10 September 2006

The Protest Against No Protest

I know that many readers are waiting for "Rethinking NS - Part 2". They will have to wait a little longer. Tonight I'm blogging about the IMF/World Bank conference which starts tomorrow in Suntec City.

Back in July, I mentioned that the Singapore government planned not to allow anti-IMF/World Bank demonstrations to take place (except in certain prescribed indoor areas). I also said that the IMF and World Bank were unhappy about this - for they welcome the active participation of civil society in their matters . To recap, here's what a World Bank representative said:
'While we recognise the desire of the Government to provide space for civil society within the conference precinct, we believe that other options could give civil society representatives more space and more opportunity to express their views, without violating Singapore laws,' Mr Stephens wrote.

'Effective inclusion of the voices of civil society is key to ensuring that their Annual Meetings are a success'.
Well, the matter has since worsened somewhat. The Intelligent Singaporean provides the relevant links. Here's an excerpt from the very respectable Financial Times, to give you a flavour of the current situation:
IMF and World Bank rebuke Singapore
By John Burton in Singapore and Shawn Donnan in Jakarta
Published: September 8 2006 13:16

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Friday issued an unprecedented rebuke to Singapore over a ban on accredited activists invited to attend the annual meetings of the two financial institutions next week.

The IMF/World Bank suggested that Singapore had violated the terms of its agreement to host the event by blocking the entry of 19 civil society representatives, who allegedly posed a security threat.
Sounds nasty, doesn't it? So much for the Four Million Smiles project. It looks like out of this whole IMF/World Bank event, Singapore has succeeded in creating a bad reputation for itself - even before the event actually gets started.

I wonder if it would have been better for Singapore not to host this event at all. Singapore's views on civil society are way out of sync with those in other developed countries - we knew that already. But now our backwardness is now being highlighted all over the international press, in a most embarrassing manner. We wanted a high profile, and now we're getting it - for all the wrong reasons.

I am not completely unsympathetic towards the Singapore government's security concerns over the World Bank/IMF event. But if the World Bank/IMF event is such a hot potato, then perhaps the better decision would have been for Singapore to give it a skip.

Yes we want to be champion mice - but the world has many other international events which don't normally attract protests and demonstrations, and aren't natural magnets for terrorist attacks. Can't we focus on those?

And I'm not saying this, just because I happen to work in Suntec City.

Technorati: ; ; .


HaveAHacks said...

Honestly speaking, the WB/IMF are just bloody hypocrites. Singapore is being the "pai nang" (bad guy) for them and they have the height to criticise S'pore for it. You really think the official delegations have any time for the protesters ? All sides know that these are just wayang.

The security services are already stretched dealing with real threats. Why waste time on distractions like people running around in chicken suits ?

Of course, this assumes that the official delegates really want to get work done during the meeting. Maybe they don't. It's entirely possible that the WB/IMF meetings are are futile was WTO trade talks. Nobody is going to make serious concessions so no progress will be made.

If that's the case, then maybe concentrating the media on the circus outside will deflect attention from the fact that nothing is happening inside.

Anonymous said...

This is a jolly good start to the official reign of minilee. As history have proven over and over again, nepotism is never a good idea, its just too bad the rest of us singaporeans have to pay for it. Anyway be prepared for more screwups in the future.

Anonymous said...

It is not true that public protest is always just all bluster and hot air.

Public protest can be constructive.

It's also not all true that the official delegations are actively ignoring the protesters. Can you say Rubin?
and how about Soros.

Gerald said...

The govt didn't lobby so hard to host IMF/WB because they really care about IMF/WB's agenda. It is part of their continual effort to put S'pore on the map so we don't become more irrelevent to the world than we already are.

I have opined in the post on my blog yesterday that I don't believe most of the delegates will be doing much real work here. For many of them, their objective is to come here to shop and see Singapore. That coincides with what our Govt wants them to get out of their trip here. So it's win-win for both parties. Nevermind the 2 billion people on this earth living on $1 a day and the other 2 billion living on $2 a day who are the supposed reason for their $200 million meeting.

Therefore, I think it was the right choice for S'pore to host S2006, protests and all, although I too am embarrassed that our dear Govt has highlighted once again that they are completely out of touch with democratic norms in the First World.

Btw, has everyone seen the flowers on Orchard Rd? I'm surprised they didn't line the whole road from Changi Airport to Orchard Rd with a red carpet!

Anonymous said...

