Singaporeans and the of Outsourcing Protests

Manual low prestige jobs are relegated to foreign workers. Top management positions are open to foreign talents. Protection of sensitive areas and VIPs are accorded to foreign soldiers or Gurkha. And now, protests and demonstrations are outsourced to foreign students. Is this the Singaporean way?

This protest outside Shangri-la is something to watch closely. How will the insecure MIW and its government react? Will they they be more, or less flexible, since foreigners are involved?

The students smartly would not be breaking the law in theory except that it would be clear that if all the separate small 4-man groups wear red t-shirts, then they actually are part of a larger group. So maybe these foreign students are not so clever after all if the government insists on its interpretation of events.

The idea of the government and these foreign students playing chicken pops into mind. The foreign students are probably banking on the hope that the government would practice restraint and dare not deal with them too harshly for fear of upsetting foreign relations i.e. their governments would protest strongly any harsh action by the Singapore authorities. However, the government demonstrated before that it can succumb to foreign pressure but not without some necessary show of nationalistic political will e.g. the Michael Fay caning case. The American citizen’s caning sentence for wanton vandalism was reduced by Singapore in the name of long term political ties with the US, but the insistence on the caning sentence was accepted by the US nonetheless in the name of long term political ties with Singapore. Interstate realpolitik relations suffered a tiny temporary hiccup but those arrested still bore the brunt of the government’s wrath.

So these foreign students, transient protesters, would probably have the book thrown at them and with pockets of “foreign worker” and “foreign talent” xeno-resentments in Singapore, the level of sympathy they can garner from locals is uncertain. The government might take the opportunity to showcase its resolve to prevent all outdoor protests. Since the protesters are not Singaporeans and thus not voters with long memories, they can instead be treated with minimal restraint as a form of deterrence to any aspiring Singaporean copycat activist. Compared to these foreigners, I would probably feel more alarmed and agitated if Singaporean protesters at Shangri-la were arrested instead for trying to be creative and concerned about other issues besides the impending 5% inflation rate.

I am distantly ambivalent if the foreign student protesters are prosecuted. Maybe because, although I cannot substantiate it, I think that they might be trying to show off that they can do it better than Singaporeans or that they are out here to teach Singaporeans how to do it. The White Man’s Burden reinvented?

Singapore – International students to stage protest at ASEAN Summit
16 Nov 07

A group of international students from the National University of Singapore has released a press statement announcing that they will be holding a protest outside Shangri-la Hotel as a mark of solidarity with the Burmese people.

The hotel is the venue of the ASEAN Summit which is taking place from 18-22 Nov 07. The protest will take place on 19 Nov 07, Monday at 11 am.

PRESS RELEASE: Students demonstrate solidarity with Burma at ASEAN Summit

On Monday 19th November at 11am, following the forum held by the SG Human Rights group on the 18th November, a group of university students from around the world will stand outside the Shangri-La Hotel.

They will carry candles and pictures of the imprisoned democratically elected leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, in order to peacefully demonstrate their solidarity with the Burmese people.

This is in response to the recent violent crackdowns of both monks and ordinary civilians by the Burmese military regime, and subsequent lapse in international media attention.

It is also in response to the news that the member states will be signing the ASEAN Charter which is to include clauses on human rights.

The students will wear red t-shirts and stand in groups of four to remain within Singapore’s stringent laws against the freedom of assembly. They represent a larger number of students in Singapore who are concerned about the Burmese situation and Singapore’s direct involvement, but are too afraid of reprisals to personally participate.

They also have the support of thousands of students and others worldwide who cannot participate on the day.

Olly Laughland
Jonny Wengrowe
Pia Muzaffar


4 responses

  1. Kevin

    From the horse’s mouth during an interview on their pompous protest,

    ” She said the protest would be ‘a gesture on behalf of Singaporeans who are afraid to speak out,’ noting that police action is expected.”

    They are here to save us, to show us the way, to lead us to salvation, thank God! Oh the weight of their shoulders!

    November 18, 2007 at 9:47 pm

  2. infoseeker

    Related to the current ASEAN Meeting here.

    Singapore Police Force News Release dated 16 Nov 2007:
    Area around the key event venues gazetted as a protected area/ places under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act


    As part of the security measures for the ASEAN summit, Police have gazetted the premises of Shangri-la, Raffles City Convention Center (RCCC), and Asian Civilisation Museum (ACM), as well as 500 metres of the perimeter surrounding these places and the Istana, as Protected Areas under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act. This is similar to arrangements made at the recent APEC Australia 2007, and at the WTO in Hong Kong 2005. Such a security zone would allow police to conduct checks on persons found within the zone, and order persons found therein to leave the security zone if they pose a security threat to the ASEAN Summit.

    Protected Areas and Protected Places Act

    Under Point #9:

    Special powers in protected areas and protected places.
    9. Any person who attempts to enter or who is in a protected area or a protected place and who fails to stop after being challenged 3 times by an authorised officer to do so may be arrested by force, which force may, if necessary to effect the arrest, extend to the voluntary causing of death.

    * * * * * * * * *

    The question is in the “arrangements made at the recent APEC Australia 2007, and at the WTO in Hong Kong 2005″, were these venues of these two meetings come under any laws that have the effect of having to “extend to the voluntary causing of death“.

    November 18, 2007 at 11:59 pm

  3. superman

    there are still jobs or assignment strictly reserved for singaporeans and unlikely to be outsourced……..National Service. So no worries, our government still remembers her people.

    November 19, 2007 at 8:25 am

  4. Pingback: Daily SG: 19 Nov 2007 « The Singapore Daily

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