Confessions of a Singaporean protester: Belief in the cause helped overcome my fear

Charles Tan

To be perfectly honest I had feelings of anxiety before and also at beginning of the rally on 16 Sept 2006. It was fear mostly of the unknown such as what will happen during the protest and what to do during and after we were arrested.

To a large extent, getting together for meetings and thrashing out the details of the various possible scenarios and how we should respond helped. Talking to close friends also helped to allay some of my fears.

My fear, however, turned into exhilaration when we started speaking at Speaker’s Corner, which wasn’t quite what we had expected.

During the standoff, the feeling of fear and dread melted away when I began to focus on why I was doing this. My conviction and belief in the cause, standing up for my democratic rights, helped alleviate and overcome some of these anxieties.

Also words of support from friends as well as talking to my fellow activists helped steady my nerves.

The first day of the protest was rather tense and there was a sense of enmity against the police. However, by the second and third days, I begin to realise that they were carrying out their jobs, without knowing why they were doing it.

Psychologically speaking, I believe the standoff after the 24 hours are much more relaxing. This was, perhaps, partly due to the fact that there wasn’t a ‘strong-man’ barrier surrounding us like the first day.

However, the first night was rather exciting as there were also quite a few groups of supporters staying there with us and for us. Many thanks to our supporters for their words of encouragement, and supply of food, drinks and toiletries.

Once the protest got under way there was never really a low moment for me although there were tense ones. The stand-off was turned out to be quite an experience. One thing I know is that I’m glad I did this.

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