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Monday January 21st 2019

Passive Singaporeans Not Ready For Occupy Raffles Place?

It was not surprising to see that the Raffles Place Protest, supposed to be conducted on 15 Oct (Sat) afternoon, was merely a flash in the pan.

More than 70 people have signed up via  the Facebook Raffles Place Protest but no one was visible during that stipulated hour.

On the other hand,  the one-month old Occupy Wall Street  was participated  by more than 50, 000 people and already many such iconic protests are taking place in London, Rome, Tokyo, Sydney, Toronto  and Hong Kong – all protesting against economic inequality and some urging for political reform . Though most of the protests held globally are peaceful, the one in Rome has turned violent with some protesters attacking police with clubs.

Singaporeans not ready for illegal protests?

Singaporeans – pretty divided by nature, individualistic  and not the gutsy type – are not prime candidates for organizers to galvanize in any illegal street protest. No one dares to go against the law by being openly defiant – there is the danger that he will not only face police charges but also jeopardize his employment status if he is arrested.

If he is married, he will likely face a hostile reception at home and this may be the most effective deterrent factor  even if he is the die-hard protest fan type.

We are perhaps too boxed in by fear and cultural inhibitions to ever pull off a public protest effectively.

Our Asian culture has all along taught us to respect authority and follow the crowd. No one wants to step out of line and face the consequences. There is too much at risk and hitstory has shown that the authorities will not hesitate to throw the book at dissidents.

During the last 2011 General Election (GE), more than 30, 000 people attended opposition parties’ rallies but yet none would dare to go against the law and venture into the political unknown  when it comes to a illegal street demonstration.

The mysterious Bloody Mandy group has recently conducted a few small sit-in events at Starbucks in Orchard area but the regular attendance of between 6- 10 people have been disappointing. The group has been rather quiet lately.

The Police has also issued a statement, a day before the event,  stating that such open protest is illegal and has warned organizers  not to carry it out or face the consequences.

Transitioning.org has also  issued a statement  on it’s website stating that we are not the organizer of the event even though we have conducted three open protest events at Speakers’ Corner and one indoor event in a hotel.

Speakers’ Corner Events Not Well Attended

Most of our  events held at Speakers’ Corner this year, immediately after the 2011 GE, were attended by around 200 people though the Pink Dot annual extravanganza managed to gather close to 10, 000 people. Many people have speculated that the average Singaporeans are not keen to attend any political gatherings at Hong Lim Park more out of fear than apathy.  Many still felt that they are being monitored especially when the authorities decided to install cameras all round the park last year.

Other than the Tan Kin Lian’s minibond gatherings at Speakers’ Corner in 2008, which managed to attract a crowd size of between 600 – 800 people, most other protest events conducted could only attract around 200 people at most.

Singaporehas been very peaceful during the past three decades without a single open street demonstration and credit must be given to strongman Lee Kuan Yew who has outlawed open protest in the streets since the 1970s.

Using threats that such defiant civil disobedience would lead to bloody riots and  investors will subsequently  flee the city state with their billion-dollar investment, he has effectively curtailed  what would be the right of any democratic country –  freedom of speech.

Foreigners Allowed To Demonstrate?

The Ministry of Home Affairs  has also introduced a very stifling political environment with  dominating state control  causing many people who would prefer a more liberal  lifestyle to flee the island state by the thousands annually.

To add salt to the democratic wound of the draconian city state, Wikipedia also mentioned the introduction of the new Public Order Act:-

“The new Public Order Act bans all cause related events. This new proposed law gives authorities the power to prevent an individual from leaving home or a building if it is deemed that that person intended or intends to be part of a demonstration. Police would also be allowed to order a person to leave a specific area should they determine an intention of offence.[4] Second Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam argue that this would be necessary to maintain security at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held in the country later in 2009. However, opponents like Chee Soon Juan, leader of the Singapore Democratic Party argue that the law change is “for the long run” with the intention to silence discontentment with the PAP ruled government.[5]

This new law effectively brought our country to be in line with the ideology of most communist regimes – smashing whatever minimal  civil rights we currently have by imposing total  dictatorial control.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP hs been the most vocal political party in Singapore and  on 15 Mar 2008, 20 people turned up in Parliament House protesting against the rising cost in a campaign they termed Tak bolah Tahan (can’t take it anymore) in Malay).

They were arrested when they failed to disperse after been warned by the police authorities.

All 20 were subsequently charged under Section 5(4)b Chapter 184 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public and Nuisance) Act.

Nothing happened after the SDP protest event till12 Jan 2009 when two Singaporeans staged a protest outside Ministry of Manpower building to voice their disapproval over two Burmese workers who had their permits cancelled. It was alleged that the government refused to allow them to work inSingaporeas they were involved in pro-democracy movement in their own country previously (Wikipedia).

Amazingly,  after the SDP protest – which was conducted by Singaporeans, most other open protests were  conducted by foreigners showing perhaps that they are more united and gutsy than our local citizens when it comes to fighting for your rights.

For example, on 18 Mar 2009, three activists from Myanmar held a demonstration at Botanic Gardens, to denounce the visit byMyanmar’s PM Thein Sein,

Last year, three groups of  PRC Chinese workers averaging around 200 workers,  have  staged  sit-in protests  outside the Ministry of Manpower demanding owed salaries. MOM officers quickly attended to their needs and they dispersed peacefully by themselves – without any police arrest.

It is mentioned that in Singapore, there is one set of rules for Singaporeans and a more favourable one for foreigners  when it comes to public protest.

So far, none of the PRC protesters were ever arrested – perhaps due to the big-brother China link than aything else. The fact that they are peacefully conducted was also one big factor why they were not penalised.

Temasek Review – Latest Victim of Internet Clamp Down?

