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Hecklegate: A Just Cause in Grave Need of Judicious Leadership

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‘Hecklegate’ (credit to Daniel Yap) appears to outdo PM Lee’s NDR speech in terms of commentaries. Even more interesting are as many detractors as supporters of the protagonists are voicing their 2 cents in social media, quite unlike social media going to town with the NDR speech mainly as target practice.

Why so?
One, where it involves ‘special needs children’, it looks good to brandish one’s credentials to stake a stand.
Two, Hecklegate provides the fitting excuse the Oppo parties and other anti-PAP individuals need to justify why the Roy & HuiHui show just doesn’t do it in their scheme of things.
Armchair Critics Aplenty
Let’s distil the key points that many armchair YouTube-cum-MSM witnesses have said with such certainty.


– No better place to start than the mainstream media.
Heckling is ‘interrupting (someone) by shouting annoying or rude comments or questions’ (Merriam-Webster). Editors relied on their rookie reporters to report but ‘heckle’ was the editors’ word choice – for reasons best known to themselves.

Yes, the Roy & HuiHui march was noisy. But watch the different videos circulating, where was the heckling?

– The PAP Ministers
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin: “I am ap­palled. We now heckle special needs children? Vile. Total and absolute disgrace.”

Tan’s behaviour and remark best represent the PAP’s default mode in matters political – quick to judge and damning in self-righteous denunciation when the anti-PAP side gets bad press but deafeningly silence when one of their own falters. Tsk tsk.

To readers suitably impressed with Tan, please connect the 2 dots; Philippines Independence Day Celebration & Hecklegate. Tan was the minister who first shot at his own fellow citizens from the first sign of citizens’ objections – without thinking through the patriotic angles. Our newbie minister used choice words on us, didn’t he? But foreigners cheating citizens of jobs with their fake degrees are exempt. No accomplished ministers since 1965, let alone a newbie with zero to show for, ever labelled fellow citizens (not political foes) as ‘bigots’ and, now, ‘vile and absolute disgrace’.

A true leader in the making, or a dangerous self-righteous narcissist more suited for the priesthood?

– Opposition-linked Critics

As observed, Roy & HuiHui duly obliged them with an excuse they were itching to use to distance themselves and not lose the middle ground whence the votes, the real fight for political power resides.

– Mr Brown’s
…29 Sep posting suggests that Brownie cross-checked his ‘Hecklegate’ info source with only a posting by an unverified ‘YMCA volunteer’ at Proms. Perhaps his parental protective instincts for his autistic child reflexively kicked in pronto. Understandably so.

My Photo

But rushing in, he did himself and Singaporeans little favour in not weighing more evidence as Shah Salimat did in sg.news.yahoo.com/comment–various-accounts-of-cpf-protest–heckling–tell-a-different-story-103­557790.html

 

‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’
Here’s one observation that appears to have been completely overlooked. Check out this or any other video showing protestors marching past where the stage was < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HKpNvzt33c&feature=youtu.be&gt;.

Notice 3 things;
One, the protestors walked a fair 10m (?) distance, from the stage, near the pillars supporting the sunshade. Shouting, unless in constant unison, would be ineffectual given the distance.

Two, during the first marchpast, the stage was bare, devoid of any children.

Three, HuiHui and Roy held a mike each, in her right and his left hand. No loud hailers blared directly at the children preparing to perform. You got it! The noise that the duo made was amplified via speakers a good 40-50m away from the stage. Indeed, the YMCA emcee’s voice was much louder as his speakers were nearer with one facing stage-ward.

So, whose voices from which microphones were more likely to alarm the kids, if in fact they were alarmed as alleged?

NParks claimed the kids were ‘traumatized’. Strange then, that no one finds it necessary to medically-certify their traumatized condition. Strange too, that Teo Ser Luck didn’t think it serious enough not to halt his selfie routine with his happy, happy face. Or, yeah, maybe grab a mike to influence the tone of the encounter there and then. S$mil leadership, anyone?


An On-site Eyewitness’ View
To analyse better, start from what happened before the actual events.

– When I first read HuiHui’s 26 Sep appeal at TRE < http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/09/26/pap-grassroots-plan-to-distupt-cpf-protest-on-sathurday/>, my red flags instinctively shot up. She wrote about ‘PAP grassroots…5000 people coming…4 grassroots leaders came out and negotiated with me…event was supposed to be on Sat 10 am…when I asked for the event organizer to come out, they refused and demanded…’ and then, in contradiction to her earlier stated time, ‘their event will start at 4 pm’.

