As Christmas approaches, the streets should be full of merriment, with the strains of festive ditties in the air.
But not everyone seems to enjoy such festivities — especially one hawker in Ang Mo Kio — who reportedly called the police on three buskers who performed at the food centre.
The gripe was apparently that they were noisy.
The incident happened at about 12pm on Friday (8 Dec), reported Shin Min Daily News.
The three buskers — two women and a man wearing Santa hats — were performing at Ang Mo Kio Central Market & Food Centre, at Block 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6.
Photos courtesy of a reader showed that the trio had set up an electronic piano and two large speakers along with festive lights. They also propped up a donation box on a trolley.
One of the women may have had a visual impairment as she was using a cane.
Sadly for the buskers, a stallholder had taken exception to their performance on the premises, Shin Min understands.
He thus called the police as he thought they were noisy.
Photos from the eyewitness later captured at least two police officers at the scene questioning the buskers.
The hawker who called the police wasn’t the only one who found the buskers’ presence objectionable.
One stallholder who declined to be named told Shin Min that they shouldn’t have blocked the passageway with their stuff.
A mobile phone store owner in the market, Mr Huang (name transliterated from Mandarin), said their singing was loud enough that it was difficult for vendors to hear what customers were saying.
Some stallholders also feared that the buskers would drive away business if customers didn’t like the show.
If they wanted to perform, they should do it at the stage outside the food centre, Mr Huang added.
It also turns out that the association of hawkers in the food centre had held a meeting to discuss the issue.
They decided to oppose busking on the premises.
The association’s chairman Hong Mingde (name transliterated from Mandarin), was adamant, telling reporters that buskers cannot perform inside hawker centres.
Some others, however, were more welcoming.
A drink stall employee by the name of Mr Chen (name transliterated from Mandarin) said it was the first time he’d seen the trio busking there.
The 53-year-old, who said he knew the father of the man in the group, added that he’d seen the father playing his harmonica at the passageway in front of his stall.
He claimed that he’d never heard any diners complain about the noise. Moreover, the buskers sang slow songs that wouldn’t bother anybody.
On the contrary, the music will make people feel better, Mr Chen maintained, adding,
I don’t understand why anybody would call the police.
Another stallholder told the paper that he believed the buskers wouldn’t affect their business.
After all, everyone there is looking for sustenance, he reasoned, so there’s no need to make it difficult for others.
In Singapore, buskers must have licences and are allowed to perform only in designated areas.
There are about 300 endorsed buskers in Singapore who perform at around 80 designated busking locations islandwide, according to the National Arts Council (NAC).
Mr Chen said the trio all had licences and usually performed at a nearby food centre.
But Friday was the first time he’d seen them come to Block 724.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), “busking zones” were set to be introduced in Ang Mo Kio from April 2020.
Each zone would comprise a cluster of busking locations, allowing buskers the flexibility to move between them.
One of the locations in the Ang Mo Kio zone was supposed to be the space near the hawker centre at Block 724.
However, as we all know, restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic started at around that time, so it’s uncertain whether the Ang Mo Kio zone got off the ground eventually.
A cleaner who declined to be named told Shin Min that on Friday, the police said they would refer the case to the relevant authorities.
Thus, it’s still uncertain whether the trio of buskers had violated any rules by performing at the food centre.
As we look forward to some year-end Christmas cheer, let’s hope to see and hear more performers spreading the joy across town — as long as they don’t cause any disturbance to others.
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Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News.
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