A silent vigil.

Intimidation at protests does not always mean tear gas and armored tanks. Sometimes, a nosy little camcorder can strike that same onset of paranoia in a person.

I decided to attend the “Democracy Now! Singapore in Solidarity with Hong Kong” vigil at Hong Lim Park last week. I had no idea how it would be like, because, oh you know, these civil society parties, they can be a hit and miss affair.

The turnout was quite good actually, I estimate with my little eye that there must have been at least 300 people, which is what Straits Times meant in their headline I suppose:

Stolen from Andrew Loh’s facebook, like a boss.

So yeah, over 100, at least 300 and …
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…around there lah.

The schoolyard fights on the number of jellybeans in a jar aside, what food for thought did this writer glean from the experience?

I suppose it’s a feeling which I can describe as an interesting but suffocating sense of irony.

I took to the crowd with my camcorder, and tried to get some soundbites for a video blog on the event. We often perceive protests and vigils to be sombre and funereal, but in fact, there is a sense of exuberance when people gather for a common cause. I hoped to capture that through the people I spoke to.

Easier said than done.

Save for one brave and eloquent soul by the name of Brandon, most skittled off or gave evasive reasons to why they were there.

If I were not so aware of how suspicious people were of me and my camcorder, I might have been led to believe that most of the attendees at the vigil were there out of sheer curiosity, or happened to drop by after dinner, since they were in the area anyway.  Like it’s a Hari Raya openhouse or something.

Ok lah, maybe they are just camera shy, I thought. Or also scared of being caught saying something incriminating against the government. Or scared of being misquoted by online media and cyber stalked. Or scared of me.


S
ome say I can be a bit of a prick.

I toyed with the idea of waiting for the Zumba class that was using the main stage to end, and interview them instead.

Perhaps they’d be more forthcoming. Hmmm…

I couldn’t help compare the spirit of the vigil to the mutedness my camcorder illicited. I find that you can tell alot about the level of democracy in a country by engaging in conversation with random strangers. I’d met a wantan mee seller in Cameron Highlands who also wrote a scathing expose on corrupt officials illegally leasing out land to their cronies. I’ve walked, drunk, with an Australian man who served in Timor and made no apologies for his militant views. Heck, even the wierdos who hit on me in subways had a point of view when we talk politics.

Personal liberty – the ability to be open with what we think, without fear of persecution or judgement, is rare in Singapore and in Singaporeans. Even foreigners here, repress their views when they are here.

Welcome to Singapore, the fine city where you can’t chew gum or discuss anything beyond the fruitfulness of Hungrygowhere recommendations.

There is such a deeply entrenched stigma on political activism, that it triggers off a self destructive mechanism, almost as if we need to perform a Heimlich Maneuver on ourselves to dispel this offensive notion of “power to the people” from our bodies. Most who talk about politics speak of it from a safe distance, but in the thick of it all, when it would actually count, most of us, given the way we’ve been conditioned would suddenly find ourselves with the proverbial frog in the throat.

The social climate here, be it through the means of a hard-handed government or the willing docility of the people, has effectively redefined activism and citizen protest –  from being one of the most essential and dynamic catalysts in the progress of humanity, one which helped shaped our very nation, to that of an annoying itch in the throat we can’t wait to cough out.

After some rather pleasant singing of Beyond songs, there was an illuminating moment when the more vocal and presumably Hongkie in the crowd began chanting ” Lok Fatt Gao! Lok Fatt Gao!” I asked the elderly gentleman next to me what that meant. ” It refers to that guy everyone here hates! He got in with 689 votes!” His companion, whom I assume to be his son answered in a discernible Cantonese accent.

” CY Leung?”

” Yes! Lok Fatt Gao! ( Cantonese for 689.)” He replied, eyes gleaming with excitement. That was the look I had been looking for all night!

I wondered if I should whip my camera out and ask him a few questions. But the possibility of cooling his excitement dissuaded me. At that point, I’d concluded that my idea for a frivolous video blog, in my own capacity, was a naive one.

And what if I were a mole? Would agreeing with Hongkong protesters that a democratic process in elections be that incriminating? It seems like just common sense. Isn’t that how Singapore is run?

……

Eh you don’t laugh ah!

For what it’s worth, here’s the shoddy little video:

Also, lets hear it for Brandon man! My video could have passed off as a camping trip if not for his thoughts.

