Crowd control at Kuan Yim Temple

Posted on 03 February 2011

“Hundreds and thousands” line up at Waterloo Street temple for CNY prayers
by Fang Shihan, who was queueing and got bored.

The crowd only set in after noon, but the barricades had been up since midnight on the eve of Chinese New Year. According to a Cisco guard on duty, “hundreds and thousands” of the annual-faithful patiently queued up outside the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple at Waterloo street, waiting for their turn to offer prayers.

There were surprisingly no casualties despite the crush of people and the crowd was a relatively peaceful one with minimal shoving involved.

Dotting the throng of devotees were largely unlicensed streets vendors selling ‘upsized’ incense sticks. Inflation had apparently affected profit margins this year. While the incense was selling at 3 for $1 last year, costs had pushed the price to $2 this year.

According to one vendor from Malaysia, profits ranged between $200 and $1000, after paying off fines for unlicensed hawking. A first time offender would be charged $400 and a second time offender, $450. She reckons that most vendors live around Waterloo Street and says that foreigners are not allowed to set up shop in the area.

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  • terence

    u pray?

  • http://newnation.sg Shihan

    I pantang. After losing my wallet and hp in 2 weeks, I figured some superstition wouldn’t do any harm.

  • Belmont Lay

    You should read Richard Dawkins.

  • http://newnation.sg Shihan

    Read him. Found him as bad as the Christian evangelicals. If you think about it, atheism’s just another monotheistic religion innit?

  • Belmont Lay

    NO! That is a common misconception. Dawkins is at least willing to say that his beliefs can be wrong in the face of new evidence. Religion cannot. And that makes a world of difference.

  • sh

    Evidence as defined narrowly in scientific proof. What I mean though, is his insistence that bringing up your children with religion is tantamount to torture.

  • Belmont Lay

    It is hard to deny that children have not been subjected to physical or mental abuse under the auspices of guardians who are deemed religious. I think that is his point. Under Catholicism, it has almost become institutionalised.

  • http://newnation.sg Shihan

    Hey did you just do a double negative?

    So it’s easy to deny that children have been subjected to physical and mental abuse under the auspices of guardians who are deemed religious?

    Anyhow, I thought Dawkins really was just referring to bible thumpers. It’s not fair to condemn, for example, the founders of missionary-led schools in Singapore (ACS, SJI, St Nicks, Catholic JC etc) as people with a mission to abuse little children by subjecting them to prayers every morning. Another better example would be temples that give out free lunches to lower-income kids attending prayer sessions. Unless you’re saying that the temple simultaneously abuses the kids and feeds them.

  • Belmont Lay

    The double negative used in this particular argument is a rhetorical device.

    Because if my sentence was originally stated as: “It’s easy to deny that children have been subjected to physical and mental abuse under the auspices of guardians who are deemed religious.”

    … it will be foolhardy to make such a statement in the first place, precisely because the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming in the case of children, particularly boys, having been abused by Catholic priests (to take just one vivid illustration).

    And to prove that I am fat-headed and opinionated, let me move your argument one step back by first invoking a question: Where did the money for feeding kids (or adults) at a temple come from? From other people, right?

    Sure, feeding people in the name of religious good deeds is not abuse. But the money spent to erect the edifice of institutionalised religion (say, a well proper temple, for example) could be used to feed more people at a time or feed people for a longer period of time.

    What religion can do, a non-profit can do too, or better. Without invoking the need to do god’s work or good work for god.

  • terence

    I think we forget that churches and temples are first of all places for like-minded folks to gather and pray and propagate religious beliefs.

    Good works come after.

    That said, I don’t see why millions of dollars should be spent on state-of-the-art monuments just to make a statement. Religious orgs, in my opinion, are best kept small, loose, and fluid, so as to prevent institutionalisation and religious dogma from setting in.

    So that’s my insidious blueprint to start a new religion.

  • http://newnation.sg Shihan

    “religious orgs, in my opinion, are best kept small, loose, and fluid, so as to prevent institutionalisation and religious dogma from setting in.”

    Like terrorist cell groups? :):):)

  • Jeremy

    I like this discussion.