Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Do Good Interview: Let's Go to Speakers' Corner
Written by Low Lai Chow, on Saturday, 5 December 2009
Published in : Outreach, Community
Remember Speakers' Corner (SC) at The Hong Lim Park? Ever since the space was opened up to the public to make speechs, hold demonstrations and put up public performances and exhibitions nine years ago in 2000, SC has since been keeping a quiet profile as less and less people take to the spot to rant voice their thoughts.
One man, who prefers to call himself The Hong Lim Gardener (right), continues to support free speech in Singapore by maintaining an events calendar, Let's Go to Speakers' Corner, to keep Singaporeans in the loop on SC happenings.
Youth.SG: Why bother?
Hong Lim Gardener: Whether you regard the easing in restrictions for Speakers' Corner use as political generosity or tokenism, every channel of expression (political, artistic etc) has the potential to garner attention to issues and change public mindsets and perceptions. As such, every attempt at utilising these channels, no matter how trivial or grand, deserves some attention. Hence this blog was created to serve as a shared calendar of events at Hong Lim Park.
Who's behind this?
It's just me and everyone who cares to update me :)
Why the persona of 'The Hong Lim Gardener'? Is it a deliberate choice to be anonymous?
Yes it was. Who I am is not important. Such matters only serve to distract from what is important.
Who is the blog for?
This blog is for everyone and anyone. It is as much for the organisers of events at SC as it is for those who do not have a means to follow what's happening everyday.
How did you get started?
The easing of registration rules for use of SC has I feel greatly reduced the stigma of the “demonstration”. Having not to deal with the police has greatly shed its austere façade that probably would put off a lot of people.
Did you face any difficulties?
The blog is straightforward and nothing cutting edge in terms of design. My main difficulty would be keeping myself up to date on the latest happenings at SC. National Parks aren’t going to alert me I can guarantee you that. But it really makes you wonder doesn’t it? Why there is no published list of SC usage to be found on the net.
Have you ever contacted National Parks on that?
No i have not. But if they intended the list to be public they would have carried it on their own site.
How has Speakers' Corner changed since its first day?
I haven’t been around long enough to comment meaningfully.
I'm sure you have met the speakers and organisers from Speaker's Corner events. What type of person does it take to speak at Speakers' Corner?
It takes someone courageous or just completely mad. And quite frankly, the two extremes are typical character types of SC speakers. An SC speech is daunting as you are virtually standing there naked and shouting over traffic noises to be heard. Stage presence is therefore key.
You may close the blog in a few months' time as you are receiving very little event notifications. Why do you think Speakers' Corner events are dwindling?
There was a natural spike in usage following the relaxation of usage terms. The global financial crisis and ultimate failure of structured products around the world as brought much focus on SC thanks to Tan Kin Lian. It really proves that SC still has a purpose even in this digital age of social networks and private interest groups. It is just like how we are now witnessing a revival in the concert scene. Digitalisation of music and its ubiquitous availability online forced artists to pay more attention to alternative revenue models. Demonstrations at SC are similar. You can never have a virtual protest that carries the power and verve. Yes there has been a steady decline in its use, but that does not mean it is dead and obsolete. Like all good things, they never go out of style.
Success for this blog is that it eventually becomes sustained by the community and not by me. LCL
Access SC events calendar Let's Go to Speakers' Corner here. Find out more about The Hong Lim Park and the nittygritties on how to register as a speaker at its official Nparks home.
Lai Chow is the editor of Youth.SG. She is often mistaken for a man, 'nuff said.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Hong Lim food centre to relocate to Speakers’ Corner
Singapore’s Speakers’ Corner will be more boisterous in the next few months not because there will be more Singaporeans speaking there, but due to the relocation of the nearby Hong Lim Food Centre in Upper Cross Street which will be closed for a facelift in March next year.
NEA said that “activities” at Speakers’ Corner will not be affected by the market’s move. Its boundaries will be “redrawn” next month.
Modeled after London’s Hyde Park, the Speakers’ Corner is the only place in Singapore where citizens can lawfully gather, speak and protest.
The ruling party decided to “relax” the rules last year to counter the civil disobedience movement launched by opposition groups such as the Singapore Democratic Party.
