Here is what I have to say about hecklegate (as some bloggers so aptly put it):
1. Not happy with protest does not equal pro-PAP
Just because someone gets pissed off with or disagrees with RN and HHH and #ReturnOurCPF protest because of the perceived heckling during a charity event, doesn’t make them a PAP lackey or sympathizer. Even if they are just pissed off with the protest itself without the incident, it still doesn’t make them pro-PAP. There are many reasons why people don’t agree with the protest, even though they may agree with some of the issues with our CPF and even the proposed solutions. I find it astounding (but not surprising) how some immature folks can draw such conclusions just because one dislike what happened.
2. RN and HHH are not malicious, naïve and paranoid maybe, but not malicious for sure
On the other end of the spectrum, some folks used the children as collateral damage to re-enforces their view that RN and HHH are malicious and evil and deserves time in netherland. What is malicious, to me, was the initial video segment which was cut just enough to give an impression that the protesters were “heckling” the children. Was the intention of the original poster to tell the whole truth or to deceivingly manufacture anger and dislike against the protesters? How the incident was managed betrays the naivety and lack of PR skills of RN and HHH as social activitists but I see nothing malicious in their actions. You must remember the PAP used to remind us that supporting the opposition is like wanting Singapore to fall into civil war and a lot of us bought that for a long time.
Also, this was a protest and what do you expect but some angry folks and those who feels unheard would’ve attended. Just because some protesters hurl vulgarities and were rude it doesn’t invalidate the protest nor RN or HHH. This is like saying because your brother was a reckless driver and killed somebody, you, your family and parents are reckless drivers too and will kill somebody in the future and so should be jailed together to avoid it coming true.
3. Thou shalt not disrupt other people’s events, it’s just shouldn’t be done
Me thinks that it is simply inexperience and naivety of RN and HHH as social activists to think that protesting in front the guest-of-honor Teo Ser Luck will help them achieve anything or even get him to commit to any changes. I have seen the photos of how close the mount where the protest was held to where the YMCA tents were and, honestly, to have two events so close to each other is disaster, which is probably why someone tried to get them moved to a further corner. But, whatever anger the protestors have with the authorities and government, I really think that one should not march through another’S events even if this could be a PAP event and you have the right to do so.
4. If PAP could conspire to manufacture all these, they are really genius
Look, the fact is that all of our Ministers are from PAP because we are not a coalition government. Naturally, when you want to invite a Minister to grace your event, it will be a PAP member, but that doesn’t make it a PAP event. Duh! And to think that PAP would conspire with YMCA to create an event to purposely discredit RN and HHH is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. The amount of coordination and agreement with YMCA management and the precision to create the conspire on time is just not worth it and may backfire on YMCA; only the Malaysian government during the last election, getting migrant workers to vote in droves, could have done so and it is because the whole system so corrupted.
5. How PAP instill paranoid and fear…
One thing the people have not talked about is how action by the powers-to-be could instill paranoid and fear into social activists, such that you will find road blocks and frustration everywhere you turn. In most cases, it will be someone who knows someone (or someone’s someone) in power who asked you to stop or advise an organization to stop supporting a cause or a person. It is so obscure that you cannot accuse the main actor directly but it is enough to put fear into a person or organization that they will stop what they are doing. Those who went through such episodes and does not have the experience to deal with it, can be unsettled by it and anything related to PAP from then on is a suspicious matter.
In my formative years, I have personally experienced religious organisations being told by intermediaries to stop support for gay people. A foreign financial firm was told point blank to stop their LGBT recruitment programs in Singapore via threats of loosing business. Sometime later, I also got to know that my email is monitored by ISD and is probably still being done. In the earlier years of PLU forum meetings (which I was not part of yet), characters will be hanging around parked cars outside the meeting area or even try to join it. When Indignation programs first were launched, shady characters will be present. All these are part of the surveillance, but it also creates fear and paranoia enough that some people will be too scared to attend or even get worried about their families. One of my friends deleted all his emails because he was too worried that someone will burst into his house. Others are so worried that they are afraid to be seen or heard with you.
An incident at HPL long ago illustrates this point well. I was at HPL to support Chee Soon Chuan’s protests with another friend. After we were done chatting, we walked to a coffee shop at boat quay. When we sat down, I noticed two guys walking towards our seats and asked if they could sit at the empty seats and I invited them to take a seat. Being pretty experienced by then, I already knew what these two boys were up to; my friend on the other hand was infuriated. You see, these two chaps identified themselves as police officers and demanded to know why we were there and to look at our particulars. I have no issues with that because ISD already have my particulars and I just told them why we are there for. But my dear pissed off friend was just commenting how bad the police are for threatening good citizens and working for the PAP ad trying to scare people from demanding more freedom. But good for him, he made so much noise, that the two poor chaps who was just doing a duty didn’t know what to do and didn’t stay long. This is how fear and paranoia is still being instilled.
So, I am not least surprise as why they might have insisting on parading through the tents and why they thought confronting a Minister directly would help their cause. When you see everything as a PAP roadblock and you feel defenseless, fighting back is the only instinct. These are growing pains as a social activists in Singapore, learn fast and hopefully have a wonderful journey.