The online trolls come out to play.
The nursery rhyme just doesn’t fit the reactions to a celebration like the Filipinos Independence Day, especially the over-the-top ones by some netizens to the Pilipino Independence Day Council Singapore’s plan to celebrate the community’s Independence Day in Singapore.
It is nothing more than a childish, irrational temper tantrum.
Much of the vitriol is sparked by the Facebook page “Say no to an overpopulated Singapore” which has urged netizens to protest against the event on June 8.
There’s the immature name-calling, with imaginative commentators repeatedly likening the organisers (and all Filipinos in general) to pests and vermin (as seen on the page)
There’s the “us versus them” playground mentality, with a few apparently conflating Filipino foreign workers with All Foreign Workers That Ever Did Live In Singapore
There are three items that the protesters are against:
1) The council’s use of the Singapore skyline in the event’s promotional materials
Why is this a problem? This year’s Singapore Day in London used the iconic London skyline for its posters.
2) The event’s use of the term “interdependence”
“Interdependence” is not an inherently negative word. It is used here together with “independence” and is an attempt to promote community and solidarity. And I’d like to bring up something that seems to have been completely ignored by protesters: as part of the run-up to Independence Day, the council has organised events such as blood donation campaigns and care home visits – all worthy causes for the benefit of Singaporeans.
As council co-chairman Rychie Andres said: “Our drive is to be part of the community and and an attempt to try and open up to other nationalities.
“Interdependence doesn’t mean Singaporeans depend on us, but that we all help each other.”
3) The fact that the event will be held on “Singapore soil” and not in the embassy compound.
Previous Filipino Independence Days have been held in public places like Hong Lim Park and Suntec City and nobody batted an eyelid.
And then there’s the downright bullying – the council took down its Facebook post about the event in response to the anti-Filipino comments, an action that was not lost on “Say no to an overpopulated Singapore”, which posted gleefully on its page:
*Update: PIDCS has since removed the main event poster (along with hundreds of comments made by Singaporeans protesting against it) on their Facebook page.
At around only 250 likes on the re-post of “Say no to an overpopulated Singapore”, these online protesters can hardly be said to constitute a representative sample of general Singaporean opinion.
What’s really frustrating is that “‘Say No to an overpopulated Singapore”, in its original intention to voice the frustrations and concerns Singaporeans have about overpopulation, has a pertinent and relevant agenda. Its page description prioritises “active discussions and positive social actions” and “the power of collaborative participation”, things that Singapore’s online landscape sorely needs.
Ironically, at the bottom of the description it also writes: ‘Trolls/Spammers/Nuisances/Racists, etc. will be banned’.
Singaporeans have legitimate and rational reasons to be concerned about overpopulation. However the protests of a racist online minority will only give more ammunition to those who call for more online regulation.
Childish tantrums and blind rage will not get us anywhere; they merely risk fuelling unthinking reaction and tarring everyone with the same brush. And then we’ll all end up on the naughty step.