Sunday 5 October 2014

Joseph Schooling, Roy and Hui Hui: Maybe we need a Manual Of Obedience

Not quite The Anarchist Cookbook.

There’s something oxymoronic about a Manual Of Disobedience.

It’s like “Hey, you want to be disobedient? Fine. But you have to obey this manual about how to be disobedient.”

Before violence broke out on Friday, this manual was attributed as the reason the Occupy Central With Love and Peace (OCLP) demonstrators in Hong Kong are the “world’s politest protesters”.

Courtesy is apparently their way of life.

Who needs Singa the Courtesy Lion when they have the Manual Of Disobedience?

They reportedly picked up the litter after a hard day's night of being tear-gassed by the police, even making the effort to recycle.

Singaporeans reading this must be asking, “Really?”

Sure, the fine for littering in Hong Kong is HK$1,500 (S$250), but it’s not like they have the Corrective Work Order.

Are they just trying to make us look bad?

For all our “clean and orderly” reputation, Singaporeans can’t even clear our own trays after we eat.

Maybe we need a Manual Of Obedience.

And Joseph Schooling should be forced to memorise it.

The 19-year-old Asian Games medal-winning swimmer got into a little trouble for allegedly returning to the Athletes’ Village in Incheon, South Korea, very late and intoxicated with two other swimmers last month.

Who knows exactly what happened? No video has surfaced. They could be out heckling special-needs children.

Hypothetical question: If Schooling had participated in the “Singapore in Solidarity with HK event” at the Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park on Wednesday night, would he have been investigated by the police?

You know, since “only Singapore citizens and permanent residents are allowed to participate in demonstrations held at the Speakers’ Corner”.

And enough people say Schooling is a foreigner that his father felt compelled to make a video to deny it.

The Manual Of Obedience should include this instruction just for the swimmer: “Do not be a Eurasian and speak with an American accent or some Singaporeans are going to call you a foreigner.”

If only he threw in a few “lahs” and “lehs” at the end of his sentences, he wouldn’t have this problem.

Or he could protest at Speakers’ Corner about being called a foreigner since he’s allowed to do so since he’s not a foreigner to prove that he’s not a foreigner.

In which case, the OCLP’s Manual Of Disobedience can provide some helpful advice.

It contains such instructions for protesters as “demonstrate virtues of higher standard than those of the suppressors, so as to gain the support of the society”.

And “display a peaceful and rational attitude with dignity”.

And “avoid wearing contact lens”.


That’s a good tip. If you think getting tear-gassed is bad, getting tear-gassed with contact lenses on is much worse.

Unfortunately, the Manual Of Disobedience doesn’t say anything about not heckling special-needs children.

Actually, the advice for protesters should be: Do not appear to be heckling special-needs children even though you’re not.

On further consideration, the advice should be: Just stay away from special-needs kids.

The Return Our CPF protesters at Hong Lim Park last weekend learnt that lesson a little too late - that is, if they even acknowledge it.

Despite all the videos that emerged showing what really happened on Sept 27, there is still debate over what really happened that day in the park. It’s like Rashomon at 360p or better.

The only thing the videos confirm is that a lot of video was shot at the event.

But the video that was widely shared online early on was one entitled “Hong Lim Park protesters heckle special-needs children from YMCA”.

And thus Hecklegate was born.

Poor YMCA. Where are the Village People when you need them?

One wonders if it’s still fun to stay at the Y.

So did the protesters really heckle the kids?

Remember the photo of the woman defecating outside Holland Village MRT station that went viral recently?

No one heckled her in person, but many immediately assumed she was a Chinese national. It didn’t matter that she was later identified as a “Singaporean with a long history of schizophrenia and intellectual disability”. That first impression stuck.

Likewise, it no longer matters whether the protesters actually heckled the children on stage. They’re now stuck with always having to deny that they did.

Hey, at least they weren’t tear-gassed.

Both the Return Our Protest protest leaders, Mr Roy Ngerng and Miss Han Hui Hui, were wearing glasses. Good. That means they weren’t wearing contacts.

So perhaps they did read the Manual Of Disobedience.

Too bad they skipped the part about displaying a peaceful and rational attitude with dignity.

But there’s no need to feel down.

Pick yourself off the ground.

There’s a place you can go where you will find many ways to have a good time.

But you better hurry because The Butter Factory will be closing for good in March next year.

Maybe you’ll see Joseph Schooling there.

- Published in The New Paper, 5 October 2014


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