08 August 2007

Picking on a picnic

A "member of the public" alerted the Botanic Gardens to an 'insurrection' likely to erupt among its orchids, and a gay picnic was banned. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Mr Au,

for the maids, I recalled the people were hauled up by ISD and labelled Marxist Conspirators. I am really NOT in a National Day mood now.

Chris said...

Next time you hear of any identifiable group of people (e.g. heterosexuals, single mothers, Malays, law professors) organising a social event, be sure to call up the authorities and warn them about these groups using public spaces to "politicise their cause". We cannot allow our pristine public spaces to be polluted by politics.

The Christian Agnostic said...

I couldn't help but write a friendly letter to the National Parks Board:

Dear Sir,

I read with deep interest your decision to call off the picnic organized by People Like Us at the Botanic Gardens. I applaud your bold decision and support your honourable stance. You are indeed right that the Botanic Gardens is a "premier botanical institution", meant solely for the purposes of "relaxation and recreation". Any event that might be 'politicised' ought to be banned, which is why the National Parks Board never allowed foreign political leaders to visit the Botanic Gardens or permitted events such as the SARS Commemoration Ceremony or Earth Fest 99 to be held there.

It certainly doesn't matter that the propsed picnic was organized by a group of Singapore citizens, with a common sexual orientation, simply to have a pleasant fellowship on National Day together. After all, there might be straight people in the Botanic Gardens, and given that straight people would turn gay at the horrible sight of gay people doing something healthy and meaningful, you are right to prevent that at all costs.

Moreover, National Day is only to be celebrated by heterosexuals. Homosexuals are certainly not Singapore citizens. They do not perform National Service, provide for their families or contribute to our economic growth. Whatever for should they come together on National Day like us? And on our highly cherished Botanic Gardens? What an absurd and sanctimonious request!

Much that I support your actions, I am on the other hand, deeply guilty and would like to confess my ignorant misdoings in the past. As a Christian, I have organized and attended Christian fellowship activities held in this "premier botanical institution". I am ashamed however, to have not realized that such activities actually allow Christian interest groups to "politicize their cause" and result in instability in our multi-religious society. This is because these 'outreach' events are often, heavily publicized and church leaders would actually encourage Christians to bring non-Christian friends along.

During such events, Christians often pray and sing aloud in the open, disturbing the serenity of the park and also passer-bys of other religions. When we are not singing or praying, we will sit in a circle and perform a sadistic rite known as "whacko" to humiliate the new-comers. This rite involves having a new-comer run around guessing names and hitting strangers on the head with a rolled-up object. But what if someone gets hit so hard that he dies of internal bleeding in the brain? Surely, all these evidence point to the fact that most Christian activities held in the Botanic Gardens fail to satisfy the criterias of "relaxation and recreation".

Being an obedient citizen of the State, I am thus humbly corrected and would love to co-operate with the National Parks Board in the future to ensure that our Botanic Gardens not be misused by "interest groups" to the detriment of the society. As such, I shall frequent the Botanic Gardens, probably alongside members of the Internal Security Department, and report any "organized gatherings" of religious groups that have come together not strictly for the purposes of "relaxation and recreation". I believe I would find many, and trust that you would respond swiftly at my calling to send your workers down to disband these groups or even better, bring them before the law to face punishment.

Your decision to deny permission to People Like Us cannot come more apt given that National Day approaches tomorrow. I thank you for enlightening me to new depths of what Singapore is about and it makes me very proud to call myself a Singaporean. After all, how many countries in the world today can boast of banning people from a national park based on their sexual orientation? We are indeed and undeniably, uniquely Singapore!

Thank you very much for reading thus far. I await your reply with eager anticipation on how we can co-operate to rid the undesirables from our "premier botanical institution". On a very joyful note, I wish you and the National Parks Board a happy National Day!

Yours Sincerely

Anonymous said...

I am not sure people have the right take on the reason; the government is not really afraid of a picnic; paradoxically, it is because of its power and control that it has to intervene in every little thing - otherwise, it might damage its image of power and control

governments in other countries can ignore many things because "we dont have the means to control everything"; here this is no excuse

joseph said...

I think the NParks' decision is unlawful and can be legally challenged. I cannot find any legal basis for NParks to require permission for organised gatherings in its parks and gardens. Clearly certain activities are not permitted without approval. But a picnic?

Anonymous said...

hoping that a foreign newspaper will pick this up and embarrass the ppl who deserve to be embarrassed.. utterly ridiculous.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

anonymous, 9 Aug 09:55

Erm... check out this story on the International Herald Tribune, just out this morning:


Headline: Singapore park forbids gay-rights picnic, jog; says politics not welcome in green spaces

I believe the news is also in the Asian Wall Street Journal, because their reporter interviewed me yesterday, Unfortunately, AWSJ is for subscribers only, so I can't access it.

MG said...

that link there is dead.

click here instead: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/08/asia/AS-GEN-Singapore-Gay-Picnic.php

MG said...

oh, sorry. it's not dead. I just can't see the whole address, for some reason.

recruit ong said...

i tell you these damn christian fundamentalists and the sycophantic civil servants are really making our country an international laughing stock. Still want to be world class this and that. World class ass!

Anonymous said...

I read this article. apart from the DISCRIMINATION ASPECT, and gays do have civil rights, the whole thing reeks of the Nazis impounding the Jews into concentration camps.
I also recall the time when the British occupation in Singapore did not allow Chinese Singaporeans into their posh Tanglin Club.
Is this present administration regressing into the dark ages?
It is an outrage, that is targetted at regular folk. It makes me sick!

Anonymous said...

>I also recall the time when the British occupation in Singapore did not allow Chinese Singaporeans into their posh Tanglin Club.
Is this present administration regressing into the dark ages?

these days, only the very rich can afford to be club members, while the old Tanglin Club had many just middle class British guys

I wonder whether you think that's progress or regression


Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Personally, I would give private clubs and associations much more leeway as to whom they would admit. This of course does not mean that other members of the public cannot still express their opinions about the clubs' policies.

However, private clubs should be distinguished from the State and the public sector. The State has legal and coercionary powers, e.g. compelling taxation, banning, exiling, which no private club has, and the State is answerable to all citizens. There is no excuse not to live up to higher standards of fairness and accountability.

Anonymous said...

but there is the reverse argument, basically what the Civic Society school embodies: the government of a small vulnerable nation without natural resources and having many 'sensitive" problems to solve need to a free hand to make decisions, but organizations in "not so sensitive" areas like charity and social activities can be highly liberal and democratic

in reality of course things are very different; even opposition
parties are one man shows

Anonymous said...

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

"I believe the news is also in the Asian Wall Street Journal, because their reporter interviewed me yesterday, Unfortunately, AWSJ is for subscribers only, so I can't access it."

Alex, you can read the AWSJ article here