It couldn’t happen in Singapore

The Hong Kong govt was forced to back down over its plan for compulsory national education after massive public protests, apparently with students at the forefront.

It couldn’t happen here. Why?

1. ISA and various acts against peaceful demonstrations, protests and public assembly.

These are real deterrents for sure, because the people are afraid to get jailed and fined, and any potential protest leaders fear indefinite detention without trial, torture and human rights abuses.

But ISA itself is not the only reason. Malaysia has ISA too, yet tens of thousands of Malaysians took to the streets for Bersih.

2. More important than fear of ISA is the fact that Singaporeans don’t care.

They don’t care enough about topics like National Education. Why would one risk arrest for an issue one does not care deeply about?

Indeed, it’s hard to find a topic which Singaporeans care enough about. Even if it concerns our money (eg the Govt keeping our money locked up in CPF) it seems the people still don’t care enough.

If the people are bochap, it doesn’t matter what the Govt does.


The Hongkong protests highlight very clearly that peaceful public demonstrations are possible, even in a dense city. Hongkong’s economy has not collapsed, foreign investors have not been scared away, riots have not happened. It mocks the Singapore govt’s reasons for suppressing our constitutional freedom of assembly.

I wonder if any of our dear leaders want to engage in a national ‘conversation’ on freedom of assembly, and if so, whether they will just reiterate their positions with such unfounded bases.

Honestly, if the Singapore people don’t care, lifting bans on public assembly won’t lead to many demonstrations. The only ones who will demonstrate are the SDP… Perhaps that’s what PAP is really worried about?


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11 Responses to It couldn’t happen in Singapore

  1. Cheng says:

    No, they are not afraid of one party who will demonstrate. They are afraid of one nation of citizens who will turn things into an Arab spring. The only reason why NatCon is going on now is because they absolutely NEED to retain their hegemony on this island state. They are NOT interested to help the nation progress and mature with a sustainable governing model other than their own. In short, they distrust the citizens, and you have to ask, why you should trust this government too.

    Been following the protest in HK closely. Look how HK citizens, young and old came together to fight a cause when their civic right is threatened and heavily compromised. ie. compulsory brainwashing education that promotes the superiority of CCP 1 party-rule and inculcate ‘obedience’ as opposed to critical thinking & individual evaluation (ps: very much like the recent NAC incident one can read from Alex Au), we can truly admire the collective stance they took against the draconian laws of the new Chinese government. If 10 or 100 or 1000 people come out for the same cause, they will be detained by ISD. If 10,000 or 100,000 turn up with same message, we can easily conclude a conversation in less than 2 days, as opposed to a national conversation that will drag for 1 year. And you are right, there’s no destruction to the economy. It is business as usual because any demonstrations can only be allowed on weekend. That format has worked very well for them. Heck, no economy in Taiwan, or Korea, or Japan, or Indonesia has ever collapsed and turned any investors away just because of small protestors which they are perfectly used to. People should know by now it is a bogeyman used by this government for decades and its internal agents. More report by a blogger below.

    • Tan says:

      Very impressive! I admire them for the values they shared commonly among themselves.
      All the parents, educators, children, students and all sorts of civic groups have come out united on this single cause – Stop Brainwashing. Those days of ‘labor camps’ must still be very real to Hongkongers, many of whom escaped the bloody days. I even read that that a local porn site decided to shut down for a day and urge everyone to support the cause!! LMAO.

  2. Simon Says says:

    //If the people are bochap, it doesn’t matter what the Govt does.//

    A blogger puts it best. Is akin to taking heroin drugs. When you had to think about real life and more complicated problems many who tried quitting couldn’t handle that. So they went back to using it. They chose to do nothing else with their lives other than trying to earn more money or climb the corporate ladder. Remove them from that harsh reality, ask them to live their life a different way, they see an even harsher reality to deal with. Their brains are too numb to imagine a creative way out. Let alone, turning your children into some freedom-fighting “anti-government dissidents” that will risk your family bankruptcies or a visit to MHA office for “poor parenting”.

    OTOH, spend your life obsessed about one thing and only one thing, everything becomes so simple and straightforward, black and white. If only those same fiery drives that the incoming PRC migrants have against their motherland were put to good use to drive more openness in this government, the social cohesion index (or anti-foreigners) would see a very different outcome.

