I’m in Fort Canning Park as a volunteer to promote racial harmony in the Orange Ribbon Celebration. It’s supposed to inspire and promote good feelings but throughout the event, the only thought I had was, “Seriously???”
As a volunteer, I was a tagger for participants. It means I have to follow a particular group of people throughout the event ensuring their safety and welfare. With another partner, I was assigned to fifty-three Chinese-speaking elderly people.
This event is very odd for me in many ways. First, the event is practically unheard of by the larger public, especially among my university peers. Facebook presence is almost non-existent. This is due to the second odd facet of the event. The organisers bring in participants in bus-loads from community centres or schools. Thus, the main target groups are school children, and the elderly. This is very strange for an event promoting racial harmony.
And, next, the event programmes. Gosh. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the first male local performer. His voice is good. His presence, charming. But, singing Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly With Me’. “Huh?” There are men in stilts wearing Balinese traditional costumes claiming that they are traditional Chinese clothing. Very bizarre. There are also people wearing funky wigs and bright clothing, as if they are attending a retro event.
The worst part of the event is that whilst the organisers might be feeling that all is well with entertaining the young by singing Colbie Cailet and Jason Mraz’s ‘Lucky’, and Amy Winehouse, what of the elderly? The elderly contributed to about one-third, if not half, of the audience.
I know of their reactions because I’m here accompanying them. With no chairs around, which forces them to bend their fragile knees to the ground or if they’re lucky, staircase steps, to listen to the performers singing loud, deafening, blasting music in English or with a very little Malay or fusion or rap or hip hop music. Oh dear!
Food served in the stalls is terribly unhealthy as well consisting of mainly sweets (ice cream, popcorn, mua chee, sweet corn), snacks, and fried food (fried chicken, ramli burgers). One of the senior citizens I was attending to whined that there was no bread or dumplings to eat, and that they were not given any prior information that there will be no appropriate food for them. The food here is highly unsuited for anyone to eat, especially the elderly.
All I can say, with the complaining, hungry and tired elderly people in front of me who have been here since 5pm, and with my volunteer colleagues who are shaking their heads as well, is…
What were the organisers thinking? Or, did they not think at all?
This is a national event but it is very poorly organised without any considerations for the poor elderly grandmas and grandpas. This has been very disappointing.
I’m off-duty now, so I’m leaving.