It appears that all this effort at positive PR has come to naught. WHen people look back and think about the meeting here. What will be remembered? The flowers, the 4 million smiles campaign, or the fanatic obsession about banning protests of all forms? And now that the whole thing is out of the open, the government is too face-conscious to do an about turn and relent. No... we must never be SEEN to give in to international pressure because we are a sovereign nation and our laws must be respected. I am so deeply embarassed by its obstinence. But an embarassed smile count as a smile too, right?

le radical galoisien said...

The government arrogantly assumed the WB/IMF wouldn't mind a few civil society protestors being excluded .... but lets hope the government's arrogance is rewarded by moving the meeting elsewhere.

le radical galoisien said...

This is one of the few times where I'd like a few bad things to happen to my country, because for one, moving the meetings elsewhere won't hurt the people as much as it would teach the government a lesson.

Anonymous said...

From the SDP Website:

Govt harassment begins: Police steal flyers from activists
9 Sep 06

A bunch of police officers tried to intimidate activists who were handing out leaflets to alert the public to the Empower Singaporeans Rally and March on 16 September 2006.

Three officers approached Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr Charles Tan at Raffles City Shopping Mall and warned the two that they were committing an offence.

When asked what offence was being committed, the police could only say that it was a "seizable offence." Pressed to be more specific, one officer said that his superior would inform them.

The officers also said that they would have to seize the flyers and quickly grabbed the bag of leaflets sitting on the ground.

When Dr Chee Soon Juan appeared another bunch of police officers told him that he had to stop distributing the flyers.

"Under what section of the law is it an offence?" Dr Chee queried.

"It is a seizable offence," came the exasperating reply.

"You haven't answered my question. What Act says that it is an offence to distribute leaflets? If you cannot tell me which specific law I am breaking, how can you tell me to stop doing what I am doing?" Dr Chee continued.

Quickly changing the subject, the officer said, "I have to take the flyers." He reached out to grab the leaflets which Dr Chee was holding.

"If you want to seize the flyers then take me as well. We go together," Dr Chee suggested.

The police officer retracted his hand.

At this point there were at least six police cameras lurking in the various corners recording the encounter.

"I can come with you right now if you want me to. Where is your car?" Dr Chee offered again. "If you say I am committing an offence, then let's go to the police station. Otherwise please move aside as you are blocking my way."

The bunch withdrew into the crowd and hung around the shops, looking from afar.

The activists continued distributing whatever pamphlets they had left. When they ran out, they approached the police officers to ask them to give back the flyers they had stolen.

But as soon as the activists got close to the officers who were all in civilian wear, they dispersed in different directions like suspects fleeing the scene of the crime.

One, Senior Staff Sergeant Lee Hong Chee, who pretended to be a shopper looking at a window display whilst sipping on an ice-blended coffee, was not quick enough. When asked where his colleagues were he said, "I don't know."

"Do you know it was wrong to take our pamphlets when you haven't told us what offence we had committed?" Dr Chee asked.

Sgt Lee searched for an answer but could only play back the pre-recorded message, "I don't know."

"Where are the flyers?" Dr Chee asked again.

"They are with my colleagues."

"Where are your colleagues?"

"I don't know..."

"You're not a very competent officer, are you?" Dr Chee continued.

"I don't know...Thank you," the sergeant stammered, and quickly walked away.

Seeing two more officers sitting in the distance, the activists sought their assistance. As before the two quickly scuttled away. But Dr Chee called them back and after asking them to produce their warrant cards, one was Senior Staff Sgt Zaihir Shan s/o Syed and the other was Sgt Andrew Ong, he asked them for the confiscated pamphlets.

Almost simultaneously the two officers' cellphones rang and they both pretended to be engaged in deep conversation while quickly walking away.

These officers were not behaving the way our men-in-blue should – with dignity and professionalism. Instead, when asked they could not cite the law they were supposed to enforce and they behaved like a group of suspects who quickly dispersed when confronted.

First World Government? Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

Disgraceful, our police instead of catching criminals are in cahoots with the Party. Shouldn't the police not have to do the Party work?

If the PAP wants its dirty work done, then employ Gestapo or KGB agents from the past, dun do it in 2006 Singapore using our police form

Shame on our police
Shame on our government
Shame on our people

Whispers from the heart said...

Whatever intentions that IMF has, Singapore turned out to be the bigger loser.

Hotel occupancy is only 70% of the expected 11,000 (out of 16,000?) and we also ended up the laughing stock around us.

