Member of Parliament (MP) Lim Biow Chuan has given instructions to take down a Deepavali-related banner that "gave rise to a misunderstanding".
The People's Action Party (PAP) MP, who represents Mountbatten SMC, appeared in a banner in his capacity as adviser to Mountbatten Grassroots Organisations, wishing residents a happy Deepavali.
However, that banner was placed above another one with the sentence, "Let's keep our celebrations litter free."
The banner, which also has an advisory on binning litter and keeping public spaces clean, appeared to be put up by Residents' Networks and "supported by the National Environment Agency" (NEA), according to the logos on the banner.
Facebook post of the banners
The two banners were photographed and shared on Facebook on Nov. 8 by a user named Susiilaa Shanmugam.
The user said that while the message appears to have a "positive intent", it's used at a "wrong time." She also asked if the same message was used during other festivals.
Several commenters on the post mentioned that the message could be seen as insensitive.
Contractor who put up banners did not clear the location with PA staff
Speaking to Mothership, Lim confirmed that the photo of the banners is genuine, and not artificially manipulated or generated.
He also mentioned that the Deepavali festive greeting banners were put up on his behalf by the People's Association (PA).
However, the contractor who put up the banners did not clear the location with the PA staff.
"There were several Deepavali festive greeting banners which were put up on my behalf by PA. But there is only one location where the festive banner and Deepavali were put up together one above the other.
The contractor who put up the banners did not clear the location of the banner with the PA staff."
Lim also explained the origin of the anti-littering banners and clarified that it is not an initiative of the Marine Parade Town Council (which oversees Mountbatten SMC).
Instead, it is a Residents' Network initiative, which is under the PA.
"The anti-littering banners were an initiative by the Residents' Network (RN) who had received many complaints about littering of sparklers and wrappings in the parks after Deepavali.
They discussed the littering issue with NEA and came up with the idea to remind residents not to litter after the celebrations.
The RNs often on their own initiative, take many other targeted initiatives based on Resident's feedback e.g. undertaking patrols to deter cyclists from riding on a bridge, noise mitigation measures, traffic management measures.
This is not an MPTC initiative."
When asked if the anti-littering message was previously included with greetings for other festive occasions, Lim said this is the first year it has happened after receiving feedback from residents, as the other celebrations are usually not carried out at the public park.
"I agree that the location of the banners side by side had given rise to misunderstanding. I have given instructions to the PA staff to remove the banner," Lim said.
Lim added that he had conveyed the "negative feedback" to the NEA, and they will be removing "all the anti-littering banners".
A Mothership reader who lives in a condominium in Mountbatten SMC said she received a circular with a similar message.
The circular purportedly came from the NEA and the Mountbatten Grassroots Association. It said:
"As the festive season approaches, you might be planning to celebrate this joyous occasion at the beautiful green spaces / open fields near your home.
While enjoying the festivities, let’s do our part to keep our shared spaces clean and green by picking up after ourselves and binning our waste (used sparklers, plastic pouches, cardboard boxes, confetti) in a waste bin. Do not leave any litter behind. We encourage you to remind others to do the same."
It also included photographs of what looked like litter on the ground, public park benches and burnt grass from sparklers.
The circular also reminded residents about the penalties for littering under the Environmental Public Health Act.
Top image from Susiilaa Shanmugam Facebook page.