Singapore Day is an event organised by the Overseas Singaporean Unit under the Prime Minister's Office to engage Overseas Singaporeans and their families. Held in cities with a significant community of Overseas Singaporeans, it is a single-day annual event designed to give Singaporeans a "slice of home while overseas" through food, performances, information updates on the situation in Singapore and career options to entice them to return to the country. Political leaders would often make unannounced visits, such as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to the London event in 2014.
As at 2014, it has been held seven times in five cities, starting with New York City in 2007. While the event has seen generally good turn-outs of between 5,000 to 12,000 with positive reviews amongst visitors, it's multi-million price-tag to stage each event has also come under scrutiny in Singapore where the costs involved were questioned in parliament. A controversy over admission to the 2013 event in Sydney also erupted when a local Australian accused the event of being "racist" and "outrageous", despite the event being a ticketed event and the man was turned away as he held no ticket.
Singaporean cuisine comprising local hawker fare is prepared and served at the event by Singaporean hawkers.
Singaporean artistes and performers who have participated in Singapore Day include MediaCorp artistes, local comedians Hossan Leong and Jack Neo, singers Kit Chan and Rui En, rapper Sheikh Haikel, musical cabaret group Dim Sum Dollies, blogger mrbrown, actor Gurmit Singh and acoustic and percussion bands like The Great Spy Experiment, Jack and Rai and Bloco Singapura.
Recruitment booths and showcase displays set up on the event grounds allow Singaporeans abroad to keep abreast with the latest developments and career opportunities back in Singapore.
|2007||April 21||Wollman Rink, Central Park, New York City, United States|
|2008||October 4||Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Australia|
|2009||April 25||Hampton Court Palace, London, United Kingdom|
|2011||April 16||Century Park, Shanghai, China|
|2012||April 14||Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|2013||October 12||Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia|
|2014||March 29||Victoria Park, London, United Kingdom|
The first Singapore Day in 2007 was targeted at a community residing in New York City and other neighbouring cities and states such as Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was held on 21 April 2007 and attracted an unexpectedly high response. As a result, the venue was shifted from Bryant Park to the Wollman Rink in Central Park. Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was in New York for the event. 6,000 people attended the event and which included New Yorkers.
Singapore Day 2008 was held in Melbourne, on October 4, with a turnout of over 10,000 people.
Allegations of racial discrimination at events
A man wrote to a radio talkshow host on 2GB claiming that he and others were turned away from a public area in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, where the celebration of Singapore day was held in 2013, because they were of Caucasian appearance, whilst people of Asian appearance were allowed in without checking. Material for the event specified that only Singaporeans and their families could attend.
Replying to queries from Yahoo News, the organizers said the event was a pre-registered and ticketed event for crowd control purposes, and that registered Singaporeans were allowed to bring non-Singaporean friends and family members. The acting executive director of the Botanic Gardens responded to questions from the Daily Telegraph by stating that the event had caused community concern and that they would be reviewing whether it is appropriate for the Botanic Gardens to be involved with Singapore Day in the future.
- May Wong (2007-04-12). "Overwhelming response for Singapore Day in New York". Channel NewsAsia.
- "12,000 turn up to celebrate Singapore Day in London". Channel NewsAsia. 2009-04-26.
- "Overseas S'poreans celebrate Singapore Day in Shanghai". Channel NewsAsia. 2011-04-17.
- "Singapore Day". 2GB.
- "Man complains about being barred from Singapore Day in Sydney for being Caucasian". Yahoo.
- "Singapore party ban on whites at Botanic Gardens event attacked as racist". Daily Telegraph.
- "Singapore Day event accused of racism". Nine News. 2013-10-15.