Lanterns for annual CNY light-up raise some eyebrows

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Organisers of Chinatown Chinese New Year celebrations want to spread community message about SGSecure

The handcrafted lanterns hanging over the streets of Chinatown carry traditional new year messages, wishing people prosperity and a happy new year.

But they also display some unusual messages - such as urging people to be prepared for danger in times of peace, and to forge ahead in unity.

These messages have raisedeyebrows, with some people feeling that they are more appropriate for National Day celebrations, reported Shin Min Daily News.

But Dr Lily Neo, Jalan Besar GRC MP, who opened the Chinatown Chinese New Year media preview yesterday, said the messages were an extension of this year's message of "friendship, bonding and harmony".

Organisers said they wanted to celebrate the New Year mood while spreading a community message about SGSecure, the national movement to get Singaporeans involved in the fight against terror.

"Some of the (proverbs) are not really that far away from the New Year greetings but some are a bit out... that is intentional," said Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2018 Organising Committee.

While some found these messages unusual, they did not think they were inappropriate.

"The proverbs are about wishing the country to be safe in the New Year, so they are okay to me," said clerk Veronica Koh, 44.

Also raising eyebrows were how the dog lanterns - part of the annual Street Light-Up from Jan 27 to March 16 - looked more fierce than friendly.

The 2,188 handcrafted lanterns, of which 88 depict dogs, were designed in collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design for the seventh year in a row.

Mr Tan said the dogs looked friendly in the original design.

But the craftsmen "used a lot of steel wires, so when they fabricated (them), we found that some of them looked a bit fierce," he added.

Organisers worked with the craftsmen three weeks before the lanterns were put up to tweak some designs - such as changing the eyes so that the dogs looked less fierce.

This year's light-up is powered by around 13,000 LED light bulbs and stretches more than 800m along Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road.

Mr Tan said this year's decorations cost about $400,000, similar to past years' figures.

Besides the lanterns, there is also a dog-themed carnival, and a dog costume competition at Kreta Ayer Square on Feb 3.

The theme of this year's Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations, organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee, is "Blossoms of Happiness and Prosperity". It begins with the official light-up and opening cere­mony on Saturday, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as guest of honour.

Other highlights include the 11th International Lion Dance Competition on Feb 2 and 3, a 420-stall Festive Street Bazaar from Jan 26 to Feb 15, the Flower Market,the Chinatown Chinese New Year Countdown Party on Feb 15, and the Chingay 2018 @ Chinatown on Feb 25.