Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Keeping Occupied

With the Occupy Wall Street protesters figuring prominently in the news it comes as no surprise to learn that there are copycat demonstrations springing up like mushrooms.

While their concerns may be commendable, if not a little diverse, the enthusiasm does not necessarily translate from country to county.

In New Zealand notice has been given of a similar mass protest and one can expect the usual rag-tag and die-hard protest movement supporters will turn up and try to turn the rally for their own political purposes.

As there are general elections next month the whole "Occupy Aotea Square" scenario smells suspiciously like a political party hijack attempt.

Facebook Page
But it is in my recent home of Singapore where the "Occupy Movement" has aroused the interest of the local constabulary but few others.

There is a Facebook Page that someone has put up but it has failed to mobilise the masses and motivate them sufficiently to assemble at Raffles Place.

As one Facebook contributor said "Instead of going to Raffles Place today, everyone went to #OccupyBenJerryChunkfest instead".  Given the Singaporean love of a good food event this is hardly surprising.

Not that the police are taking such incitement lightly as unauthorised public demonstrations are banned in the Republic.

"Police received reports that a netizen is instigating the public to stage a protest gathering at Raffles Place on Saturday, 15 October 2011 in support of a similar protest action in New York," police said in a statement.
Police urge members of the public not to be misled and participate in an unlawful activity."

So the "Occupy Raffles Place" was, to put it politely, a bit of a fizzer.  To quote Mr Brown " At Zero Hour zero turned up".

Zero Hour at Raffles Place with not an "Occupier" in sight
Photo by The Online Citizen
There were by all accounts a bevvy of waiting journalists but no protesters. According to a recent Reuters report covering this global movement against capitalist ethics or lack thereof, 'Singapore leads Asian reticence in denouncing corporate greed'.

The satirical Facebook site "Occupy Bishan MRT" is of far more interest to those of us who have braved the madding crowds at rush hour.  Parody or not, there is little humour to be had  in standing in the welter of humanity at such an hour.

When I worked at NUS I used to take the MRT from Queenstown each morning which was an education in itself.  I wrote several short observations about what I saw and felt while traveling  - Happy, Happy Talk & Terminal VelocitySudoku Man and Architectural Revelations and was even inspired to write a short poem on the subject.

Taking public transport in Singapore is still the best way to take the pulse of the nation and observe one's fellow citizens - and not banker in sight.

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