By Harry Suhartono
SINGAPORE, Aug 21 (Reuters) - It takes a lot to start a mass
campaign with political overtones in Singapore, but there's no
better catalyst than food.
Tens of thousands of people in the Southeast Asian
city-state said they would cook or eat curry on Sunday in a
protest highlighting growing anger over increased immigration.
The campaign began after an immigrant family from China
complained about the smell of curry from a Singaporean Indian
neighbour's home and local officials brought about a compromise.
A Facebook page devoted to the row after reports were
published in a local newspaper has drawn over 57,600 members,
many of who said they were cooking curry on Sunday in a show of
solidarity with the Indian family.
"Because we live in Singapore and Singapore is such a
cramped place, neighbours should understand each others'
culture," said Stanley Wong, a 37-year old accountant who helped
organised the Facebook page.
He and a dozen friends and family were gathering in a small
government-built flat for a potluck curry dinner.
Most of the diners were ethnic Chinese, like the
overwhelming majority of Singapore's 5.1 million people. But
residents say curry is a Singaporean dish and that immigrants,
including those from mainland China, should accept it is part of
the local culture.
"The case could create problems with the integration of
foreign nationals," said Florence Leow, a freelance writer in
her 40s who also was one of the organisers of the event.
"Through this event we hope to cook and share a pot of curry
and get to appreciate and embrace our culture."
The influx of immigrants is a sensitive subject in
Singapore, where only about two-thirds of the people are
citizens. Many Singaporeans say the city-state's relatively easy
immigration policies are attracting too many foreigners, making
it more difficult to find jobs and pushing up prices of homes.
Immigration was a major issue during the campaign for the
May general election, which was easily won by the ruling
People's Action Party, although its winning margin dropped
Singapore holds presidential elections on Saturday, which
are non-partisan but are expected to be an unofficial referendum
on the ruling party with Tony Tan, a former leading member and
former deputy prime minister, one of the four candidates.
(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Miral Fahmy)