Sorry, young lady, this old hand believes for such serious matters, one must ‘verify, verify, verify’ one’s info before presenting it for public consumption. But her language shows up her combative stance camouflaging a plea for that illusive bigger audience size.

I was happy to learn then that TRE editor was ‘calling Leong now to find out what’s going on’. And happier still his action showed up HuiHui’s appeal to be ulterior motive-written more than fact-based < http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/09/26/2-major-events-clashing-at-hong-lim-park-on-27-sep/&gt;.

– Next, her videoed encounter with NParks director. Sure, she showed her gumption but, in doing so, humiliated the civil servants doing their jobs, professionalism wanting notwithstanding. Which would advance her cause; winning civil servants over to her side (for future considerations whilst gaining respect from new audiences) or continue to feed the frenzy of her loyal protestors?

– The marchpast ended, the speeches began, I moved around to feel the ground. Many young volunteers watched the performances with their charges sitting beside; mostly physically infirm, elderly or Down Syndrome children/adults. Probably (hey, Mr Brown), no autistic kids, going by YMCA own info < http://www.ymca.org.sg/Web/main.aspx?ID=,df37fa6f-e5c9-40a9-ba3b-780b781fb751>

– I hung around the funfair-like stands offering games, airbrush tattooing etc. Of course, I had to support their efforts, rewarding myself with free popcorn (salted, not sweet).

– Speaking to a 40ish gentleman in his wheel chair, he said that instead of accepting YMCA’s invite, he preferred to join the protest. He declined my offer of popcorn.


– Then I stationed myself (on my bicycle) at the tent that was allegedly set up to block the protagonists’ stage performance. Amongst other observations, my most vivid images were the fierce, gangster-like Roy’s facial expressions, bulging veins in his neck as he shouted into the mike, the militant tone, words HuiHui uttered, the amateurish coordination in their free-flow speaking-cum-singing-cum-chanting ‘speeches’. Call me shallow, but sorry, The Rolling Stones can grace the stage in their jeans and tees, looking darn classy. But Roy et al on stage looked like a raggedy, ratty, rowdy bunch of disorganized rebels – albeit rebels with a just cause.

– The sad part for me, keen on the Change we Must and keener to end PAP’s dominance, is that the audience remains the same die-hard anti-PAP clique mostly males in their >50’s. How will the middle ground, middle-class fence-sitters, marginal status quo supporters and the ignorant/mal-informed be ever persuaded to attend, never mind won over by this team of dedicated warriors?

Conclusions
The thought that struck me there and then on reaching HLPark was how the unexpected YMCA Proms and ReturnOurCPF events presented a Godsend opportunity for the Roy & HuiHui cause – one they cluelessly squandered.

Look, it wasn’t ‘the other side’ that was in control of the turn of events. YMCA had a fixed programme, a contractual obligation to their corporate sponsors, volunteers and beneficiaries. The last thing they wanted was to start a skirmish with political overtones either way.

Therefore, the impetus of the ReturnOurCPF was HuiHui’s/Roy’s to direct. If there was a more senior leader, perhaps he was resting with arms alternately folded or akimbo on a bench but inactive to lead the happenings.

What’s missed big time? The protagonists could have instructed every marcher to halt in front of the stage, sit down, watch and cheer the performances. Then, after 2 or 3 performances, went around shaking hands with as many attendees as possible with smiling faces and high fives. Aren’t these the ‘new’ audience to win over to your cause?

Once done, continue with their planned speeches. Will that not be heaping burning coals on Teo Ser Luck’s and PAP’s heads?

Instead of Hecklegate, how will the headlines look the next day?

EPILOGUE
Sadder still is how the same foolhardy approach continues post-fiasco.

Claims of ‘We had a groundbreaking protest and march yesterday but a few thousands Singaporeans turned up’ and ‘the volunteers and attendees to the YMCA’s event were also listening intently to our speeches’ encapsulate their dumbass, make-believe approach.

Here’s the actual crowd size for you; I first counted 50, estimated a 50-strong cluster, counted the number of clusters then multiplied that number by 50. Doing so 3 times Saturday, I could only count 20 clusters or 1000 attendees max. Perhaps another 200 +/- came and went between 1700 to 1830 hours. And my slow cycle-cum-circling the field told me that Proms invitees overwhelmingly ignored the shouting that counted for speeches. Not even weak applause or nodding heads originated from them.

