Tuesday 30 September 2014

When you've lost Mr Brown, you've lost mainstream Singapore

It's a popular belief that in 1968, US president Lyndon Johnson said: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

This was recently updated to "When you’ve lost Jon Stewart, you’ve lost Middle America".

On Mr Brown's blog yesterday, Singapore's Blogfather pretty much came out and whacked "Roy Ngerng, Han Hui Hui and gang" for disrupting the YMCA event at Hong Lim Park on Saturday.

Or to use Mr Brown's exact words:
If my daughter, Faith, who has autism, or any of my kids, had been on stage performing that day at the YMCA event, and Roy Ngerng, Han Hui Hui and gang came over to disrupt the proceedings, I would have taken their signs and placards and shoved the lot up their collective arses.
I appreciate that Mr Brown (real name Lee Kin Mun) avoided saying that the Return Our CPF protesters "heckled" the kids, which was how it was widely and inaccurately reported.

I doubt the protesters intended to target the kids. It was just unfortunate they were doing their disruptive thing near the stage as the kids were taking the stage.

Even more unfortunate is that whoever uploaded the YouTube video of the incident entitled it "Hong Lim Park Protestors heckle Special Needs Children from YMCA".

And so the "heckling" meme spread along with the video.

The protest supporters can blame everyone (NParks, YMCA, police, PAP) and everything else for the chain of events, but it's hard to defend "heckling special needs children" even though that was not what actually happened.

There are those who support the protesters no matter what and there are those who are against them - and nothing can change the minds on either side. And then there are those who couldn't be bothered.

But this meme might have turned some of the couldn't-be-bothered against the protesters.

Before yesterday's tirade, Mr Brown couldn't be bothered. The only previous instance online I could find Mr Brown mentioning Ngerng was in this jokey tweet in reference to Ngerng raising money for his legal defence against the PM's lawsuit in June:

Once you've lost Mr Brown, you've lost public opinion.

Let's call it the Mr Brown Index.

You can't dismiss him as a PAP supporter (as you may former SPH journalist Bertha Henson despite her branding herself as a "troublemaker") since Mr Brown famously lost his gig as a Today newspaper columnist in 2006 after a complaint from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts over an article he wrote.

(Sure, he was later invited to tea with the PM at the Istana in 2012, but so was Andrew Loh.)

And besides being an indicator of public opinion, Mr Brown can also influence it because of his popularity. (Fortunately or unfortunately, "Singapore's most popular blogger" Xiaxue is more interested in sharing her baby photos and promoting her sponsors than ruminating on current affairs.)

This makes Mr Brown's blog post pretty damaging for Ngerng and his cause, more so than any minister's comment.

The PM's lawsuit might have made Ngerng look like a martyr to some, but now, at least according to Mr Brown, Ngerng and his friends are just a "bunch of insensitive wankers".

The moral of the story?

You can attack the Government all you want, but you don't fuck around with special needs kids.

COLUMN: Roy and Hui Hui: Maybe we need a Manual Of Obedience