Transitioning: Thanks for participating in the 1602 protest at Hong Lim Park, can you please describe your occupation, qualifications and age?
Rahimah: Odd jobs (part-time data entry). Often unemployed. 30 yrs old, BSc in Applied Maths (Merit) from NUS.
Transitioning: Why did you turn up for the protest event?
Rahimah: Yes. Fed up with overcrowded transport, low wages overall and feeling like a stranger in my own homeland.
Transitioning: What is the main thing you enjoy about the protest event?
Rahimah: All of them. The speeches were good and the songs and pledge were nice touches.
Transitioning: Many people have commented that they found a solidarity and unity among the protestors, do you feel the same?
Rahimah: A partial solidarity. People will always have different interests, but we all have the same problems in this case. In that, we are one.
My personal experience was that sometimes people will look at one another and find some solace in that they’re not alone in having a Singaporean’s problem.
Transitioning: Do you think that the government will listen to us after the massive turn out at the protest?
Rahimah: At the most basic level, no. They’re too set in their ways. But they will likely at least attempt to make some concessions to placate us for the short term. That’s better than nothing.
Transitioning: Why do you think people turned up in droves for the protest as all along protests are badly attended at Hong Lim Park? Do you think that the 6.9 million population topic is the push factor?
i) The timing is perfectly aligned in your favor. 6.9 is a high number and seems like a salesman’s dishonest figure. It’s done RIGHT after the by-election.
ii) GE2011 gave people confidence to attend such rallies.
iii) Singaporeans are waking up as a whole.
iv) The government promised to listen, but the white paper was an unambiguously unilateral decision.
v) Rise of social media / yahoo / youtube. More awareness of the protest itself
vi) The issue is such a fundamental and concrete one that it will affect everyone.
vii) PAP and the public sector’s top people have been in scandals recently, leading to even more public anger.
viii) Enough is enough. It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Transitioning: Many people brought along their children to the protest, do you think that this is advisable given that protest can turn awry?
Rahimah: Depends on the child’s age. I’d say that it’s inadvisable if he or she is below twelve. While a full on riot is extremely unlikely, the crowded place has seen many fall down. Either due to too many people or the wet conditions. I had to catch a couple of old people to stop them from slipping.
Transitioning: Many people have also asked for a second protest, is this also your call?
Transitioning: Moving forward, do you foresee that people will be more vocal in their quest for more say in policy planning now?
Transitioning: What do you hope to see in our second protest?
Rahimah: More structured speeches with less overlap from well-prepared speakers. Quality uploaded you-tube videos of the event. Better sound systems. Less party based appeals and more concentration on the key issue of voting the government out or getting them to listen. Much as I like the SDP, it’s not quite appropriate to promote their own agenda at the last gathering.
End of interview and thanks!
Editor’s note: The opinion shared by the reader is entirely her own and if protestors want to participate in this questionaire, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that we will post your return on this blog but we will check with you first to get your approval.