21 September 2006

Who owns the street?

The Substation wanted to hold a big event involving arts performances and civil society groups. It would fill the Substation building and spill out into the garden and Armenian Street. The police killed it with their paranoia. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

what a pity. the event could have been such a positive thing. damn the authorities.

guess what the govt says about a 'diverse' society doesnt really apply.

keep in line everyone. back off the street.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I read yawningbread, I just feel sad. It's Neo waking from the Matrix, the colourful world painted by the local press is in reality dark and gloomy.

Sian. What is the problem with our leaders?

Anonymous said...

Most disappointing although not unexpected. However, it seems that the allegies of the authorities towards civil society organisations have grown after being humiliated at the WB/IMF meet.

Hope that the substation can press on with this street party. All the best

Kai Khiun

Tim said...

'After months of planning and negotiations with the authorities, the police have turned down our application to close down Armenian Street for a "Street Party" ­ a collaboration involving several individual artists, arts groups and civil society organisations (CSOs).'

This event would have been great fun for everyone, but here again...it is GOVERNMENT that finally decides.
This event did not go, from what I gather, it would have set a precedent for future events. The Singapore Govt has no problems with gays and gay clubs,coz it makes money for the govt, in 'closed quarters'... but just don't infringe on what the govt's definition of 'arts and social events' mean? If it has a rainbow connection, the Singapore streets are off limits.
Can u imagine what the mos mos must be thinking? here is my interpretation:
' No way man, the next thing they want is a float with funny people dressed like clowns and signs, we tell them to apply and then we turn them down. '
That is the rainbow carrot dangling at the end of the 'authoritarian stick'.

Jay Shah said...

I have commented on a differnt entry that it may not necessarily be "the leaders" explicit directive anymore.

The civil service, I strongly believe, wants to maintain the present way of things. They cannot be questioned. They have almost zero accountability to the public. Why would they want to change that?

Even if there is genuine want on the part of the leaders, there will be genuine resistance from all the civil servants.

Can you imagine a policeman who has to answer to a citizen on why he must show him his nric. Is it in the law? I bet they don't know themselves. Wouldnt they much rather a compliant citizenry who take their every command as gospel. Is he going to want more civic participation???

Singapore Sports Fan said...


Just a small factual correction alert: "Do they Know It's Christmas" was by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure


Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Alex,

I think it got to do with PAP's Political cultural mindset. All the talk about "Open society" cannot materialize if there is no drastic change in PAP's political mindset/culture.

This is only one of the many instances that PAP demonstrates its reluctance of accepting the fact that NGOs or CSOs have a role to play in Nation building. In fact, we could observe such closed mindset in the organization of IMF meeting.

This outcome from Substation only demonstrates that PAP is not comfortable with its own citizens. They do not trust the citizens to carry out meaningful public events. PAP govt is still stuck with its past historical baggage and could only tolerate its own total control in every aspects of Singapore's public spheres.

You are right to say that the police only grant permits to events initiated by govt stats boards or govt linked instituitions. It is a pervasive distrust of people other than those within the establishment.

Even when they want people to "take ownership" of ideas, it must be done via establishment under their control.

The Nation cannot progress in such manner if we really want to create a vibrant society.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

It is depressing, isn't it?

There is this niggling feeling that our beloved police interprets things from a certain perspective from above.

Uniquely Singapore

Anonymous said...

Gandhi Ambalam's Speech at Speaker's Corner

Gandhi is former PSC scholar, chief Editor at TCS who is now part of the SDP. Smart Guy.

Really Good Speech, Please take a look.


Anonymous said...

i believe such events bring awareness to issues. it shows citizen does care for the society.

it create a common ground. common interests for singaporean from all section of society and races.

how to call this home & be a patriot when there are no common grounds or shared values?

small droplets make the ocean.
every small event counts. maybe NAC can help?

Anonymous said...

Not surprising that the gov again decides against things they find thought provocative. Anyone knows what overseas gov's would do? IE, would other gov's, not only in the west, be more liberal?

Anonymous said...

After being utterly embarrassed by their own behaviour at Hong Lim Park, I guess the poodle force needs to vent their frustration and stamp their "authority" once again.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering has anyone think of getting the MPs involved? Granted that they are PAP MPs, but they are the "representatives" for the people. To change the govt or the PAP culture, one has to think from the basic political process, and it seems many forget that the ballot box is still the deciding factor.

If enough people bug the MPs and spur them to act, you would have created pressure and dissonance on them. You have to question the MPs what they represent and how they do their duties. Should they responded badly, then you have someone to point your fingers at. I mean what is the use of that MP who supposed to take care of that community, but cannot even broker something as simple as a road closure for a community project?

I always find that when something like this happen, there is no one person any one can make to account for the decision. The police is a collective group, can you pinpoint which fellow in the police hierarchy that is phobia to the community-initiated activity? The minister, whoever is incharge (Mr Wong?), can just say it is the police's job and if the police think it is safer to check every texts that are exhibited, what can I say. But can you hold Mr Wong to task since in this case, I don't know if he is even consulted or looped in?

What about the MP(s) incharge of the Substation ward? If the MP was pull into the scene, and the MP cannot exert her/his influence, then when it comes to the next election, someone can challenge the MP concerned. And if enough people in the constituency are pissed off enough, it will be easy to kick the fellow out.

It is hard to tackle PAP as a whole, but I am quite sure not all the MPs are as solid. And if individual MP is challenged to play their role and "represent" the people, we as the people can surely, perhaps slowly, change the social-political culture. Since if they now know sufficient people wanted to play a role and have a say, they would have to respond (either for us or against us, which will affect their political future either way).

Tell those "representative" what we want and if enough people do so, they would have to respond. And if they make a political blunder and piss people off, then, one can pick that the MP off individually. Have no one learn anything from PAP how they pick off individual opposition leader?

keanbon said...


gamabunta said...

A Plan for Very Civil Disobedience
Police and union will follow a script, which even specifies who will be arrested, in a march near LAX to organize hotel workers.