Speakers Corner under different management
Anwar Ibrahim is back with vengeance
Thailand in turmoil
It’s been a while since we had an interview. Let’s focus on the Speakers Corner which is currently a hot topic since it was first opened 8 years ago. How does the new change affect the public, if any now that Speakers Corner is no longer under Singapore Police Force (SPF) and you do not require a permit to speak or protest.
Let’s first review on the purpose of Speakers Corner which is to encourage greater freedom of speech and democracy so long as they do not touch on race or religion. So, right from the onset since the opening, there has been various individuals and organizations who have stepped forward to speak up. However, as much as freedom of speech is allowed in Singapore, political sensitivity is greatly encouraged. This means that you are not allowed to go against the Singapore government or express your unhappiness towards it even if you’re at a location that’s permitted. One of Singapore most notable opposition leader who has faced such flak is Dr Chee Soon Juan from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
He has been arrested for holding protests and expressing views that are neither racial nor religiously sensitive. In my opinion, now that the management of Speakers Corner has been passed to NParks, it does not change the role the SPF is playing. What it is merely doing is allowing citizens to feel less pressurized and allows citizens to conduct protests there NOT realizing that you are still under the watchful eyes of the Internal Security Department (ISD).
So, are you saying that ISD officers would still be lingering around there?
Yes. In fact, ISD officers will always be around locations where political sensitivity is bound to occur and Speakers Corner is one such location.
So, how can we identify them?
Identifying them is an uphill task because I have met ISD officers who look like your regular ah-pek enjoying his regular cup of coffee at those coffee houses dressed in shorts and singlet. You never know who is an ISD officer because they would first integrate into your community and gain your rapport so much so that you’d reveal plenty of secrets.
Okay, so what’s your last note on this one?
Do not trust anyone but yourself. Your new best friend could put you behind bars several feet underground away from sunlight with no right to the judicial system.
Let’s now move on to Regional news. Anwar Ibrahim won Permatang Pauh as predicted. How would you describe his entry back into Parliament and how would he move to the top?
Anwar Ibrahim’s win was definitely much cherished amidst the political activity surrounding him. Despite the sodomy charges laid out against him, the people of Permatang Pauh have stood by his words and given their vote to him. His winning margin is also astonishing as he trounced his Barisan Nasional candidate by more than 15,000 votes. This is more than the margin that Anwar’s wife, Dr Azizah had achieved.
His first day in Parliament was no doubt a big achievement for him having been kicked out close to 10 years ago. Now at 61 years old with a renewed energy with added vengeance, he will not let anyone stop him towards his drive towards the top. Based on what he did, I’m being judgmental here but I believe that he would attempt to do what Adolf Hitler did to rise to the top.
As we know from History, correct me if I’m wrong here but when Hitler first got into politics, his National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI) was a mere minority in parliament. However, by abandoning or rejecting parliament sessions and gaining enough majority numbers to swing to his side, he managed to force new elections. Each and everytime parliament went into session, he would boycott it to cause parliament to dissolve and go into elections. Eventually, NAZI gained enough majority votes to put him to power in parliament. I figure that this would be how Anwar is planning to take power in Malaysia.
Why do you say that?
Well, Anwar’s first day in Parliament and he already stormed out to create a scene. It is in protest against the bill that was being discussed which would not benefit him – the DNA Bill. Nonetheless, he did mention that he would take power on September 16, 2008. This is about 2 weeks from now. I am actually very excited over the expected outcome.
Yes, I’m sure everyone around the world is excited at the prospect of Anwar becoming the Prime Minister of Malaysia, a post he was so close to yet denied. On to our last topic, Thailand is facing yet another turmoil with PM Samak being accused of being Thaksin’s proxy. What are your comments on this.
It is very distressing to note that Thailand is once again in turmoil. Already, there’s one death and several injured from the clash between protestors and supporters of the government. It is beyond reasonable doubt that Samak is merely a proxy for Thaksin. Thaksin, is currently seeking political exile in Britain amidst calls for him to face corruption charges by the supreme court. Despite being aware that Thaksin is facing corruption charges, Samak had allowed him to leave the country. This is against normal judicial proceedings.
Government buildings have been occupied by activists who want Samak to step down. However, Samak has made it clear that he is refusing to buckle under pressure. With that, clashes have occurred leaving one dead and bringing Thailand back into a state of emergency. Samak has appointed the army to step in to handle this situation. Public gatherings have been banned and media reports have been curtailed to ensure that it does not cause further strife. There has also been further evidence by the Elections Committee which states that Samak’s party was guilty of vote buying in the November elections.
With all these turmoil happening, do you have anything else to add?
It is recommended that all plans to travel to Bangkok, Thailand are postponed for safety reasons. The situation there has deemed Thailand to be a location that should be avoided until public order is restored. Risking traveling there would mean that you may encounter potential flight delays and inability to fully enjoy a tourist experience there. However, if one still wishes to travel, it is recommended that they inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to traveling. This will ensure that the Singapore government is aware and would be able to fly you out or seek shelter for you should there be any emergencies.