“Five reasons not to shut down Stomp” Do you agree with this article?

Five reasons not to shut down Stomp.

STB and one Filipino (kinda) defend its lameshit video.

You know, I really don’t like the supertrees.

In the day, they look like strange disembodied veins forming over half of a ball.


“Vein-y ball.” What other vein-y balls can you think of children?

And at night, they look like those fibre optic lamps that were so popular in the 80s.


“Grandma’s disco decor.” I often reminisce.

Nevertheless, I’ve toyed with the idea of visiting Gardens By the Bay this year, till I watched this video by STB yesterday:

http://vidd.me/v/vyf

I dunno man, it reminds me of those CDIS pre-programme segments also in the 80s:

What can we conclude from all this? That time travel is real and land is so scarce in our Lion City that a section of our civil service has in fact relocated to 1987. #conspiracytheory

Or maybe it was designed specifically to Filipino tastes and it’s the cultural difference that has made Singaporeans “LOL”, explains STB’s executive director, communications & industry marketing, Oliver Chong.

“… the video received a good response from the Philippines market. Chong said that when shared on STB’s Facebook page for the Philippines, the video attracted over 3,400 likes in the first week and garnered some 900 comments, largely positive.”

Orly? If it’s so well received, why pull it off the interwebs STB?

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Don’t help that he’s quoted in this report which is followed by 4 affirming quotes by Filipinos who thought the ad was lameshit too. Cept Carlo, who is a really nice guy.

“I think that if they cut all the dialogue it might have worked a lot better – like the Malaysia Truly Asia ads.” -Marco Almira, 22

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“ STB has a lot to contend with, as BBDO’s “It’s more fun in the Philippines” has set the bar quite high. He added that the reflection on Filipinos was offending. “If the video (was supposed to) reflect research on Filipino tastes, then yes I am offended. It’s either the data was wrong or the creative sensibilities of the agency behind it was broken at that time. The biggest question I guess is why it was approved by the STB,” – Marketing Philippines’ editor Oliver Bayani

“There’s more to see in Singapore.” – Joven Barceñas, 29

“I think the message was clear, but the execution didn’t have the ‘wow’ element they were trying to achieve. It could still attract tourists from the Philippines, though. Filipinos are family oriented so the video will likely work on us,” Carlo Reston, 29

You know you ded when even the article purportedly written in your defence is not defending you. But at least you have a friend in Carlo. Carlo’s awesome.

Hallelujah, it’s raining bullshit, yeah heh.

Bullshit_everywhere-e1345505471862

If only it rained money like it rained bullshit today.

Raging homophobia, religious fundamentalism; sad Tan Cheng Bock; MPs talking out of their asses… as if that’s not enough, apparently there are TWO musicals based on LKY in the works.

TWO. MUSICALS. Did you get that? One dancing LKY is not enough, they need two.

Just like how one needs two hands to properly “angkat bola”.

So today’s bitchfit is about the things I’ve read this week and bookmarked with a “screw this shit” in my mind. Lets lay these stinkers out in chronological order:

#01 – Hri Kumar reflects on Anton Casey, after everything has kinda blown over, and prescribes a token regular Singaporean friend ( or more!) as a cure. In this Facebook post, he says: “The real cure for Anton Casey and others like him is simple. It is not to issue apologies or perform demonstrations of contrition managed by public relations firms. Neither is it to issue death threats or make life miserable for his family, especially his young son. The cure for Anton Casey is for him to get to know and make friends with Singaporeans, especially those who are not as wealthy as he is. Only then will he truly understand the wrong he has done, and start on the road to salvation. ”

Honest to goodness, who the heck wants to be “that friend”? And how does he know AC don’t have Singaporean homies? He married one, surely she has some MRT riding relatives?

So screw this kumbaya shit Hri Kumar, tokenism is wrong, no one wants to be a “symbolic” friend. I wanna have a rich friend to wean me off my anti-establishment tendencies, care to go for lunch?

#02 Lawrence Khong and MP Lim Biow Chuan form unwitting tag team against logic.