    Ask less, Earn more (until I can get out of this shit – emigration) continues. Like a hamster who is used to its wheel to get the food, it needs to keep running.

  3. Buggery says:

    ISA does play a part in silencing protests. It works. History has shown that it works. Look up Singapore’s Operation Spectrum. Look up Malaysia’s Operation Lalang.

    It’s not that people don’t care. It’s that current comfort levels in Singapore are still high and with the ISA, the trade-off to joining a protest are just not worth it. Seriously, will you protest if that means putting your decently comfortable life (this means a home and 3 square meals a day) at risk for ideals? Because that is what the protest in HK is about – ideals. This is different from the Arab Spring where you had rocketing food prices and people were already hugely uncomfortable. Same with China’s multitude of protests even though their crack downs are harsh as hell.

    The only closest comparison is Malaysia’s Bersih rally. That happened because their ISA just isn’t as effective as Singapore’s ISA (reasonably so because of their larger country size and with a larger size, comes harder management.) So the dangers of protesting aren’t as stark or as definite as Singapore’s.

    Remove the ISA and that trade-off drops tremendously. When the costs for expressing your views drops, you will start hearing and seeing more alternative voices who need not hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

  4. Lklim says:

    You guys miss the point regarding the issue in Hong Kong. It is about identifying the citizens of HK with China. Since when is it wrong to be identified with ones own country? If Singaporeans take the way of democracy in US then Singapore will not survive for long. Mark my words.

    • Neither Red Guard Nor White Guard says:

      Do you even know what the real issue is? How do you define patriotism?
      Are you saying is ok for the national education to say “Love your CCP Party = Love your country (China)?!” In other words, if your children goes to school, and the textbooks say Love PAP = Love Singapore, you will gladly accept it wholesale?

      Pity is you!

  5. Pingback: Daily SG: 10 Sep 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  6. henry says:

    One very important difference between HKG & SIN is that of the composition of the populace.

    In SIN, we have a diverse mix of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. This alone will give cause to differing viewpoints about education or any other issue that we should be concerned about. The CPF affects everyone and everyone knows how best to use it, and they know there is nothing they can do about it.

    Unlike in HKG, the people are one in ethnicity, and they have people who are motivated to galvanise a larger section of the populace. Their cause is published in various newsletters, periodicals and broadcasts. It is impossible here. The internet offers a better alternative compared to 20 years ago, yet it does not move sufficient people. Credibility is a issue.

    We have bloggers writing about the CPF having no money, but none can explain it in simple words let alone present a pictorial flow chart of how money flows and is emptied out.
    Yes, the ISA plays a threatening role. No one wants to spend their lives in solitary confinement.
    No one wants their homes to be raided.

    We are very, very comfortable here, with our hawker centres, air-con shopping malls, aircon buses and trains, our maids to wash the car and look after our moms & dads and the dog too.
    And they know it

    We become aware only during elections, and they know that too, so a couple of tear drops and tweaks, all will remain, we return to our work, maids are there, tuition classes and the dog is still wagging its tail.

    The chosen one has yet to appear.

    • HK is a lot more diverse now than you think. There are lots of Filipinos, Indians and mainland Chinese, not to mention the ang-mohs and some Indonesians and Africans.

      Actually ISA is a mis-apprehension. The Govt hasn’t arrested any demonstrators under ISA for more than 30 years now. Even our SDP protestors were arrested and charged with public order and public entertainment offences. Which perhaps is a sign of the times, that this govt does not want to be seen using a sledgehammer against non-violent protestors or political opponents.

      Nevertheless, old fears die hard, and people still breathe ISA under their breaths.

    • just me says:

      I believe the Hong Kong Cantonese are more gutsy by nature compared to the other dialect groups. They are socially more cohesive too.

  7. HUP says:

    LKY Interview @ 15:30s : “…I get a lot of demonstrations in students are quite rumbustious or spirited lot.. and I think they ought to be otherwise there is very little future for Singapore…Is a young community…and the young must be idealistic…they want the world to be more end of day decisions have to made by adults, not teenagers…. made in such a way when teenagers became adults, they look back and will be proud of the generations before them..”

    Few years later he locked, exiled or bankrupted most political dissidents, and shut off the assembly door and threw away the key. Looking back today, I can categorically say I am NOT proud of the generations before me who has allowed that to happen.

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