A walk in the park as Y Stars get loudest cheers

The Y Stars' performance was disrupted by the protesters last year when the charity event was held at Hong Lim Park.
The Y Stars' performance was disrupted by the protesters last year when the charity event was held at Hong Lim Park.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

YMCA charity event attracts larger turnout this year at Gardens by the Bay

A year after being disrupted by about 30 protesters at Hong Lim Park, an annual charity event returned yesterday with more support from volunteers and sponsors.

On Sept 27 last year, the protesters - including activists Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui - had attended a Return Our CPF protest rally, which was held at the same time as YMCA's event.

The group marched to the charity carnival, some waving Singapore flags, and paused in front of the stage, chanting "Return our CPF" and other slogans, just as a group of special needs children was about to perform a dance item.

Six of the protesters later faced public nuisance charges.

Netizens, including several MPs, criticised the protesters for their behaviour, noting that fighting for a cause should be done with consideration for others.

But, at yesterday's concert, held at Gardens by the Bay, there were only loud cheers and audience members clapping along to songs.

There was a turnout of about 1,500 people, up from the 900 or so last year.

One of the performances that attracted the loudest cheers was a dance routine by Y Stars - the same group whose performance was disrupted by the protesters last year.

Parent volunteer Regina Aun, 56, said some beneficiaries were affected by what happened then.

"But I think what's important is how we, as the volunteers and their caregivers, direct the youths' attention...

"We moved away from (the past) and looked forward to the concert this year - the new dance, new costumes," she said.

One of the dancers, 23-year-old Yong Qiao Qi, said yesterday: "I'm happy. I'm glad I can show my talent to Singapore."

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Lily Neo, who was guest of honour, said: "The event went very smoothly, and it should be so. It's their day and there shouldn't be any other agenda."

There are also other benefits of holding the event at Gardens by the Bay, said Mr Chew Kwee San, president of the YMCA of Singapore.

He said participants could explore the Gardens before or after the concert.

"I think the quality of interaction between the volunteers and beneficiaries is enhanced, because there are more things to do."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2015, with the headline 'A walk in the park as Y Stars get loudest cheers'. Print Edition | Subscribe