Police wants Shanmugam’s photo removed

August 4, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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The banned photographThe police have threatened not to give the organisers of rock concert a permit unless they remove a photo of the late Mr Shanmugam on its posters (left). Shanmugam was executed in May this year for trafficking marijuana.

Organisers of the concert Hung (sic) at Dawn are targeting the death penalty in Singapore. (Condemned prisoners are hanged at 6 am on Fridays.) Mr Shamugam’s photograph adorns the posters that the arts community have used to promote the anti-death penalty concert which will be held at the Substation tomorrow, 5 August 2005, at 7:00 pm.

So what is the reason for banning Shanmugam’s photo? The conversation below between the office-in-charge and one of the organisers tells the story. It’s another example of the tragi-comedy that besets our country when it comes to PAP, politics, and our finest-in-blue.

Wen Ann: [Organiser] you have to apply to PELU for this gig.

Organiser: Ah? So no need MDA [Media Development Authority]?

Wen Ann: No, the police will handle this event.

Organiser: Ok. But the event is Friday. I apply tomorrow, got time?

Wen Ann: No problem, you just give me the reference number I will get it done.

Organiser: You sure I get a license?

Wen Ann: Promise. (pause) But there is a condition. You cannot use
Shanmugam photograph on your materials.

Organiser: Why? it’s not a picture on the police files and we have approval from the family

Wen Ann: Eh, just cannot lah.

Organiser: You know it’s quite hard for me to accept that reason.

Wen Ann: You just do it lah.

Organiser: you have to give me a reason to let me know why I cannot use his picture.

Wen Ann: Erh, you know Shanmugam is an ex-convict and was executed…erh, we are concerned that this figure is glorified.

Organiser: Ok but we are not glorifying him.

Wen Ann: Hmm I understand but I think it will be difficult for them
to relent. you just do your against death penalty thing lah but don’t
use his picture can?

Organiser: But can use his name?

Wen Ann: Can.

Organiser: And ‘against death penalty’ is ok with you guys?

Wen Ann: Yah no problem.

Organiser: Hmm (pause) alright I accept the condition. But a lot of my
publicity has gone out I cannot blanko the picture out. I hope you
understand so you might still see traces of his photographs around.

Wen Ann: Yah it’s okay i understand. Just stop using the photograph from today.

Organiser: Ok. then on the 18th I have a similar gig. I should go to PELU
straight and not bother about MDA?

Wen Ann: Yah you just apply for both through PELU.

Organiser: Ok, I call you tomorrow when I get the application done.

Wen Ann: Okay, bye bye.