by Deanna Nabilah
IT’S been a challenging year for Pink Dot organisers. On top of the ban on foreign sponsorship, they were slapped with the difficulty of barring foreigners from attending the event as participants. At the Pink Dot Media Launch event yesterday (May 30), it was announced that for the first time the Speakers’ Corner, the annual site of the Pink Dot event, will be barricaded.
This, however, was not something that they had initially settled for. The spokesman for Pink Dot, Mr Paerin Choa, said: “The set-up of barricades and checkpoints around the park was the only measure deemed acceptable by authorities; this was a decision taken out of our hands and is something we do not readily agree with.” Organisers had to submit three proposals to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and they were all rejected. One of their previous proposals only included the setting up of checkpoints but this was rejected because MHA wanted “foolproof preventive measures”.
Patrons of The Middle Ground enjoy priority access to our best stories. To become a patron, click here.
The police had also reminded organisers of the changes to the Public Order Act which were in operation since November last year. Under the conditions for organisers of assemblies, these amendments include having organisers ensure that “only citizens of Singapore or permanent residents of Singapore participate in the assembly or procession”. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in prosecution.
Speaking about the uncertainty organisers faced in raising funds for Pink Dot, Mr Choa said that they felt that their initial target of having 100 sponsors come onboard with the event was too “ambitious”. They currently have 116 local sponsors – seven first-tier sponsors, 14 second-tier sponsors and 95 third-tier sponsors. They have also surpassed their target of $150,000. Under the Red Dot for Pink Dot campaign, which is the official fund-raising campaign for Pink Dot, more than $201,000 has been raised for the event according to Mr Darius Cheung, who is spearheading the campaign. This amounts to more than the sum raised by foreign multinational companies (MNCs) in previous years. His team hopes to have 120 sponsors by this Sunday (June 4).
At the launch, the Pink Dot ambassadors for this year were revealed to be Mr Nathan Hartono, homegrown heartthrob musician who came in second at Sing China last year, Ms Theresa Goh, paralympian athlete who won a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2016 Summer Paralympics and Mr Ebi Shankara, Vasantham star and host for last year’s National Day Parade. When TMG asked if they were worried about losing fans who don’t agree, Mr Hartono said that he “truly doesn’t care.”
“Personally, I have never been in the entertainment industry for the money or the numbers. My hope in getting involved in this is that people that had reservations before, might give it a shot and see how it’s like. At most it’s a day, if you don’t like it, you can always go home,” said Mr Hartono.
Filmmaker Mr Boo Junfeng returned to film this year’s campaign video. It featured three LGBTQ individuals talking to uncles and aunties in coffee shops around Singapore about sexuality. There were lots of uncomfortable pauses and moments of hilarity in the video, but meaningful conversations were exchanged and some understanding was reached. Mr Boo had filmed almost all of the campaign videos in previous years. While the ambassadors said that they did not have any difficult conversations with their friends and families on sexuality, Mr Shankara said there were “interesting ones”.
“I had an interesting conversation with my mum: Oh the LGBT thing, she said, there are a lot of Indian guys who are gay and coming out, it’s good. These were her exact words, and the conversation ended there,” shared Mr Shankara.
Featured image by Sean Chong.
If you like this article, Like The Middle Ground‘s Facebook Page as well!
For breaking news, you can talk to us via email.