However, police installed CCTVs a few months ago at its premises purportedly for reasons of “public safety and security”.
Since then, the number of events at Hong Lim Park had dwindled as well as the participants.
A minibond rally called by former NTUC INCOME Mr Tan Kin Lian drew a paltry crowd of less than 200 while the usual attendance is twice the number.
Mr Tan still holds the record for the most number of rallies held at Hong Lim Park by a single person and number of participants with one rally attracting more than a thousand people.
Despite much fanfare, the authorities had ignored the hustlings at the rallies which have since fizzled out with some minibond holders remain uncompensated by the financial institutions.
The usefulness of Hong Lim Park to advance the political awareness and maturity of ordinary Singaporeans is very much limited by the general apathy pervailing the nation.
While there is much resentment and disgruntlement on the ground over some of the government’s policies such as its liberal immigration policy, the grousings are confined strictly to cyberspace.
Nobody has dared to step forward to organize rallies at Hong Lim Park to protest against the government openly in public.
The park is almost always deserted during the weekdays while it is used by the nearby Kreta Ayer Community Club for its activities on the weekends.
The three opposition MPs in parliament have been most reluctant to use the park to further their political agenda, preferring to make token speeches with little or no impact in parliament.
Speeches made there by some leaders like the Reform Party’s Kenneth Jeyaretnam during National Day attracted a small crowd of less than hundred people and usually the same familiar faces.
Ironically, Speakers’ Corner will see an increase in the crowd now with the relocation of a Food Centre there.
For most Singaporeans, food is still their primary obsession and interest rather than their civil and political rights if they are even aware of their existence in the first place.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
27 Napier Road
Main Tel. No: (65) 6476-9100
Main Fax No: (65) 6476-9340
As you grace our country with your presence during these APEC meetings, we beseech you to take some time off your meeting schedule to meet with MAS Chariman Goh Chok Tong, Finance Minister Tharman and bank CEOs to discuss compensation measures for minibond holders and investors that have lost entire life savings due to your predecessor’s failure to bailout Lehman Brothers in 2008.
A total of S$375 million (US$258 million) worth of Lehman-linked structured products was sold to 8,000 retail investors who did not have the financial acumen to understand the risks of these complicated products. The total number of structured products, which value evaporated overnight, is closer to S$500 Million. Our misplaced faith in the US banking and financial regulatory system, together with predatory sales tactics, had left us exposed to the whims and fancies of ruthless bankers and the former Treasury Sec. Hank Paulson.
Minibonds investors in Singapore have been filing complaints and lawsuits against various financial institutions, but many lack the resources to proceed with the lengthy and costly litigation process.
The spillover damage has also been hefty. Eight town councils in Singapore – institutions entrusted with funds meant for the maintenance and running of Public Housing facilities – had about S$16 million invested in troubled structured products.
The effort of some (e.g. Great Eastern Life) to redeem the original capital injection value of these products is but a drop of water in an ocean of judiciary irresponsibility. While three of the US biggest banks have exited the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) – a fund meant to save financial institutions from collapse – and handed out US$29.7 billion in bonuses, Singaporean investors are left wondering where was the Lehman Brothers Rescue?
Here in Singapore, investors holding credit-linked notes linked to Lehman Brothers had received no coupon payments (as of Oct this year) toward the end of the grace period. Yet another event of default as US banks trade TARP funds for bonuses.
Many people have the mistaken impression that investors have been assisted by the Singapore to get a fair compensation. This is the impression is forged by the streams of feel good press statements that misguide the uninformed reader.
The truth is, Singaporean investors have been shortchanged. Less than 20% has been compensated, while our neighbours in Hong Kong and Taiwan are getting more headway as 777 Singaporean investors continue to be ignored by Prime Minister Lee who declined to meet the investors or to delegate his officials to resolve this issue. Not much else has transpired as Singaporeans are ignorant of their human or contractual rights and unable to seek redress outside of governmental assistance due to years of a nanny state under the Lees.
Former CEO of NTUC INCOME Mr Tan Kin Lian had been an earlier crusader for our rights and we thank him for it. It heartens me that our plight is not forgotten and that Mr Yap Keng Ho is reigniting the spirit of justice.
