But the Substation is indoors

The police implied that such cause-related events can be held indoors. I presume the rationale for holding such events which are prone to riots in the eyes of the police is that any supposed riot can be contained and controlled if it occurs indoors.

For a nervous police with zero experience in handling peaceful street protests let alone street demonstrations that turn bad, I can see that indoor cause-related events (we shouldn’t use the word ‘protest’ or else the MIW would get agitated) are a concession, an attempt, however small, at accommodation. I understand and accept the bureaucratic logic of taking things one step at a time.

But the Substation is indoors in a way the last I checked – there are walls and exits, the area is contained. It is just that it is open-air. Why is it still a no?

No police permit for ‘Peace Concert for Burma’ at Timbre
Tuesday • October 16, 2007
Ansley Ng and Christopher Toh

It would have been like any other night at this alfresco bar and bistro known for its live performances: Local bands playing cover hits and original songs.

Except that tonight, candles would have been lit and a moment of silence respected — in a show of support for the people in Myanmar.

But the “Peace Concert for Burma”, co-organised by arts centre The Substation and Timbre (picture), the bar adjacent to it, will not go ahead as planned. The police have said no to the three-hour gig.

Responding to queries from Today, a police spokesman said: “The organiser was advised by Police to hold the concert indoors. Political and ’cause’-related events are assessed to have a higher potential to stir emotions and controversy; an outdoor concert may lead to law and order concerns.”

The Substation had contacted the authorities last week for permission to hold the concert and informed them of the programme.

Mr Lee Weng Choy, The Substation’s artistic co-director, informed them there would be no “banners and speeches” and submitted the identity card numbers and nationalities of the musicians — and the songs they would play, which were mostly covers of groups such as U2, Oasis, Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

“Our policy at The Substation is whenever we do something that we know is somewhat controversial, we push as much as we want but we also tell people exactly what we want to do,” he said.

The police then told the organisers yesterday that the event could not be held, said Mr Lee.

Last month, police also rejected a request by The Substation to hold an outdoor flea market near the Fort Canning Tunnel that would have included booths run by 19 civil society groups, including the Vegetarian Society, the Cat Welfare Society and two gay support groups.

The Substation consequently did away with the outdoor booths for the civil society groups.

As for its peace concert, The Substation now plans to hold it in next month in its theatre and will submit another application to the authorities.

“Many in the local arts community have had Myanmar on their mind and a number of individuals have been involved in petitions and vigils,” said Mr Lee.

The Substation’s other artistic co-director Audrey Wong said they had expected people “from our mailing list, artists and those from the arts community” as well as members of the public and Timbre regulars tonight.

The bar can accommodate 100 people.

Timbre regular Eve Ang, 27, was puzzled by the decision to disallow the concert. “If we can have candlelight vigils in various universities to show support for the people of Myanmar, what is a concert?” she said. “I don’t see what is the big deal of holding a concert at a place that has rock acts playing every week anyway.”

The live acts will go on tonight as usual — minus the candles and the moment of silence.


4 responses

  1. sgman

    The key word here is “Burma”. They do no want ANY sign that supports Burma or protests against Burma. I believe if you have a “save the whales” concert, you probably get the permit.

    But, I think that they also do not want the peasants to have more “outdoor” activity experiences. Remember the largest gathering of people during the last GE.

    At the end of the day. it’s all about control of your freedom.

    October 17, 2007 at 1:45 pm

  2. chemgen

    Hi sgman, I agree. The MIW, or is it the police, does not understand this but sometimes a little less control means more control. People will snap one day. The NKF scandal was one example of people snapping just a bit.

    October 18, 2007 at 11:52 am

  3. Pingback: The Peace Concert at Substation on Sunday « Chemical Generation Singapore

  4. Pingback: Burma Protests/13th ASEAN Summit, Singapore « San Oo Aung’s Weblog

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