Sunday 9 December 2012

Protesting? Forget Speakers’ Corner, climb a crane

So the Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park isn’t good enough any more?

Two construction workers climbed two separate tower cranes on Thursday to protest not getting paid (or so they claimed).

But was it a strike? They were lucky not to get struck by lightning.

The duo have since been charged with criminal trespass.

I guess registering for Speakers’ Corner is just too much trouble compared to climbing a tower crane.

Perhaps Hong Lim Park is too low key – literally – being at ground level and all. Maybe NParks should install some sort of podium at Speakers’ Corner. Like a 10-storey-high podium.

Did you know there was a candlelight vigil and memorial service for a dolphin at Hong Lim Park last Sunday night?

You know how much people love dolphins, right? Apparently not much as they love pandas.

I don’t recall reading about the dolphin event in the news the next day.

Although that could be because my memory isn’t what it used to be after my brain temporarily went dead after reading that the CNNGo website had listed Ng Chin Han and Fann Wong among Asia’s 25 greatest actors of all time. Stay classy, CNNGo.

Where was I?

Oh yah, I don’t recall reading about the dolphin event in the news the next day. But the day after the crane protest, the two construction workers were front page news.

Which puts me in a dilemma.

There are a few things I want to protest, but now I can’t decide whether to do it in Hong Lim Park or up on a tower crane.

What do I want to protest?

For one thing, I want to protest Chin Han killing the US TV series Last Resort. A week after it was announced that he was joining the show, it was announced that Last Resort was cancelled. Coincidence?

Speaking of death, I also want to protest any news story with a headline containing the name Muddy Waters and it isn’t about a dead blues singer.

Speaking of singers, I also want to protest Justin Bieber getting zero Grammy nominations despite winning three American Music Awards, including Artist of the Year, last month.

Not that I’m a die-hard Belieber, but this means the American Music Awards can’t be trusted at all as an indicator of artistic merit if the Grammys don’t agree with them.

Next thing you know, the Golden Globes could also be rendered irrelevant and then it would be the end of civilisation as we know it.

Speaking of the civilisation’s end, I also want to protest the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming Star Trek movie, Into Darkness. In the trailer released online last week, he says: “Enjoy these final moments of peace for I have returned to have my vengeance.”

Wasn’t Nero, the villain in the previous Star Trek movie, driven by vengeance as well? It makes me long for the humpback whales of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Speaking of the voyage home, the biggest thing I want to protest is all the protests against the announcements of MRT station names in Mandarin on some trains.

As if SMRT doesn’t have enough problems.

SMRT has just announced that it will stop the Mandarin announcements.

Some people complained about the awkward translations while others felt that there should also be Malay and Tamil translations – just to be fair.

SMRT responded that the Mandarin announcements were to “assist passengers, especially older citizens, who rely on announcements during their journeys”. What SMRT didn’t say is that the only passengers the Mandarin announcements assisted were Chinese-speaking passengers.

And if SMRT really wants to help older citizens – actually just older Chinese-speaking citizens – then the announcements should be in dialect, not Mandarin.

I dread the day when for the sake of equality, the elderly and what-have-you, MRT station names will be announced in English, Malay, Tamil, Hindi, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka and of course, my personal favourite, Hainanese.

Did I leave anything out?

Oh yah, Singlish for Phua Chu Kang.

By the time the station name is announced in all the languages and dialects, you would already be two stations ahead.

I just hope it won’t cause me to miss my stop when I take the train to Clarke Quay MRT station. It’s the one closest to Hong Lim Park.

Yes, I’m likely to stick to terra firma for my multi-prong Chin Han-Muddy Waters-Justin Bieber-Star Trek-multi-language MRT station names protest.

But I wonder, if I protest at Speakers’ Corner and no one cares, do I make a sound?

If only I weren’t afraid of heights.

And getting arrested for criminal trespass.

- Published in The New Paper, 9 December 2012