I just want to share what an organized peaceful street protest looks like.
18-Dec-2012. We were on Vancouver, West side, waiting for the bus when this street protest passed by us. There was police at the start, middle and end to direct the traffic (and even on the opposite lanes). There was also a public transport police car at the end to ensure that the buses, although delayed with the reduced traffic speed, would keep-in-line for the safety of the protestors. It was a long procession (I think it stretched between 2-3 blocks), causing a huge jam along the normally busy West Broadway, Vancouver, from Heather St to Yew St (if I remember correctly).
A street protest to save Hotel Rainier,
a shelter for homeless women in DTES.
For those who would like to read more about the underlying trigger for the protest, Google for "missing women inquiry" and "serial killer Robert Pickton". Hotel Rainier was launched in 2009. I guess budget cuts are threatening its existence.
Of course, there were people who grumbled about the delay to bus services and the long time it took for them (trapped in the bus travelling behind the protestors) to arrive at their destinations. That said, the bulk of the complaints were related to the timing (pre-Christmas week), route (a road with busy traffic), size/method of the protest which contributed to the traffic jam. I guess implicitly, people recognized that although the issue (raised by the protestors) mainly affects the homeless poor females in DTES (Down-town East Side), it means that everyone shares the problem (or at least people had the decency to keep quiet otherwise).
Anyway, just a few thoughts with regards to what Singaporeans have surrendered over the years.
- The right to protest peacefully to bring attention to issues of widespread/public concern.
- The critical thinking faculty to recognize that "protest" does not equate "violence".
- The "helicopter vision" to recognize that problems of the "poor" are not just the responsibility of the underclass to "shape-up or ship-out", but each member of the society shares a responsibility in the laws (and politicians) we support.
Will Singaporeans, and thus Singapore, change for the better in 2013? Your bet is as good as mine. [Click here for a prediction that echos my sentiments.]