The lantern decorations put up in Chinatown for traditional street light-up ceremony as part of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations have sparked a flood of reactions from the member of public, many of whom rebuked that the lanterns carry inappropriate Chinese greeting messages that did not suit the Festival.
As such, about 12 lanterns hung along South Bridge Road were set to be replaced by Wednesday (16 Sep) before the light-up ceremony that will be taking place later today (17 Sep), as reported by The Straits Times.
Days before the event, members of the public discovered that the Chinese greetings on some of the lanterns seem inappropriate as they bear no relevance to the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Case in point, some of the seemingly inappropriate messages spotted were “亮亮堂堂””, which translates into “bright and majestic” – and “国家欢乐” – which translates into “joy for the nation”. It is said that these messages are not common greetings used for the Festival.
As seen by TOC on Tuesday (15 Sep), the said inappropriate Chinese greetings along South Bridge Road – including “bright and majestic” and “joy for the nation” – have been taken down.
In response to the controversy, head of the Chinatown Festival Street Light-up Sub-Committee Jennifer Lee noted that before the contractors begin production, the committee had requested them to remove the inappropriate greetings on several lanterns following internal feedback.
However, during the light-testing last Friday (11 Sep), the committee noticed that the changes were not made.
Ms Lee explained that the “changes were not made in time”, hence the messages were still apparent.
For other phrases, such as “星光闪耀”” – which translates into “the stars shine” – she said that although they may seem unconventional, but they were aimed “to recreate the famous retro Hong Kong ambience” featuring neon signs.
“The Hong Kong-style decorations are unique to South Bridge Road for this year’s light-up, while more traditional decorations such as lotus flower lanterns and animal lanterns will be found along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road,” Ms Lee added.
Meanwhile, a Facebook user on Sunday (13 Sep) uploaded a photo, pointing out that the banner with the phrase “月到是秋分外明”” should be corrected into “月到中秋分外明”” [translation: The moon on Mid-Autumn Festival is exceptionally bright] – which is the right phrase.
The Festival committee responded to the netizen’s request of changing the banner, stating that it will look into the feedback given.
This is not the first time the Festival has caused a public stir. Last year, the event organiser had to repaint a two-storey lantern of the mythical character Chang’e following complaints saying that the facial features of the goddess of the moon looked too masculine.
Netizens chastise the festival organisers for blaming others instead of taking responsibility for their negligence
Following this year’s controversy, many netizens penned their thoughts on the Facebook page of Lianhe Zaobao, chastising the organisers for putting the blame on others instead of owning up to their own mistakes.
They felt that the mistakes made were resulted from the negligence of the organisers, thus the organisers ought to be held responsible for them.
[Translation: It seems that both committee and contractors are wrong. The contractors had a low level of Chinese language while the committee had done the approval carelessly and then put the blame on others when something happened. If there is no approval from the committee, the contractors would not hang up the lanterns.]
[Translation: The committee who did not notice the mistakes earlier when passed the finished products to the contractors, but only realised it when the contractors hang up the lanterns. So is that the contractors’ mistake?]
[Translation: The committee had already messed up the event last year, and even this year came out with this “laughable” mistake that “bring shame” to Singaporean Chinese. The committee should hold responsible for it and the chairperson should step down.]
[Translation: This is not the first time. Why the committee did not proofread it before the contractors put up the lanterns? The committee is just putting blames on the contractors. Also, the person-in-charge should be at the scene to check when the lanterns being hung up. This is all about the competence of the committee in organising the events.]
[Translation: Based on procedures, isn’t the design plan supposed to be reviewed by the committee? It is clear that who should hold the responsible for it.]
[Translation: The committee has at least messed up the event for three years in a row. However, they still dumped all the responsibilities and blame on the contractors. We need to question this MP in parliament regarding this matter.]
A couple of netizens also lamented about the low level of Chinese language skills among Singaporeans. They suggested that the Ministry of Education (MOE) should set up more Chinese schools in order to improve the Chinese language skills.
[Translation: We have been encouraged to learn Chinese since 1980s, however, the level of Chinese language was getting lower and lower. Is it because of the failure of education system or the government policy?]
[Translation: Would it possible that the MOE to re-consider setting up more Chinese schools to improve the Chinese language level of younger generations?]
Meanwhile, one netizen questioned why local contractors were not hired, adding that the locals would have been more prudent in handling the whole situation as they are more familiar with the local culture.