On Pink Dot and confrontations

A pink dress, with white polkadots, hangs in my cupboard at home. I bought it over a month ago, and even got it slightly altered to fit me better. I bought it before the run-up to Pink Dot exploded into a culture war of pink and white and red, and people who would never actually be personally affected by other people’s freedom to love decided that it was an affront to them and their religion for other human beings to strive for equal rights.

The dress is hanging in my cupboard at home while my friends are no doubt already gathered (or gathering – my friends aren’t always known for punctuality) in a sea of pink at Hong Lim Park because I am, once again, missing Pink Dot.

Since 2010 – which is when I first heard of and wanted to attend Pink Dot – I have only succeeded in being there once, in 2011. It was wonderful, friends, lovers and multi-generational families packed into the little park in the middle of the city. I’ve wanted to join in on another Pink Dot, but never quite made it because I always ended up, somehow or other, out of Singapore. This year is no different: despite all the anticipation and planning I am sitting here in Scotland, having had to catch a last-minute flight out to be with family.

Pink Dot is by no means a perfect event or movement. There is plenty that needs to be said about diversity and differences in experiences – straight or queer – in Singapore and around the world. But I still believe that Pink Dot is worth supporting, and it’s a belief that has been further reinforced by the outpouring of hatred and fear-mongering that has come from religious conservatives like Lawrence Khong and Ustaz Noor Deros.

It’s not a huge surprise. We’ve known for ages that Khong spends more time obsessing over gay sex than even gay people do. His anger, vomited all over obliging newspaper opinion pages, is fast getting repetitive and boring, especially to those who have never subscribed to as narrow an understanding of family as he.

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May 13 and Singapore Today

On 13 May 2014 I was invited to attend the lunch commemorating the May 13 Student Movement of 1954 – a movement that became an important part of the struggle against colonialism in Singapore.

I brought my granddad as a date, and we had a great time feasting and hearing the stories of the activists who had fought so hard for human rights and civil liberties in Singapore – and who had paid the price for their dissent.

I wrote about the event, the movement, politics and activism in Singapore today. Thanks to Medium I’ve managed to incorporate images beautifully into the piece. Click below to read it!

May 13 and Singapore Today

Politics, policies and the political arena.

“…we have taken the view that if you are a civic organisation, whether you are an organisation like AMP or whatever, if you want to get yourself involved politically, please get into the political arena and not hide behind a religious group, a tuition class, or a theatre troupe.”
- Former Information and the Arts Minister George Yeo, 1999

It was a Saturday special feature in The Straits Times. The title: ‘When activists cross line’. But what line has been crossed?

Read on and you’ll find that the line is a familiar ol’ OB marker: Politics.

The article sings a pretty common refrain. Once again the government warns against the dangers of civil society straying into ‘political’ areas, fearing that civil society organisations and groups will be hijacked to score political points. It reiterates former minister George Yeo’s comment: if you want to be politically involved in Singapore, then you have to enter the political arena.

But is that really true?

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