So much for yaya Papaya.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang

I'd written in a much earlier entry that our government was modelling this year's IMF/WB meetings on the inaugural WTO ministerial meeting that we hosted in 1996. At that time, we had successfully confined the protestors to the Raffles City Convention Centre. Our government was very proud of this public order success story though I understand that the police scholar officer who was in charge of operations at that time didn't get a promotion and left the police force as a result.

Anyway, I think our government has made a mistake in rehashing the previous formula. The IMF/WB meetings are different from the WTO ministerial conferences in that the former usually attracts a smaller crowd of 'protestors', partly because no ministers attend, unlike the latter. And these meetings don't always get out of hand or turn violent, much as our government would like us to believe. The ones that really got out of hand from my recollection were the Seattle ministerial conference of 1999 and the Genoa G8 summit of 2001.

The second BIG mistake was the widely reported remark from some dick**** in our police force that we would "shoot to kill" if the situation got out of hand in Singapore. Oh come on, if our security forces are really prepared, we would have crowd control equipment like water cannons and tear gas or, as our MM was fond of saying, put itching powder into the water cannons.

I don't know what the true intent was behind this 'shoot to kill' statement. If it was to put fear into would-be protestors, well, it has certainly backfired by hurting the already bad image of Singapore. This type of statement makes us no better than the PLA troops who fired on the Tiananmen student demonstrators or North Korea for that matter.

Anonymous said...

With S'poreans like you and those who support your sentiments, no wonder we have to open our doors wider to immigrants.

Anonymous said...

To the anon above who said "no wonder we have to open our doors wider to immigrants", sorry but I did't get your argument.

Are you saying that because of Singaporeans who don't necessarily agree with our government's handling of this issue, the government is better off opening the door wider to more immigrants, the implied assumption being that these new immigrants are likely to be more understanding and supportive of the government's position?

A bit rich I'd say. In fact, I'd probably counter-argue that our new Indian immgrant brothers come from a very robust democracy back home, and peaceful protests and demonstrations are nothing new to them. Some of them might even have participated in a few street protests back home. The same could even be said for some middle-aged immigrants from China, who might have taken part in the student demonstrations of 1989 in their younger days (although it must be admitted that ICA would would vetted them for their backgounds).

Anonymous said...

To Anon 11:27:19 AM,

With S'poreans like you and those who support your sentiments, no wonder singapore continues to look like a constipated mule in the world and singaporeans continue to suffer the yoke of oppression

Anonymous said...

I see that someone here has already posted Chee Soon Juan's intended protest march, which will coincide with the WB/IMF meeting.

If one is politically astute, one should be able to discern that this entire govt's ban of protest during WB/IMF is directly targeted at Chee!

Nope, I dont mean that the ban is to stop chee from marching this one time. But rather, it is to prevent Chee from using the following excuse for uncountable number of times thereafter in the future:

"Remember how foreigners were allowed to protest on the street during WB/IMF period? And yet Singaporeans cannot do that during other times? One country, 2 standard, locals are treated worse off than foreigners, govt kowtow to foreigners but disallow citizens from exercising constitutional rights to protest, blah blah blah".

Notice that the govt initially allowed street protest during IMF/WB, it is only after the above argument has been made repeatedly by Chee(?) and people on several online forums that the govt initiated the ban!

Notice also that Chee is going all out to promote civil disobedience, not just during this IMF mtg, but way into the future!!!

In short -- govt is putting singapore in a bad light, for PAP's own agenda against local oppositions, for PAP's own survival!!!

Any flaw in my observation? :)

Anonymous said...

I guess you don't often see the guest telling the host what to do when you go to somebody's house so in the same case, how can the WB/IMF tell the singapore government who or who not to let into the house?

Anonymous said...

To the anon above, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Amazing reasoning by our government,isn'it? All this to stop Chee from leading a protest march, now or in the future.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Actually, it seems that when World Bank & IMF were considering possible host venues for the event and SIngapore was bidding to be host, World Bank & IMF already indicated to Singapore that they would want to see the demonstrators and the protests and the civic groups, and Singapore gave them a "Yes, Ok, kind of" kind of reply which IMF/World bank took to be a "yes".

That's why IMF and World Bank feel miffed now, and, to quote the FT article, have now "suggested that Singapore had violated the terms of its agreement to host the event."

The issue between IMF/WB and our government about whether the protestors should be allowed didn't just pop up overnight. You can see that the issue being discussed at least as far back as one year ago - see this September post on Singabloodypore about one year ago.

