Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah has responded to online criticism of the staged scenes put up at the Queenstown Green playground for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
“The pictures that people have posted do not take into account the context of the visit,” she said.
She was referring to several pictures surfacing on the Internet showing the playground before and during the visit, accompanied with sarcastic captions.
Many netizens felt that the sight of residents performing taichi and silat, and using the playground and fitness equipment in the middle of the afternoon presented an unrealistic slice of Singapore life.
She told Singapolitics that the organisers – made up of grassroots groups, the Housing Board, the People’s Association and the British High Commission – had two objectives for that visit.
One was to showcase HDB living. The other was to showcase the various cultural and community activities of Singapore.
“At the same time, the organisers were also given a very short timeframe of about 25 minutes to show all of that,” she said, adding that they felt the best way to achieve it was to “do it in little exhibition spots.”
The playground was chosen as the venue to show the type of facilities in a housing estate, such as exercise machines and playground equipment.
They had asked Tanjong Pagar GRC residents and schoolchildren to take part. Those performing taichi and silat were actual groups with the area’s community centres.
“The demonstrations were to showcase the different types of activities themselves. It was not to suggest that these activities take place at 3pm everyday… It was meant to give a snapshot, and in that sense it was no different from a demonstration of activities,” she said.
Ms Indranee said that as she toured the area with Prince William, he had asked her if Singaporeans actually practice taichi and silat in the afternoon.
“I explained that they wouldn’t do so at 3pm because it’s hot, and that these groups were just here to demonstrate… So it was explained to our visitors that we were just showcasing activities,” she said.
Delta RC chairman Mr Patrick Mah, who was among the organisers, echoed her view.
“These activities usually happen in this area in the evening. But you can’t ask the royal couple to come at 7am when people do taichi,” he said.
He reiterated that the point of the visit was to showcase Singapore living. “The Gardens by the Bay part was to showcase Singapore’s ‘hardware’. This was to show our ‘software’: real people of Singapore and our lifestyle,” he said.
The visit to the playground at Strathmore Green by Prince William and his wife, Catherine Middleton had been the talk of the Internet yesterday.
Blogger Mr Brown was among those who put up contrasting pictures, one before the visit showing an empty playground, and one during the visit showing children and elderly residents using the space. He wrote: “I think some of the uncles on the playground can win Golden Horse award for Best Acting.”