Pink Dot Reaches Max Capacity Despite Restrictions
Thousands of Singaporeans flocked to Hong Lim Park on Saturday (July 1), as the much-anticipated Pink Dot was held after overcoming many obstacles.
Among them: Foreign sponsorship was banned, which led to local companies filling in the gap; foreigners were banned entirely, leading to barricades being erected around the park; and people complained over even the event’s ad at Orchard Cineleisure.
In happier news, however, Paralympian Theresa Goh came out and became a Pink Dot ambassador. Here she is at the event:
And, as if to reward Pink Dot for surviving a tough year, it gained its strongest supporter yet on the day of the event: Mr Li Huanwu, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s nephew and 2nd son of his brother Lee Hsien Yang, went public with his support for the rally.
Supporting Pink Dot
The 31-year-old, in a post on his Facebook profile on Saturday at 3.05am, urged members of the LGBT community to attend Pink Dot, calling it a “moral duty”.
This is what he said in a stately toned post that befitted the grandson of founding father Lee Kuan Yew:
Dear Singaporean / PR friends,
It has been a difficult year for Pink Dot, which faced many challenges that seemed insurmountable at the outset. Nevertheless, the organizers appear to have acquired a knack for doing the impossible and the event will go on today.
If you are a straight ally, I implore you to come stand in solidarity. For the LGBT community, it is but a dream to share in the same human dignities as you, to live full and proper lives. Your support is needed to live that dream. Please stand with us.
If you’re a closeted member of the LGBT community, I also urge you to come. I hope that you will look past the security barricades and ID checks and see — if only for an afternoon — that there is more to life than the darkness of the closet, that there are people out there who care.
Finally, If you’re an out member of the LGBT community, you have a moral responsibility to come. If you do not stand up yourself, you cannot expect others to fight for you. This is your moral duty.
PS: there is still time to get pink clothes for the event. H&M and Topman should have a fair selection left, and Uniqlo stocks pink dry-fit polos.
(note: slight edits for word choice).
The Lee family has been in the spotlight as of late, due to the dispute over 38 Oxley Road. Follow the full timeline of events here.
And Huanwu has been supporting his father throughout the saga, but has remained relatively low-profile till now. But he hasn’t surfaced in a way that most people would expect — supporting a cause that no member of the government has dared to support publicly.
But if you were surprised at Huanwu’s stance on Pink Dot, a glance at his profile image would reveal that it’s not so surprising after all:
Source / Li Huanwu’s Facebook profile photo
Not only is there a Pink Dot logo, there is a cartoon drawing of one guy kissing another — and one of the guys bears a resemblance to Huanwu.
Hmm, was the post a subtle “coming out” by a member of the Lee family?
With or without Huanwu’s support, we’re sure Pink Dot would have been a success, as MustShareNews saw when we visited the event.
In a press conference held by the Pink Dot organisers on Saturday (July 1) just before the event, spokesperson Paerin Choa revealed that the budget for security had increased by 4 times on the cost of last year’s rally: a 5-figure amount was spent on over 60 security personnel. Here’s part of the posse of security personnel we saw at the event:
There was also an increase in volunteers for this year’s 9th edition of Pink Dot from about 300 to 400 last year to 500 this year, the spokesperson said.
The increase in security personnel was necessary partly because of changes to the Public Order Act that banned foreigners from entering the Speakers’ Corner during a protest, reported Channel NewsAsia. Previously, foreigners could enter the area as observers but not participate in the protests.
Channel NewsAsia also reported.Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam as saying in Parliament on Apr 3, 2017:
It has been the Government’s long-standing position that foreigners and foreign entities should not import foreign politics into Singapore; nor should they interfere in our domestic issues, especially those of a political or controversial nature.
This ensures that Singapore is not used as a platform by foreigners to further political causes, especially those that are controversial or divisive.
Thus, according to the The Straits Times, the organisers were asked by the police to suggest the measures they were taking in order to ensure that only Singaporeans and and PRs could attend the event.
And barricades were decided upon as there was simply no other way:
It wasn’t only the barricades that were new, but also the stringent security checks, which included checking for pink ICs for entry, as well as bag checks and full-body scans:
And of course, the checks resulted in yet another never-before-seen sight: long queues of people at the entry points, waiting to enter the venue.
If some had hoped the barricades would have the effect of restricting the number of people attending the event this year, it seemed to have had that effect.
It was announced after 6pm that the park had reached maximum capacity, and a person could only be admitted in if one person left.
This resulted in a long queue of people outside the venue that could not enter — however, instead of leaving, they waited outside the barricades anyway.
At the end, though, all that trouble was worth it, as all who were there came together in a show of solidarity by making a beautiful Pink Dot:
And yes, perhaps as an answer to the those who find the gay agenda in any rainbow-coloured thing, the lighted-up Pink Dot came with a stunning rainbow this time:
Despite the roadblocks, Mr Choa says he hopes that the encouraging response from local sponsors (whose number increased from 5 to 120 this year) and support from others means that Singaporeans’ attitudes towards the LGBT community have evolved.
While those in the extreme religious groups probably won’t change their minds, those whom he described as “the middle ground” may become more accepting, and Pink Dot is that platform to help attitudes evolve.
For example, Cathay Cineleisure’s support in not backing down when told to amend the Pink Dot ads in their building is one heartening example.
Slowly But Surely
As a country that still has many people who consider themselves conservative, Singapore might require some time for its people to accept the LGBT community with open arms.
But as Pink Dot has shown for the past 9 years, attitudes towards the LGBT community might start to change… slowly.
Featured image from Facebook
All other uncredited photos by Jeremy Lee