Anonymous said...

To the first poster:

Honestly, if the WB/IMF are 'bloody hypocrites' as you claimed, then I shudder to think of the words to describe the PAP government.

And simple minded folks will always think: Protesters = Troublemakers with too much free time on their hands = People like Chee Soon Juan.

I wonder what will that Korean farmer who killed himself in protest at a WTO meeting some years ago will feel about people who thought he committed suicide because he had too much free time, was a trouble maker and only sought attention because he was a media whore?

Indoctrination from education and the media works wonders in Singapore.

As in the parable of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant: if you have never seen a real elephant of freedom before, trying to describe it by touching will give the wrong ideas.

Anonymous said...

And as if to rub salt into the IMF/WB, the area inside Suntec City set aside by our government for indoor protests measures only 14 by 8 m, smaller than a 5 room HDB flat.

I suppose this amply demonstrates the attitude of our government towards civil society and NGOs in general - allocate them a little space to rant and protest and to hell with what they're sayihg.

Anonymous said...

(1) Every 3 years, the IMF/WB held its meeting outside Washington. This year, they felt it was Asia's turn, so they went actively looking for an asian country that is willing to host the event.

IMF and WB don't have a lot of friends in asia. Thailand, Philippines, S Korea, Indonesia, India, China and Malaysia all have issues with them. So how many other countries are there to bid for them?

From what I have read in the foreign media, IMF/WB invited countries to bid for the event. Singapore's bid was the only viable serious bid offered to IMF/WB. So they took it. It was almost like winning by default.

(2) Now, if the IMF/WB has done their homework, they would know that whenever an event such as this is held in a politically oppressed country, CSO and NGOs are commonly repressed or sidelined away from the main event. China was a good example. So in a way, what is happening is partially the fault of the IMF/WB for not making their stand clear when the agreement was first signed.

(3) Another thing, it seems that IMF/WB does not pay for any damages caused by rioting. Any cost that is paid by IMF/WB is only for the delegates and the event itself. So there is another flaw in the agreement. You are not going to be responsible for the damages, so why are you complaining about the lack of demonstrations?

(4) IMF/WB could have made social change to be part of its condition for coming to Singapore, no matter how vaguely worded is the response. For the China olympics, there are a lot of dialogue back and forth for China to improve its environmental record and also its treatment of dissidents. In other words, China is under pressure to change. Whether she will is another matter, but at least an attempt is being made and there is a lot of media attention.

It is worth noting that these concerns were made BEFORE the results of the olympic bid in order to register with the Chinese government.

If the IMF/WB really is concerned about about CSO and NGO involvement and freedom to demonstrate, they would have done so at the point of negotiating Singapore's bid, and not just a few months ago. It is likely that Singapore would withdraw.

(5) One comment is that Singapore is not ready for such things and that Singapore's plan has backfired.

In any major business transaction (for this is what this MICE event is -- a major business transaction), there are always some risks. If you don't have the stomach for the risks, you don't take it. Remember the Shincorp mess that is still unfolding in Thailand that has Temasek's fingerprint all over it?

You can say that if there are risks then you should not take it. But then, nothing will ever change, would it? And that's not very entreprenial is it?

I do want the meeting to be a success, but quite frankly, for the current PR mess, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Anonymous said...

I want to highlight one point I made again:

This is essentially a business transaction to the Singapore government. To promote tourism and to highlight our MICE hosting skills.

There is a DOMESTIC but SECONDARY political objective, and that is to show our citizens how good the PAP government is -- so good, they get the endorsement of the IMF/WB. And can also host mega events to boost tourism where other lesser governments will fail.

I do not think appearing democratic to FOREIGN delegates to score political points are an objective to the PAP. Hence, there is a blindspot in their thinking.

And of course, we now all know that IMF/WB meeting is, in reality, a political event seen by the whole world. People are going to remember what politcal decisions were made there, and not how good the official luncheons are.

In short, the PR mess shows a lack of political acumen of our PAP government, where everything is about dollars and cents, where political cost is often unimportant for a dominant PAP party.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Min Tsek:

IMF/World Bank definitely did make it clear a long time ago that they expected civil groups to be allowed to demonstrate. And Singapore did say "yes" ...

I think I did allude to this sometime last year too, when blogging about the 4 SDP protestors. If you're interested, you can plow through my old posts and I'm sure you'll find the relevant post. IIRC, I said something to the effect, "Goodness, why is the Singapore govt agreeing to allow foreigners to hold mass demonstrations here, when it won't even allow 4 little Singaporeans to hold a very peaceful demontrsation in Robinson Road?"