‘Groundbreaking…a few thousands Singaporeans’? –  You are imitating the misleading modus operandi of the Straits Times, the very enemy you abhor?

Saddest of all are the allegations and innuendoes of YMCA colluding with PAP. Any simple analysis will show that Proms has been a non-political event all these years. Why alienate more voters?

Continue on this trajectory and hurt not only your cause but also those who want the Change we Must. PAP will milk dry this and new ones waiting to happen, linking Roy et al to the Opposition to turn middle ground voters to stay with the devil they know than the rowdy troublemakers they see.

Roy & HuiHui, I admire your dedication and support fully your cause. But time to THINK & CHANGE – which is my key intention for the forthright views here.

Your Cause so Just deserves a Leadership as Judicious.

2cents

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6 thoughts on “Hecklegate: A Just Cause in Grave Need of Judicious Leadership

  1. I had wondered when you would touch on this. At the end of the day I think your conclusion is right. This has been a blow for the “change we must” and “building a credible opposition” crowd, including me. But unlike you, this has been a heartening experience for me.

    With our sort of democracy, we never had the freedom to develop well a form of public discourse and culture of speaking up. Its still early days. We are still trying to find out what we want. And I think through this episode, it shows that for good or worse, the majority of Singaporeans have spoken on social, mainstream and alternative media to proclaim that the brand of politics and debate put forth by Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui is what we do not want. That, at least, is a start.

    I think no point condemning the mainstream media this time. For them, its business as usual. Nothing new with the way some of them decided to jump the bandwagon is there? The damning response, the clear barometer of feedback to Roy and Han, has been on social media and even on sites like TOC & Mothership.

    Of course, hardcore supporters and websites like ASS, TRE, TRS, will continue to cocoon and bunker themselves against the widespread public opinion. They will clutch at straws, imply conspiracy theories, split hairs on minor issues, just to prove that they did nothing wrong. Worst of all, some have taken to insulting special needs children and their parents, eg. Jaclyn Teo. You do wonder why Roy, will his flowery English and seemingly persuasive writing, only ends up attracting the support of such types.

    End of the day it doesn’t matter how many rounds they walked around the stage, which children were up there, or what exact is heckling. They put forth a brand of politics that majority do not want here, and the people have spoken. For Roy Ngerng, it is a swift fall from hero to zero, if ever he was a hero.

    Whither the CPF protestors? They will endure, and continue, no doubt. As you mentioned, many are the same die hard anti-PAP clique who have spent too long entrenched in their ways that they will see this as yet another affront to their perceived sense of freedom fighting and social justice. They will continue, they will shout, scream, yell, whatever it takes, as long as there is online freedom for them to do so, and Hong Lim Park still exists.

    But no matter, it is a step forward for social development here if we can see them for what they are, and make a choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Darren. Thx for yr nuanced observations which I agree with (except the part about “no point condemning the mainstream media this time. For them, its business as usual”. It is precisely for the reason tt it’s biz as usual tt they deservedly be condemned.

      It’s fair to say tt ALL the subsequent condemnation by the PAP tribe based their vitriol on MSM’s reporting and choice of words. That would be the similar effects with those exposed only to MSM’s diet of info. Once an opinion is formed, not many will be searching for a different take of the situation but busy defending their belief already formed.

      Regardless, I like yr view that this is ‘a step forward for social development’. The ‘if’ is a BIG one in yr conclusion about making a choice.

      I hope to have the pleasure of meeting you in person someday to exchange more views.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your post. A few more points:

    I agree, many will form their opinion based on the MSM. I mean, I hear about falling readership for ST, etc, but lets face it, most still watch TV, listen to radio, and read one form of newspaper or another. That’s the MSM. And if one is a member of the so called PAP tribe, then yeah, its hard to change one’s opinion.

    Roy and Han lost big this time, as mentioned, because of the backlash on social and alternative media. There’s youtube, and the multiple videos that were uploaded. Interestingly enough, I read TOC often, and while I expected Andrew Loh to be the Roy apologist, I was impressed at the stance he took this time. TOC was one of the few alternative sites that uploaded the full length 17 min video which gave Roy and Han little to hide in some respects. In contrast, I was surprised that Terry Xu provided such a weak answer and stance as compared to what Andrew Loh did.

