Singapore

Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns with unsuitable greetings to be replaced

Twelve lantern decorations bearing inappropriate Chinese greetings will be replaced by tomorrow, after they were mistakenly produced and put up in Chinatown on Thursday last week.

The banner-like lanterns, which were hung up in South Bridge Road ahead of the traditional street light-up ceremony to mark the Mid-Autumn Festival, had drawn comments from members of the public that they did not suit the occasion.

For example, one lantern's message translated to "bright and majestic", while another said "joy for the nation" - both phrases not commonly used to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a time for family reunions.

Ms Jennifer Lee, head of the Chinatown Festival Street Light-up Sub-Committee, said it had flagged the problematic greetings on some lanterns to its contractor following internal feedback and asked for them to be removed before production began.

But they realised the changes were not made when the lights were being tested last Friday.

"These changes were not made in time," said Ms Lee.

Netizens who spotted the lanterns said the decorations opened Singapore's Chinese standards to criticism. Some said the phrases on them, like "the bright moon twinkles", did not make sense.

Ms Lee said some of the greetings - like one that read "the stars shine" - might seem unconventional, but were "to recreate the famous retro Hong Kong ambience" featuring many neon signs.

Among the lanterns being replaced is the one that reads "joy for the nation".

The committee did not disclose the other designs being replaced but said it is working with the contractor to replace the affected lanterns.

This year's light-up will be live-streamed on Thursday and be in place till Oct 16.

The Chinatown Festival is organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee and is made up of grassroots volunteers.

COMMUNITY ISSUES