Well, as it turns out ......

Anonymous said...

Again, a memorandum of understanding isn't contractually enforcable. If IMF/WB were that serious with the issue, they would have made it a term of the contract.

While I dislike the notion of no independent, people voices, I have to say that the IMF/WB would have known better. For that reason, I would say haveahacks has a point in his argument.

Anonymous said...

That was a rather anal response. I hope the Singapore govt wasn't similarly anal. If they were, well, I am not surprised that IMF/WB are so pissed.

Can you imagine it? PM Lee saying to the World Bank, "It was in the MOU, stupid, not the contract, nyeah nyeah nyeah nyeah nyeah, you can't sue me."

Anonymous said...

I can't find the post that responded to mine by suggesting that since Indian n Chinese immigrants are used to demonstrations and hardball from the respective govts, they would b quite used to it should same happen in S'pore and so let the demos go ahead. i find that an asinine suggestion. Indeed, with so many ex-Malaysians in S'pore, to take that argument further would be to say having another May 13 -- this time in S'pore -- would b something the Malaysians can take. The real question is whether S'pore for no rhyme or reason (other than the likes of IMF/WB and Mr Wang's cronies wanting it) should have demos and racial riots just to satisfy these irresponsible whims?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...


Sorry - where was it that I said I want racial riots or demonstrations?

Anonymous said...

Exactly my thoughts, Mr Wang. I was also trying to fathom how Anon made the leap to racial riots and demonstrations.

But perhaps that's the mindset of Singaporeans that have been moulded by the government through the years: that any open demonstration must equal violent racial riots or has to turn into one.

I think we have to give our newly arrived Indian immigrants more credit and intelligence in being able to distinguish between a peaceful march organised by let's day, BJP, for better worker conditions and pay, to the racial confrontations that do unfortunately break out between Hindus and Muslims.

I also think our Malaysian friends are more than capable to differentiate between the May 13 racial riots to the spontaneous demonstrations they held for the incarceration of Anwar Ibrahim (okay, may be this is not the best example).

Another blogger commented that the IMF/WB don't have many friends in Asia. True to an extent, but I would qualify the IMF's problem is with the governments, mainly because of the unpopular economic medicine dished out by the IMF during the Asian financial crisis. (No one can forget the indelible image of then IMF head Michel Camdessus folding his arms while Soeharto signs the IMF conditions).

But I don't think civil societies or NGOs in Asia are themselves against peaceful demonstrations being held at IMF/WB meetings to raise awareness of certain issues that impact on their countries. I don't think Thai NGOs have a problem with this. I thought an Indonesian CSO was reported to be very disappointed with Singapore's decision to ban public protests.

Anonymous said...

A bit rich I'd say. In fact, I'd probably counter-argue that our new Indian immgrant brothers come from a very robust democracy back home, and peaceful protests and demonstrations are nothing new to them. Some of them might even have participated in a few street protests back home. The same could even be said for some middle-aged immigrants from China, who might have taken part in the student demonstrations of 1989 in their younger days (although it must be admitted that ICA would would vetted them for their backgounds).
'hallo, Wang-Wang, I wasn't referring to you but to the Anon who posted the above ...
He said Indian and Chinese would be used to demos; so I said by the same token, wld we arguing that becos ex-Malaysians experienced May 13, they won't mind a repeat in S'pore... hope this clarifies. 10Q

Anonymous said...

The police and their masters and the minister above them all have shown over and over and over again they are cowards, scums and stinking running dogs for the despotic regime.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

You know why I have to remove that, right, Lee Hsien Tau?

Apart from being totally irrelevant to my post, your comment looks defamatory, and furthermore you won't even explain the context or the sources of your information, such that the legal defences of justification or fair comment might even be possible.

You have a problem with those two individuals (whoever they are) - please use proper channels. Just because people appear to be richer than their day jobs indicate they should be, doesn't mean that they did anything illegal.

Anonymous said...

Of course I'm not arguing with you, Mr Wang, this being your blog. Just testing if you're reading. After your inaction to WhyBeGay.

Does it mean that my blog contains a lot of defamatory material? Why then isn't any of those lawyers or ex-lawyers sueing?

I'm off. I caught the flu.

Joseph Chiang said...

Personally, I think the WB/IMF are hypocrites too. What's the purpose of these protests anyway? To me, they're just one big show.