    I particularly identify with your “50 year old male anti-PAP” stereotype. You can include bloggers like Phillip Ang and Chua Chin Leng in there. Its almost as if its a betrayal of their conscience to not behave like an apologist whenever it comes to Roy or anything anti-PAP. Its like as though that while the government has its own groupthink, so do they. Its like they have to stand with the most rabid of hardcore anti-establishment, before they consider themselves to have acted wisely. Maybe they are the product of the system as well, a generation incapable of independent thought, only for or against type of thinking. One wonders why, with his seemingly progressive and intellectual style of writing, Roy ends up only attracting such types.

    I would love to discuss more with you. But I have to say, you wouldn’t catch me at Hong Lim Park for any protest or political event! Haha, I have to be honest, I am apathetic in that way.

    Like

  3. Let me just end off the comments to this post by saying that a worthy cause if taken up by the wrong people in the end yields no change. Roy’s supporters always pull out the “if not for Roy, the nation would not take notice of CPF the way it does” card and use it to justify him.

    Yet, he has made us notice, observe, think, and then turn around and disagree with him, not wanting him to speak for us. What good can that be in the end? It is still worthwhile to point out that few people really agree fully with the contents of his blog, and that his lawsuit was his main claim to fame. Yet he has made himself into someone that no one wants to be associated with now, so what hope is there that he can get changes made? What changes have been made as a result of him? Cosmetic ones? The government will convene its own study on CPF. It can now say to the people “look, we’ll look into this. but you seriously want that guy (Roy) representing you?” The answer would be no.

    That is the biggest tragedy of all. That a worthy question, asked and campaigned on by the entirely wrong kind of character, eventually leads to its demise.

    Like

    • Hello, Darren!
      You hv a point about the ‘worthy cause’. The situation is, of course and as always in matters social-political, multidimensional. The problem appears to be that, not just Roy and his supporters but, fr my own observations, far too many Singaporeans look from their own perspectives and take their own reality for that of the country.

      For e.g. at tremeritus.com where I spend more time at, all the usual suspects commenting just repeat ad nauseum whatever they see to be the reality of the country’s, to the exclusion of others. Hence, I make it a point to check out Singaporedaily.net for other perspectives. Now, even with that exercise, it’s easy to believe that the spectrum of views pretty much represent SG on the ground.

      How wrong that may be! It’s only the English-speaking/reading segment of S’poreans! What about the Chinese segment, the Malay, the Indian? Oh yes, the illiterate, the pasar as opposed to the supermarket crowd? I just returned from Eunos wet market after spending a good half hour speaking with a fishball store owner – in Teochew. Aside fr asking about his trade, I of course have to steer the discussion a little to matters political. What I learned is interesting and, indeed, encouraging…at least for today.

      I hv some views to write about this multi-facet nature of the situation. Perhaps, when the time is right, I’ll. Thx for engaging in discussion. G’day!

      Like

      • Hello, thanks for the response. I have ceased to spend much time at TRE, maybe only once in a blue moon. It is good to see different views, and like you, I check out SGDaily quite often. To me, sadly to say, I’ve developed a strong sense of contempt for the usual suspects at TRE.

        Not because they profess to be anti-govt at every opportunity. But I feel they are an anti-thesis to the very notion of free speech that they claim to speak for. Favourite pastime on any TRE comments page is to start a running battle with those purported to be PAP IBs.

        Worst of all, their delusion. I’ve seen comments that go as far to claim that the PAP government is running scared of what goes on at TRE, and that opposition parties have them to thank for entering parliament. They huddle in that small cocoon of their own and as you say, visualize that as the reality for the country.

        They never stop once to question what is the value and outreach of what they are doing, and what does it achieve for the country in terms of opposition movement and public discourse if they keep up their IB labelling and vitriol spewing on a website that is struggling to sustain itself.

        The truth is, as you say, who really knows? A large part of our populace lead rather hedonistic and blissfully unaware existence. Even when I quoted the social media backlash against Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui, I was pointing out that, if you live by using social media as a weapon, you die by it as well, and the response on social media to the two has thus far been more bad than good over “hecklegate”, no matter how many technicalities and injustices the TRE crowd claim. However, short of running a referendum, it might be hard to quote how many of the country is for or against them.

        I think the issue of people viewing the country through their own lens of reality is not just a Singaporean problem. I’m not sure if it can ever be solved. Perhaps that is the way with democracies. Whoever can make the most number of people satisfied in their reality usually carries through to win.

        Like

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