Voices

Venue for Philippine celebration would not have been ‘public space’

From

Timothy Tang

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Published: 4:03 AM, May 29, 2014

In regard to the Philippine independence celebration meant to be held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, which has now been shelved, I feel that the complaints about the event were mainly due to a misunderstanding of what constitutes public space.

Many Singaporeans who complained online thought it would be held in a public area, which they saw as conflicting with and disrespectful to the interests of Singaporeans.

But if Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza were not to be open to members of the public during the event, the event space would not be defined as a public place. Legally, “public place” means “a part of a place that the occupier of the place allows members of the public to enter, but only while the place is ordinarily open to members of the public”.

The location at Orchard Road might have been chosen simply because of convenience and familiarity to Filipinos who frequent Lucky Plaza.

Understanding the legal definition of public and non-public places can explain why Singapore Day last year, at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, was not actually held at a public space.

Although the park is normally a public place, the event venue was closed off to members of the Australian public. An event can be held outdoors and not be defined as a public event, as long as the event space is closed off from public access.