In fact, Singaporeans should protest if our government allows this protest to go ahead.

Anonymous said...


In one respect, you are spot on. Singaporeans should be allowed to protest if our government allows this protest to go ahead.

If Singaporeans want to openly protest against the IMF for what they see as 'bullying' tactics against our government, then they should be allowed to by our police. Perhaps Young PAP can organise this.

I remember the NTUC once organised a march against the US for interference in Singapore's domestic affairs.

Anonymous said...

If it is to protest against the IMF and World Bank for their unreasonable demands , yes. The NTUC will very quickly organise a protest. It will be a protest against the protest of IMF and World Bank.

Can we go and protest NTUC for not defending the rights of workers? I dare say they will not allow it.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you something.

Who are these protestors and what do they want? Basically, most of them are all fighting for the same thing. They are fighting for the livelihoods and rights of the common people, the masses, from poor countries which are being bled dry by the gigantic interest payments they have to make to the World Bank for their loans. Countries which are poor because in the first place they were sucked dry by the colonial powers before the 1970s.

I simplify the issues, of course, and they are a lot more complex than that, but basically these demonstrators are demonstrating for something they believe in, and what they believe in is something quite noble.

I just wanted to say that, because otherwise some stupid Singaporeans will just believe that these demonstrators are Al-Queda or English soccer hooligans or other kinds of people of the jia pah boh sai pang variety. That is totally untrue.

Anonymous said...

I call this million-dollar ineptness.

$M, as in what we are paying the ministers.

As someone who wrote in the ST forum pointed out in reference to GCT and WKS's 'plea' that they can't have double-standard, for locals and for foreigners: the govt has already been practising double standard vis a vis the entry fee into the yet to built casinos - FOC for foreigners but a 100 bucks a day if you are Sporean.

The last few months has been an amazing eye opener regarding the political ineptness of our ruling party politicians. It is quite obvious that the bottomline is that the govt could not countenance the very idea of opposition figures like the Chee siblings and others legitimately marching down the streets in broad daylight in protest. It's would be like no less than the govt slapping its own face. What's worse is when the Chees can demonstrate that they can protest PEACEFULLY, pulling the carpet from right under the govt's off repeated mantra that public protest = riot and mayhem!

Lastly, if you would notice, this is not the first time that the PM cum Finance Minister is conveniently NOT around when something controversial or adversarial is happening - for face saving or mistake avoidance or foot-in-mouth avoidance reasons!? His record speaks for itself.

Joseph Chiang said...

anon, it's for your own good that they don't give you free entry to the casino. i don't know about you, but i won't want to patronise it even if they give me a free rebate for my first bet.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans brought all these upon themselves. When they are given the chance to vote, they did ot utilise it well. Instead, they gave up their freedom, honor and dignity for the progress package and lifts (for their HDB).

A person will only have control over you if you give him the power. Why scare?

Anonymous said...

The progress package are tax returns, not free money ! It is supposed to be given to you if there are any budget surplus.

To think Singaporeans think they are damn smart... ( best in maths science, best universities).
They all score ZERO for common sense.

DEe said...

hhahha.. correct. besides.. its money. why complain? take it and rejuvenate the economy. then vote opposition if u feel like it. but when yr oppositions leaders all have "businessmen" as their occupations, and look like my hawker centre fishball mee seller... erm...

on a closer note to the original post, i remember laughing out loud when i heard the regulations for protesters. and the mock riot. but think about it this way. aren't things as they are now better than 10 years ago? people can't change overnight. from what i see, it takes at least two generations to enact social changes, which are essentially what political awareness is, a change from the old political culture of singapore. when i go home i still get shit from my parents from having a political viewpoint. its very "listen to yr elders" if anyone understands what i mean. people who have very limited education will always be in that position. but this generatio is different, they're much more aware. When i do work with 15 yr olds in public school, i find they listen to mr brown podcasts. as much as they might not understand the exact meaning of things, but at least they have access, and soon will begin to relate the funny things with the real issues. thats way more than i had when i was 15 only a few years ago. political awareness is like.. a way of life. it need time to grow. it used to be people didn't trust shopping at supermarkets.. but they stuck to the model and most people do now.

bad publicity or no, whats done is done, and at the end of the day, we move on and hopefully learn. Singapore has qualities that are very in-yr-face. peace, stability, and these facts are economically useful. that singapore was criticised was widely mentioned in the papers, and as far as i know, the sg gov, didn't really say much in reply. People are smart. They'll figure it out soon enough.