About Speakers' Corner: I-S magazine' Interview Q & A
I-S Magazine 9.Jan.2009 Issue on Speakers' Corner
I would just post out the Q & A of that actual interview, because some illustrations and points are what I would like to have on this blog although they were originally written for that interview instead of this blog. I think I should also blog on the Speakers' Corner's issues. :-) I am doing cut & paste from email, so that I won't have to type everything again.
-----------1. How can Speakers' Corner (given its recent revamp to include public demonstrations) help with freedom of speech in Singapore?
Activists and potential activists now have SAFE space to sharpen their skills, enhance their capabilities and prepare themselves. Speakers Corner serve as their Training Ground. When they reached higher level they will be ready for stronger challenges outside the boundaries of that LITTLE CORNER. :-) That is how I recommend people to take advantage of Speakers Corner.2. What are your own views on the new, "relaxed" Speakers' Corner?
It did helped I must say. But the space for free speech provided is far from sufficient.
What was "Provided" was actually what the activists had WON by fighting against the authoritarian regime. As it is still insufficient, the fight MUST CONTINUE ON.
What was won by the people had been utilized by many groups including "rights for maids" and "rights for bond investors" etc etc. The people had obviously enjoy the liberation which was fought and won by activists confronting and embarrassing the authoritarians.3. In your opinion, why aren't more Singaporeans making use of this space (and opportunity) to voice their concerns?
It reflected the apathy and lack of motivation of the people indeed.
I can not use the example of birds released from cages after long lost of freedom can not immediately fly. The example is NOT suitable because the Speakers' Corner is indeed a tiny space in Singapore which is more Like A Cage Itself then anything else. The entire restrictive environment in Singapore against freedom of speech is to be liken to the Waterfall Aviary of Jurong Bird Park. The Singaporean people liken to the captive birds in that Waterfall Aviary. Now if you then built another tiny cage within the Waterfall Aviary, and named it the FREEDOM FLYING CORNER, and instruct the birds that they could have their own freedom to fly if they first shut themselves inside this FREEDOM FLYING CORNER.... you will see the reason why not many birds will get in this new cage called FREEDOM FLYING CORNER which is within the entire restrictive environment of Singapore liken to the entire Waterfall Aviary.
In my opinion, the Singaporean people well recognized the fact that they still live within the confines of this restrictive & protective regime, liken to the birds within the Waterfall Aviary, therefore creating yet another boundary defining a tiny space to offer limited freedom, does not really help nor motivate the people to develop skills and ability to exercise such freedom that the overall long term restriction had prevented them to exercise. What is the point for birds to exercise flying within a smaller cage which is within yet another larger aviary which still deprive their freedom (of speech).
I bet those who tried to speak for their 1st time at Speakers' Corner felt like an animal test subject in some kind of speech test lab being part of an experimental program to be observed and recorded as results for some studies. :-) Because climate within the tiny Speakers' Corner is so artificial and unnatural and indeed awkward in the closed and restrictive environment of Singapore, the speakers know that they are not outside Singapore, they are fully aware of the Waterfall Aviary enclosure still outside Speakers' Corner enclosing that tiny unique space. THE FREEDOM ISN'T REALLY THERE for them to exercise and enjoy! The people rather exercise their REAL freedom of speech when their are OUTSIDE Singapore, I personally know of such people.
For those who are familiar with Singapore's prisons, they will know that the prisoners have 1 hour of YARD TIME each day during which they have more freedom than other times when they were in their cells. However most prisoners still will not exercise too much during their Yard Time, because they still know that they are within the prison environment. They rather wait till they are out of prison to exercise themselves and enjoy their REAL UNRESTRICTED FREEDOM. The Speakers' Corner is comparable to the Yard Time, the entire Singapore comparable to the whole prison in this 2nd example.
:-) At the very beginning of my answer I wrote: the apathy and lack of motivation of the people, in the examples I illustrated and explained why the apathy & de-motivation.
4. What would you like to see taking place at Speakers' Corner?
I like to see the regime show some sincerity about Speaker Corner:
- Provide the stage for the speakers.
- Provide the proper ground for the audience.
- Provide the roof for both the aboves.And indeed they don't have to construct. The original stage of Hong Lim Park is already there, but the regime had given it to PA instead of letting it become part of Speakers' Corner. I want to ask why the regime don't let National Parks take over the entire CC from PA instead? They have the funds to build the CC at other locations. Let Park rangers use the CC's office, and accept registration to book and use the stage.
I am aware that PA or the management of CC asked for S$5000 per night for the use of that stage, this is the figure when I did the last check.
- I would like to see large events be held there at Speakers' Corner.
- I would like to see the word CORNER removed from it name. Rename it Hong Lim Park for People's Free Speech or something like that. :-) 芳林自由演讲公园。
- Let some other rooms in the CC's building become in-door seminar rooms for people to book & use. The N-Parks currently have such rooms at Alexandra Road's Hort Park. Why not also make Hong Lim one?