07 August 2006

Political apoplexy and police priorities

Soon after IndigNation was announced, the police began applying pressure on the bars that were venues for the social events. A close-up look at the totally unprofessional, shameful behaviour of this department. But why did they behave so bizarrely? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, I did not know that the police in Singapore prosecute. I thought only district attorneys or whatever it is called in Singapore determined if a case is worthy of prosecuting in a "court of law". I thought police is law enforcement, i.e. enforcing the laws on the book to keep order in society and investigate if someone breaks that particular law and send it to the DA for them to determine if in fact a law was broken. If the club owner breaks no law how can the police threaten to prosecute? Is law enforcement part of the prosecution now? I'm so confused as to the definition of enforcement and prosecution in Singapore. Someone, please enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

The Singapore Govt is homophobic. This is a shakedown by them, showing the ability that FEAR can clamp down on such events!

Anonymous said...

They were probably from the Singapore equivalent of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of comments:
this is a case of self censorship mindset that is practicsed by the police and every other govt body in Singapore.

possibly, there's a vague directive to observe these events, to see if they're organised by fridae.com.

so the police commanders, to be safe and to protect themselves against complaints from the public on "lewd behaviour",simply pressured the clubs from hosting the event in the first place. everything must be in line.

Whats most critical is the voice of the vocal minority. the moment they complain, the govt will clamp down.

what is most key for the gay community is to gain acceptance by the general public. What happened at the Pride parties in the past must have offended some a few vocal individuals. When the public is not prone to complain, the authorities will probably let it go.

Anonymous said...

i dont think the Singapore govt is homophobic. its the general public - a few highly conservative, and highly vocal who's ready to complain.

If the people lighten up, the police will too.

Anonymous said...

reading this makes me glad i'm not living in singapore. and i'm not even gay.

its clear to me that government bodies, and indeed the police and military, are mixed up on who they truly serve.

the bluring of the line is evidently encouraged by the ruling party so that people do not question when government employees, whose very wages are paid by the people's tax dollars, start to tell the people what to do. its the tail wagging the dog.

Emma said...

This is beyond ridiculous. Not to mention the flurry of adoption reports in the news recently and how single men aren't allowed to adopt. I guess someone did some research and figured out that women are absolutely not capable of abuse or whatever the reports are trying to hint at? Seriously..
Im coming "home" next week. I miss my favourite people and places but I'll make a note not to bother reading the newspaper. Or watching tv. It's laughable, pathetic and yet sad.

Anonymous said...

This is an outragous act of bullying and intimidation and should be brought to hte attention of the wider general public!!!!!!! If we work on such logic, should not the camps of the Singapore Armed Forces, the official site of homoerotic male bonding be banned as well?
PM Lee and SM Goh had once reitrated that Singapore is not homopobic. Perhaps we should use this incident to highlight to them

Anonymous said...

how about flag bikinis?

chicken crossing said...

The Police must have nothing better to do. They are becoming a bad joke.

The way they are going about their duties will eventually make them irrelevant to Singapore.

My respect for them is diminishing by the day.

chicken crossing said...

Our Police Force is becoming an International Comic Relief....

Anonymous said...

Remember the case when a group of alleged Singapore-based JI terrorists was placed under ISA detention, the evidence offered by MHA was a video showing the bomb plot. The video was found by the American during operations in Afganistan.

One side of the story, as noted in foreign press, was that the MHA was NOT aware of the terrorist plot until the video emerged. The other side, which the MHA claimed to have been aware of JI activities before the video evidence and that the ISA/police were already monitoring the situation.

Frankly, I have never bought the MHA story and am more inclined to belive the former. What has led me to this believe?

Well, when I hear of the kind of police "law enforcement" activity and the kind of resources afforded in trivial cases describe in this article and those experienced by SDP, I doubt our Police have their mind on real National Sercurity threat.

It seemed to me that the MHA/ISA/police are more concerned with furthuring PAP political aims than National Security.

Worse, can one conclude that these agencies are only able to deal with soft targets? If this was so they be counted to deal with real hard core terrorists?

So far, I have my doubt.

Anonymous said...

And then there are some (gay people) in Singapore who think that the organisers of Indignation are making a big deal of nothing by having a protest/pride festival.

"What's there to be indignant about? Just because a silly party flying under shape shifting confused banners got canned????? Jeeezz, give us a break!"

I hope that they see the point of all this community action before the police shuts down all gay clubs and venues, then it would be too late.

boon said...

alex, aren't you kicking up a big fuss over the HSBC advertisement? Personally I thought it was very clever of them.

I'm guessing that if the government had banned that particular advertisement, bloggers would have a field day criticising our overly rigid regulations.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't?

teck soon said...

Laws should be enforced regardless of whether someone complains or not. If not enforced, then they should be repealed. Like so many other laws in Singapore, one is always in fear if harsh laws will be randomly enforced. The way laws are so broadly written in Singapore, I'm sure someone could find that almost everything is illegal. Once, Alex wrote a piece describing how offending someone is against the law. Perhaps gays are just offensive. Actually, I am curious if the police have broken the law in requiring actions of people who were doing nothing wrong (the clothing restrictions, the harassment of the bar owners). Aren't there laws in Singapore outlawing criminal intimidation? If the bikini-goers had refused to leave and the police arrested them, what would the charge have been? Is false arrest illegal? Are Singaporeans scared of arrest even when they've done nothing wrong? If so, then the criminal justice system in Singapore is broken. I dare other Singaporeans to go shirtless into gay bars and tell the police "arrest me". I don't think any have the courage. That's how bad the system has become.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Boon wrote: "alex, aren't you kicking up a big fuss over the HSBC advertisement? "

Erm... it was satire.

