Last Saturday afternoon was the day ‘Occupy’ protesters around the world marked global unity, encouraged by the growing Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City protesting against corporate greed and income inequality.
In Singapore a Facebook group called on Singaporeans to Occupy Raffles Place last Saturday. But the police warned the public against the activity. As a result Raffles Place was quiet on Saturday afternoon with a heavy police presence to ensure that no protest took place.
The Straits Times gloated over the non-event with the headline: “What’s missing in this picture?” accompanied by a picture of a quiet Raffles Place.
The police warning obviously worked. The PAP can congratulate itself on the victory. It has won another round, successfully denying the people from exercising their right to peaceful assembly yet again.
But let us be clear about one thing: the PAP may be able to stop Singaporeans from protesting, but it cannot stop the resentment and the anger from building up against the greed and inequality that has taken root in this country.
And the situation will only get worse. The turmoil in the financial and corporate world that is currently taking place will not leave Singapore unscathed. Already our economy is experiencing a slowdown – barely three years after the last recession. This time around, the downturn may not be the cyclical boom and bust that we have come to expect. There are deep structural problems with the world’s economic and financial system that threaten the way business is conducted.
With Singapore deep in connection with the diseased global financial system – a system which the world’s citizens have come to hate – we will suffer the consequences when the corrosion spreads.
We house all the big corporations which have come to symbolise greed, we design a system that attracts money from the world’s wealthiest and most corrupt, and we fashion our city as a playground of vice for the super-rich.
Now that people around the world are starting to turn on such excesses through the Occupy protests, where will that leave us?
In addition, Singaporeans are upset at the secretive way our CPF funds are managed by the GIC and not returned to retirees. The anger is fueled by news that billions of dollars are lost in questionable investments overseas.
When discontent builds up and the economy spirals downwards, what is the PAP going to do? Continue to issue police warnings and deny Singaporeans their right to protest?
John F Kennedy once said that those who make peaceful reform impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.
Yes, the PAP may have successfully stopped Singaporeans from conducting the Occupy Raffles Place protest. The question is, for how long more?