Lim Yan Liang – Straits Times Indonesia
Singapore. The Chinatown street light-up for the upcoming Chinese New Year will, for the first time, be designed by six students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), instead of a contractor.
And in another effort to get more young Singaporeans to participate in the festivities, a bilingual website will be rolled out.
On Wednesday, in a media briefing in Chinatown, the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee gave details of the light-up. Its centerpiece is a 3-D, 108m-long water dragon on the central divider between Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. The light-up will have nine dragons in all, symbolizing harmony and continuity.
The school was approached by the Singapore Tourism Board to do the design earlier this year, and the three months of work included interviews with residents and tourists, as well as liaising with contractors on construction and fabrication.
For the all-female SUTD team, whose members commence their studies next April, the project was a good opportunity to showcase their ideas.
Said team member Melissa Lim, 19: “When I was young and went down to Chinatown, it was very crowded and I couldn’t really see the designs. As I got older, I didn’t really visit Chinatown, I only passed through and noticed the arches.”
Next year’s bigger and bolder design will incur greater cost. Lily Neo, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, noted that the cost of the light-up will be 40 per cent greater than last year.
“It is such a massive design, and so different from what we have been doing before, and therefore we have to spend a lot more,” she said. “But I think it is definitely worthwhile because it is beautiful to look at, and I think many Singaporeans will like it.”
The website will allow Singaporeans to check program listings for the three-week event and make online wishes for Singapore and their families. Participants can choose options like ‘more affordable and efficient transport system’ or ‘more environmentally friendly and more green space’, and stand the chance to win an iPad.
Other than the light-up, which will begin on Jan 1, the three-week event will also have a carnival, nightly stage shows and street stalls. As a precursor, the fifth International Lion Dance Competition will take place on Dec 30, with troupes from the region including China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Despite the economic uncertainty, Neo is upbeat about consumer sentiment for the Chinese New Year period.
“We have more than 500 street stalls in our bazaar, and every Lunar New Year – including this one – it is 100 per cent taken up. For those stalls that we have for ballot, it is always a 10-to-one success rate,” she said.
“For the last few years, we have been able to attract more than two million visitors to Chinatown over the three-week period, and I hope to continue to be able to attract more than 2.5 million visitors for this coming Lunar New Year.”
Those keen to find out more or to make wishes can visit the website at www.chinatownfestivals.sg
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 021 2553 5055.