I knew it... some readers won't be able to catch it despite the hyperbole in saying that the CEO should be put in leg-irons.

Yet it's no reflection on the readers. It's a reflection on the state of media control. We see so little satire in Singapore (now, why is that?) that people just aren't attuned to it.

Anonymous said...

Anything that is not the norm or different from the garmen's attitudes or points of view are deemed to be offensive. So, gays or lesbians are deemed to be ABNORMAL ppl in the eyes of the elites. And therefore, are deemed to be SINFUL as such. This obviously shows how CLOSE-MINDED these elites are. Aren't the gays and lesbians HUMAN BEINGS having all the senses just the same as the elites?? When will these elites be more OPEN and more MATURE in their thinkings?? How could we improve and progress if the garmen is homophobic? Can Sg be considered as FIRST WORLD CLASS society???? What a joke!!

KiWeTO said...

regardless of whether it is satire or not,

the law doeth state that one cannot bring the flag into disrepute.

Unlike many other more enlightened countries who are more comfortable with their national identity, SG is still hidebound and unable to grow out of its own coccoon of middle of the road conservatism.

Which means that Alex is right. Maybe we can take go into a police station and make a complaint about the ad?

Sets a bad precedent if a large multinational can abuse SG laws, and Singaporeans cannot show their own comfort with their national identity except for +/-30 days around Aug9.

Could the potential for a big political egg at the rate. If they refuse to act on the complaint that a law has been broken, they have failed in their duty to as enforcers of the law, Attorney-General included for failing to bring a case if HSBC decides against ceasing and desisting.

If HSBC is told to take it down, and prosecuted or not prosecuted, it would still mean egg on SG within the advertising industry. That would be another chilling memory of why prudish Singapore is a boring place, not attractive to the creative class.

Either way, it appears that a law has been broken. If the authorities are not going to enforce the law, doesn't that lead to breakdown in law&order?

Oh well. Doublespeak and double standards. One for citizens, one for non-citizens.

C'est la vie. We get what we voted for. or not voted for.


boon said...

hi alex, your satire didn't work for me because you chose such a trivial example of "non-enforcement" of the law. The police weren't supposed to interfere, and they didn't. So it actually weakened the first half of your article.

If you want to point out the irony or hypocrisy of the police's actions, then why not use an example of non-enforcement when they should have?

Back to your main point, what can the police do beyond vague threats and their ominous presence? The club owners should already have expected that, it's just part of the game in Singapore. A sign that change will eventually come, but only at a pace the Government is comfortable with.

Anonymous said...

on the HSBC ad, i hate to sound pedantic, but...

any adverts that have the Singapore flag or currency reproduced require approval by MITA (or some other govt body). All ad agencies are expected to do their homework on this, before spending thousands of dollars to make the ad.

Thus, in the case of the HSBC ad, it would have received approval.

thor666 said...

Actually, I thought that mentioning the HSBC ad underlines how the law is selectively enforced in contrast to the topic at hand. Or simply, double standards.

I'm not surprised. I've always thought that the government has been pro-corporation, sometimes at the expense of the individual.

Anonymous said...

See today's ST. Man gets severely beaten up by 6 others (requiring surgery and 3-day hospitalisation) on the streets and Police say it's a civil case, not criminal. How does it work?

Anonymous said...

What is the purpose of an ad if it isn't commercially oriented?

One law for foreigners and corporations, one law for s'poreans.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion for the potential future subjects of ridiculous police action. The government is itself governed by an Instruction Manual, or IM. I understand that this is almost exhaustive is describing the appropriate and inappropriate behaviour of public officers, policemen included.

Capture the police officers and all their actions on a video and post it online. subject everything they do to strict scrutiny as to whether any IM has been violated. Inform the police officers beforehand that they are being filmed for this very purpose, that they had better only make statements or demands which are backed by a law, otherwise they would be caught in violation and a complaint would be registered against them.

Would this work? Perhaps not. But perhaps it would make the police officers understand what it feels like to be under strict and very public scrutiny. Do not disbelieve that there are logical and fair-minded people in the government, thought perhaps they be in the minority, who would look askance at such action.

Anonymous said...

personally, i think it is really unfair to blame the police force for the sequence of events.
can't anyone see that it is the higher powers at work here?

clearly the police force serves the govt and obviously they do not make policy decisions. they enforce. blindly or not. that's their job. and it is only a job.

so what do we want from the police? everyone to quit their jobs so that there is no one to serve the minister?

or would we applaud that one officer who disobeys the order for such enforcement when he/she gets charged for disobeying orders or is forced to resign?

is that what we want to see? to force everyone to a corner? will that make us happy? or should all PLU quit the force in some movement?

it takes time for people to accept us. it takes time for policies to change. it takes time. i agree it is taking a hell of a long time but at least things are better now than before.

blaming the police, finding a scapegoat is simply missing the big picture. the police doesn't govern singapore. they don't make policies. bluntly put, they are just pawns in a game of chess.

yes i agree the series of events shows that the govt is still homophobic and i believe the police has no such powers for their actions. but why blame them??? is it really their fault?? IT IS BUT A JOB.

frankly, i love my job all other aspects of it, but now what? do i quit it because there is servitude without professionalism? i am as affected and as unhappy at the way things are..but in singapore that's the way it is, and there are some things in life which we have no control over.