This article has been submitted by Donavan Cheah, undergraduate.
So after we had a wave of protests in May and June, we finally see a counter-protest: a protest by Muslims against the “Pink Dot” movement.
Meet the “Father of all protests” :
Figure 1: The go-to guy for all protests
Wow, such a revolutionary.
However, before you think this is “a step forward for Singapore”, “changing the landscape of Singapore” and allowing “people to speak up freely without fear or favour”, here are three good reasons why you should reconsider:
- Protests Don’t Do Good After a While
Who benefits from these protests? The events company that sets up the stage and logistics for the protestors.
By now you must have realized the protest speakers are almost all the same? The human rights lawyer, a 22-year-old over enthusiasstic new citizen, a former SDP candidate who now has switched to human rights activism. We note the ominous exclusion of many prominent people including pro-establishment and Workers’ Party activists and people.
After a while, too, the protest topics revolve around the same few things: releasing details of the reserves, the quashing of human rights in Singapore, damning the White Paper for its 6.9 million figure (while conveniently ignoring everything else). We know the G is not particularly conversant at communicating, but for goodness’ sakes, as opposition activists, at least have some standard and robustly defend your points instead of chanting slogans.
Eventually people will think protests at Hong Lim are just carnivals. To the unconcerned, it’s just a bunch of lunatics shouting tired words and others following the ritual of clapping and cheering. Oh yes, and the jeers whenever the 3 golden words are brought up: PAP.
- Protests Are Not Constructive
“We want the G to change this, we want the G to change that”. If only it was so easy. Demands range from: releasing CPF money to restricting foreign worker quota. There is so much clamor for change, substantiated with shoddy politically-popular reasoning.
Which decision-maker can order national change just because a small group of activists said so? Two, three…even six thousand (as claimed) protestors do not a majority make.
To actually introduce change, one must seriously plan for it and work together with civil service. That’s why we have so many “commssions”, “committees” and “dialogues”. Leave the job of change to the parliamentarians and NMPs of the day who are either elected by popular vote or people who actually have deep knowledge of who they represent.
Appearing at a carnival, jeering and cheering when a blogger speaks, is in no way going to change anything.
There are plenty of ways to do your little part in “changing Singapore”, but be prepared to slog very hard for what you believe in. You’ll have to write, talk, appear at discussions, sit at committees and negotiate like there’s no tomorrow – all this, and no one will give a word of thanks. If it is cheers that you want – then yes, go to Hong Lim.
It amuses me how there are protests fighting for a cause, and not one, but two protests fighting against a cause that another protest believes in.
- Protests make Singapore look stupid
Doesn’t that give you peace of mind that you will not have to worry about seeing thousands of people throng the streets with placards and banners? Or that a small antagonist could drive this crowd berserk and violent?
Or that you can commute to work or school in the knowledge that our Unions prefer arbitration to strikes?
Naysayers can argue that Singapore has very limited rights on freedom of assembly, but has this made us worse off?
Peace and stability is the springboard to better things. The business community constantly worry if a country is politically fickle.
If a country were to spiral downward into a riot situation, who would dare park their money there or go for holiday – even if the beaches are pristine and the pace of life slow.
Protests may have had their ability to change plenty of values in other societies. However, while some protests may have worked, they come at very high cost. Do we need to be copycats? Why can’t we solve problems through cooperation, negotiation and collaboration?
I do not see how going to the streets is going to change anything.
(Editor: We frequently bemoan the one-party system. But think about it – it is this system of control that allows administrators to do what they need to do swiftly. Mass building of HDBs, construction projects, infrastructure and even the spirit of tripartism would not have been possible if it was not because of a strong administration.
Having that said, people are generally suspicious of power. The Editor is fully aware that there are times where the State has been far too powerful. Questionable rights to due process in (one or two) convictions, bull doze of policies in Parliament…and a general “I say, you do” type of attitude towards nation building.
It’s like eating your vegetables. You may not like it, but it is good for you.
The ball is in the Government’s court now. For a time, the strong arm has worked. But I don’t think it will for long. The world is getting increasingly liberal and if administrators continue to do like they do – well, they will face stronger opposition and a change of political party will happen.
The G needs to know how to balance out vegetables with juicy steaks and good desserts.)
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