Singapore revs up in red for SEA games

Singapore revs up in red for SEA games
RED TIDE: Silat exponent Sheik Ferdous, floorball players Jowie Tan and Sharifah Bariyah, and sprinter Calvin Kang pose on two of the 250 taxis that have been wrapped in red as part of the “Paint the Town Red” movement

With 40 days to go before the start of the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games here, Singapore is set to be dressed for the region's biggest multi-sport event.

Yesterday, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC became the first housing estate to be part of the "Paint the Town Red" movement, which will see community spaces in the area decked out in red.

From blocks of flats to lamp posts and public transport, residents will see red almost everywhere they go, as organisers drum up support for the Games, which will be held here from June 5 to 16.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, grassroots adviser to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, launched the movement yesterday witnessed by a crowd of 600 athletes, grassroots leaders, and residents at Pasir Ris Street 51.

He said: "Having some 30 of our athletes living right here in Pasir Ris-Punggol makes the Games more meaningful and exciting for our residents.

"I know our sprinter Calvin (Kang) and his family, the Sheik Alau'ddin family who are silat exponents, and I've watched our hockey player Haseef Salim mature since the Youth Olympic (Games in 2010).

"I hope more Singaporeans will support and cheer on our athletes. Let's come together as Singaporeans to celebrate the extraordinary, and our national spirit."

The Games is of even more significance as it coincides with Singapore's 50th year of independence.

The Paint the Town Red movement is a key part of the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee's (Singsoc's) efforts to ramp up hype ahead of the event, which is returning to the Republic for the first time in 22 years.

Over 300 buses and more than 250 taxis have been wrapped in red.

In addition, over 2,000 lamp posts all over the island will also be wearing the colour.

Posters and billboards of key national athletes living in the respective neighbourhoods - like sprinter Kang and footballer Faris Ramli in Pasir Ris-Punggol - have also been put up at areas like bus shelters.

Sembawang will be next to join the movement and, by the end of May, 13 other residential estates will also follow suit.

The hosts are expected to field a contingent of around 700 athletes for the biennial Games - the biggest in Singapore's history - and they will be gunning to surpass the record 50-gold haul achieved the last time the Republic held the event in 1993.

Around 7,000 athletes from 11 nations will do battle at the Games, which will feature 36 sports and 402 events contested.

Toh Boon Yi, Singsoc's chief for community and corporate outreach, said: "Beyond the neighbourhoods, we are also going to dress up other areas in Singapore in SEA Games colours.

"Singapore will busk in the vibrant atmosphere and Singaporeans will feel the pulse of the Games.

"We also call for Singaporeans to wear red throughout the Games as an expression of support for our athletes.

"We are 41 days to the Games and there will be many community engagement activities coming up.

"Our message is clear: We are ready. Come support our team at the Games."

This article was first published on April 26, 2015.
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