Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hyde Park copycats? Not even close!

I nearly fell off my chair when our dear VVP proposed forming "speaker's corner" similar to Hyde Park. It was a weird sense of deja vu... one that punches you right between the eyes and makes you reel back and collapse in tears of mocking laughter. It's almost sarcastic.

There are a few things Singapore has in common with Russia--most of which I celebrate and try to share the joy with my fellow citizens. But this Hyde Park thing isn't one of them.

Really, it isn't.

Singapore didn't only attempt--it really went and do it. In 2000, the government marked out a space in Hong Lim Park for a so-called "speakers' corner". They erected a signboard with the exact words, "Speaker's Corner", just in case people didn't know what that empty patch of grass was for.

Well, we still don't know what it's for.

We thought that anyone was supposedly allow to bring a soap box, stand on it, and complain about the ruling party and government.

Or so we hoped.

When it was first opened, there were some rules which basically killed Speakers' Corner at its infancy. Yes, soap box (stool/chair usually) was Bring-Your-Own and nobody complains, but you had to let the police know that you were going to hold a speech.

And there are more rules... no discussion racial or religious topics which may cause any bit of ill will, and anything said is subject to existing defamation and sedition laws.

Fortunately, after several years of chirping cicadas and crickets, the government decided to make new rules and forgo the police permit requirement... and...

...oh, I forgot, they still required speakers to register on the National Parks Board. And you have to tell them the topic you are going to speak about. And oh, they also installed a new CCTV in 2009.

And they wonder why the only living things at Hong Lim Park are insects, birds and silent people.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, you know how much Russians love to debate. They love arguing about everything. Especially politics. They aren't afraid of walking out the streets to speak out. They'd risk their lives for the ideals. Maybe your idea of a Russian Speaker's Corner isn't a bad idea. But please, for the love of god, don't do what Singapore did.

I'm not sure what he'll come up with next; it's not finished yet. Not the campaigning, nor the painting. Today, I worked on the eyebrows. Yup, he may have raised a few himself.

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