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Is There Space for Political Ideologies through Creative Expression in Singapore?

Can political ideologies be pushed through creative expressions? Following the Toa Payoh’s hateful graffiti towards the ruling political party in Singapore, we discuss the means in which freedom of speech has been premeditated by unique means, albeit artistic level.

Sticker Girl from Singapore

This local street artist was identified as a vandal with her stickers’ rampage around the nation in 2012. The minimalistic black and white stickers containing typical Singaporeans’ slangs and lingos were pasted at traffic lights, buildings and vehicles. ‘Sticker girl’ was arrested and convicted under the Act of Vandalism. While ‘Sticker girl’ is not spreading political ideologies, her perception of street art was clearly rejected by the government. Many commented on the lack of freedom for street artists to innovate, despite the state’s stance to promote arts and culture.

Anonymous Hacking

An anonymous group “The Messiah” hacked into several governmental website with a strong political message in 2013. This cyber warfare came under fire for the new web content licensing and censorship rules. Similar to the style in the political vigilante Guy Fawkes as portrayed in V for Vendetta, government webpages were down and displayed messages dissing the government. Videos were also uploaded to rally the oppression of Singaporeans. Other than showcasing the limp security of the websites that were hacked, it also exemplified the political ideology concerning censorship.

Toa Payoh Graffiti

A hateful graffiti against the still-ruling political party in Singapore, People’s Action Party (PAP) was found the top of a HDB in Toa Payoh on 7 May 2014. Several mainstream media has censored the content and the government was quick to protect its namesake by getting the paintworks done by dawn. Exactly 3 years from the last General Elections and from the profanities hurled towards the PAP, it seems more than just a coincidental act of vandalism. The circle with an A enclosed is a typical sign for Anarchy and rebellion against the authority. It is a bold statement to express oppression.

Expressing political ideals is sensitive and certainly, the veil of anonymity protects the identity of the oppressed to express freedom of speech. Though I feel that it has been unbecoming for citizens to resort to malicious means to voice their discontentment towards the ruling party, it takes two to clap. Especially with the recent spate of events and their significance, this might prompt a needed structural insight between the government and its citizens.

Writer: Leong Chee Sheng

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