The-demonstration-that-wasn’t-to-be attracted the press and police only. Plus a handful of pigeons.
By Belmont Lay
If it was meant to be a real protest, Occupy Raffles Place failed.
And if it was meant to be a prank, it succeeded. But only marginally.
What started out as a small movement by a band of supposedly impoverished protesters that turned into a wave of leaderless demonstrations across the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, has descended into nothingness and abject folly here in sunny Singapore.
The only attendees who showed up? About five members of the press, one police truck, a couple of police, a red riot truck (someone claimed to have seen it but I didn’t) and a handful of pigeons.
Supposedly meant to be a decentralised demonstration on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m., the eventual number of protesters who turned up – based on a rough estimate of eye witness accounts – is somewhere between zero and nothing.
There is, very unfortunately, nothing to report because nothing happened.
(Update: Lee Kin Mun, aka Mr Brown, posted a message on Occupy Singapore Facebook page at 9.36 a.m. on Oct. 16, saying: “Actually, most blame the organizers who didn’t even have the balls to reveal themselves to the media.”)
But if you really had to know, the Today newspaper cameraman is a hoot to talk to, I had a minty apple mojito while waiting for no one in particular to show up and I ran away from The Online Citizen’s chief-of-staff Joshua Chiang when I saw him.
Nevertheless, there are three lessons that can be learnt from this episode.
Primo: The authorities are availing themselves to pranksters.
Anyone these days can put the authorities on high alert. Because the authorities are highly paranoid, you can actually set up a Facebook page and say you want to protest in 20 locations in north, south, east, west and central areas and you’ll ruin half the weekend of about half the police force and another half of SPH’s staff.
Secundo: No leader? I’m sorry, but no deal. Not because Singaporeans need to receive clear and concise instructions top-down.
No, no. Singaporeans just require a leader because that will be the designated fall guy.
Tertio: It is pointless telling Singaporeans they are part of “the 99 percent“.
You see, Singaporeans don’t subscribe to herd mentality.
We have been taught since young, through consumerism, that we are all unique, special individuals, unlike even our closest peers in thought and character.
Kind of like how snow flakes are unique.
We uphold this belief that we are different from one another to the extent we mark out and signal our individuality with the latest iPhone, iPad, Nike shoes, Uniqlo shirt, Prada wallet, Abercrombie & Fitch jeans…
…until we are all actually quite alike.
Ok, sorry about that, but make that two lessons that we can learn from this episode.