Friday, May 6, 2011

Of balloons and political rallies

Here to support the PAP team for Aljunied!
(Photo by InSingPaparazzo)

Over the past week, Singapore has been abuzz with talk about the upcoming General Elections. With Polling Day taking place tomorrow (7th May), all of the various political parties have made great efforts to encourage citizens to vote for them.

Unlike many others, I'm choosing not to blog about my personal political views, but wish to mention something that occurred last night, the final night of the hustings.

Last night, I saw this tweet made by the Twitter account of The Straits Times:

This is the picture attached:

Apparently, balloons were released at the rally held by the People's Action Party (PAP) at Ubi.

Melissa, a friend of mine who was attending that rally tweeted this:

This is the photo she posted:

You can see more photos of the balloons at the rally in these photos that were posted on Facebook. I was unable to get permission to post these photos here.

I was quite displeased by this apparent disregard for the environment; the problem of mass balloon release has been mentioned a number of times over the years, not only by me, but also by other bloggers such as Ria Tan and Darryl Kang (better known simply as DK).

I sought clarifications from Melissa, and she explained to me that the balloons had been given out to members of the audience as gifts, and that at the end of the rally, some individuals decided to release their balloons. Based on her estimate, about 10 balloons or so were released into the sky; the rest of the audience continued to hold on to their strings. So it wasn't actually a case of coordinated mass littering, but more the behaviour of a few people who didn't realise the consequences of their actions.

It does raise a number of issues about helium-filled balloons being freely given out at open-air events. While this incident did not involve the release of hundreds or thousands of balloons, like what has happened in the past (4 separate links to reports on past incidents of mass balloon release), I do wish that more people would be aware of the potentially harmful effects of releasing balloons, and the impact on marine life.

In future, if there are any groups that wish to give out or sell large numbers helium-filled balloons at open-air events, I hope more can be done to remind people not to let go of their balloons. Hopefully, more people will realise that releasing your balloon into the sky may seem to be a harmless act, but is actually merely nothing more than delayed littering of another place.