Monday, August 25, 2008

Only Fruitcakes demonstrate

Hong Lim Park is to be (once again) the oasis of public political expression here in Singapore.

According to the
PM's recent National Day Rally, Singaporeans will now be allowed to demonstrate publicly, but only at the the Speaker's Corner, located at Hong Lim Park.

I spoke to some of my peers and the sense I got from them is that there is huge skepticism. Simply changing the legislation will do little to encourage Singaporeans to engage in political activities in public.

A professor from NUS said that demonstrating is still stigmatized in the country and the real protesters will not choose this as an avenue for political expression because they immediately lose credibility by going to the speaker's corner.

Demonstrations are in essence anti-establishment activities. To then obediently follow the rules that are aimed at controlling scope and nature of such activities revolts against every notion of a demonstration.

It's like taking the venom out of a snake's bite. It not only takes the kick out of demonstrating, it presents the impression that the whole affair is simply staged.

Take a step back. How many political speeches have ever been made at the speakers corner since its inauguration in 2000?

In 2003, the Agence France-Presse reported that the speaker's corner attracted fewer than four speakers a week, and only 140 speeches were held between October 2002 and June 2003

In 2004, the London Telegraph quoted an officer describing the general interest in the facility as "less than zero".

Consider the Singaporean lifestyle, where people either work or study or shop 90% of their waking hours a day. Who would travel all the way to Hong Lim Park in the heat of the afternoon, or even the cool of the evenings to listen to random people rant and rave about the dismal state of politics in Singapore, when they could simply click away on google and immediately have access to an array of political views from blogs to news websites?

You've got to be either inordinately naive or simply a fruitcake to go demonstrating at the speaker's corner...unless you've got your party crew ready, with a DJ, good speakers and a bunch of fun loving friends, up for a good party in the park.

And if things get a bit boring, there's always Boat Quay to hop over to.


Temp said...

For more detailed discussions on these important topics, see:
Singapore Kopitiam

rem said...

sporeans would rather shop till they drop than show that they've got guts to stand up for what they believe in.

why waste time demonstrating when we can get more adrenaline rush buying a new laptop...