Pink Dot gets 103 Singapore sponsors and $201,000 - surpassing targets

Participants holding up placards with their messages of love and support during the 8th edition of Pink Dot, annual rally for freedom to love, at Hong Lim Park on June 4, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In just under six weeks, annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rally Pink Dot has surpassed its target of finding 100 local sponsors.

As of Thursday, Pink Dot had received sponsorship dollars from 103 Singapore firms spanning industries from food and beverage, to film, healthcare and engineering.

According to The Straits Times' calculations, this brings the total sum raised to $201,000 - exceeding their $150,000 target.

A campaign to raise funds for the event from local companies, called Red Dot for Pink Dot, was started on March 26. The Sunday Times reported then that about 50 companies had already signed up through word of mouth, overturning conventional wisdom that Singapore companies are leery of being associated with the movement.

It prompted Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam to say last month: "Why don't we have confidence that our people can organise and take part in civic activities?"

Pink Dot's call for local sponsors started because the Government made clear last year that events held at the Speakers' Corner cannot have foreign involvement.

Previous iterations of Pink Dot - now in its ninth year - relied mostly on foreign dollars from multinational firms such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Barclays and Goldman Sachs. Only five of 18 sponsors last year were local.

Then, in October, the Ministry of Home Affairs reiterated that only local entities can sponsor, promote or get its employees to participate in events at the Speakers' Corner.

It defined what "local" companies are: they need to be incorporated or registered here, and be majority-controlled by Singaporeans.

To draw local dollars, Pink Dot lowered its sponsorship tiers. The Singapore companies are giving $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000, compared with the $7,000 or $15,000 tiers last year.

One of the sponsors, chocolatier Demochoco, crowdfunded its $5,000 pledge to Pink Dot.

Demochoco owner Lim Jialiang, 27, sold 50 boxes of 24 pieces of chocolates at $100 per box to raise the money in 24 hours.

"I wanted to involve the broader community so more people can play a part in this. That I raised money so quickly shows that Singaporeans do support Pink Dot," he said.

Pink Dot falls on July 1 at the Speakers' Corner this year. The fundraising campaign will continue till the end of May.

Pink Dot spokesman Paerin Choa calls the response from local businesses "amazing".

"It really does show that Singaporean companies are more than ready and willing to put their money where their hearts lie, towards building an inclusive and diverse Singapore for all."

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