Monday, May 13, 2013

May Day Protest 2013 - "For a Better Singapore - Say No to 6.9 Million"

Thirteen days have passed and my entry on the may day protest "For a Better Singapore - Say No to 6.9 Million" organised by would just be one of many floating around in the virtual world.

Does my opinion matter?

It doesn't because so much has been discussed on traditional mass media and social media with many experts weighing in on the issue. As concerned individuals, what's more important to us is the mature capacity to digest and evaluate all information regardless of whether one is pro or anti government.

Personally, i deemed it necessary to get myself more involved as a citizen of the country. I could be nonchalant about the protest like many of my compatriots but i am aware that if no one gets involved, Singapore would eventually turn into a state where the voice of the citizens would no longer matter.

Let's return to the actual day of the protest; 01 May 2013. A balloon sculpture archway welcomed those entering Hong Lim Park via the Clarke Quay station. Unsuspecting pedestrians or tourists walking past the park would be forgiven for thinking there was a carnival instead of a protest.

Speakers' Corner - the only place in Singapore where you can freely speak on most topics without the need to apply for a permit. Notice the sign on "foreigners not allowed"? There was a funny regulation that a police permit is required if "foreigners are speaking or participating in or organising activities at Speakers’ Corner".

How does one determine who is participating? When a foreigner watches a protest, is he/she participating? Hong Lim park is also not a building and doesn't have barriers preventing people from entering, so how could one even bar anyone from stepping in?

Creative tee shirts for sale! The right one using the flag would not sit well with the authorities; one, disrespect to the national flag and two, its implied bribery reference to the ruling political party.

These attractive red tees with bold messages like "United We Roar, Stand Up for Singapore" etc were unfortunately not for sale; it was set up as a collection point with orders made in advance.

The official polo-shirt was sold at S$10 a piece and judging that some sizes were already out of stock even before the event ended, sales must be damn good!

Another reason why people would mistaken the event for a carnival.

Face painting! For the kids only. I always find it very heart-warming to see children attending such events. A friend questioned if it is appropriate to bring along kids for a political event and i don't see why not when they would be the next generation facing the full blown effects of current policies.

As compared to the event in February, the organiser had made the right move this time by setting up the speakers' stage with its back facing North Canal Road; definitely a more efficient use of space!

Given the negativity shrouding this sequel protest (friends were asking if there would be a police clampdown), i am glad the turnout was not as terrible as predicted. 

The panel of speakers which included prominent figures like Mr M.Ravi and Mr Tan Jee Say. With the exception of one speaker, the rest put forward their speech in a candid manner well received by the audience. 

Popularised by the movie V for Vendetta as a symbol against tyranny, the Guy Fawkes mask was worn by quite a number of participants, including children (you would know if you read the separate placards post for May Day protest).

Love for Singapore, Loyalty to your Homeland - simple terms that are hard to grasp when many citizens tend to associate the country with the political party. Hating the government doesn't mean you have to hate your motherland as well, stupid! 

Frustrating (and sad) indeed when you hear fellow countrymen giving up on the country they had lived practically their whole life and choosing migration. 

Honestly, i don't hate the ruling party. On one hand, they have a done a fantastic job in developing and promoting Singapore in the global arena. 

On the other hand, there are mistakes along the way; the lack of planning, the often dismissive shrug for citizens' feedback and most importantly, a long standing self conviction that no one knows better than them. 

I am afraid for Singapore. 

My roots are here and no matter how much i want to detach myself; this is home and has far too many memories; good and bad. And i believe many in the audience who stood together with me at Hong Lim park had the exact same thought. 

Okay, a light hearted moment here. :) 

Weather was good despite the prediction of showers in the afternoon. The definition of good weather is subjective here in Singapore; no rain is not necessarily preferred if it remains extremely hot and humid.

Photographers would not miss the chance to lug along their huge-ass equipment to test our its prowess! 

To stand throughout the three-hour event was no easy feat and even i was complaining at the end of it. Unlike these ladies here, i didn't come prepared with cardboards!! 

I shall remember the portable chairs next time! 

Sign on the petition - I was expecting a nice little book or a pile of foolscap to sign my name and that's it.  

It took way more effort involving spray cans, thick tip markers and a lengthy white cloth to pen down your thoughts as a citizen! I would share some of the messages at the end of this post.

A well known PAP supporter, and there's nothing wrong with his presence. As i said before, coming to such events doesn't mean you are anti-government; it just means you are willing (i hope) to listen to other people's views.

Mr M Ravi with his fiery speech and befitting his lawyer profession, he didn't fail in working up the crowd. You may read his speech via TR Emeritus here

See the crowd here? An unregistered speaker attempted to climb up the stage to say his piece. Quite dramatic with the organiser almost relenting in giving him the platform to say what he wanted.

I managed to squeeze through (that's the advantage of being short) and caught a few snippets of what he said; apparently, he wanted to talk about the poor in Singapore and felt that the event was not giving enough attention on this particular group of citizens.

Placard holders were asked to step onto the stage to show their "hard works" to the audience. You can actually read more about these notices and signs here

Students from NTU were conducting a survey on "Social Movements through Social Media". Singaporeans are known to be apathetic and it was no doubt intriguing to the academia to know what has contributed to this increased involvement. 

A friend commented that the "authorities" purposely placed these pots of plants to deter participants of the event from making use of the covered structure. I am not sure how true that is even though i do remember seeing these pots in the February protest as well. 

As promised the cloth petition and there was more than one piece. 

Most were tied to the trees (a bit like laundry in the public if you ask me) but there were only so many trees in Hong Lim Park! 

Eventually, a few pieces were placed on the ground. What will happen to these "petitions"? Would they be sent to the PM office? I have seriously no idea. 

Two messages for your reading pleasure. 

Crowd size at almost 6pm.

I was of the opinion that it was lesser than the 6,000 reported and thought 4,000 was a better estimate. Oh well, you can use the above photograph to count and let me know what you think. 

Nevertheless, i have never regretted attending this may day protest. In fact, it kept me thinking for a few days on the different perspectives brought forth by the speakers. Note: thinking doesn't mean i have to agree.

President hopeful - Mr Tan Jee Say. It's obvious from his speech that he would contest again in the next general or president election. 

Just like the February protest, the event was concluded with the recital of the national pledge and singing of Singapore's national anthem; Majulah Singapura. 

An appropriate ending. 
For those concerned about Singapore's future. 

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