MP Teo Ser Luck steps in after RC's Tagalog sign sparks online debate

A picture circulating online, of a poster (above) in Tagalog asking for volunteers to join a Filipino sub-committee at the Compassvale Villa RC, has reignited the debate about the lack of integration between foreigners and locals. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK
A picture circulating online, of a poster (above) in Tagalog asking for volunteers to join a Filipino sub-committee at the Compassvale Villa RC, has reignited the debate about the lack of integration between foreigners and locals. -- PHOTO: FACEBOOK

A sign in Tagalog seeking volunteers for a Filipino residents' sub-committee has sparked controversy online, prompting the area's MP Teo Ser Luck to clarify that it was a mistake and that no such sub-committee was formed.

The Straits Times understands that a Singaporean member of the Compassvale Villa Residents' Committee (RC) had come up with the idea for a Filipino sub-committee as a way to improve integration, and had put up the sign in the RC's vicinity.

RCs are grassroots bodies set up in HDB estates to organise activities for residents and to promote community bonds. They are under the purview of the People's Association, a statutory board.

Several forums and blogs have in recent weeks circulated a photo of the sign, sparking debate online.

Many netizens opposed the move to set up sub-groups based on nationality, especially within grassroots bodies given the task of promoting integration.

On Monday, Mr Teo, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and MP for Punggol Central ward, where the RC is located, clarified that the sub-committee was not set up in the end.

As for the sign, it was taken down a few days after it went up earlier this year, at Mr Teo's request. He also counselled the RC members behind the idea and told them that creating such sub-committees was not the right approach.

"(I told them) we should not cluster and form such committees. The best integration is to work together in the same group," he said.

It is not clear how many Filipinos live in the Compassvale Villa area.

One Facebook user called Predeesh Emeritus Omerta, who posted a photo of the Tagalog sign on Mr Teo's Facebook wall, pointed out that one of the main aims of RCs is to promote integration.

"As a Singaporean, I personally find such ads racially biased as I believe the RC should look after and cater to all regardless of race," he said.

twong@sph.com.sg