I was pleasantly surprised and amused to read about the “White elephant protest” (I wouldn’t even hazard to call it a demonstation though it was illegal since it exceeded the limit of five) in the news last week. What struck me initially was how clever the whole incident was and what it was trying to prove. Basically it was a reflection of how useless the Buangkok Station was being closed. For a more in-depth, tongue-in-cheek analysis of the whole incident read Why EIGHT DIFFERENT Elephants? My Take on it! .
Reading the article Why the white elephant rumpus? by My Lim Boon Hee and Mr Khoo Lih-Han, I am very happy to note that there are others who share the same sentiments as I am. That it was above all a means of political protest. I would even venture to say a more daring one, something that is within the political boundaries of the limited political space we have in our country today. Since after all, the four men legal demonstation in front of the CPF building a few weeks ago overstepped some boundaries and was met with a dozen riot police!
“To me, these eight white elephants served merely as a visual form of feedback to the Government with the Buangkok station, scheduled originally to open two years ago, still not open.”
What is wrong with this kind of protest, that it warrants a police investigation? Is it a form of vandalism? But I see not defacement of public spaces! (Such cardboard elephants can be easily moved to a more convenient location, maybe in MP office itself to remind him how many residents are disappointed with the closure of the station.)
“Did the cardboard figures obstruct the view from their homes or hinder traffic, or did the dazzling whiteness cause so much eye-glare that their children could not concentrate on their studies? Should we go around filing police reports over every single out-of-place potted plant, upside-down national flag or even cardboard cows springing up all over Singapore?”
This is the level of sheer craziness of the Singapore population. Retrenchment! More employment. GST Increase! More discounts and sales. Eight White Elephants placed in front of Buangkok Station! Take it Down! Take it Down! Take it Down!
“Yet, a peaceful and innovative form of expression by ordinary residents — the infamous “white elephants” at Buangkok — is the subject of police investigation, after a report lodged by a law-abiding citizen who hates those who do not abide by the laws.”
I wonder who that “law-abiding person” is. If I see that person, I will flash my very own HUGE MAN SIZE cut out of a white elephant in his face and see how he reacts. Sheech. The level of civic-mindedness in Singapore.
“I am sure we do not want the world to know that we do not have a sense of humour, or that our laws forbid us any form at all of peaceful expression.”
How true is that. It is sad that we are reduced to having our political space down to a silent protest through cardboard elephants. Truly effective but highly useless. After all, are we expecting any government response to this? I hope so. But my cynicism says otherwise.
[Postscript: Apparently The Singapore Chinese Daily ran an analysis of the incident, and this was highlighted by an entry which I cam across in entitled, The Anatomy of White Elephants. Apparently the police report was made since the “White elephant protest” went against the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act which I found highly suspicious because how can placing eight white elephants at an LRT sstation constitute any form of public entertainment, unless such elephant cardboard cutouts are able to moonwalk in the station or sing ‘Yesterday’ to unsuspecting passers-by. And to assume that an opposition did it would be extremely hilarious! I can just imagine one of the opposition members sneakily walking up to the station in the middle of the night putting up the eight cardboard elephants for the purposes of political protest.]