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?
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.