By Terry Xu
Just a day right after the arrest of the 21 Malaysians for their involvement in the flash mob protest at the Merlion on Saturday (link), a candlelight vigil took place at Hong Lim Park on Sunday, 12th May 2013 by a group of concerned Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PR) as an act of solidarity with the Malaysians in their call for fair elections in their country.
Despite only being promoted via a facebook event created on 9th May, about 300 members of the public (which include the press, police and ISD officers) turned up for this candlelight vigil at Hong Lim Park to show their support for the Malaysians seeking for a fair and independent election in their country after the Malaysia General Elections was filled with allegations of voting fraud.
Some of the participants turned up in black clothing as a mark of protests being held in Malaysia. During the Wednesday rally at Kelana Jaya stadium, Former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim urged Malaysians to wear black clothes every Saturday to protest to what he called “the death of democracy in Malaysia”.
Entitled “Singaporeans in Solidarity with Malaysians”, this candlelight vigil is organized by Jolovan Wham, a local social activist. This event was created right after Malaysians had gathered in various countries to protest over reports of voting fraud in their recent General Elections on 8th May 2013.
Members of the public were invited to sign on placards with their well wishes and words of encouragement to Malaysians across the border. One wrote in Chinese, “Justice knows no national boundaries” while another, writes, “We believe in fairness too”. It is pretty clear from the written comments on the placard that there were quite a handful of Malaysians who are Singaporean PRs or converted citizens present to support the event.
However organizers have been careful to clearly indicate that no foreigners are to take part in this event as stated in the National Parks regulations over the use of Hong Lim Park.
Jolovan Wham in his speech states that he believes both Singaporeans and foreigners alike are entitled to basic human rights such as the freedom of expression, speech and assembly.
Singapore poet, Alfian Sa’at in his address to the crowd, said that the recent arrests of Malaysians for their protest without police permit, highlights Singapore being a supposed first world nation with standards and laws that are not in line with international practices.
There were accounts of police being around to observe and record the event. The organizer of the event, Jolovan Wham received feedback from participants of the event that they were being asked by police officers to show their identity cards for verification of their citizenship. While from the citizens’ side, Marytn See, a local film producer was busy walking around trying to identify the police officers who were present on site along with a few other activists. (link)
The event ended with the crowd singing the evergreen protest song, “We Shall Overcome” along with the national anthems of Singapore and Malaysia as they held yellow candles in their hands for the candlelight vigil.
Jolovan Wham speaking on the event and its turnout, “It was a good turn out I must thank all the Singaporeans who were there who stood with the Malaysians and to the Malaysians for their courage to be there event though the Singapore police has been unnecessarily state harassment* towards them.”[divide]
Some readers commented on the trash generated from this event. Please be informed that the organizers made effort to clean up after the event, leaving little trace of the event at Hong Lim Park.
*amendment – A revision of wording from “violent” to “state harassment”