Singapore will never  be ready for the Occupy Raffles Place protest event given the tight control wielded by our authorities.

Every little dissent is clamped down and Singaporeans have nowhere to vet their frustrations except through the cyber space channels.

Even the hugely popular anti-government Temasek Review (TR) website is off the air for the past one and a half month – suspected to be a victim of the authorities’ axe -wielding tactic. TR carried much online influence due to it’s massive readership of close to 50, 000 readers daily and it’extreme anti-authorities articles have not escaped the authorities’ attention long keen to bring the socio-political blog under it’s arms.

The suspension notice  seen on it’s web link carried an ominous warning to influential dissident socio-political websites that the authorities will not hesitate to come down hard on those that carry extreme anti-government messages.

TR was off the air one week after the Presidential Election (PE) and netizens speculated that perhaps it’s fierce smear campaign  against PAP-backed  PE candidate Tony Tan has backfired. The fact that TR is supposedly managed by invisible ex-Singaporeans living abroad only thickened the plot further.

Even the popular  socio-political blog The Online Citizen has toned down significantly since last year’s  gazette order.  It’s founder Mr Andrew Loh has moved on and founded another website The Publichouse.

Its is thus not surprising that the United Nations has placed Singapore’s human rights record  under it’s scrutiny  for the first time (Channelnews asia 25 Feb 2011). Singapore was also ranked 133rd out of 175 nations by Reporters Without Borders in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index.

Conclusion

Moving forward,  the island state will not relax it’s strong-armed stance against open protests held in Singapore more due to the negative effect it may have on investors than anything else.

Nevertheless, Singaporeans, already long used to thinking twice before speaking out against certain policies, will not miss such open demonstrations as there is not  one being held before for the past three decades.

It is envisaged that the current regime will not change much in terms of political space and democratic values. Basic human  rights will be ignored intentionally and freedom of speech curtailed.

Singaporeans who preferred more political space will have to wait for the next election in 2016 to cast their votes against the current regime hoping that the opposition camp will win more seats in Parliament to challenge the statuo quo.

If not, they may have to move over to a more liberal country which practices true-blood democracy as  it’s governance ideology.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

Number of View: 3551

Reader Feedback

8 Responses to “Passive Singaporeans Not Ready For Occupy Raffles Place?”

  1. li345feng says:

    Singaporeans should be ready for “Occupy SG Parliament”, that’s Air-Con comfort in fewer-than 500-seating public gallery, to watch once-in-a-while “war of words” (normally provocated by ruling party MP rather than opp MP) during Parliamentary Session.

  2. patriot says:

    Gilbert;

    thank You for saying the hard truth here.

    Me am glad that You’re one of the rare few
    that walk the talks and doing your duty to
    the people, workers especially.

    Cheers.

    patriot

    • admin says:

      Thanks Patriot for your constant support.

      I am merely doing what I possibly can to make Singapore a better place for all.

      Many people have also commented to me to stay put in Sydney permanently and never to return home.

      My question to them is “Where is our home?”

      We try to do what we possibly can to change things around and never let others tell us that we can’t due to our age or lack of qualification.

      I always remembered the boy who threw back the starfish that were washed ashore and dying.

      An old man asked him: “There are too many of them, how many can you save?”

      The small boy picked up one dying star fish and as he hurled it back to the ocean, he replied: “I saved this one sir.”

      Let us have this attitude that whatever small stuff we can do, we do it to our level best and when we unite together, collectively our efforts will end up as one big massive movement!

      Gilbert Goh

  3. [...] Gilbert Goh thinks Singaporeans are not yet ready for an Occupy Movement type of protest Singaporeans – pretty divided by nature, individualistic and not the gutsy type – are not prime candidates for organizers to galvanize in any illegal street protest. No one dares to go against the law by being openly defiant – there is the danger that he will not only face police charges but also jeopardize his employment status if he is arrested. [...]

  4. [...] Gilbert Goh thinks Singaporeans are not yet ready for an Occupy Movement type of protest Singaporeans – pretty divided by nature, individualistic and not the gutsy type – are not prime candidates for organizers to galvanize in any illegal street protest. No one dares to go against the law by being openly defiant – there is the danger that he will not only face police charges but also jeopardize his employment status if he is arrested. [...]

  5. patriot says:

    Hi Gilbert Goh;

    You deserve the supports.
    Wish me could be of more help.
    It is very heartening to see
    that You are working with
    other bloggers to help SINGAPOREANS.
    Thank You All for the good works.

    patriot

  6. [...] Gilbert Goh tror att singaporianer inte är redo för protest som Occupy-rörelsen än Singaporeans – pretty divided by nature, individualistic and not the gutsy type – are not prime candidates for organizers to galvanize in any illegal street protest. No one dares to go against the law by being openly defiant – there is the danger that he will not only face police charges but also jeopardize his employment status if he is arrested. [...]

  7. [...] Gilbert Goh は、シンガポール人には「占拠せよ」型のデモは時期尚早だと考える。 シンガポール人は、かなり気質に違いがあって、個人主義でガツガツしてない。不法街頭デモを呼びかける主催者が対象にするような人たちじゃないよ。公共の場で反抗してまで法に立ち向かおうとする奴はいない。警察に捕まるだけじゃなく、逮捕されれば職を失う危険だってあるんだから。おそらく僕らは、効果的に街頭デモをやるにしては、あまりにも恐怖と文化的抑制に封じ込まれすぎているんだよ。当局の厳しい締め付けを考えれば、シンガポールで「ラッフルズ・プレイスを占拠せよ」デモが出来る日は絶対に来ないだろう。異論は全部潰されるから、シンガポール人が不満をぶつけられる場所はネット上しかない。 [...]

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