‘Business as usual’ at Pink Dot despite barricades, ID checks

‘Business as usual’ at Pink Dot despite barricades, ID checks

For the first time, barricades were set up around the rally site at Speaker’s Corner to comply with recent changes to the Public Order Act that block foreigners from participating in political causes.

The light-up at Pink Dot 2017. (Photo: Lianne Chia)

SINGAPORE: Despite security checks and barricades at this year’s Pink Dot, organisers said that it was “business as usual” for the rally, which was held on Saturday (Jul 1) in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Nothing in the event has changed because of the barricades,” Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa told Channel NewsAsia. “It’s just that everyone has to go through them to get inside.”

“But within the barricades, it’s business as usual, with the same messaging and same vibe.”

Barricades were set up around the perimeter of the rally site at Speakers’ Corner, to comply with recent changes to the Public Order Act under which organisers of events at Speakers’ Corner must ensure that only Singaporeans or Permanent Residents participate.

Organisers said the event would also be live-streamed on Facebook so “anyone can follow the proceedings”.

At seven designated entrances, participants had to show their pink or blue identity cards to prove they were a Singaporean or permanent resident (PR) before they could enter. They then had to go through bag and body checks.  

Participants going through security checks at Pink Dot 2017. (Photo: Lianne Chia)

Long queues were spotted at all seven entrances. By around 7pm, the site had reached full capacity, and organisers were only permitting people to enter as those inside left.

“I felt the checks were a little strict, and I didn’t expect this,” said participant Tang Jie, who said she had queued for about 10 to 15 minutes. “But anything can happen, so it’s better to be reasonable.”

“The security itself is not bad, and it hasn’t inconvenienced me at all,” said a mother of two who only wanted to be known as Deeksha. “But I don’t agree with the regulations.”

“I had to leave my aunt back home because of the regulations. But I’m here for my children’s future.”

Signs put up along the barricades at Pink Dot 2017. (Photo: Lianne Chia)

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the event, Mr Choa said more than 60 security personnel and auxiliary police officers were deployed, which is three times more than last year. Organisers also saw their security budget increase four times, to a “five-figure amount”.

He added that there were about 500 volunteers this year, an increase from the 400 last year.

In a post-event media release, organisers said close to 20,000 Singaporeans and PRs had turned up for the rally.

The crowd at Pink Dot 2017 at around 7.30pm. (Photo: Lianne Chia)

“Despite the barriers that have been placed in front of us, we are immensely grateful for the massive support Singapore has shown, which we feel reflects a turning point in attitudes towards the LGBT community within the greater Singapore fabric,” said Mr Choa. “Even with this restricted space that limits Singapore’s true propensity for love, we feel that we have taken yet another important step in achieving true equality for all Singaporeans.” 

Source: CNA/lc