JOHN WONG: Holding a carnival at Speaker’s Corner, coincidentally during the period where a series of Return Our CPF protests have been planned — was YMCA gearing up for the clash we’ve seen, with the poor, unsuspecting children as cannon fodder?
It’s easy for those who weren’t at Speaker’s Corner on Saturday (Sept 27) to slam the Return Our CPF protestors. A picture paints a thousand words, and the pictures which emerged from the day paint the protestors in a very bad light.
The story we’ve been fed through the mass media, the story about “heckling”, that’s half the story. The other half of the “heckling” has been conveniently buried. Looking at the day’s turn of events in context, many questions arise as to whether YMCA chose to hold their carnival at Speaker’s Corner to disrupt the Return Our CPF protests.
Let’s look at factors at play:
Speaker’s Corner was designed to be an avenue for people to voice their opinion on socio-political issues. This was what the government had in mind for the area — a place where thought could be expressed, and perhaps, contained. It isn’t meant to be a fairground for Uncle Ringo and the likes.
There’s a host of other locations which could have been used to organise the Proms@thePark. We’ve the sprawling greenery of MacRitchie, Community Clubs which offer shelter from the blistering afternoon sun, and welfare homes or school buildings which offer amenities and familiarity. Instead, a park devoid of all these was chosen.
The YMCA carnival was a closed event. Members of the public, whether locals or tourists who wanted to take part in the fun and games were told they could not do so. Why then, the need to hold the carnival in a central location when the intention isn’t to attract participation?
Let’s give the YMCA the benefit of the doubt. After all, it is meant to be a non-partisan organisation. But this protest will cast a shadow over exactly how non-partisan it is, or is believed to be.
This commentary was written by Redwire Times Singapore Editor John Wong.
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