Calender of Events

Thursday, October 2, 2008

31 registrations at Speakers' Corner

If anyone has information on any of theses 31 registered events, please email me so that I can add them to the calender.

The attached report highlights that the demographic for attendees at speakers' corner events largely do not use the internet and get their information form the Mainstream media or through word-of-mouth.

Times are changing and I'm sure everyone is well aware of the benefits of using the Internet to spread information.

I hope this platform can help cross some of these informational divides. If successful, I will explore other means to keep interested parties informed of event changes in schedule.

31 registrations at Speakers' Corner one month after relaxed rules
01 October 2008 1746 hrs
SINGAPORE: It has been one month since rules were relaxed to allow public outdoor demonstrations at the Speakers' Corner and it seems the site, which is Singapore's version of London's Hyde Park, is seeing a little more activity.

Singapore's National Parks Board which took over the management of the Speakers' Corner from the Police said it received 31 registrations in September - of which 11 were indicated as public protests.

This is a far cry from the seven or so registrations received each month, over the past three years.

One group, called Hearers of Cries made history in Singapore on September 1. They were the first to hold a legal public outdoor demonstration here. Despite a brief appearance to raise awareness on the plight of abused maids, the group did manage to gain some exposure for its cause.

Some critics may want to see civil and political space in Singapore open up beyond the Speakers' Corner.

But this group said it's really up to Singaporeans to make Speaker's Corner a success.

Mike Goh, founder, Hearers of Cries, said: "We can complain that nobody goes there but if you really want to make it work, you can send an e-mail to inform your friends, relatives to lend support to go there or even advertise."

Observers said the new rules have given netizens a face.

Gillian Koh, senior research fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, said: “Now you can actually mobilise to make sure that there's an audience and that's what's different. Previously if you mobilised, it would be viewed as an illegal demonstration. Clearly the online activists are trying to see how they can make a real world impact.”

Speaking on the topic of Singapore's public transport system, bloggers of The Online Citizen - a socio-political website, attracted what could perhaps be one of the biggest crowds seen at the Speakers' Corner in recent years.

The website's editor Choo Zheng Xi said : "I think it's important for The Online Citizen not to barricade ourselves behind an online platform, but bring our discussions offline once in a while.

“Many of those we interacted with at the Speakers' Corner were passers-by or people who had heard of our event through the mainstream media or word of mouth, who actually don't use the internet. It's a different demographic out there."

“So perhaps the key is in Singaporeans taking full advantage of the liberalised rules.”

Before demonstrating, Singaporeans must register at the National Park's website at

And those who've done so said it was a breeze and they might even make a re-appearance at the site. Now the true measure of success for this space is how it will impact the lives of singaporeans.

Observers said this should be a space where people can voice issues and educate fellow Singaporeans to make some real-world impact. - CNA/vm

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