions will only hold receptions in their embassies compound or hotel for invited guests only. At most, they will celebrate their country's "cultural day" in foreign countries in public places. Why Philippines so special? How would you feel if China is to celebrate their Independence Day on streets of Manila, flying their flag there and singing their National Anthem? Or just celebrate their Independence Day on the disputed isles and islands?

PIDC has committed offences in previous celebrations by displaying their National flag and emblem publicly in Singapore which is forbidden by law without special permission. Most important of all, PIDC has been very insensitive in its promotional brochure and design, putting graphics of Philippines Flag and Army on the photo of Singapore skyline and iconic landmarks. Are you celebrating your conquer of Singapore? And your Independence has absolutely nothing to do with Singapore!

When you are in Rome, do what the Romans do. Do not try to trespass our sovereignty or break our laws. That's just basic fundamentals of being a guest in foreign land.

Goh Meng Seng
June 17, 2014    jekstersantos@
Singapore celebrated their independence day in London with thousands of your highly social and highly looked up citizen of yours in attendance. Even your government officials attended the celebration. Do you think you already conquered London? The celebration is INDEPENDENCE DAY, do you even know the meaning of that words chirongoh, its not to conquer but to free someone from oppression or other racial discrimination like you are doing. The Philippine flag picture with your iconic landmarks means freedom. BTY, what offences do they commit when they are applying for permits, if your government approve of the assembly then they commit no offence. Do not envy Filipinos, Singapore is a super rich country and we are just thankful that Singapore is extending their help to hire Filipinos. We just hope that we are helping Singapore economy in our own little way.
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