A few affected investors and I are standing behind Mr Yap’s open call for resolution and invitation to gather at Speakers’ Corner. In the spirit of American’s 1st amendment, we will gather at Hong Lim Park and make our demands heard. Demands that the US be held culpable for its fair share in this debacle.
Mr President, Although you did not preside over this debacle, the current injustice is within your reach to fix.
Lehman Bonds' victims must use Obama this week to make demands
Minibond & other Lehman victims should Demand Obama to RePAY during APEC
Yes! I am calling on the minibond victims & other victims to get organized and protest at Speakers Corner where you can conduct demonstration lawfully. :-) Demand Obama to Repay You, yes with US tax payers' funds and not SGP tax payers funds.
I had disagreed to have Singaporean tax payers fund or SGP public funds or SGP Banks' funds to be scooped out to repay you. This is unfair for Singaporean public interest and not their fault at all. It is bank & MAS & Minister of Finance's fault (*** Loong Son).
Your money was sucked to the USA by Wall Street Scum Lehmen Bros. The USA should be made responsible to compensate you. You should list US secretary of finance & Obama as defendant if you want to file class action lawsuit - my suggestion.
When Obama found that your angers are against him, then he will check with famiLEE LEEgime officially to find out that you had been treated so unfairly. :-)
You have to push Obama because he can kick the famiLEE LEEgime for you, if there is a person that can do it for you, it would be Obama, not that I need to flatter him at all. That's the basic strategy I am offering you, you have a chance this week to exploit Obama.
Do it within the next few days!
08 November 2009
Dear Yap Keng Ho
REGISTRATION FOR USAGE/ACTIVITY AT SPEAKERS’ CORNER
BOOKING ID: DM-08112009-2
DATE: 08/11/2009 to 20/11/2009
EVENT TYPE: Demonstration
Your application has been successfully registered.
We seek your kind cooperation in helping to keep Hong Lim Park litter-free.
Please print this page as proof of your registration and bring it on the day of your activity.
National Parks Board
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Organiser: Pink Dot SG
Date: 16 May 2009
What to wear: Pink (Caps, hats, glasses, sunglasses and accessories are recommended)
What to bring: Anyone who supports the freedom of LGBT Singaporeans to love
What to expect: Pink balloons will be given to early birds; the human pink dot will be formed by around 5 pm and a photograph will be taken from a vantage point nearby.
To pledge you attendence, please click here
For updates, please join Pink Dot Sg on Facebook
For queries, please email email@example.com
Monday, April 13, 2009
Venue: Hong Lim Park (Speakers' Corner) map
Time: Saturday, 2pm – 5pm
Why should you care that over one million sharks were killed last year alone for the sake of shark fin soup? Because this is not just about sharks.
When sharks die, the oceans die.
Latest research shows that when sharks are removed from the ecosystem, the entire marine food chain starts to collapse, and takes with it the food resources on which large populations of humans depend.
It all happens under the surface and out of sight, so we never get to see it. But now we can.
A ‘first-of-its-kind' ACRES Event.
Join ACRES for a revealing display of the devastating domino effect caused by the disappearance of sharks.
This event to launch ACRES' campaign against shark fin soup will be held at Hong Lim Park (Speaker's Corner) on 18 April 2009 from 2pm to 4pm .
It is a unique opportunity for animal lovers to show their support for the thousands of creatures threatened by the soup.
Why you need to be there.
If you have ever eaten shark fin, please come and discover why the practice is so destructive.
If you love nature and the earth, please come learn about this catastrophe under the sea.
Even if you couldn't care less about sharks or nature, please come find out how this will change your life. Because like it or not, all of us are eventually going to pay the price for Asia 's ravenous indulgence in this soup.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The National Solidarity Party cordially invites you and your news team to attand our first major political outreach of the year.
TOPICS: NSP's impression of the 2009 Budget & Suggestions for the improvement of political space in Singapore. Note That food and drink will be provided.
For more detail feel free to contact us at 8382 3961 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more detail.
The Speakers include its president, Mr Sebastian Teo, and former NCMP Steve Chia.
The event begins at 6.30pm and is scheduled to end at 8.30PM this Friday (23 Jan) at Hong Lim Park.
The list of speakers is as follows:
Steve Chia Kiah Hong
Yip Yew Weng
Ng E Jay
Seelan s/o Palay