Earlier this week, Health Promotion Board put up a very comprehensive article on the frequently asked questions on sexuality. An objective article that I should think is really helpful for those grappling with the issue of sexuality. Much as some factions would like to ignore, there is a part of the population who are gay or confused about their sexuality. And they have families who will have to deal with it too.  So a round of applause for the brave, unyielding souls who gave it the go-ahead. I doubt this was approved without the understanding that it was going to attract some type of shitstorm. Because see? Here comes Lawrence Khong and his backup dancers with his 7 page rebuttal.

The controversy sparked off a petition for a review of the FAQ, prompting the HPB to take down links to certain relevant websites. And that sparked off a COUNTER petition against the edit. 

And amid the angry/concerned typing over form fields and word prcessors, the supreme stinker thus far arose – MP Lim Biow Chuan and his “disappointment”:

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You know, earlier this week, I had a discussion about “hypocrisy” on fb. I came to the conclusion that hypocrisy is a ubiquitous human flaw which we should accept to a certain degree in order to stay sane, but at the same time, it has different levels of impact, depending on how it manifests itself.

MP Lim Biow Chuan’s statement REEKS of the type of damaging hypocrisy that is so flimsily disguised that it’d be a crime to not call it out.

“I cannot agree that ‘A same-sex relationship is not too different from a heterosexual relationship’. The two relationships are different and they go against the Government’s policy of promoting heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable nuclear and extended family units.”

Here are some FAQs (Furiously Asked Questions) of my own to Mr Lim and his ilk:

  1. How are the two relationships different? Save for the way it is consummated?
  2. How do gay couples in long term relationships affect the government’s policy? They are not stopping the straight couples from marrying, applying for their BTOs, having their 2.5 kids. And if government policy is in place to compel the population to congregate and procreate like cattle, regardless of their orientation and essentially their right to attain their own personal happiness, is it right? Really what you are suggesting, is a populace restrained by policy, rather than one that shapes it, and I am deeply concerned with your seat in parliament because of what you represent and the incoherent manner in which you defend your stand. Which brings me to the next question.
  3. Are you just homophobic and padding your homophobia with confused arguments that leave me with more questions than answers?

But having a homophobic conservative type or two in parliament is not really a huge issue. I believe as long as there is diversity, there will be discordant views. The next “screw this shit moment” is dedicated to the non-homophobes in parliament who have chosen to walk the tightrope rather than take a firm stand.

#03 Talking about you – MP Baey Yam Keng

In this report by Today, Baey weighed in with these thoughts:
‘“It’s a bit bold of them to take this approach,” said Mr Baey, who previously had expressed support for the repeal of Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men. While he found some of the answers objective and explained in a clinical way, Mr Baey felt there were some that were too simplistic and may lead to people making judgements that are not as well-informed.

“For example, this point about the differences between same-sex and heterosexual relationships, I felt that the answer lacked another dimension, which is about the Asian values of family,” he said. He added that some social norms, such as how same-sex couples are not able to get married here, could have been reflected in the answers.”‘

Why Yam Keng? Why? I’d held you in high regard because I saw you on national news openly supporting the repeal of 377A in a forum organised by Wild Rice. What a brave and honest move from a politician here, I had thought to myself. But your comments on the HPB FAQs marks to me a progression in political savviness but a regression as a representative of the people.How can you possibly support the repeal of 377A, a law which criminalises sex between two men, but turn around and espouse “asian family values” as a valid reminder that could be added to the article? It is a weak counter point in the face of such confident and thoughtless expressions of homophobia by so many MPs in the House.

So while us dirty hippies cringe at the sheer bigotry among our supposed representatives in parliament, maybe we should also consider the reasons why there is such a resounding LACK of rebuttals by members who by most counts are supportive of the LGBT community here?

Put that as a number in the LKY musicals… What do you say, Dick Lee?

Appeal for donations to family of Mr Sakthieval Kumarvelu’s family.

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An indiegogogo campaign has been created to raise funds for the family of the foreign worker who died in the car accident said to have sparked off the Little India Riot last Sunday. Mr Sakthieval Kumarvelu like many who have come to work here, leaves behind a family who has lost a vital if not only breadwinner of the household.

I may not know Mr Kumarvelu in person, but in my experience with foreign workers here, family is held dearly among them, regardless of their race and country. Like the Bangladeshi father who was devastated by his infant son’s death back home, or the PRC husband who reminisced fondly to us on how he courted his wife.

I imagine Mr Kumarvelu was the same; that he had someone he missed, missing him back.

Visit the link below if u wish to help out.
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-singapore